Papers of John Adams, volume 6

From James Warren, 7 June 1778 Warren, James JA From James Warren, 7 June 1778 Warren, James Adams, John
From James Warren
My Dear Sir Boston N Engld. June 7th: 1778

We are yet in A State of Uncertainty whether you are Arrived in France or England, and Consequently whether you are now Acting As An Embassador or suffering as Prisoner. All we know is that the last Ship from France brings no Account of you tho' you had been out 7 weeks when she left Rochfort. The Enemy have Circulated a Report that the Boston was taken, and mention the Name of the Ship that Captured her.1 But I don't Incline to give Credit to it, and think there are reasons to doubt it. As I think myself Interested in the Event, I am Anxious to hear of your safe Arrival.

Nothing for several weeks has got in from any part of Europe tho' the winds have been remarkably favourable. Our Curiosity is therefore wrought up to A high Key, to hear what is passing in Europe, whether there be A declaration of War between France and England and whether any other Powers have Acknowledged our Independence, and Concluded a Treaty with us. Thus stand matters with regard to foreign News.

With regard to domestic News, I am Informed by my Friends at Congress that our Army is very respectable both with regard to Numbers and discipline. The Baron d Stubun has performed wonders in regulateing the discipline of the Army. They are well Cloathed, and well provided with Provisions, Arms, and Ammunition, and Congress have determined that the Officers who serve to the End of the war shall receive half pay for 7 Years, and the Soldiers have 80 dollars, which has given satisfaction to the first, and Contentment to the last, and prevented both resignations, and desertions but no operations of Consequence have yet taken place. The Enemy have made one or two Excursions which the Papers we shall send you will give an Account of, but were by our last Accounts Immured in Philadelphia, and 188prepareing to leave it.2 Where they will next go is a Subject of Conjecture. Some think they will leave the Continent, Others that North River, Connecticut or this State is their Object.

No Material Alteration in our Currency, it is rather better. Goods of all kinds are much more plenty. Some are Cheaper but they dont yet fall in proportion to the demand for money which is become very Considerable, and I think must in time have its Effect. The produce of the Country is yet Extravagantly deare and is the principle Cause of keeping down the value of our Currency. The Countrymen have so long had the Advantage of high prices that they dont feel the want of money so much as the Merchants, and Tradesmen. Connecticut as well as some Other States have passed a regulateing Act which Operates much as ours did. They are Nevertheless Obstinate in Adhereing to it, and have sent down a Committee to Induce our Court to come into the Measure this Session many Members I hear are fond of it. It stands at present suspended for an Answer to A Letter wrote Congress.3

The Court met here and frighted with the Appearance of danger of the Small Pox, after Election adjourned to Watertown, where they now are. The Papers will Announce to you that I am no longer A Member of the General Court. My Town did not Chose me, and the Court did not Compliment me with An Election at the Board, so that were I dismissed from the Navy Board I should be truly A private Man, and an Independent Farmer, and should be as Contented and satisfied with my situation as ever you saw one, for really I am Tired of public Life, tho' I was determined never to desert the Colours I helped to hoist. If you Enquire how all this came to pass I must tell you it is oweing to various Causes. The people feel themselves Uneasy and dont know the reason. They have therefore shifted their Members more generally than ever. I scorned to make or suffer any Influence in my favour. The Tories and the Influence from Boston, and some other places had their full play, which are the reasons I am not in the House. The greater part of the Council from Envy, and other reasons never loved me and the Complextion of the House, Consisting of Members (the most Influential of them) whose politicks are very different from Mine, and who are of the moderate Class which you know I never belonged to may Account for my not being Elected. But above all the partiality of my Friends which has rendered me Obnoxious to a Certain great 189Man,4 and his numerous party by holding me up to view in Competition with him. The Policy therefore has been to get me out of sight, and prevent my being an Obstacle to his Glory, and Ambition.

The returns are not yet made from the several Towns of their Approbation or disapprobation of the Form of Goverment sent to them. But I beleive it is pretty Clear that the Majority have decided against it in much less time than the Convention took to decide in its favour. The Town of Boston (whose wise Observations you will see in the Papers) and the County of Essex have had A great Share, and Influence in this determination for you must know it has become very popular to find fault with the doings of the General Court or Convention, by those who can't mend them, and A little Clamour much more A great one may easily damn any measure good or Bad.5

The Great Man Tarried here till after Election, and then went off with the Pomp and retinue of an Eastern Prince.6 I was not in the List of his Attendants and was not Solicitous enough to Officiously Offer my service, and to receive that Honour. I suppose the Sin is Unpardonable. I must suffer the Consequences of his frowns, and be Content to be ranked Among those who never Adulate and flatter.

Your Friend Adams is at Congress. Gerry and Dana propose to return when Mr. Hancock and Doctr. Holton7 who is your Successor Arrive.

This is the third Letter I have wrote you since your departure.8 I hope the others as well as this will reach you. This is to go by a packet that Carries public Letters for you and the Other Commissioners or rather Embassadors, the Captain of which is to deliver them to you in Person so that the danger of the Seas Excepted the Opportunity is fine. I have Accordingly Informed your Lady of it, and Expect her Letters in Tomorrow which I presume will Inform you that the Family are well.9 My Love to Master John, and beleive me to be with Great Sincerity Your Assured Friend & Humbl. Servt.

J Warren

RC (Adams Papers).


The source of this report, allegedly printed in a New York paper, has not been found. It was, however, apparently widespread and was noted by AA in letters to John Thaxter (including note 4), James Warren, JA (10, 18, and 30 June), and James Lovell between 21 May and 30 June ( Adams Family Correspondence , 3:24 and note 4;34, 35, 41, 51).


The last large body of British troops left Philadelphia for New York city on the morning of 18 June, crossing the Delaware River into New Jersey (John W. Jackson, 190 With the British Army in Philadelphia, 1777–1778, San Rafael, Calif., 1979, p. 263).


On 27 April the Massachusetts Council, noting its objections to a “regulating” or price control bill, had written to the congress in the hope of deterring it from pressing for the passage of such a law (PCC, No. 65,1). The letter reflected Massachusetts' unhappy experience in attempting to enforce controls. Pressure on the state to renew price control arose from a congressional resolution (see Henry Marchant to JA, 22 Dec. 1777, note 2, above). The letter of 27 April was read before the congress on 21 May, perhaps with some effect, for on 4 June the congress resolved that the states should “repeal or suspend” their laws “limiting, regulating, or restraining the Price of any Article, Manufacture or Commodity” ( JCC , 11:517, 569).


That is, John Hancock.


The Massachusetts towns turned down the Constitution of 1778 by a margin of approximately 5 to 1. For Boston's “objections” see the Independent Chronicle of 4 June. For the comments of other towns on the proposed constitution, together with the “Essex Result,” see Oscar and Mary Handlin, eds., The Popular Sources of Political Authority: Documents on the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, Cambridge, 1966. See also William Gordon's four letters in opposition to the constitution printed in the Continental Journal of 2, 9, 16, and 23 April, and the Independent Chronicle of 2,9, 16, and 30 April.


John Hancock left Boston on 3 June, escorted by “a detachment of American Light Dragoons” and “attended by a number of respectable Gentlemen from this town [Boston] to Watertown, where an elegant entertainment was provided” (Continental Journal, 4 June). See also AA's comment on “Our Great Man” and his delay in returning to the Continental Congress in her letter of 21 May to John Thaxter ( Adams Family Correspondence , 3:26).


Dr. Samuel Holten had been elected to replace JA on 10 Feb. and officially took his seat in the congress on 22 June, but may have been present as early as the 20th ( JCC , 11:629 and note 3; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 3:iv).


This is the first extant letter from Warren since JA's departure for Europe in February, the others probably having been lost at sea.


See Warren's letter to AA of 2 June and her letters to JA and JQA of 10 June ( Adams Family Correspondence , 3:31, 35–36, 37–39).

To Edmé Jacques Genet, 8 June 1778 JA Genet, Edmé Jacques To Edmé Jacques Genet, 8 June 1778 Adams, John Genet, Edmé Jacques
To Edmé Jacques Genet
Passy, ante 8 June 1778

I do myself, the Honour to transmit you a Small Bundle of Newspapers, for your Perusal, out of which you will Select any Thing that you think proper for Publication, in your very valuable Collection of Affairs D'Angleterre et L'Amerique.1

Looking over the Remembrancer, for the Year 1775,1 found to my Surprize, having never seen this Remembrancer before, two Letters from a Gentleman in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, to his Friend in London, one dated Feb. 10 1775 and the other Jany 21. 1775. They are found in Pages 10.11 and 12 of the Remembrancer for that Year.2

These Letters were written by me, and as I kept no Copies of them and never heard of their Publication, I had wholly forgotten them, but finding them in this Work, I recollect them very well.


If you think them worth inserting in your Collection Americans acted with Frankness, broke out, and, with the Utmost faithfullness a informed our Friends in England, what their Ministers were about and what would be the certain Consequence of their Temerity. The Letters you will see were written in great Haste and without the least Reserve. The History of the Events of War, from the Date of these Letters to this Day, has been no more nor less than a Completion of the Prophecies contained in them.

In Page 24 and onwards to the End of Page 32, and again from Page 45. to Page 54 you will find an History of the Dispute with America; from its origin in 1754, to the Present Time.3

This is a brief Abstract of a series of Letters which were also written by me, in the Winter of the Year 1775, the Tendency of all which was to shew, the Ruinous Tendency of the Measures of the British Administration, to convince the Nation of the Necessity of changing their System, and if they did not, but persisted in it and attempted to carry it into Execution by Force of Arms, it would infallibly end in the total Loss of their Collonies.

that Time, or not, they have since had some Cause to consider. But they will not consider, and they will probably persist in the indulgence of their Passions, untill they shall be reduced to Weakness and Distress enough. France has no Reason to regrett this, for She will gain, by every Degree of Wealth and Power that Britain throws away, in this Contention, especially in that particular Branch which has been her Pride and Glory, Commerce, and the Dominion of the sea.

This Publication, is a full Confutation of all the Calumnies against Us, both in Parliament and Newspapers, that We concealed our Designs of Independency, and professed to have no such Designs.

In this Publication and in many others, as well as in Multitudes of private Letters, they were frankly told that however distant the People then were from Wishing Independency, yet if they once commenced Hostilities against Us, it would be impossible to restrain the Americans from cutting asunder forever, the Ligaments, which bound the two Countries together. . If you should think of doing it, be glad to see it before it is printed as there are many inaccuracies in the Print, which ought to be corrected.

I have the Honour to be, with the Utmost Gratitude for the 192Pains you have taken, in communicating our Affairs to the World, sir your most Obedient humble servant John Adams

RC (PWacD: Feinstone Coll., on deposit PPAmP); the top of each page has been damaged by fire, with the loss of the dateline and portions of several sentences.


Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique was an irregular, clandestine publication of the French Foreign Ministry that was ostensibly published in Antwerp (Anvers) but actually printed in Paris from early 1776 through late 1779. Its editor was Edmé Jacques Genet, director of the Foreign Ministry's translators bureau and father of Edmond Charles, controversial minister to the United States from the French Republic in 1793 (for a sketch of the two Genets as well as a short survey of Affaires, see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:354–355; see also Gilbert Chinard's brief examination of Affaires and its place in French policy in Newberry Library Bulletin, 2d ser., 8:225–236 [March 1952]).

Seventeen volumes of Affaires were published, divided into 2 series: “Journal” and “Lettres.” It should be noted, however, that as numbered internally there are only 15 volumes, both series having separate volumes numbered 11 and 12. The “Journal” was intended as an account of the progress of the Revolution from 1776, but with some earlier material, and appeared in 82 cahiers (actually 79 because of a misnumbering that omitted Nos. 45, 46, and 47) and made up parts of vols. 1–6 and all of vol. 8 and its separate volumes numbered 11 and 12. The “Lettres,” supposedly from a Dutch banker in London to a friend in Antwerp containing the latest news from England together with current letters from America, appeared in 61 cahiers and made up the remaining parts of vols. 1–6 and all of vols. 9, 10, and 13–15, plus its separate volumes numbered 11 and 12.

Because of the difficulty in determining, particularly in regard to the “Journal,” the point at which one cahier ends and another begins, citations of each series of Affaires will take the following form: for “Journal,” reference will be made to volume and page number; for “Lettres,” volume, cahier, and page number will be indicated. In all cases the guide will be Paul Leicester Ford's collation of Affaires in PMHB , 13:222–226 (July 1889).


The two “Letters,” for which JA gives the correct page numbers, were printed in John Almon's Remembrancer or Impartial Repository of Public Events (London, 1775; see also vol. 2:214–216, 391–393). Despite JA's interest in having them reprinted and Genet's apparent agreement expressed in his letter to JA of 8 June (below), the two “Letters” never appeared in Affaires.


This piece, for which JA gives the correct page numbers and title as it appeared in Almon's Remembrancer, was composed of extracts from Novanglus, Nos. II–VI, and never appeared in Affaires (see also vol. 2:233–306).