Papers of John Adams, volume 4

From Samuel Chase

From Joseph Greenleaf


Although the reasons that JA gives seem sincere and sensible enough, he may have had another motive. In the congress in late April an effort to name John Langdon of New Hampshire a naval agent did not prevail because many objected that Langdon was a member of the congress (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 1:434–435). A Maryland delegate, acting on the instructions from his province, sought to deny to members offices of profit under the Continental Congress and the new governments already, or soon to be, established. 152For JA's opinion of this maneuver, see JA to Samuel Chase, 14 June (below). No such resolution passed, but it has been argued that JA resigned his office out of sensitivity to the issue of plural officeholding (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:360–361 and discussion in the notes there). To James Warren, JA put it this way: “this is not a Time, if ever there was or can be one for Sinecures. Fill up every place. They ought to be full” (JA to Warren, 12 May, below). His inability to perform his duties seemed to weigh more heavily than the mere fact of holding more than one office; and although he thought he might have to resign his chief justiceship, he pointedly told Warren, “I shall think a little more about that and take Advice” (same). He did not resign until months later, probably hoping that he would be able to leave the congress and do the work he loved best.