Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

Peter Cunningham to John Adams, 10 September 1777 Cunningham, Peter JA Peter Cunningham to John Adams, 10 September 1777 Cunningham, Peter Adams, John
Peter Cunningham to John Adams
Honner'd Sir Boston September the 10. 1777

I have been So missfortinate as to be out of my native Country when those unhappy wars began, and have not got home before now. Deturmind to Serve in the United States Service (by Sea) and not Presumeing to Sirlissett any Considerable station on board a Frigate for want of experence in the art of war, I have tacking a masters Berth on board an arm'd Vessell belonging to this State, Cald the Hazard, Commanded by Simmion Sampson, and entended for a Six weeks Cruise. At the time I return, I hope sir, to be Reckermended to you by Some respecttable Jentlemen hear that Shall best now my Capaserty. In the time I am goon I hope Sir you will bare me in mind, and use your great Influance in my be half, to get me appinted to Some office wharein I shall be able to do Service and honner to my Country. I have been and am now, in Perfick't helth, and am Sir your most Obedant and very humble Servant,

Peter Cunningham1

Their is a thirty six guns frigat now bilding at Newbery—will be redy to Lanch very soon—should be glad And think my Self happy in being Appinted a Liutenant on board her.


Expect to Sail in all next month. Should be highly honerd to have a line from you as soon as wold be Convenant.

RC (Adams Papers). Originally enclosed in Caleb Davis to JA, Boston, same date, which pronounced Cunningham “a Seaman I belive . . . Inferiour to Very few on the Continent,” and recommended him for a lieutenantcy “on Board one of the Continental Frigates” (Adams Papers).


The writer was a first cousin to JA, being the son of JA's uncle James and aunt Elizabeth (Boylston) Cunningham of Boston and Dedham. See Adams Genealogy. Cunningham's service on the state armed vessel Hazard during the next two years is set forth in Mass. Soldiers and Sailors .

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 14 September 1777 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 14 September 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Philadelphia Septr. 14. 1777

You will learn from the Newspapers before this reaches you, the situation of Things here. Mr. Howes Army is at Chester, about fifteen Miles from this Town. Gen. Washingtons is over the Schuylkill, awaiting the Flank of Mr. Howes Army.—How much longer Congress will stay here is uncertain. I hope We shall not move untill the last Necessity, that is untill it shall be rendered certain, that Mr. How will get the City. If We should move it will be to Reading, Lancaster, York, Easton or Bethlehem, some Town in this state. It is the Determination not to leave this state. Dont be anxious about me—nor about our great and sacred Cause—it is the Cause of Truth and will prevail. If How gets the City, it will cost him all his Force to keep it, and so he can get nothing else.—My Love to all Friends. Yours,

John Adams1

RC (Adams Papers).


On 11 Sept. in a general engagement at Chadd's Ford on Brandywine Creek, Washington had, in his own words, “been obliged to leave the enemy masters of the field” and to retreat first to Chester and then to the eastern bank of the Schuylkill at Germantown. On the 12th JA had moved from Capt. Duncan's in Walnut Street to Rev. Mr. Sproat's in Third Street, for what was to prove a short stay and a precipitant departure. On the day he wrote the present letter Congress resolved that if it should prove necessary to leave Philadelphia, “Lancaster shall be the place at which they shall meet.” A warning received early on the morning of the 19th that Howe was in possession of a ford over the Schuylkill caused the members to depart that day. They sat at Lancaster, however, only on the 27th and adjourned to meet at York on the 30th. See JA to AA, 30 Sept., below; to Speaker of Massachusetts House of Representatives, 15 Jan. 1778, NN: Emmet Coll.; Diary and Autobiography , 2:262–267; Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 9:207; JCC , 8:742, 754–756.