Papers of John Adams, volume 5

To James Warren, 11 June 1777 JA Warren, James To James Warren, 11 June 1777 Adams, John Warren, James
To James Warren
My dear Sir Philadelphia June 11. 1777

The honourable Samuel1 Hewes Esqr, a Delegate in Congress from North Carolina from 1774 to 1777, being bound on a Journey, to Boston for the Recovery of his Health, I do myself the Honour to introduce him to you.

He has a large share in the Conduct of our naval and commercial Affairs, having been a member of the naval and marine Committees, and of the Secret Committee2 from the first.

I wish you would be kind enough to introduce him to some of our best Company, and give him a Line to Dr. Winthrop, that he 221may have an opportunity of seeing, the Curiosities of Harvard Colledge. I have not Time to write the Dr.

What Mr. Howes present Plan is, no Conjurer can discover. He is moving and maneuvring, with his Fleet and Army, as if he had some Design, or other, but what it may be no Astrologer can divine.

It is disputed among the Writers, upon military Science, whether a Faculty of penetrating the Intentions of an Enemy, or that of acquiring the Love of his soldiers is the first Quality of a General—but whether, this Penetration holds the first or second Place, it cannot discover Designs that are not, and schemes that were never laid. Howes Behaviour Strongly indicates a Want of system.

Some conjecture, he is bound to the West Indies, others to Europe one Party to Hallifax, another to Rhode Island. This set sends him up the North River, that down the East River and the other up the Delaware. I am weary of Conjectures—Time will solve them.

One Thing is certain, that in the Jersies his whole Army was seized with Terror and Amazement. The Jersey Militia, have done themselves, the highest Honour, by turning out in such great Numbers, and with such Determined Resolution.3 This was altogether unexpected to the British and Hessian Gentry. They were perswaded that the People, would be on their side, or at least unactive but when they found Hundreds, who had taken their Protections and their Oaths of Allegiance, in Arms against them, and with terrible Imprecations, vowing Vengeance, their Hearts sunk within them and they Sneaked away in a Panic. The Militia, was dismissed too soon, and they took Advantage of it, to come out, again with their whole Army upon a predatory Expedition, but soon returned, and evacuated New Jersy altogether.

I am most apprehensive they will go to Rhode Island. If not, I think, unless they have prepared Reinforcements, with such secrecy that no Intimations of them, have reached Us, they will give Us but a languishing and inactive Campaign.

I hope you proceed, in the Formation of a Constitution without any hurtfull Divisions, or Altercations. Whatever the Majority determine, I hope the Minority will chearfully concur in. The fatal Experience of Pensilvania,4 has made me dread nothing So much as Disunion, upon this Point. God grant you may lay the Foundations, of a great, wise, free and honourable People.


RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); addressed: “The Hon. James Warren Esqr Speaker of the House Plymouth Mass: Bay favoured by the Hon. Samuel Jos. Hewes Esq.”; docketed: “J. A Lettr June 1777.” “Jos.” is substituted for “Samuel” in a different hand.


A mistake for Joseph.


Actually, Hewes did not join the Secret Committee, which dealt with contracts and commercial affairs, until 16 Jan. 1776. The committee was established 19 Sept. 1775 ( JCC , 2:255; 4:59).


Probably a reference to the exploits of Col. Jacob Ford Jr. See Samuel Adams to JA, 9 Jan., note 4 (above).


A reference to the divisions that had arisen in Pennsylvania over its new constitution, deemed by many defective and oppressive because of its oath requirements. See JA to James Warren, 3 Feb., second letter, note 1 (above).

From James Warren, 11 June 1777 Warren, James JA From James Warren, 11 June 1777 Warren, James Adams, John
From James Warren
My dear Sir Boston June 11th: 1777

It is A long time since I have had the pleasure of A line from you. I looked for one last post, and was disappointed. I wrote to you by the Thursday post1 since which Nothing of Consequence has taken place here. A Number of Men of War are Cruiseing on our Coast and 3 or 4 of them in our Bay. I suppose their design is get our frigates, and to Intercept the prizes taken by the Privateers lately sailed. I fear they will Succeed too well in the last, if not in the first. Where Manly and McNeil are we don't hear but I am in some pain for them. I am sorry to hear there is any difficulty in Gates haveing the Command of the Northern Army. Will not this produce A resignation and some Confusion in our Affairs. Besides I have no Notion of A General who is not on the Spot, and to fight if there be Occasion. Our Expedition some time ago recommended by Congress has fallen through in A strange manner.2 I can give you no Account of this Event, but from A want of Spirit and Activity. When I left Boston I supposed it was to be Executed in A Short time, but now I hear Nothing of it. The whole matter was left with our Council and they were vested with powers Accordingly. They perhaps can give a reason. The Enemy at this time have but A small force, and I think might with the greatest ease be driven off in the Course of 10 days from this Moment. But there is no General sent as mentioned and Nothing can be done without A Continental General. Their holding this Post at A Time when they so much want3 reinforcements to their main Army is the only Circumstance that looks like An Invasion of N England. What their Movements will be seems to us very Uncertain here. It is gen-223erally believed their Reinforcements will fall much short of their Expectations, but we want some fresh Intelligence from Europe. Every thing we do hear looks like A French War. I never wish to be beholden to any Other Power but that of Heaven, and to our own virtue and valour for our Liberties, but it seems to me A War between France and England will make A diversion very favourable to us. At least it will Gratifie my resentment and Curiosity. I wish to see Britain distressed and reduced to Circumstances that shall make her Appear ridiculous and Contemptible to herself, and I have A Curiosity to see the Operation and the Event. Your Loan Office in this State I am Informed succeeds well. I hope our Money has got to its lowest Ebb. I think our regulateing Act has among Other Evils Injured our Currency by Introduceing Barter &c. But our House have After A long debate, and A Torrent of Eloquence and wisdom (for we have Eloquent and wise folks among us, who Affect Great sublimity in both without decision.) determined against A repeal 122. to 31.4 We seem generally Agreed on A large Tax, not less than 150. perhaps 200,000 £.5 If the Other N.E. states would Tax in the same proportion, our Money would soon be on A better footing. Pray let me hear from you. I want to have Intelligence from Europe, to hear how your Confederation &c. go on, and how your health is. I wish you happines and am Yours &c.

Mrs. Warren desires Compliments and Best Wishes to Mr. Adams. My regards to Mr. Adams. I will write him soon tho he has almost dropped the Correspondence.

RC (Adams Papers).


Warren's letter of 5 June (above).


The expedition against the British in Rhode Island. See JA to James Bowdoin, 16 April, notes 2 and 3 (above).


That is, lack.


On the act regulating prices, see William Tudor to JA, 16 March, note 4 (above). The House considered the repeal on 10 June (Mass., House Jour. , 1777–1778, 1st sess., p. 19, 20).


Period supplied.