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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 3


Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0170

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-16

[Fryday August 16. 1776.]

Fryday August 16. 1776.
Resolved that a Member be added to the Committee to whom were referred the Letters and Papers respecting the murder of Mr. Parsons. The Member chosen Mr. J. Adams.1
{ 408 }
Resolved that the Letters received Yesterday from General Washington, General Schuyler and General Gates be referred to the Board of War.
Congress resumed the consideration of the Instructions given to Commodore Hopkins &c. and thereupon came to the following Resolution.
Resolved that the said Conduct of Commodore Hopkins deserves the Censure of this House and this House does accordingly censure him.
Ordered that a Copy of the Resolutions passed against Commodore Hopkins be transmitted to him.
Although this Resolution of Censure was not, in my Opinion demanded by Justice and consequently was inconsistent with good Policy, as it tended to discourage an Officer and diminish his Authority by tarnishing his reputation; Yet as it went not so far as to cashier him, which had been the Object intended by the Spirit that dictated the Prosecution, I had the Satisfaction to think that I had not laboured wholly in vain, in his defence.
1. This episode remains a mystery. Samuel Holden Parsons of Lyme, Conn., a lawyer and recently promoted Continental brigadier general, had been at Harvard with JA and they maintained a friendly correspondence. On 24 July 1776 Parsons wrote JA about “The Unhappy Fate of my B[rothe]r about 4 Years ago,” allegedly robbed and murdered by one Basil Bouderot in Nova Scotia (Adams Papers). Apparently Bouderot had now been captured in Canada (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 5:173). The full story was in a memorial Parsons sent to Congress, but this has not been found, and the ponderous Life and Letters of Samuel Holden Parsons by Charles S. Hall, Binghamton, 1905, does not even mention the matter. For Congress' action see JCC , 5:609, 661, 692–693; see also JA to Parsons, 3 Aug. 1776 ( LbC , Adams Papers).