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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


This foot note contained in document ADMS-04-01-02-0249
3. JA 's anonymous essay entitled Thoughts on Government: Applicable to the Present State of the American Colonies was advertised on 22 April as published by John Dunlap in Philadelphia (T. R. Adams, “American Independence,” No. 205a–b). JA sent a copy of it to James Warren on 20 April ( Warren-Adams Letters , 1:230–231). It was essentially a reply to Common Sense—not to Paine's arguments for independence but to his naive “Notions” (as JA considered them) about the new governments that would have to be formed in America; see JA to AA , 19 March, above. Though JA believed that his pamphlet eventually exerted substantial influence on a number of the early state constitutions, no detailed study of the nature and amount of its influence has ever been made. For the complex and still partly obscure history of the composition of Thoughts on Government, see JA's Diary and Autobiography , 3:331–333, and references there. In Oct. 1961 one more of the four different MS versions known to have been written by JA in the weeks preceding the present letter came to light. This is the holograph text he prepared for the North Carolina delegate William Hooper, who had left Congress at the end of March to attend the Provincial Congress at Halifax, which had in contemplation a new constitution. The document was found in the North Carolina State Department of Archives and History (Nc–Ar) in the David L. Swain Papers. Thus there remains to be found only the holograph furnished by JA to Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant for { 385 } use at Trenton; JA said this one was “larger and more compleat, perhaps more correct,” than the version that was “put ... under Types” (to James Warren, 20 April, cited above).