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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


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Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0173

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1775-07-30

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dear

This Letter is intended to go by my Friend Mr. William Barrell, whom I believe you have seen in Boston. If he calls at our House you will please to receive him complaisantly and thank him for your Present of Pins. I have been treated by him with great Civility, both at this and the former Congress.
This Day, I have heard my Parish Priest, Mr. Duffill from 2. Chron. 15. 1. 2. This Gentleman never fails to adapt his Discourse to the Times. He pressed upon his Audience the Necessity of Piety and Virtue, in the present Times of Adversity, and held up to their View the Army before Boston as an Example. He understood, he said, that the Voice of the Swearer was scarcly heard, that the Sabbath was well observed and all Immoralities discountenanced. No doubt there were vicious Individuals, but the general Character was good.—I hope this good Mans Information is true, and that this will become more and more the true Character of that Camp. You may well suppose that this Language was exceedingly pleasing to me.
We have nothing new, but the Arrival of some Powder. Three little Vessells have certainly arrived, making about Ten Tons in the whole, and four or five Tons have arrived from S. Carolina. A Supply, I think now We shall certainly obtain. Congress have taken Measures for this End, which I hope to have the Pleasure of explaining to you in Person, within a few Days, as Congress has determined to adjourn to sometime in September. I could not vote for this myself because I thought it might be necessary to keep together, but I could not blame those who did, for really We have been all so assiduous in Business, in this exhausting debilitating Climate, that our Lives are more exposed than they would be in Camp.1

[salute] Love to the Children.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree favoured by Mr. Barrell”; endorsed: “C No 18.”
1. On Saturday, 29 July, it was “Resolved, That this Congress will, as soon as the public business permits, adjourn to the 5th. of Septr. next” ( JCC , 2:224). Samuel Adams gave the following explanation to his wife next day: “The arduous Business that has been before the Congress and the close Application of the Members, added to the Necessity and Importance of their visiting their several Colonies and attending their respective Conventions, have inducd them to make a Recess during the sultry Month of August” (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 1:184). According to the Journal, Congress adjourned on 1 Aug. ( JCC , 2:239), but it is clear from letters and diaries of certain members that { 269 } some business was transacted the following morning; see R. T. Paine, MS Diary (MHi), under 2 Aug.; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 1:185, 187. JA probably set off from Philadelphia later the same day, though possibly not until the 3d. There is no record of his return trip, but he traveled very fast, for he arrived in Watertown on the morning of the 10th and plunged at once, as a member of the Council, into the work of the General Court; see his Diary and Autobiography , 2:165–166, and Mass., House Jour. , 1775–1776, 1st sess., p. 60. AA did not learn until the 11th that he was back in Massachusetts ( AA to JA , 10–11 Aug., below; see note 2 there).

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0174

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1775-07-31

Abigail Adams to John Adams

I do not feel easy more than two days together without writing to you. If you abound you must lay some of the fault upon yourself, who have made such sad complaints for Letters, but I really believe I have wrote more than all my Sister Delegates. Their is nothing new transpired since I wrote you last, but the sailing of some transports, and 5 deserters having come into our camp. One of them is gone I hear to Phyladelphia. I think I should be cautious of him—no one can tell the secret designs of such fellows whom no oath binds—he may be sent with assassinating designs. I can credit any viliny that a Ceasar Borgea would have been guilty of—or Satan himself would rejoice in. Those who do not scruple to bring poverty, Misiry, Slavery and Death upon thousands will not hesitate at the most diabolical crimes—and this is Brittain. Blush o! Americans that ever thou derivest thy origin from such a race.
We learn from one of these Deserters that our ever valued Friend Warren, dear to us even in Death; was [not] 1 treated with any more respect than a common soldier, but the [sav]age wretches call'd officers consulted together and agreed to sever his Head from his body, and carry it in triumph to Gage, who no doubt would have “grin'd horrible a gastly smile,” instead of imitating Ceasar who far from being gratified with so horrid a Spectacle, as the Head even of his Enimy, turned away from Pompeys with disgust and gave vent to his pitty in a flood of tears.
“How much does pagan tenderness put christian Benevolence to shame.” What Humanity could not obtain, the rights and ceremonies of a Mason demanded. An officer who it seems was one of the Brotherwhood requested that as a Mason he might have the body unmangled, and find a decent interment for it. He obtaind his request, but upon returning to secure it, he found it already thrown into the Earth, only { 270 } with the ceremony of being first placed there, with many bodies over him2

“Nor writ his Name whose tomb should pierce the Skies.”

“Glows my resentment into Guilt? What Guilt

Can equal voilations of the Dead?

The Dead how sacred! Sacred is the Dust

Of this Heaven-labourd form erect, divine!

This Heav'n assum'd Majestick robe of earth.”

Thus far I wrote and broke of[f]. Hearing there was a probability of your return I thought not to send it, but the reception of yours this morning of July 23, makes me think the Day fart[h]ur of[f] than I hoped. I therefore will add a few lines tho very unfit. I have had a very Ill Night. Just recoverd from the rash, I went out yesterday to attend the funeral of a poor fellow who the Night before fell in Battle as they were returning from the Light house. (I catchd some cold.) A Sabbeth Evening there was a warm fire from Prospect Hill and Bunkers Hill, begun first by the Riffel men taking of their Gaurds. 2 Men upon our side were kill'd, 5 of their guards were killd, 2 taken. I believe my account will be very confused, but I will relate it as well as I am able. A Sabbeth Evening a number of Men in Whale Boats went of from Squantom and Dorchester to the light house, where the General Gage had again fixd up a Lamp, and sent 12 carpenters to repair it. Our people went on amidst a hot fire from 30 Marines who were placed there as a guard to the tory carpenters, burnt the dwelling house, took the Torys and 28 Marines, kill'd the Leiunt. and one Man, brought of all the oil and stores which were sent, without the looss of a man till they were upon their return when they were so closely persued that they were obliged to run one whale boat ashore and leave her to them. The rest arrived safe except the unhappy youth whose funeral I yesterday attended, who received a Ball thro the temples as he was rowing the boat. He belong'd to Road Island. His name was Griffin. He with 4 wounded Marines was brought by Capt. Turner to Germantown and buried from their with the Honours of War. Mr. Wibird upon the occasion made the best oration (he never prays you know) I ever heard from him. The poor wounded fellow[s] (who are all wounded in their arms) desired they might attend. They did and he very pathetacally addressd them; with which they appeard affected. I spoke with them. I told them it was very unhappy that they { 271 } should be obliged to fight their best Friends. They said they were sorry—they hoped in God an end would be speadily put to the unhappy contest. When they came, they came in the way of their Duty to releave Admiral Montague—with no thoughts of fighting—but their situation was such as obliged them to obey orders, but they wish'd with all their souls they that sent them here had been in the heat of the Battle, express'd gratitude at the kindness they received, said in that they had been deceived, for they were told if they were taken alive, they should be Sacrificed by us. Dr. Tufts Dress'd their wounds.
I had a design to have wrote you something about a talk'd of appointment of a Friend of Mine to a Judicial Department, but hope soon to see that Friend, before his acceptance may be necessary.3 I enclose a complement coppied by a Gentleman from a peice in the Worcester paper signed Lycurgus.4
I can add no more as the good Col. Palmer Waits only my compliments to Mrs. Miflin, and tell her I do not know whether her Husband is safe here. Belona and Cupid have a contest about [him.] You hear nothing from the Ladies, but about Major Miflins easy address, politeness, complasance &c. &c. Tis well he has so agreable a Lady at Phyladelphia. They know nothing about forts, intrenchments &c. when they return5 or if they do they are all forgot and swallowed up in his accomplishments.

[salute] Adieu my Dearest Friend and allways believe me unalterably yours,

[signed] Portia
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in John Thaxter's hand: “To The Honble: John Adams Esq. at Philadelphia To the Care of Major Mifflin.” Enclosure missing; see note 4.
1. Here and below, MS is torn by seal.
2. AA is reporting only a part of the rumors that circulated then and later about British indignities to Joseph Warren after his death in Bunker Hill battle, where he fought as a volunteer and not as an officer. Their precise extent is now known from a letter, only recently published, written a few days after the battle by the British officer who commanded the burial detachment. This was Capt. Walter Sloane Laurie, who wrote from “Camp on Charles Town Heights” to an unidentified correspondent, 23 June 1775: “Doctor Warren, President of the Provincial Congress, and Captain General, in the Absence of Hancock and [Samuel] Adams, and next to Adams, in abilities, I found among the Slain, and stuffed the Scoundrel with another Rebel, into one hole, and there he, and his seditious principles may remain” (quoted in Sigmund Diamond, “Bunker Hill, Tory Propaganda, and Adam Smith,” NEQ , 25:367 [Sept. 1952]). In April 1776, soon after the British evacuation of Boston, Warren's body was identified, exhumed, and reburied from King's Chapel in the Old Granary with public and Masonic honors; see AA 's account in her letter to JA of 7–11 April 1776, below.
3. This is a hint, well in advance of the fact, that JA was to be appointed to the Superior Court of Massachusetts. In the following October he was appointed chief justice by the Council (under the legal fiction that the Gov• { 272 } ernor was “absent”); see AA to JA , 25 Oct., below, and note 5 there.
4. Not now with the letter. The piece referred to, signed “Lycurgus” in Mass. Spy, 12 July, answered “Democritus,” who had argued that only “men of common understanding” were qualified to be representatives in the General Court. “Lycurgus” pointed out that the principal leaders of the patriot cause were college-educated, many of them being members of the learned professions, and praised highly the Massachusetts delegates to the Continental Congress, to whom “Democritus'” observations were “affrontive.”
5. That is, when the ladies return from visits to the American headquarters in Cambridge.