A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close
-
The Adams Papers Digital Edition is undergoing active maintenance while we work on improvements to the system. You may experience slow performance or the inability to access content. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We will endeavor to return to full capabilities as soon as possible.

Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0004-0006-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1774-09-03

1774. Saturday. Septr. 3.

Breakfasted at Dr. Shippens. Dr. Witherspoon was there. Coll. R. H. Lee lodges there. He is a masterly Man.
This Mr. Lee is a Brother of the Sherriff of London,1 and of Dr. Arthur Lee, and of Mrs. Shippen. They are all sensible, and deep thinkers.
Lee is for making the Repeal of every Revenue Law, the Boston Port Bill, the Bill for altering the Massachusetts Constitution, and the Quebec Bill, and the Removal of all the Troops, the End of the Congress, and an Abstinence from all Dutied Articles the Means—Rum, Mollosses, Sugar, Tea, Wine, Fruits, &c.
He is absolutely certain, that the same Ship which carries home the Resolution will bring back the Redress. If we were to suppose that any Time would intervene, he should be for Exceptions.
He thinks We should inform his Majesty, that We never can be happy, while the Lords Bute, Mansfield and North are his Confidents and Councillors.
He took his Pen and attempted a Calculation of the Numbers of People represented by the Congress which he made about 2200000, and of the Revenue now actually raised which he made 80,000£ st.
He would not allow Ld. North to have great Abilities. He had seen no symptoms of them. His whole Administration had been blunder.
He said the Opposition had been so feeble and incompetent hitherto that it was Time to make vigorous Exertions.
Mrs. Shippen is a religious and a reasoning Lady. She said she had often thought, that the People of Boston could not have behaved through their Tryals, with so much Prudence and firmness at the same Time, if they had not been influenced by a Superiour Power.
Mr. Lee think's that to strike at the Navigation Acts would unite every Man in Britain against us, because the Kingdom could not exist without them, and the Advantages they derive from these Regulations and Restrictions of our Trade, are an ample Compensation for all the Protection they have afforded us, or will afford us.
{ 121 }
Dr. Witherspoon enters with great Spirit into the American Cause. He seems as hearty a Friend as any of the Natives—an animated Son of Liberty.
This Forenoon, Mr. Caesar Rodney, of the lower Counties on Delaware River, two Mr. Tilghmans from Maryland, were introduced to us.
We went with Mr. Wm. Barrell to his Store and drank Punch and eat dryed smoaked Sprats with him, read the Papers and our Letters from Boston.
Dined with Mr. Joseph Reed the Lawyer, with Mrs. Deberdt and Mrs. Reed, Mr. Willing, Mr. Thom. Smith, Mr. De hart, and &c.
Spent the Evening at Mr. Mifflins with Lee and Harrison from Virginia, the two Rutledges, Dr. Witherspoon, Dr. Shippen, Dr. Steptoe, and another Gentleman. An elegant Supper, and We drank Sentiments till 11 O Clock. Lee and Harrison were very high. Lee had dined with Mr. Dickenson, and drank Burgundy the whole Afternoon.
Harrison gave us for a Sentiment “a constitutional Death to the Lords Bute, Mansfield and North.” Paine gave us “May the Collision of british Flint and American Steel, produce that Spark of Liberty which shall illumine the latest Posterity.”2 Wisdom to Britain and Firmness to the Colonies, may Britain be wise and America free. The Friends of America throughout the World. Union of the Colonies. Unanimity to the Congress. May the Result of the Congress, answer the Expectations of the People. Union of Britain and the Colonies, on a Constitutional Foundation—and many other such Toasts.
Young Rutledge told me, he studied 3 Years at the Temple. He thinks this a great Distinction. Says he took a Volume of Notes, which J. Quincy transcribed. Says that young Gentlemen ought to travel early, because that freedom and Ease of Behaviour, which is so necessary, cannot be acquired but in early Life. This Rutledge is young—sprightly but not deep. He has the most indistinct, inarticulate Way of Speaking. Speaks through his nose—a wretched Speaker in Conversation. How he will shine in public I dont yet know. He seems good natured, tho conceited. His Lady is with him in bad Health.
His Brother still maintains the Air of Reserve, Design and Cunning—like Duane, and Galloway, and Bob Auchmuty.
Caesar Rodney is the oddest looking Man in the World. He is tall—thin and slender as a Reed—pale—his Face is not bigger than a large Apple. Yet there is Sense and Fire, Spirit, Wit and Humour in his Countenance.
He made himself very merry with Ruggles and his pretended Scruples and Timidities, at the last Congress.
{ 122 }
Mr. Reed told us, at dinner, that he never saw greater Joy, than he saw in London when the News arrived that the Nonimportation agreement was broke. They were universally shaking Hands and Congratulating each other.
He says that George Haley is the worst Enemy to America that he knew there—swore to him that he would stand by Government in all its Measures, and was allways censuring and cursing America.
1. William Lee, a Virginia merchant in London and a follower of John Wilkes, was in 1773 elected a sheriff of London ( DAB ).
2. Closing quotation mark editorially supplied. It would seem a fair assumption that the “Sentiments” which follow were not offered by Paine exclusively but by various members of the party.

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0004-0006-0004

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1774-09-04

1774. Septr. 4. Sunday.1

Went to the Presbyterian Meeting and heard Mr. Sprout in the forenoon. He uses no Notes—dont appear to have any. Opens his Bible and talks away. Not a very numerous, nor very polite Assembly.
Dined at our Lodgings at Mrs. Yards, with Major De boor2 a French Gentleman, a Soldier, Mr. Webb, and another.
Went in the Afternoon to Christ Church, and heard Mr. Coombs [Coombe]. This is a more noble Building, and a genteeler Congregation. The Organ and a new Choir of Singers, were very musical. Mr. Coombs is celebrated here as a fine Speaker. He is sprightly, has a great deal of Action, speaks distinctly. But I confess, I am not charmed with his oratory. His Style was indifferent, his Method, confused. In one Word, his Composition was vastly inferiour to the ordinary Sermons of our How, Hunt, Chauncey, Cooper, Elliot, and even Stillman. Mr. Mifflin spent the Sunday Evening with Us, at our Lodgings.
1. First regular entry in JA 's Diary booklet “No. 22” (our D/JA/22), a gathering of leaves stitched into a marbled paper cover and containing entries through 9 Nov. 1774.
2. CFA corrects to “De Bure,” but apparently simply by conjecture. This officer remains unidentified.

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0004-0006-0005

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1774-09-05

1774. Septr. 5. Monday.

At Ten, The Delegates all met at the City Tavern, and walked to the Carpenters Hall, where they took a View of the Room, and of the Chamber where is an excellent Library. There is also a long Entry, where Gentlemen may walk, and a convenient Chamber opposite to the Library. The General Cry was, that this was a good Room, and the Question was put, whether We were satisfyed with this Room, and it passed in the Affirmative. A very few were for the Negative and they were chiefly from Pensylvania and New York.1
{ 123 }
Then Mr. Lynch arose, and said there was a Gentleman present who had presided with great Dignity over a very respectable Society, greatly to the Advantage of America, and he therefore proposed that the Hon. Peytoun Randolph Esqr., one of the Delegates from Virginia, and the late Speaker of their House of Burgesses, should be appointed Chairman and he doubted not it would be unanimous.—The Question was put and he was unanimously chosen.
Mr. Randolph then took the Chair, and the Commissions of the Delegates were all produced and read.2
Then Mr. Lynch proposed that Mr. Charles Thompson a Gentleman of Family, Fortune, and Character in this City should be appointed Secretary, which was accordingly done without opposition, tho Mr. Duane and Mr. Jay discovered at first an Inclination to seek further.3
Mr. Duane then moved that a Committee should be appointed, to prepare Regulations for this Congress. Several Gentlemen objected. I then arose and asked Leave of the President to request of the Gentleman from New York, an Explanation, and that he would point out some particular Regulations which he had in his Mind. He mentioned particularly the Method of voting—whether it should be by Colonies, or by the Poll, or by Interests.
Mr. Henry then arose, and said this was the first general Congress which had ever happened—that no former Congress could be a Precedent—that We should have occasion for more general Congresses, and therefore that a precedent ought to be established now. That it would be great Injustice, if a little Colony should have the same Weight in the Councils of America, as a great one, and therefore he was for a Committee.
Major Sullivan observed that a little Colony had its All at Stake as well as a great one.
This is a Question of great Importance.—If We vote by Colonies, this Method will be liable to great Inequality and Injustice, for 5 small Colonies, with 100,000 People in each may outvote 4 large ones, each of which has 500,000 Inhabitants. If We vote by the Poll, some Colonies have more than their Proportion of Members, and others have less. If We vote by Interests, it will be attended with insuperable Difficulties, to ascertain the true Importance of each Colony.—Is the Weight of a Colony to be ascertained by the Number of Inhabitants merely—or by the Amount of their Trade, the Quantity of their Exports and Imports, or by any compound Ratio of both. This will lead us into such a Field of Controversy as will greatly perplex us. Besides I question whether it is possible to ascertain, at this Time, the Numbers of our { 124 } People or the Value of our Trade. It will not do in such a Case, to take each other's Words. It ought to be ascertained by authentic Evidence, from Records.4
1.
“The City have offered us the Carpenters Hall, so called, to meet in, and Mr. Galloway offers the State House and insists on our meeting there, which he says he has a right to offer as Speaker of that House. The last is evidently the best place, but as he offers, the other party oppose” (Silas Deane to Mrs. Deane [1–3 Sept. 1774], Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 1:4–5; see also p. 8–10).
Carpenters' Hall was so new that some details in it were not yet completed. The second floor had, however, been rented and occupied by the Library Company of Philadelphia since 1773. The most authoritative historical and descriptive account of Carpenters' Hall is by Charles E. Peterson, in Historic Philadelphia (Amer. Philos. Soc., Trans., 43 [1953]:96–128), which is copiously illustrated.
2. Printed in full in JCC , 1:15–24. The North Carolina delegates had not yet come in, and Georgia sent no delegates to the first Continental Congress.
3. For an account of Thomson's assumption of his duties, supposedly written by Thomson himself, see Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 1:10, note. Galloway's unhappy comments on the selection of both the meeting place and the secretary are in his letter of this date to Gov. William Franklin (Archives of the State of New Jersey, 1st ser., 10 [1886]: 477–478).
4. This speech was unquestionably made by JA himself.