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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 3


Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0182

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-03

[Tuesday September 3. 1776.]

Tuesday September 3. 1776.
General Sullivan, having reduced to Writing the verbal message from Lord Howe, the same was read as follows:
“The following is the purport of the message of Lord Howe to Congress by General Sullivan.
That, though he could not at present treat with Congress as such, yet he was very desirous of having a Conference, with some of the members, whom he would consider for the present only as private { 415 } Gentlemen, and meet them himself as such, at such place as they should appoint.
That he in conjunction with General Howe, had full Powers, to compromise the dispute between Great Britain and America upon terms Advantageous to both; the Obtaining of which delayed him near two months in England, and prevented his Arrival at this place, before the declaration of Independancy took place:
That he wished a compact might be settled at this time, when no decisive blow was struck, and neither party could say they were compelled to enter into such Agreement.
That in case Congress were disposed to treat, many Things, which they had not as yet asked, might and ought to be granted them; and that, if, upon the Conference, they found any probable ground of Accommodation, the Authority of Congress must be afterwards Acknowledged, otherwise the Compact would not be compleat.”
In this written Statement of the Message it ought to be observed that General Sullivan has not inserted, what he had reported verbally, that Lord Howe had told him “he would sett the Act of Parliament wholly aside, and that Parliament had no right to tax America or meddle with her internal Polity.”1
The Board of War brought in a report, which was read, and a number of Resolutions adopted upon it, which see in the Journal.2
1. JA 's feelings of repugnance toward Lord Howe's proposal and Sullivan's willingness to convey it are very fully expressed in several letters JA copied into his Autobiography at p. 424 ff. , below. According to Benjamin Rush's recollections, JA turned to him (Rush) while Sullivan was delivering Howe's request to Congress and “whispered to me a wish 'that the first ball that had been fired on the day of the defeat of our army [on Long Island], had gone through [Sullivan's] head.' When he rose to speak against the proposed interview, he called Genl. Sullivan ‘a decoy duck, whom Lord Howe has sent among us to seduce us into a renunciation of our independence' ” (Rush, Autobiography , p. 140; see also p. 119–120).
2. JCC , 5:732. This concerned establishing a post route between Philadelphia and Ticonderoga.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0183

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-04

[Wednesday September 4. 1776.]

Wednesday September 4. 1776. Resolved that the board of War be directed to call in the several Recruiting Parties of the German Battalions, and to have them formed and armed with all possible Expedition, and forwarded to New York, taking measures, and giving proper directions to have the battalion recruited to the full Compliment as soon as the same can conveniently be done.
Resolved, that the proposal made by General Howe, as delivered by General Sullivan, of exchanging General Sullivan for General { 416 } Prescott, and Lord Sterling for Brigadier General McDonald be complied with.
Congress took into Consideration, the Report of the Board of War, and after some time spent thereon
Resolved that the farther Consideration thereof be postponed, till tomorrow.