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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 2


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-02-02-0019

Author: Williams, Jonathan
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1774-06-28

From Jonathan Williams

[salute] Sir

We yesterday received your Letter directed to us, with those for Braintree,1 immediately on the Receipt of it, I went to Mr Cranch's to seek a Conveyance for them but no Opportunity offered there or at the Markets. After my return to the Office, I thought it probable that we might send them from Edes and Gill's Shop. Accordingly I run in, I very luckily met with Mr Allens Servant who promised to deliver them as soon as he got home.
Yesterday a town meeting was held in the Morng at the Hall, but it being a very warm day, and many People just idle enough to attend, the Room was much crowded; those People at the farther End of the Room were continually crying out a little louder, and the Speakers finding themselves fatigued by heat, and obliged to exert themselves to be heard, thought best to adjourn, and a Motion was made for an adjournment to the Old South, which after a faint opposition was carried. J Quincy moved to adjourn to one o clock and then observed, in his flourishing way, that Some might think this wou'd interfear with their Dinners, but he thought the present alarming { 103 } state was of too great importance, to think of dinners, however they cou'd not be perswaded to adjourn to one notwithstanding the importance of the day. At three in the Afternoon there was a very respectable Meeting. There was nigh a[s] many torys I believe as Wigs, Lechmere, Irving [Erving], the Amorys Greens Hubards and all that sett attended.2 Amory had a long speech in writing in which he concluded with a Motion to remove Censure and annihilate the Committee of Correspondence. This was seconded by many Voices and occasion'd a debate for the whole Afternoon and is not yet finish'd. The Meeting stands adjourned to nine this Morning.3 There was a liberal flow of Sentiments and much Severity from the Tories upon the Committee without any ill treatment. Mr. Francis Green in the morning was hiss'd for descenting to a motion for reading some public Letters but they were silenced. I am told there were several other Speeches in Writing; but I return'd to the Office and Mr. Tudor who attended all the Afternoon promises to give you a particular account of the whole.4 Mr. Hill went to Braintree on Saturday to attend your Business there. Mrs Adams and Family were then well. There is very little Business to be done. Every body seems engaged in the Politicks of the day—the Bells are now ringing for the meeting and a very full [one] is expected. I should not send this off till the result is known if it was not likely a letter wrote by this opportunity will reach you one or two days sooner than one sent tomorrow. I am with the greatest Respect Sir your Most Obedient,
[signed] Jona. Williams5
I am sensible this ought to be transcribed, but I expect your Client will call immediately.
1. The letter to his law clerks has not been found, but one to AA of 23 June is in Adams Family Correspondence , 1:108–109.
2. Richard Lechmere (1727–1814), John (1727–1816) or George (1738–1806) Erving, Thomas (1722–1784) and John (1728–1805) Amory, Francis (1742–1809) and Joseph (1706–1780) Green, and probably Daniel Hubbard, who signed the protest against the Solemn League and Covenant (Sabine, Loyalists , 1:162–163, 2:8; Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 8:42–53, 11:4–7, 12:152–156, 14:151–157, 610–617; MHS, Procs. , 1st ser., 11 [1869–1870]: 394–395)
3. The two-day town meeting climaxed the intense controversy over the actions taken and proposed by the Boston Committee of Correspondence in regard to the Port Act, the Massachusetts Government Act, and the Administration of Justice Act. In reacting to the first, the committee had proposed, after seeking support from the committees of other towns, a cutting off of trade with Great Britain; but the town meeting favored such action only if supported by similar action in other colonies. When the news arrived in June of the other acts passed by Parliament, the Committee of Correspondence felt Boston had to take the leadership and declare not only non• { 104 } importation, but nonconsumption and a boycott of those who continued importation and purchasing of any British goods. The furthest the town had been willing to go was nonconsumption of such British goods as could be “obtained among Ourselves.” In advocating unilateral action, the Committee had moved faster than the town wished, and opposition was particularly strong among merchants, whether loyalist or whig in sympathy. Thus, the stage was set for the meetings of 27 and 28 June. Although in his letter Williams shows some doubt about the outcome and the future of the Committee of Correspondence in the face of a motion of “censure and annihilation,” he need not have worried: the committee won an overwhelming vote of confidence. Nevertheless, the town did refuse to approve the Solemn League and Covenant. Clearly, for the moment, the Committee had gone too far. (See Boston Record Commissioners, 18th Report , p. 177–178, and Brown, Revolutionary Politics , p. 185–199.)
4. Although JA wrote him the next day (see next document), no known record of William Tudor's account of the meeting of 28 June is extant.
5. Williams (1754?–1780) was JA 's law clerk from Sept. 1772 to Oct. 1774. He died in Boston on 1 May 1780, soon after returning from France, where he had gone for his health. See JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:228, note.
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