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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 2


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Docno: ADMS-06-02-02-0051

Author: Tudor, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1774-09-26

From William Tudor

[salute] Dear Sir

Mr. Revere arriv'd late on friday Evening and brought Us your Letters. Each one communicated the animating Intelligence convey'd in them to his particular Circle, and by 11 o'Clock the next Morng. the Contents of your Letters had circulated through the Town.1 The Assurance you give us of the Unanimity that prevails in the Congress2 has banish'd the only Fear we had remaining—a Disunion of Sentiments. You would be surpriz'd to see the happy Effect this Assurance has had. The important News flew like Lightning, and as it flew, brightened and invigorated. A convincing Proof of the great Dependence we place in your Counsels and from whence you may form some Idea how anxiously we wait for the Result of your Deliberations. The Luxury and Corruption that has debauch'd and deprav'd all Ranks in great Britain has led them to treat public Virtue as a public Jest, and to consider the Love of one's Country as the most idle Reverie. But I hope this Country will soon demonstrate to that mistaken Nation, that Patriotism is not a Chimaera, and that Americans in full { 175 } Vigour retain that heroic Virtue which once directed the Conduct of their Ancestors as well as ours.
It is now almost four Months since the unrighteous, cruel Port Act took Place, and though it has been carried into Execution with an unparalell'd Severity, the People are resolv'd to keep the Harbour blockaded to Eternity, rather than basely submit to the tyrannic Edicts of a British Parliament, in which every Principle of sound Policy has been made to yield to the Dictates of ministerial Revenge, back'd by royal Obstinacy.
The Bostonians have learn'd to suffer and their Sufferings have operated in making them more determined. Take one Instance, Sir, among a hundred others. The other Day being at the North End I fell into Conversation with an honest Ship Carpenter. Very dull Times Mr. R.—“Yes Sir very dull. The last Vessel which was upon the Stocks in this Part of the Town was launch'd this Week, and there is not like to be another set up, for the admiral will not let them sail, after they are launched.” This is very discouraging, pray don't you think it almost Time for Us to submit, pay for the Tea and get the Harbour opened. “Submit! (reply'd the indignant Mechanic) NO—it never can be Time to become Slaves. I have yet got some Pork and Meal, and when they are gone I will eat Clams. And after we have dug up all the Clam Banks, if the Congress will not let Us fight, I will retreat to the Woods. I am always sure of Acorns.”
What a Roman! By Heavens I glory in being this Man's fellow Citizen. When I meet with such Sentiments from such a Person, I easily anticipate the Period when Bostonian shall equal Spartan Virtue; and the American Colonies rival in Patriotism and Heroism the most celebrated of the Grecian Republics. Your hum. Servt.
[signed] Will Tudor
Pray, Sir continue to write me. Your Letters are the best Presents I can receive.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “John Adams Esqr A Member of the American Senate convened at Philadelphia”; docketed: “Tudor Wm September 26th 1774.”
1. JA 's diary entry for 18 Sept. concludes; “Wrote many Letters to go by Mr. Paul Revere” ( Diary and Autobiography , 2:135). We know that he wrote two on this date||, [1] and [2],|| to AA , as well as one to Richard Cranch ( Adams Family Correspondence , 1:157–160), but he wrote also this same day to Josiah Quincy Jr. and to James Warren, although this last has not been found (see James Warren to JA , 16 Oct. 1774, below). The Boston Gazette printed about half the letter to Cranch, without identifying writer or recipient; just above this extract is another, also from Philadelphia, dated 18 Sept. (Boston Gazette, 26 Sept.). This extract, which could be from the letter to James War• { 176 } ren, reads: “The Contempt and Abhorrence in which Addressors, Protestors, and sworn Councellors are held here, are ineffable.” JA , by his own account, had opposed sending any address from the Suffolk bar to departing Gov. Thomas Hutchinson, and Warren had Written to Adams about Plymouth “protestors” ( Works , 10:38–40; Warren to JA , 3 Jan. 1774, above).
2. This assurance, besides being in one of JA 's letters to AA , may have been contained in several other letters unknown to the editors, perhaps in one to William Tudor. But the published portion of the Cranch letter may have served to call forth the “happy Effect” that Tudor mentions: “The Congress will support BOSTON and the Massachusetts, or Perish with them.”

Docno: ADMS-06-02-02-0052

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Tudor, William
Date: 1774-09-29

To William Tudor

[salute] Dear Sir

I wish it was in my Power, to write you any Thing for the Relief of your Anxiety, under the Pressure of those Calamities which now distress our beloved Town of Boston and Province of Massachusetts. The Sentiments expressed in your last to me, are Such as would do Honour to the best of Citizens, in the Minds of the Virtuous and worthy of any Age or Country in the worst of Times.

Dulce et decorum est pro Patria mori.

Wouldst thou receive thy Countrys loud Applause,

Lov'd as her Father, as her God ador'd,

Be thou the bold Asserter of her Cause,

her Voice in Council, in the Fight her Sword.1

You can have no adequate Idea of the Pleasures or of the Difficulties of the Errand I am now upon. The Congress is Such an Assembly as never before came together on a Sudden, in any Part of the World. Here are Fortunes, Abilities, Learning, Eloquence, Acuteness equal to any I ever met with [in] my Life. Here is a Diversity of Religions Educations, Manners, Interests, Such as it would Seem almost impossible to unite in any one Plan of Conduct.
Every Question is discussed with a Moderation, and an Acuteness and a minuteness equal to that of Queen Elizabeths privy Council.
This occasions infinite Delays. We are under Obligations of Secrecy in every Thing except the Single Vote which you have Seen approving the Resolutions of the County of Suffolk. What Effect this Vote may have with you is uncertain. What you will do, God knows. You Say you look up to the Congress. It is well you Should: but I hope you will not expect too much from Us.
The Delegates here are not Sufficiently acquainted with our Province and with the Circumstances you are in, to form a Judgment of { 177 } what Course it is proper for you to take. They Start at the Thought of taking up the old Charter,: They Shudder at the Prospect of Blood. Yet they are unanimously and unalterably against your Submission, to any of the Acts for a Single Moment.
You See by this What they are for—vizt, that you Stand Stock Still, and live without Government, or Law. At least for the present and as long as you can. I have represented to them, wherever I see them, the Utter Impossibility, of four hundred Thousand People existing long without a Legislature or Courts of Justice.2 They all Seem to acknowledge it: Yet nothing can be as yet accomplished.
We hear, perpetually, the most figurative Panegyricks upon our Wisdom Fortitude and Temperance: The most fervent Exhortations to perseverance. But nothing more is done.
I may venture to tell you, that I believe We Shall agree to N. Imp. N. Consumption, and Non Exportation, but not to commence so soon as I could wish.
Indeed all this would be insufficient, for our Purpose—a more adequate Support, and Relief to the Massachusetts Should be adopted. But I tremble for fear, We should fail of obtaining it.
There is however a most laudable Zeal, and an excellent Spirit, which every Day increases, especially in this City. The Quakers had a General Meeting here last Sunday, and are deeply affected with the Complexion of the Times.3 They have recommended it to all their People to renounce Tea, and indeed the People of this City of all Denominations have laid it generally aside Since our Arrival here. They are about setting up Companys of Cadets, voluntarily.—&c. &c. &c.
It is the universal opinion here that the General, Gage, is in the Horrors, and that he means only to act upon the Defensive. How well this opinion is founded you, can judge better than I.
I must beseech you to shew this Letter to no Man, in whom you have not the most perfect Confidence. It may do a great deal of Mischief.
We have had numberless Prejudices to remove here. We have been obliged to act, with great Delicacy and Caution. We have been obliged to keep ourselves out of Sight, and to feel Pulses, and Sound the Depths—to insinuate our Sentiments, Designs and Desires by means of other Persons, Sometimes of one Province and Sometimes of another. A future opportunity I hope, in Conversations will make you acquainted with all. adieu,
[signed] John Adams
{ 178 }
RC (MHi:Tudor Papers); addressed: “To Mr William Tudor Attorney at Law Boston favour'd by Mr Coolidge.”
1. It is sweet and becoming to die for one's country. Horace, Odes, III, ii, 13. The author of the English poetry has not been identified.
2. The county conventions that met in August and September were aware of the danger, for, almost without exception, they passed resolves calling on the people to refrain from disorders in this time of troubles. The closing of the courts made it necessary to declare all pending cases in abeyance, to propose arbitration schemes to settle disputes, and to urge debtors and creditors to make mutually agreeable arrangements for protecting the interests of both parties (Mass. Provincial Congress, Jours. , p. 603, 605, 613, 620–621, 625, 627, 633, 659; Brown, Revolutionary Politics , p. 214–220).
3. The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting sent out a letter of advice to American Quakers elsewhere (An Epistle from Our Yearly-Meeting, Held at Philadelphia, for Pennsylvania and New-Jersey, by Adjournments, from the 24th Day of the 9th Month to the 1st of the 10th Month, Inclusive, 1774; To our Friends and Brethren in These and the Neighbouring Provinces, Phila., 1774, Evans, No. 13285; James Bowden, The History of the Society of Friends in America, 2 vols., London, 1850, 1854, 2:298).