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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 5


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Docno: ADMS-06-05-02-0094

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Freeman, Samuel
Date: 1777-04-27

To Samuel Freeman

[salute] sir

Your Favour of 25 March I duely received. The Plan of riding you mention, between Boston and Falmouth, appears to me, reasonable enough, but the Committee will not incline to take upon themselves, Regulations of that kind of which they cannot be so good Judges, at this Distance as the Post Masters who are nearer. My Advice would be for Mr. Hastings, Mr. Libby and yourself, to confer upon this subject with each other, in Person or by Letter and, any Representation of this Matter to the Post Master General, Mr. Bache, in which you three can agree will no doubt be readily adopted.
Mr. Hastings's Memorial has been considered, and the Post Master General has been impowered to make an Addition to his Allowance, not exceeding two hundred Dollars a year which I hope will do him Justice.
I wish it was in my Power to send you, the Constitutions of the several States, but it is not. They are not to be had here. I wish you Success, equal to your Desires, in establishing an happy Form of Government. But the Rage of Speculation and the Flames of Passion have Spread so far, in our State, that I am not without my Fears that you will be too much divided in sentiment to erect a very vigorous Government. Our State abounds with ambitious Men, in such Numbers, and with avaritious ones, who are still worse, and with others in whom both Passions unite, in a great degree, who are the most dangerous of all, that I fear our Government, will be turbulent, our Laws unstable, and consequently our Exertions too languid.
Time however, may correct Extravagances, and make our Posterity happy, but I much fear that our Happiness of the present Age must consist chiefly, in the Contemplation of theirs.
You and I however, I hope shall have the Consolation of reflecting that We have done our Utmost, upon the purest Principles of Philanthropy, to promote the Happiness of the present as well as future ages.
I find it difficult to get an opportunity of sending the Journals of Congress, such of them as are printed. But will embrace the first I can see.
I hope that our State, will compleat its Complement of Men, to a single soldier. This Campaign, will be the most interesting, and I have Strong Hopes, will be the last that will be attended { 162 } with much Hazard or Difficulty. At least the stronger We are this Year, the more likely it will be to put a Period to the War. I am, sir, with much Respect, your most obedient sert
[signed] John Adams
RC (MeHi).

Docno: ADMS-06-05-02-0095

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Tudor, William
Date: 1777-04-27

To William Tudor

Aha!—exchanging the Pride, Pomp and Circumstance of Glorious War, for the soft Charms of Wedlock and domestic Felicity,1 I suppose—abandoning Gun, Drum, Trumpet, Blunderbuss and Thunder, for the less terrible Sounds of the Wranglers at the Bar.
Well! Young Folk must have their Way. But I suppose by that Time you have laid the Foundations of a Young Tudor or two, you will be on Fire again with military Ardour, and get into the Army.
You wont find the Pleasures of Books, and the City active and violent enough for your Nerves so long Stretched with the Grand and sublime Events of War.
I believe it lies with the Agent to employ whom he will in filing Libells. But I have been so long out of the sceene that I know nothing about it. There will be soon a Navy Board in Boston, and then it will lie with them. Who the Men will be I know not. Men of Business and Integrity I hope. It would give me Pleasure to give you Business, if in my Power, but I dont know how.2 I am &c.
[signed] John Adams
RC (MHi:Tudor Papers); docketed: “Apl 27th. 1777.”
1. Tudor married Delia Jarvis in March 1778 (MHS, Colls. , 2d ser., 8 [2d edn., 1826]:285). It seems to have been an assumption of JA that Tudor's leaving the army would lead to marriage, for Tudor's most recent letter to JA known to the editors, that of 10 April and not printed here, makes no mention of marriage.
2. Tudor's letter of 10 April had sought JA 's help in getting business in the admiralty courts.

Docno: ADMS-06-05-02-0096

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: UNKNOWN
Date: 1777-04-27

To Unknown

I think it is Montesqueiu, who, Somewhere observes, that the English of Charles's days were perpetually bewildered in their Pursuit of a Republic, for being themselves extreamly corrupt, { 163 } they Sought, in vain for that pure and disinterested Principle upon which, alone, a Commonwealth can Stand.
The Principle of Republican Government, is as little understood in America, as its Spirit is felt. Ambition in a Republic, is a great Virtue, for it is nothing more than a Desire, to Serve the Public, to promote the Happiness of the People, to increase the Wealth, the Grandeur, and Prosperity of the Community. This, Ambition is but another Name for public Virtue, and public Spirit. But the Ambition which has Power for its object, which desires to increase the Wealth, the Grandeur, and the Glory of an Individual, at the Expence of the Community, is a very heinous Vice.
What Shall We Say of Oliver Cromwell? What Shall We Say of others, his Coadjutors? Can We Say, that they were actuated by a Love of the Public? Were they not governed by Selfish Motives? I make no Scruple to confess that I think Oliver, totally destitute of the Republican Principle of public Virtue. He thought himself honest, and Sincere. So did Balaam, when he asked Leave to curse Israel. There never was a greater self deceiver than Oliver Cromwell. The Man after Gods own Heart, to whom Nathan Said Thou art the Man, deceived himself, in the Same manner.2 How sincere was he, when he felt such honest Indignation against the Man, who had taken his poor Neighbours Lambs.
We, in America, are So contaminated, with the Selfish Principles of Monarchy, and with that bastard, corrupted Honour, that Monarchy inspires, that We have no Idea, no Conception, no Imagination, no Dream, of the Passions and Principles, which Support Republics. What will become of Us? God knows.
The Commissary General,3 this Evening related me an Anecdote, which gave me great Spirits as it seemed an Evidence that Integrity was not lost out of the World.
He Said that in comparing his Accounts he missed Seventy Pounds, and puzzled himself a long Time, to no Purpose to discover, where it could be gone. For several Months he had given it up, as lost and unaccountable. At last Coll Cary4 of Bridgwater, <of whose military Abilities, I have no Opinion,> came to him and told him, that after he went home from Cambridge where he had commanded a Regiment of Militia, he paid off, every Bill, and had Seventy Pounds left. He recollected that he had received no Money but from the Commissary General, and therefore that he { 164 } must have received too much. This accounted for the Commissarys Loss. Here was Integrity. If all Americans, were Carys, We should be fit for a Republic. But, how many Carys have We? I am afraid to Say how few I think We have.
LbC (Adams Papers). Since this letter lacks the usual notation “Sent,” as well as a salutation and the name of the recipient, it may not have gone out.
1. Preceding this letter in the Letter-book are two entries. One, dated 16 April, begins an answer to a letter dated on the 5th. Its first sentence is left incomplete. Very likely it was intended for Nathanael Greene, since it ends with “I yesterday obtained the approbation of C[ongress]” (see Nathanael Greene to JA , 5 April, note 1, above). Next there follows this notation: “April 27. wrote ten Letters. G. Greene. G. Knox. S. Freeman Esq. Dr. Cooper. J. Hastings. Dr. Foster, Mr. Tudor. G. Warren and two to Portia. These will go by Capt. Thompson or by next Wednesdays Post. They are as well worth copying as any others, but I am weary of the Employment.” The date given was the day on which JA recorded this information; the ten letters were actually written over a period of several days. Thus, letters were written to AA on 26 and 27 April ( Adams Family Correspondence , 2:223–226). Greene mentions receiving a letter dated the 27th, but Knox and Hastings acknowledged receipt of letters dated the 25th, the latter mentioning “Your Favor per Capt. Thompson of April 25” (all below). We have located letters to Tudor and Freeman dated the 27th (both above), but letters of this period to Greene, Knox, Cooper, Hastings, Warren, and Foster have not been found. The letter to Warren dated 27 April (JA, Works , 9:462–463) should be dated 3 April [May? ] 1777 (see below).
JA wrote to more than one correspondent about his fears for the survival of republican government in America, most recently to William Gordon (8 April, above), but for whom the present letter was intended remains undetermined. That JA began it without a salutation suggests it was intended for someone well known, for only occasionally to close friends did he omit a salutation in this period. None of these had recently raised the problem of republicanism.
2. 2 Samuel, 12:7.
3. Joseph Trumbull.
4. Col. Simeon Carey of the Massachusetts militia (Heitman, Register Continental Army , p. 143).