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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8


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Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0103

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1779-09-11

To James Warren

[salute] My dear Friend

I was told in Boston that Mr. Avery and Mr. Wendell had been proposed for Judges of the Inferior Court for the County of Suffolk, in the Room of my Friend Pemberton.1 I said not a Word, but since I have been at home, I have reflected upon this and altho these Gentlemen have amiable Characters I cannot think them So well qualified for this Place as Mr. Cranch, whose great Natural Abilities, and whose late Application to the study of the Law and to public affairs, made him occur to my Mind.2 It is the first Time of my whole Life, that I recollect that I ever proposed a Relation of mine, for a Place,3 and I cer• { 144 } tainly should not have done it in this Case, if he had not been, entirely without my Knowledge untill my Arrival, been brought into public View. If you think as I do, that the public will be as faithfully and ably served by such an Appointment, as by any other, and will mention it to Mr. Sever,4 who is acquainted with him, perhaps it may be proposed in Council. There is but one objection that I know of, and that is, he is my Brother. This may be enough. <My most>

[salute] In haste yours

[signed] John Adams
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); addressed: “The Honourable James Warren Esqr of the Continental Navy Board Boston”; docketed: “Mr. J Adams. Lettr. Sepr. 1779.”
1. Neither John Avery nor Oliver Wendell was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Samuel Pemberton (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 14:384–389; 13:367–374; 11:161–162).
2. Richard Cranch, married to AA 's sister Mary, was then a member of the House of Representatives (Mass., Province Laws , 21:4). Cranch was named to the common pleas court in 1780 (William T. Davis, History of the Judiciary of Massachusetts, Boston, 1900, p. 151).
3. In a letter of 2 May 1775, JA hinted to Joseph Palmer “in Behalf of [his] Brothers, if Either of them should have an Inclination to engage in the Army” (vol. 3:1, and note 7).
4. William Sever was then a Council member (Mass., Province Laws , 21:3).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0104

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Whipple, William
Date: 1779-09-11

To William Whipple

[salute] My old Friend

How do ye? Here I am, after, escaping storms, thunder, lightning, the Gulph Stream British Squadrons, Cannon Balls, and what is ten Thousand Times worse than all of them the Neglect and Contempt of Congress. Dont you think me a Philosopher, to pronounce these Words Neglect and Contempt with so much Deliberation Patience and Tranquility?
When Dr. Fs new Commission arrived, there was much Pains taken to perswade me to stay. Dr. F. advised me to take a Journey to Geneva, others to Amsterdam. Mr. Chaumont offered me, his House in the Country during the War.1 Dr. Bancroft the confidential Friend of F. D. and C. told me, he had a Letter from Charmichael, in which he was told that the Gentlemen of that side of the House,2 intended to send me to Spain, in the Room of Lee. The Marquis de la Fayette told me that Mr. G. Morris told him, that they intended to send me to Spain.3 By Letters from R. H. Lee and Lovell and S. Adams, I was told they intended to send me to Holland.4
Although it was flattering enough to me to find, that both sides professed to be willing to employ me somewhere, yet I knew very well it { 145 } would be so long before they would be able to agree and determine the Place, that I thought it my Duty to return home, that they might have Time enough to deliberate upon it, rather than stay there, eating public Bread without doing any Thing to earn it5 in a situation both painfull and ridiculous like that of Ariel wedged by the Waiste in the middle of a rifted Oak.6
I have been conning over your Journals, but cannot yet comprehend many Things. You must have had many Things and much Information that I am a stranger to, I think. Quere whether I am not nearly enough like a Member of Congress to be intrusted with Some of your secrets, not such as you are enjoyned to keep so, but others. When you return call and see me.

[salute] Your Frid & most obt sert

[signed] John Adams
1. See Chaumont to JA , 25 Feb. (above).
2. That is, those supporting Silas Deane.
3. This sentence was written at the bottom of the letter, its place in the text indicated with a mark.
4. See letters from Richard Henry Lee and Samuel Adams of 29 and 25 Oct. 1778 respectively (both above). No letter from James Lovell mentioning Holland has been found. All three were supporters of Arthur Lee and would not have wanted to give Lee's commission to Spain to JA .
5. The phrase “eating public Bread . . . to earn it” is interlined.
6. JA alludes to Shakespeare's The Tempest, Act I, scene ii, lines 274–279, but Ariel was imprisoned in “a cloven pine.”