A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close

Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0006-0005-0002

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-03 - 1776-04

[Draft Resolution Concerning Instructions to Delegates, March—April 1776.]1

Whereas, the present State of America, and the cruel Efforts of our Enemies, render the most perfect and cordial Union of the Colonies and the utmost Exertions of their Strength, necessary for the Preservation and establishment of their Liberties, therefore
Resolved. That it be recommended to the several Assemblies and Conventions of these united Colonies, who have limited the Powers of their Delegates in this Congress, by any express Instructions, that they repeal or suspend those Instructions for a certain Time, that this Con• { 237 } gress may have Power, without any unnecessary Obstruction or Embarrassment, to concert, direct and order, such further Measures, as may seem to them necessary for the Defence and Preservation, Support and Establishment of Right and Liberty in these Colonies.2
1. This draft follows the preceding entry after a short interval of space and is the last entry in D/JA/26. There is no other clue to its date. CFA suggested that “This is perhaps the first draught of the well known motion made in Committee of the Whole, on the sixth of May, which was reported to the House, on the tenth,” recommending the establishment of governments in the colonies “sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs” (JA, Works, 2:489, note; JCC, 4:342). But it seems to be, rather, a different device to achieve the same end, i.e. to draw the teeth from the instructions still controlling the delegations from the middle colonies. There can be no doubt that JA proposed to introduce it into the debates of the committee of the whole during March or April, but whether he did or not remains a question. For the source of JA's language see the next note.
2. Compare the instructions issued to the Massachusetts delegates by the General Court on 18 Jan. 1776 (while JA was attending as a member of the Council): “Resolved that they or any one or more of them are hereby fully impowered, with the delegates from the other American Colonies to concert, direct and order such further measures as shall to them appear best calculated for the Establishment of Right and Liberty to the American Colonies upon a Basis permanent and secured against the power and arts of the British Administration” (Adams Papers). JA was simply proposing to extend the Massachusetts Instructions throughout the Continent.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/