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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


This note contained in document ADMS-01-02-02-0005-0005-0003
1. This list, not printed by CFA in his edition of the Diary, was written inside the back cover of D/JA/24. Since the names were obviously put down at different times, the list may be supposed a running memorandum of persons suggested for commands in the naval force for which Congress was being forced to plan in the last months of 1775; see entries of 7 and 30 Oct. and notes, above.
On 2 Nov. Congress voted $100,000 for the work of the committee on armed vessels or “naval committee,” and authorized it “to agree with such officers and seamen, as are proper to man and command said vessels” (JCC, 3:316). Probably the present list of qualified officers was begun at that moment. On 5 Nov.JA wrote to Elbridge Gerry, a member of the Massachusetts House: “I must ... intreat you to let me know { 222 } the Names, Places of Abode, and Characters, of such Persons belonging to any of the seaport Towns in our Province, who are qualified for Officers and Commanders of Armed Vessells” (NHpR). Gerry must have brought this and JA's related inquiries before the House, for a partial copy of his letter is among the papers of that body, docketed “Mr. Speaker Mr. Gerry Colo. Orne,” evidently a committee to whom it was referred (M-Ar: vol. 207). On the same day (5 Nov.) JA had addressed a very similar appeal to James Warren, speaker of the House (MHi; Warren-Adams Letters, 1:174–175), and Warren replied in detail on 14–16 Nov., naming Simeon Sampson and Daniel Souther as good officer candidates (Adams Papers; same, p. 181–186). Souther was well up on JA's list, but Sampson is the last name there and may have been added upon receipt of Warren's letter. If this is so, it fixes an approximate closing date for the list, say soon after 20 November.
On 22 Dec. the committee reported to Congress the names of the officers it had already appointed (JCC, 3:443). Of the five senior officers—Ezek Hopkins, “commander in chief of the fleet,” and Saltonstall, Whipple, Biddle, and John Burroughs Hopkins, captains—three are on JA's list. Others from that list obtained Continental commands later on, and still others served as privateers or in state naval forces, but detailed annotation of these names must be left to naval historians.
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/