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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 1

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The Adams Papers

Papers of John Adams
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Papers of John Adams

Volume 1 • September 1755 – October 1773
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Out of the highest admiration
these first volumes
of the Papers of John Adams
are dedicated to
Editor in Chief Emeritus
without whose arrangement and interpretation
of Adams Papers materials
no ready succession of editors
would have been possible.
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This edition of The Adams Papers
is sponsored by the massachusetts historical society
to which the adams manuscript trust
by a deed of gift dated 4 April 1956
gave ultimate custody of the personal and public papers
written, accumulated, and preserved over a span of three centuries
by the Adams family of Massachusetts
graphic here
The acorn and oakleaf device shown above has been redrawn from a seal cut for John Quincy Adams after 1830. The motto is from Caecilius Statius as quoted by Cicero in the First Tusculan Disputation: Serit arbores quae alteri seculo prosint (“He plants trees for the benefit of later generations”).
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The Adams Papers


  • Thomas Boylston Adams
  • James Barr Ames
  • Frederick Burkhardt
  • Mark Carroll
  • F. Murray Forbes
  • Arthur J. Rosenthal
  • Walter Muir Whitehill


  • Bernard Bailyn
  • Julian Parks Boyd
  • Paul Herman Buck
  • L. H. Butterfield
  • David Herbert Donald
  • Marc Friedlaender
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • Leonard Woods Labaree
  • Robert Earle Moody
  • Stephen Thomas Riley
  • Ernest Samuels
  • Vernon Dale Tate
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  • Descriptive List of Illustrations xi
  • Introduction xvii
    • 1. An Overview of the General Correspondence and Other Papers of John Adams xvii.
    • 2. John Adams as Public Servant xx.
    • 3. John Adams as Revolutionist xxv.
    • 4. The Editorial Method xxxi.
    • 5. A Note on the Status of The Adams Papersxxxvi.
  • Acknowledgments xxxvii
    • Guide to Editorial Apparatus xl
    • 1. Textual Devices xl.
    • 2. Adams Family Code Names xl.
    • 3. Descriptive Symbols xli.
    • 4. Location Symbols xlii.
    • 5. Other Abbreviations and Conventional Terms xliii.
    • 6. Short Titles of Works Frequently Cited xliv.
  • Papers of John Adams, September 1755 – October 1773 1
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Descriptive List of Illustrations
Descriptive List of Illustrations

Descriptive List of Illustrations

Descriptive List of Illustrations

[Note: for permissions reasons, not all illustrations from the letterpress volumes are available in this digital edition.]

A Page from John Adams' Literary Commonplace Book, 1756 8

Adams is copying here from Joseph Addison's eleven-part essay entitled “On the Pleasures of the Imagination,” which appeared in the Spectator papers between 21 June and 3 July 1712, Nos. 411–421. The penciled notation in brackets is an editorial insertion identifying the beginning of the tenth part of Addison's essay. Adams concluded his copying of this essay on 13 April 1756. He wrote here in his small hand, entirely filling the page to conserve paper. For a calendar of his entries in his Commonplace Book, see p. 7–10, below.
From the original in the Adams Papers.

The Rev. Jonathan Mayhew, Attributed to John Greenwood, Circa 1750 119

Minister of the West Church in Boston and an outspoken supporter of the whigs, Jonathan Mayhew (1720–1766) was the author of the famous A Dissertation Concerning Unlimited Submission and Nonresistance to the Higher Powers, 1750, and of The Snare Broken, 1766, a sermon on the repeal of the Stamp Act. John Adams admired particularly the Dudleian Lecture that Mayhew delivered in May 1765, which attacked the Catholic Church for its threat to liberty, a theme congenial to Adams' “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law.” See the notes to the “Dissertation,” May – 21 October 1765, under Nos. I, IV, and V, below. The portrait is thought to have been painted about 1750.
Courtesy of the Congregational Library, Boston.

The Deplorable State of America, by John Singleton Copley, 1765 149

Published in Boston on 1 November 1765, the day the Stamp Act was to take effect, this political cartoon was probably commissioned to express the emotions of Bostonians who felt threatened by the revenue measures of Parliament. Copley himself had little to do with politics. The cartoon was modeled after an English engraving that appeared in London on 22 March 1765, the day the Stamp Act was passed, but Copley elaborated the design and introduced ideas applicable to Boston.
A flying Britannia, leaving behind fragments of Magna Carta, holds out Pandora's Box to America, saying, “Take it Daughter its only the S–––p A–t.” America, appealing to Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom, begs her to shield her, as Liberty lies dying at America's { xii } feet. The asp that stings Liberty creeps out of a thistle, symbolic of Scotland and the Scotch influence around the throne. Loyalty, holding the crown and leaning against the Tree of Liberty, sighs that she fears she will lose her support. Above them flies a figure representing France, who uses gold to influence Lord Bute, a boot in the sky whose rays seem like marionette strings holding Britannia.
In the left background one well-dressed gentleman remarks that they will lose £500 per year, and another comments, “Who would not sell their country for so large a sum.” But in their vicinity are both a gallows labeled “Fit Entertainment for St––p M–n” and a fresh grave being filled. One man leaning over the grave asks, “Will you resign,” and a voice answers from within the grave, “Yes, yes, I will.”
In the right background workmen are gathered, one asking, “have ye seen the S–––p m–n?” To which another answers, “there he Drives, D––n his eyes,” looking to the rear, where behind the tree a mounted figure lashes his horse and cries, “Fort George will save me.” Another workman says, “Now we are discharg'd Jack what shall we do for bread?” Others cry, “Ho for Fr–––e” and “Done it tis.” This stress upon the Act's effect on workmen is an interesting feature, for it was important to make the lower orders, as they were called, understand the danger from this revenue measure that threatened everyone. See E. P. Richardson, “Stamp Act Cartoons in the Colonies,” PMHB, 96:275–297 (July 1972), which reproduces as figure 1 (p. 280) the English engraving that Copley used as a model.
Courtesy of the Library Company of Philadelphia.

Old State House and Site of the Boston Massacre 150

This modern photograph shows the Old State House restored to its original appearance and the site of the Massacre, marked by the circle of stones in the foreground. The room just inside the balcony was the Council Chamber, where John Adams argued for the opening of the courts in 1765. He was one of the defense counsel for the trial of the soldiers and their captain who fired into a Boston crowd on 5 March 1770, killing three and fatally wounding two. Adams also served on a Boston committee to select one of the orators chosen annually to commemorate the Massacre.
Courtesy of the Boston Globe.

An Attempt to Land a Bishop in America, 1769 212

This cartoon appeared as the frontispiece to the September 1769 issue of The Political Register of London (Vol. 5: opposite p. 119). The drawing illustrated an unsigned and critical review of a letter written by Thomas Secker in January 1751, when he was Bishop of Oxford, and ordered by him to be published after his death. He died in 1768 as Archbishop of Canterbury. The letter, written to Horatio Walpole, then a member of the Board of Trade, strongly urged the sending of bishops to America. The reviewer, obviously a religious dissenter, took sharp issue with both the { xiii } Bishop's opinions and the timing of the letter's publication, for it could only stir up more bitterness between Britain and America when too many issues were already dividing them. John Adams promised in “Sui Juris” to address himself to the issue of an American episcopacy. See p. 211–214, below.
The Bishop is climbing the shrouds of the ship The Hilsborough to escape an angry crowd shoving the ship from the dockside and hurling insults. Hillsborough was the Secretary of State for the American Department who had demanded the rescinding of the Massachusetts Circular Letter. Someone in the crowd has aimed a volume of “Calvin's Works” at the Bishop's head, and others are about to fling volumes of Locke and Sidney. The Bishop's carriage, with its wheels stowed, rests on deck; his crook has fallen and his mitre lies caught in the ratlines.
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

A Prospective View of Part of the Commons, by Christian Remick, 1768 221

The arrival of redcoats was one of the greatest irritants in pre-Revolutionary Massachusetts, embroiling first the royal governor and citizens in disputes over where they might be housed, and then soldiers and citizens in quarrels over conduct within the town, culminating in the Boston Massacre. John Adams, an active member of the Sons of Liberty in this period, signed the letter to John Wilkes complaining of the recent arrival of the troops (Committee to Wilkes, 5 Oct. 1768, below).
Christian Remick (1726–1773), sailor and watercolorist, did this view in 1768 to mark the arrival on 1 October of the 29th Regiment for encampment on the Common. In the right background stands the house of John Hancock, to whom the painting was dedicated, and the beacon on the hill from which Beacon Hill takes its name. It was engraved in 1902 by Sidney L. Smith for Charles E. Goodspeed, Boston. See Henry Winchester Cunningham, Christian Remick, an Early Boston Artist, Boston, 1904.
Courtesy of the Concord Antiquarian Society.

Serjeant John Glynn, John Wilkes, and the Rev. John Horne Tooke, By Richard Houston, 1769 234

John Wilkes (1727–1797), Member of Parliament, became a hero to American whigs when he was charged with seditious libel for his part in publishing The North Briton, No. 45, in 1763, a savage attack on George III's speech to Parliament, which praised the peace with France arranged largely by the King's favorite, Lord Bute. What attracted Americans was Wilkes' ringing defense of the liberties of Englishmen, of their rights under the British constitution, particularly freedom of the press. To escape imprisonment again after he had been freed on Parliamentary privilege, Wilkes fled to the Continent, from which he returned in 1768. He was re-elected to Parliament only to be denied his seat and thrown in prison. That same year a Sons of Liberty committee, of which { xiv } Adams was a member, opened a correspondence with Wilkes. He was not freed from prison until 1770.
John Horne Tooke (1736–1812) at the time this mezzotint was made was a firm supporter of Wilkes and active in the Society of Supporters of the Bill of Rights, which devoted itself to paying off Wilkes' debts, and to which Adams was formally elected. Later Tooke turned against Wilkes in the belief that money collected should go to others who suffered in behalf of principle.
Serjeant John Glynn (1722–1779) was a close associate of Wilkes, who acted in a legal capacity in his behalf, and who with Wilkes' help was elected to Parliament in 1768.
The paper lying under Glynn's hand reads, “Addresses to County of Middlesex, Constitutional Law, Legal Liberty.” That to which Wilkes points, reads, “General Warrants, Seizure of Papers, Habeas Corpus, Alteration of Records, Informations ex Officio, Close Imprisonment.” And the paper in front of Horne Tooke reads, “Treatise on Inclosing, Commons Freedom of Elections, Trial by Jury, Letters to Sr. J. Gilbans and Sir W. B. Proctor.” Gilbans has not been identified, but Proctor was the ministerial candidate opposing Wilkes in the Parliamentary election of 1768.
This group was painted and engraved by Richard Houston (1712?–1775), the engraving being distributed by Robert Sayer (British Museum, Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits, 5 vols., London, 1908–1922, 5:55). On the three subjects and their painter, see DNB.
Courtesy of the Bostonian Society.

The First Page of the Suffolk County Bar Book, 1770 237

The first sixteen pages of this MS book, pages 13 through 14 being blank, are in the hand of John Adams and cover meetings of the bar for 1770–1774. The book was continued by other hands to 1805. This first page records the choice of Adams as the first secretary. The handwriting here should be compared with that in the Commonplace Book, which was meant for his eyes only.
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

A Westerly View of the Colledges in Cambridge New England, by Paul Revere, after Joseph Chadwick, 1767 239

This 1767 engraving by Paul Revere was done in partnership with Joseph Chadwick, who did the drawing, and whose name appears on the left-hand side, opposite Revere's. Chadwick was a surveyor and engineer. Holden Chapel, the small building at the left, was not used for religious purposes after 1766, and it was here that the House of Representatives met when John Adams was a member, 1770–1771. The other buildings, left to right, are Hollis Hall, Harvard Hall, Stoughton Hall, and Massachusetts Hall. See Linda Ayres, Harvard Divided, Cambridge, 1976, p. 103–104. This publication is the catalogue of a Bicentennial exhibit at the University.
Courtesy of Harvard University.
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William Brattle, by John Singleton Copley, 1756 257

Gen. William Brattle, called so because of the rank he achieved in the militia, held many civil offices, including those of representative, councilor, and Cambridge selectman. Although he began as a supporter of the whigs, he had become an adherent of the other side by 1773 and thus a particular target for the scorn of John Adams, who had earlier been his attorney in the suit Brattle v. Murray. Adams felt that Brattle showed his true sentiments in the dispute over the independence of judges (11 January – 22 February 1773, below). By September 1774 Brattle had to flee Cambridge for the protection of Boston and the royal troops.
Courtesy of a private collector.
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An Overview of the General Correspondence and Other Papers of John Adams

No family in three generations has contributed so much to American history as the Adamses. John, John Quincy, and Charles Francis, despite recurring periods of doubt about themselves, knew that history, if not their contemporaries, would credit them with solid accomplishments. In their diaries and family correspondence the doubts as well as their just claims for recognition are set forth. Series III of The Adams Papers presents the more public record.
Aside from the Legal Papers of John Adams, published in 1965, the present two volumes are the first in the series that will eventually comprise the non-family correspondence, writings, and official papers of all three Adams statesmen. Volumes 1 and 2 of the Papers of John Adams include letters to and from friends and acquaintances, reports of committees on which he served, his polemical writings, published and unpublished, and state papers to which he made a contribution, such as instructions to representatives and messages to the royal governor.
Obviously even this multivolume edition of John Adams' writings will have to be selective. The governing principles of selection are described under “Editorial Method,” which follows. The principles for future volumes will be developed as the editing proceeds, the editors keeping in mind the injunction of the Adams Manuscript Trust when the papers were turned over to the Massachusetts Historical Society for scholarly use: “a document . . . selected for printing . . . should be printed, whole and entire, no single word expunged.”1 In making a selection, one confronts problems posed by documents to which John Adams, in his capacity as president of the Board of War, for example, routinely signed his name or documents signed by Adams and others which are being printed by other contemporary editorial enterprises such as the Papers of Thomas Jefferson. Decisions about such matters must be postponed.
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Much of John Adams' early correspondence, that before 1774, is missing. Volume 1, covering the period from September 1755 to October 1773, includes hardly more than a dozen letters written to him, even though we have been able to find over thirty sent by him. In his youth, while he was teaching school and studying law in Worcester, and afterwards, when he felt his isolation in Braintree as he tried to get his law practice started, he was eager for correspondents. He begged letters from classmates who could revive the golden Harvard years and from struggling young lawyers who could comment upon cases and legal treatises. As his practice increased with his traveling on circuit and as he assumed the responsibilities of citizenship and family life, he found less time and perhaps less need for letter writing. Rubbing shoulders with fellow attorneys in the courts and after hours provided the professional fellowship he craved. His marriage to Abigail Smith in 1764 gave new steadiness to his life; he had fewer moments of doubt and uncertainty about his direction and his worthiness to pursue the goals he had set for himself. With the development of the Revolutionary crisis, his writing energies were largely consumed in the composition of lengthy newspaper pieces and formal statements to be adopted by Braintree, Boston, and the General Court.
As Adams' fame spread, and particularly when he began to spend long weeks away from home attending the Continental Congress, his personal correspondence increased rapidly. As one of the Massachusetts representatives in Philadelphia, he was hungry for advice and for facts. He wanted his friends to write regularly and often, even though he apologized for his own replies, which had to be brief and unrevealing because of the secrecy imposed by the congress. Still, on occasion he wrote frankly, irritated by the caution and foot-dragging of some of his colleagues. Volume 2, covering the period from 17 December 1773 to 14 April 1775, shows a sharp increase in correspondence, containing more than twice as many letters as Volume 1. The greater number is owing partly to the awareness of Adams and his friends that they were participating in great events and that their letters were worth preserving. By 1776 Adams began more or less systematically to keep letterbook copies of what he wrote. Nonetheless, in relative terms the correspondence is sparse for these early years. Even so, John Adams' first editor, his grandson Charles Francis Adams, printed only a fraction of it; and the few letters he did include were almost an afterthought in volume 9 of The Works of John Adams. The present editors have included over one hundred, { xix } not counting about a dozen which are in the form of caption or calendar entries.
Steady growth in correspondence was the pattern for the future. As Adams assumed more duties for the colonies—administrative and diplomatic—his correspondence grew in almost geometric proportion, much of it official of course. In addition to the letters, the number of reports, messages, dispatches, and speeches swelled, leaving him with less time for producing instructive essays on political issues, which fill much of these first two volumes.
Adams' personal letters written to classmates or friends of longstanding reveal that he could unburden himself outside the family circle. Those to his law clerks glow with kindly, paternal warmth. His wit could be playful as well as mordant, and with some few his feelings ran deep. His disillusionment when Jonathan Sewall, one of his closest friends, seemed to Adams to betray their friendship by becoming a persistent and public defender of the prerogative party is apparent in a letter of 1763 that Adams probably did not send:
Such senseless, such pittyful Stuff and Trash, I did not expect from thee friend Jonathan. I do not blame thee at all for satirizing and execrating one side, that side I believe as fully as thou dost, deserves it. But I blame thee, for praising the other. Both Parties deserve Curses. Both Parties will sacrifice the good of their Country, to their own Malice, Envy, Revenge, Avarice, Ambition, or Lust. Thou knowest this to be true, and God knoweth it to be true. And yet to talk as thou dost—thou art almost a Devil.2
In a different mood is this, from a 1755 letter to Richard Cranch:
But the school is indeed a school of affliction, a large number of little runtlings, just capable of lisping A.B.C. and troubling the Master. But Dr. Savil tells me for my comfort, “by Cultivating and pruning these tender Plants in the garden of Worcester, I shall make some of them, Plants of Renown and Cedars of Lebanon.” However this be, I am certain that keeping this school any length of Time would make a base weed and ignoble shrub of me.3
Adams' writings on the Stamp Act and some of his newspaper pieces, written to challenge the positions of defenders of the colonial and imperial administrations, are well represented in Charles Francis Adams' edition of The Works, but the scale of the present edition permits the inclusion of drafts and all of John Adams' newspaper writings { xx } so far as we can identify them. “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law,” for example, which is not only found in The Works but has been republished in full or in part many times elsewhere, exists in two fragmentary drafts in the Adams Papers as well; and the newspaper letters entitled “Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford,” also printed in The Works, were only part of a whole series of pieces written in various styles, but all designed to answer Jonathan Sewall's defense of Governor Bernard.4 Even the Novanglus letters did not stop at twelve; a thirteenth has been conflated by the editors from a draft in the Adams Papers with a fragment in the Robert Treat Paine Papers.
The Adams Papers and other collections at the Massachusetts Historical Society constitute the main source for the letters here printed, but as Adams' correspondence grows the number and range of the depositories will increase with it. For newspaper writings we have depended heavily upon the Boston Gazette, and for committee reports, messages, and the like, upon the printed records of towns, legislative bodies, and the congress, as well as the Massachusetts Archives. Even in these early volumes a few items have come from a distance—from the Clements and Huntington libraries and the British Museum. The search for Adams materials, which began over twenty years ago, continues here and abroad. Hardly a week goes by that some hitherto unknown item does not turn up in a dealer's catalogue. Or, more rarely, a library whose holdings were searched long ago reports an item or two earlier overlooked or newly acquired. Systematic searches have yet to be completed in some of the foreign archives and for our later period, in the National Archives itself. The Adams Papers, like other major editorial enterprises, has friends and well-wishers here and in western Europe, those acquainted with archival holdings as well as those just interested in the Adamses, who are pleased to call to our attention materials we may have missed. We are very grateful to them all.

John Adams as Public Servant

The editors of the Legal Papers in their introduction remark upon “the analytical and organizational abilities, the knowledge of the workings of daily affairs,” which are brought out in the student and the { xxi } practitioner of law.5 Adams is generally conceded to have become one of the most able and learned lawyers of his day, so it is not surprising that Braintree and Boston called upon his services and that fellow whigs found his keen mind and fund of legal knowledge useful, in some instances indispensable. Adams, impatient and his mind teeming with ideas, did not always wait to be called upon. He put his mind to both humble and large matters. Thus, he took it upon himself to investigate the methods of taxing for highway repair as an alternative to relying on the old system of calling upon all able-bodied males in the town to do their share of the work. His interest and findings put him on a Braintree committee to draft a suitable proposal for paying for highway maintenance. The outcome was that the town went over to a taxation system. In Braintree, Adams also served on committees to sell off the South Common and to lay out individual plots in the North Common. In the fall of 1765, at a town meeting called as a result of his petitioning effort, he presented a draft of instructions for Braintree's representative in the forthcoming session of the General Court, at which the stamps were certain to be an issue. Although there was nothing original in the line of argument Adams laid down in opposition to the Stamp Act, the instructions as amended in the town meeting became widely known through their publication in two Boston newspapers.
In December 1765, when Adams had been a practicing barrister for only three years, the town of Boston called upon him and two others to act in its behalf to urge the opening of the courts even though stamps and stamped paper were not available. Adams appeared before the Governor and Council with two of the most distinguished lawyers in the province, James Otis and Jeremiah Gridley. Sidestepping the arguments of the three barristers, the Governor and Council declared that the decision to open the courts without stamps lay in the hands of the judges of the several courts, that Boston's appeal ought to be directed to them. For a time the issue became the first concern of the citizens. Despite the renown he was gaining outside his hometown, Braintree did not choose Adams as its representative to the General Court in the spring elections of 1766, as Samuel Adams had anticipated it might do. John had to be satisfied with being chosen a selectman, an office he filled a second year as well, but refused when it was offered a third time.
Not until 1770 was Adams elected to the House of Representatives, and then not from Braintree but from Boston, where he had { xxii } moved with his family in 1768. Actually his law practice had made him in some sense a citizen of that town before he moved there, for he had come to know and had been accepted by some of its leading men during the Stamp Act crisis. Diary entries for periods when he was attending the courts record numerous stimulating evenings during which Adams participated with Samuel Adams, James Otis, Thomas Cushing, Jeremiah Gridley, and others in lively discussion of politics and general topics.6 After his move to Boston, Adams served on town committees, twice on those chosen to draft instructions for the town's representatives—in 1768 and again in 1769.
Adams' year in the provincial legislature was a frustrating one in that much of the time of the House was taken up by a running quarrel with the Governor over his right to move the General Court to Cambridge. Until October 1770 the House steadfastly refused to conduct business until its meeting place returned to Boston. “Absolute necessity” finally forced the House to yield, although Adams thought the concession should not have been made. Not counting ceremonial ones, Adams served on at least sixteen committees during his year as a representative. He did not find the experience enjoyable and in later years dismissed his service as “drudgery” and “fatiguing.”7 Unfortunately, not enough evidence has been found to assess the exact contribution he made to committees, which ranged in significance from that appointed to draft a bill for the lieutenant governor's salary to that named to recommend action on Parson Merrill's petition that he be permitted to accept his parsonage from Haverhill in fee simple.
For Adams it was a disappointing year. He summed up his feelings in his Diary: “I wish to God it was in my Power to serve them [the people of Boston], as much as it is my Inclination.—But it is not.—My Wishes are impotent, my Endeavours fruitless and ineffectual, to them, and ruinous to myself.”8 Adams longed to get back to his law practice and to husbandry as his main concerns and to bid farewell to politics. His return to Braintree did not last long; by November 1772 he had his family back in Boston.
John Adams had meant to bid farewell to politics only in the sense of keeping out of conspicuous public office. He could not, and did not, ignore the political issues dividing the people of Massachusetts into opposing camps. In early 1773 he engaged in newspaper debate with William Brattle over the independence of judges. At the same { xxiii } time he acted as consultant to a committee of the House of Representatives desirous of refuting Governor Hutchinson's pronouncement that between absolute dependence upon Parliament and complete independence from the British Empire no middle ground could be defined. At the spring elections in 1773 he was elected a councilor by the General Court, but along with others, was rejected by the Governor, who exercised his veto a second time in the elections of 1774. That same spring Adams had undertaken a massive review of the boundaries of Massachusetts, particularly those contested by New York. Technically he worked as one of a committee appointed by the General Court, but the labor was all his. Within Massachusetts, however, this was not a controversial assignment. Citizens of whatever stripe could agree on using every legal argument to get as generous an interpretation of the boundaries of the province as possible. Adams did not hesitate to put to good use materials prepared by Hutchinson some years earlier.
The town of Boston, however, was not to be denied the services of one of the most articulate and able lawyers in the province—not when it was facing the greatest crisis in its history, the closing of the port by act of Parliament. Adams served on the Ways and Means committee, created to find sources of support for those suffering hardship because they were dependent upon the port and activities related to it. Extant records indicate no more than that he served, giving no indication of his contribution to the various schemes proposed. We have even less information about Adams' role on two other committees for which no reports at all have been found: a committee to consider the situation of the town's lands in and around the fort, and one to prepare instructions for Boston's representatives to the General Court in 1774. We do know that John Adams served as moderator of the meeting on 17 June after the services of neither James Bowdoin nor John Rowe could be obtained. But, again, no account of how he performed his duties has come to light. Being absent on circuit caused Adams to miss the two most exciting meetings in the summer of 1774, those in which loyalists sought to censure the town's Committee of Correspondence for adopting the Solemn League and Covenant.
Boston was not the locale of John Adams' most important political activity. In June 1774 the General Court in a closed-door session named him, along with Thomas Cushing, Samuel Adams, Robert Treat Paine, and James Bowdoin, who did not serve, as a delegate to the Continental Congress, which met in Philadelphia in September 1774. Notwithstanding the assurances of friends to whom Adams { xxiv } turned for ideas and guidance, he had grave doubts about his fitness to participate in so formidable a task as working out a common policy of opposition to British measures. But he grew in confidence as he met many well-wishers on his journey to the congress and took the measure of the men who were to serve with him. For the first time, because of the notes he and others kept, we gain some true insight into the role Adams played as a member of a public body. There is no need here to repeat the analysis given with the documents except to say that his contribution on several committees and in general debate was important and in keeping with the positions he had developed in Massachusetts.
Adams had scarcely returned from Philadelphia when he was chosen as one of Braintree's representatives to the Provincial Congress. His actual service in that extralegal body was too brief to be of much relative significance, however. The presence of all of the Massachusetts delegates to the Continental Congress was thought desirable, so that the Massachusetts congress could be fully informed about the proceedings in Philadelphia. The Provincial Congress was so satisfied with the performance of the delegation that it renamed all of them to go to the Second Continental Congress, adding John Hancock as chairman of the delegation.
Before Adams could get to the second congress, Braintree put him to work on town affairs, although he told a friend that he never attended town meetings.9 He was on the committee that drew up Braintree's version of the Continental Association. This was in large part a verbatim copying of the original, but it contained some interesting modifications discussed in connection with the document itself. He was named chairman of a committee to find ways to encourage men to enlist in companies of minutemen. The town also chose him as one of nine selectmen; clearly the voters did not anticipate a long absence in Philadelphia.
In the period between 1762, when he served on his first town committees, and 1775, when he was about to enter on the momentous work of the Second Continental Congress, Adams at first sought public office as recognition of his abilities and his concern for the public good. As the confrontation with Britain sharpened, however, he drew back temporarily, fearful that his political ambition would destroy his career and thus the means to provide adequately for his growing family. But there was no drawing back. Adams' fellow townsmen and then the province would have his services. The crisis had { xxv } become so serious that not to do what he could plainly would have been to shirk his civic responsibilities, however many doubts he might have about his fitness or the effect public service would have upon his personal fortunes. For Adams there could be no turning away from the path marked out by duty.

John Adams as Revolutionist

In the period covered by these two volumes Adams does not go the whole way to independence, to complete and permanent separation from Great Britain, but he advances and supports a revolutionary interpretation of the British system. The idea of a commonwealth of states under the king that Adams espoused was not solely his own, but he was one of its earliest proponents. His argument, moreover, was unique in the massive support he gave it from legal sources. Adams would not have considered his interpretation of the British system revolutionary in any modern sense; he saw it as a return to the right view of things in terms of legal precedents. For him it was revolutionary in eighteenth-century terms, when “revolution” meant restoring ancient liberties.10 The Glorious Revolution of 1688 had been glorious because it successfully re-established liberties threatened by the tyranny of James II. Corruption and even conspiracy in Great Britain threatened American liberties in the 1760's; a penetrating analysis of history and of learned commentaries on judicial decisions revealed that Parliament, a sink of corruption, was playing a role in the affairs of the American colonies for which there was no precedent. Denial of power to Parliament overseas would restore liberty.
Adams did not arrive at this position all at once. He had been stimulated to think about the powers of Parliament when he took copious notes on the argument of James Otis in the writs of assistance case of 1761.11 Otis had argued that the writs, which were general search warrants, were in violation of the British Constitution, and that therefore the act of Parliament creating them was void. In short, there was a higher law to which Parliament must conform. Although later in life Adams liked to say that Otis had initiated the Revolution with this argument, the case actually made little impact at the time. Otis lost the decision, but he left a deep impression on the mind of Adams, { xxvi } who had been admitted to the bar but three years earlier. That the powers of Parliament were not absolute was a principle that remained with him.
The next step in Adams' developing thought was “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law.” He had begun this as a general attack on the tyranny of the law of the Church and the law of feudalism meant to enlighten some of his fellow attorneys who had formed a discussion club, the Sodality. Before Adams finished his exposition, which appeared in 1765 in installments over a period of months in the Boston Gazette, he shaped it to deal with the threat to liberty posed by the Stamp Act. His argument that British liberties were original rights antecedent to Parliament and that rulers were merely trustees of the people who could revoke their grant of authority if rulers betrayed the trust were familiar ideas to Americans. But Adams' emphasis on the role of knowledge in freeing the people from canon and feudal law, and, more particularly, his praise for the Puritans in establishing schools and a college gave his essay a New England flavor. The stamp taxes, falling as they did on newspapers, college diplomas, and the like, would inhibit the diffusion of knowledge.
Although these features of Adams' “Dissertation” have claimed the attention of scholars, and rightly so, one other passage deserves more notice than it has received, for it was one of the building blocks of his theory of independent states under the king. In writing about the Puritans, Adams commented, “To have holden their lands allodially, or for every man to have been the sovereign lord and proprietor of the ground he occupied, would have constituted a government, too nearly like a commonwealth. They were contented therefore to hold their lands of the King, as their sovereign Lord and to him they were willing to render homage.”12 Thus, from the beginning, the early settlers had a special relationship to the King, but they rejected any of the other trappings of feudalism. This passage makes no mention of Parliament. Despite Adams' attack on the tyranny of feudalism, he somewhat illogically accepts a feudal relationship between liberty-loving Puritans and their sovereign.
Adams' next public pronouncement on the system of British government came at the end of 1765, when he served with Gridley and Otis as counsel for Boston in the effort to get the province courts opened without stamps. Lining up a variety of legal principles taken largely from a beginner's handbook, Adams insisted that because the { xxvii } Stamp Act was against reason and impossible to enforce, it could have no validity. Here he was influenced by the line of argument James Otis had taken in the writs of assistance case.
Not only was Parliament's power over the colonies limited, but in early 1767 Adams came close to saying that the English legislature had a coequal of sorts in the assemblies of the American colonies. This implication is found in his criticism of Governor Bernard for withholding the oath of office from two representatives from Newbury. Bernard refused the oath because Newbury was supposed to elect only one representative, but the cry went up immediately that the Governor was interfering with the right of the House to be a judge of elections to it. In one of his newspaper pieces discussing the episode, Adams declared that “for the King himself to attempt to judge of the elections, returns or qualifications of the members of the House of Commons, or of the house of Representatives, would be an invasion of their privilege.”13 He does not say that the royal governor cannot interfere, but that the king himself must keep hands off, just as he must in England. An American house of representatives was as privileged as the House of Commons.
Adams did not yet view Parliament as simply a coequal of the Massachusetts House. In Boston's instructions to its representatives in the General Court, drawn up in June 1768, which he helped to draft, a proper respect for Parliament is expressed—in ritualistic language, to be sure, and in words capable of varied interpretation. The instructions mention “a reverence and due subordination to the British Parliament as the supreme legislature in all cases of necessity, for the preservation of the whole empire.”14 What was “necessity”? What was “preservation”?
There the matter stood for a while. Adams had taken the position that Parliament was not absolute but subject to a higher law; he had insisted that in the matter of privileges the colonial assembly was its equal even in direct relationship to the king; and yet he had acknowledged that Parliament was the supreme legislature in some respects, not too precisely defined.
In early 1773 Adams moved a long step ahead in the development of his ideas on the role of Parliament in the British Empire. The occasion was the Crown's decision to pay the salaries of superior court judges. Here was a challenge that threatened the whole system of law in which John Adams had placed his faith. If judges received royal sal• { xxviii } aries rather than being paid through appropriations of the General Court, judges would, it was feared, become mere creatures of the Crown. When William Brattle tried to argue that the source of judges' salaries made no difference, because colonial as well as English judges served during good behavior, Adams demonstrated that neither common nor statute law threw a cloak of protection around judges and that judges paid by the Crown were ultimately dependent upon monies raised by Parliament. He refrained from drawing the obvious conclusion. His readers could well enough anticipate what a Parliament might do that was now revealed to have yet additional sources of overweening power.
While Adams engaged in newspaper debate with Brattle, he acted as consultant to a House committee designated to answer Governor Hutchinson's claim that “no Line [could] be drawn between the Supreme Authority of Parliament and the Total Independence of the Colonies.” The House, refusing to be caught in this dilemma, insisted that it was quite possible for the colonies to be “distinct States” “united in one Head and common Sovereign.”15 The legal support for this position came from John Adams, who argued cogently from his sources that allegiance was to the person, not to the public character of the king. It pleased him to be able to confound Hutchinson by citing, as one of his authorities, Moore's Cases, a work not generally known among the province's lawyers. In Adams' view the North American colonies were “an Acquisition of foreign Territory, not annexed to the Realm of England, and therefore at the absolute Disposal of the Crown.” Parliament had no role at all. Building on the assertion of a modified feudal relationship between the king and the settlers described in “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law” in 1765, Adams whittled away at the absolute powers of Parliament until nothing was left. There was more to dread from an “absolute uncontrouled Supreme Power,” as the Declaratory Act made Parliament, than there was from “total Independence.” And the whittling away was done without sacrificing the legal tradition which Adams revered; indeed, that legal tradition furnished him with the ammunition he needed.
Two problems remained. Was a special relationship between the colonies and the king sufficient protection for the liberties of Americans? Was it practical to eliminate Parliament from an empire rang• { xxix } ing from India to North America? Adams answered this first question theoretically, the second politically. As English whigs interpreted history, the liberties of Englishmen, which Americans claimed as their own, had emerged from Parliament's long struggle with the king. Americans generally had three answers to this question of whether dependence upon the king alone was sufficient protection for liberty. They were protected by natural law, which existed before government; by the British Constitution, itself based on natural law with accretions from Magna Carta and English laws passed to confirm the principles of the great charter; and by their charters. As Adams saw it, “though we hold our Lands agreeably to the Feudal Principles of the King; yet our Predecessors wisely took Care to enter into Compact with the King that Power here should also be equally divided”—divided, that is, between king and representatives of the people according to “the original fundamental Principles of the English Constitution.”16 As a lawyer, Adams preferred legal precedents to abstract political theory—if they could be made to serve. When Judge Trowbridge twitted him about his effort to find in the English constitution the hidden powers that would make impeachment of Chief Justice Peter Oliver possible because Oliver accepted a salary from the Crown, Adams was ready with his answer: “I should be very happy if the Constitution could carry us safely through all our difficulties without having recourse to higher Powers not written.”17
The second question, respecting the practicality of eliminating Parliament from a role in governing the overseas colonies, was answered politically by the First Continental Congress, when it asserted that the colonists claimed exclusive right to legislate “in all cases of taxation and internal polity,” but “cheerfully” consented to Parliament's regulating trade out of “regard to the mutual interest of both countries.”18 The initiative came from the colonies; no right to Parliament was being conceded. Adams had supplied the wording, under circumstances explained in the Editorial Note about his service in the Continental Congress. He took considerable satisfaction from this outcome, for he wanted to avoid bloodshed. When the sword was drawn, deaths on both sides would demand revenge; the imperatives of war would rule out any but an imposed solution.19
That Adams was sincere cannot be doubted, for otherwise one could { xxx } not explain the tremendous expenditure of intellectual energy that went into the Novanglus letters. With greater research and vigor than ever before, he demonstrated that the colonies were not part of the realm and were thus outside Parliament's jurisdiction; that their allegiance to the king as feudal overlord was to his person, not to him in his political capacity. Parliamentary regulation of trade was possible only because the colonies as a practical matter freely consented to it. These ideas were not new in Adams' thought; but the evidence he assembled, reviewing the situation of Ireland, Wales, the Channel Islands, Chester, and Durham, was new. Also new was his denial that there was an empire or an imperial Crown. The British system was made up of states dependent upon a king.
In the Novanglus letters Adams twice denied that he was seeking independence.20 Had he sought only to conceal a desire for independence, there would have been no need for such a formidable display of legal learning. His argument ran to so many pages and the thickets of legal learning were so dense that one can only believe he sought to satisfy his own need for an utterly convincing brief and the need of those few lawyers willing to follow where he led. He wanted what he could justify: a commonwealth of states under the king.
No Englishman accepted then, or does now, Adams' analysis of the British system.21 And, with the notable exception of Charles H. Mcllwain, no American historian believes he proved his point.22 Adams was inconsistent in retaining a vestige of feudalism, whose law he declared to be tyrannical, and vulnerable in putting reliance upon a compact made between settlers and king as the shield of liberty. Not only had legal action vacated the original Massachusetts charter, but most of the colonies had no charters at all. When the British did adopt a commonwealth theory, they did so for political, not theoretical reasons. The principle of independent states under a common king was revolutionary in the sense of being novel and promoting wider participation in the political process, but in Adams' eyes it was merely { xxxi } what had to be, given history and legal precedents. Independence was forced upon Americans by a mother country deaf to reasoned argument and determined to prevail by use of force.

The Editorial Method

Materials Selected and Their Arrangement
Volumes in Series III, like those in Series II, will have to be selective, and the selection will become more rigorous as the amount of material grows with John Adams' increasing responsibilities. Some items, like notes of hand and brief memoranda of various kinds, have been routinely excluded without notice to the reader except as they may be useful in annotation. These are available on the microfilm of the Adams Papers, the filming of which was completed in 1959 in 608 reels. The Adams Papers editorial office can direct scholars to the nearest depository at which they may consult the film. Only the body of documents given by the Adams Manuscript Trust is on the microfilm; copies of Adams documents accessioned over the years are not included.
Generally speaking, documents concerning Adams' legal career and cases handled have also been omitted from these volumes; the texts and information on them can be obtained from the Legal Papers. To be of service to scholars, however, the present volumes take notice of some documents concerning Adams' practice of law if they have not already been dealt with in annotation in published Adams volumes. Letters and other documents in the Adams Papers or among materials accessioned for the editorial enterprise may be calendared or, if they furnish insight into Adams' attitudes or seem otherwise significant, printed in full. These include the Suffolk County Bar Book, 3 January 1770 – 26 July 1774; to John Lovell?, 15 December 1770. Documents in the hands of MS dealers and not available except in catalogue listings, like those not concerned with legal matters, appear as caption or calendar entries if they seem important enough.
In the period covered by these first two volumes, all letters known to the editors, with the exceptions noted, which went to or from John Adams, whether personally or as a member of a group or committee, and which do not meet the criteria for inclusion in Adams Family { xxxii } Correspondence have been printed or taken notice of by captions. Letters by caption only are those already printed in the diaries or those still in the hands of dealers or collectors; we calendar those advertised letters that appear in facsimile or with extensive quotation. Future volumes will not be able to include all such letters. To mention but two examples, letters substantially identical but written by Adams to several different correspondents or routine letters of transmittal, acknowledgment, or acceptance will by handled in the annotation. As the editing goes forward, further criteria will be developed.
Documents other than letters present many complexities, although relatively few in the present volumes. The editors have included all the known polemical writings, whether they actually saw print or not; when drafts seemed to add a dimension or throw light on Adams' thinking, they have been included as well. The only exception to this inclusiveness is those writings already published in the Diary and Autobiography; these appear by caption only or are taken notice of in the annotation. Future volumes will not reprint long works like A Defence of the Constitutions of Government or Discourses on Davila. As explained by L. H. Butterfield, these require bibliographic treatment rather than reissue.23
Documents to which Adams was only one of several contributors—committee reports, resolutions, messages to the Governor, and the like—have been printed in full if evidence indicates that Adams contributed significantly to the thinking or the wording. If Adams was but a signer, so far as we can tell, or the records indicate only that he was on the committee, then the decision on printing in full, calendaring, or simply mentioning the document is made on the basis of usefulness as perceived by the editors. For example, we have not included the Continental Association as adopted by the Continental Congress although Adams signed it, for it is readily available in modern sources. We have included Braintree's version of the Association drafted by a committee of which Adams was one of eight members, and to which his contribution is unknown, because the Braintree document is not readily available and shows some interesting variations from the Continental version. On the other hand, all committee reports produced while Adams was in the House of Representatives have been calendared as a way of illustrating the role he played in that body. Here the emphasis is on Adams as legislator, not on the documents themselves, which relate only peripherally to the large issues of the day. Adams' public service in Boston and the First Provincial Congress has { xxxiii } been similarly handled. Perhaps not wholly consistently, the editors have included in full Braintree committee reports signed by Adams that illustrate his earliest involvement in the town's affairs. The first steps need most careful scrutiny.
Third-party documents, those involving Adams personally in some way though not by him or directed to him, are included on the basis of the editors' judgment of their intrinsic worth. Thus, the will and the inventory of the estate of John Adams' father are included. One very interesting and perhaps influential document, whose authorship is still unidentified, has been printed simply because its preservation in the Adams Papers suggests that Adams himself thought it was worth keeping.24 The present volumes contain only three or four such documents. In future volumes it is unlikely that any fixed principle can be developed to make such decisions routinely; each such document will probably have to be treated on an ad hoc basis.
The editors do not depart from chronological order except to treat appropriate documents thematically. Thus newspaper pieces and drafts collectively known as “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law” have been brought together in chronological order and introduced with a headnote, even though the last three pieces are dated later than some of the documents that follow the grouping. Other examples are the documents assembled to define Adams' role in the House of Representatives and the First Continental Congress. In such instances, the date of the first document determines the position of the whole group. Headnotes allow the editors greater opportunity than footnotes to relate one document to another and to demonstrate the growth in Adams' thought and the contours of his career.
Enclosures in letters pose a different problem. They will be placed in chronological order if they are directed to Adams or if he played some role in their composition; annotation will explain whether other documents were sent or received with them and whether a covering letter of a later date accompanied them. Enclosures of any other kind will be printed with the letter enclosing them. Letters of transmittal, if they are only that and without other significance, will be accounted for in the footnotes to enclosures. Letters of transmittal that also deal with other matters will appear chronologically.
In short, cross-reference will be the means by which the reader will learn when several enclosures were received or sent and when they had their impact. If intervals of weeks separate the dates of enclosures and those of forwarding letters, the reader will be put to the incon• { xxxiv } venience of looking back to remind himself of the substance of enclosures; he will have to be on guard against assuming that details were known to correspondents sooner than they were. On the other hand, as he reads along he will know when documents were written, and this knowledge has its usefulness in understanding correspondence and other documents contemporaneous with them; he will not have to jump ahead for the text of a document referred to. There are gains and losses in any approach.
Treatment of the Texts
The general textual policy of The Belknap Press edition of The Adams Papers is described in the Introduction to the Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, p. l`v–lix. For the handling of personal letters particularly, see the Introduction to the first volume of Adams Family Correspondence, p. xliii–xlv. The only exception to the procedures there outlined is our treatment of enclosures.
A word is necessary about captions for correspondence. When John Adams was the recipient or the author, the caption reads, From James Warren or To William Tudor. The caption for a group, committee, or commission of which Adams was a member names both the author and the recipient: Sons of Liberty to John Wilkes. Correspondence directed to Adams in his official capacity names the author and gives Adams' title: General Gates to the President of the Board of War.
Captions for public documents, such as reports and messages, indicate the type of document and its subject and may also give the authors or originators and recipients or addressees: Report of the Braintree Committee for Repairing Highways. Since the committee was reporting to its parent body, the town meeting, the recipient is omitted. Captions for newspaper pieces are those given by the newspapers; when no caption was given and the piece is in letter style, author and recipient are included: Humphrey Ploughjogger to the Boston Gazette.
Documents that are grouped together for thematic purposes have a common caption to show their relationship, and each member of the group has its own caption preceded by a roman numeral. (Cross-references to a document within a group give the common caption and the appropriate numeral.) Each grouping is preceded by a table of contents listing each document by number and caption except groups which consist entirely of calendar entries or of documents so { xxxv } similar in form that no table is necessary. See Replies to Philanthrop, Defender of Governor Bernard [ante 9 December 1766] – 16 February 1767; Adams' Service in the Continental Congress, 5 September – 26 October 1774; The Letters of Novanglus, 23 January–April 1775.
Dates of letters and documents, placed flush right at the head of the document, are as given by the author or in brackets if editorially supplied. Dates for grouped documents are inclusive and placed under the common caption; dates for individual documents in such groups are given both in the accompanying table of contents and at the head of each one. If the author has not supplied the date of composition for a newspaper letter or essay, the date of the newspaper is given in brackets.
Documents included only as caption entries contain a standardized place-and-date line followed by a reference to the printed source that gives the document in full. Occasionally the editors direct the reader to pertinent annotation that may not be found in the inclusive pages or to another document that may add meaning to the caption entry.
Documents that are calendared begin with a standardized place-and-date line followed by the information given in the usual descriptive note: location of the MS and the printed source if available; endorsement; enclosures; physical description of the MS. If the calendar entry is for a committee report, the date of the committee's appointment is followed by the names of members in the order listed in the records; the name of the member giving the report is added if known. A summary of the document's highlights follows.
A detailed account of the principles governing annotation of The Adams Papers is found in the Introduction to the Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, p. lx–lxii and that to Adams Family Correspondence, p. xlv–xlvii. Generally speaking, annotation of names, titles, and other subjects is done only to make the text more meaningful for readers, including those who are not specialists in the period. This means that persons written up in the DAB or the DNB may have a sentence or two devoted to them to provide information pertinent to their mention in the text. The source of biographical data is also given so that the reader may find out more if he wishes.
{ xxxvi }

A Note on the Status of The Adams Papers

Division of The Adams Papers into three series—diaries of the statesmen, family correspondence, and general correspondence and other papers of the statesmen—has meant that editorial work takes place on several shifting fronts. Energies are redirected from time to time as one unit reaches a stopping point or as changes in staff, and thus interests, occur.
Currently editorial work on Adams Family Correspondence, published in four volumes through September 1782, and the Diary of Charles Francis Adams, in six volumes through 11 June 1836, is being held in abeyance in order to start the editing of the Papers of John Adams. Because his Diary and Autobiography has been completed and the family correspondence well started, some catching up was indicated. Quite naturally, the editors were helped to this decision by the Bicentennial of the American Revolution.
Meanwhile retirements and resignations have brought in a wholly new editorial staff. Now two editors are occupied with the public career of John, and a third has joined us in order to begin the editing of the long-awaited complete Diary of John Quincy Adams. These two projects will have priority for some years to come, but family correspondence will not be ignored. There is more to the Adams Papers enterprise than readying volumes for the press. New materials are digested and filed away, corrections in published volumes are noted, and the requests of scholars are given attention. The editors play no favorites among the three statesmen; and the members of their families, whether admirable or pathetic, continue to afford the delight all but the jaded must feel in learning about the conduct of men and women.
1. Remarks of Thomas B. Adams in The Adams Papers: A Ceremony Held at the Massachusetts Historical Society on September 22, 1961. . . , Boston, 1962, p. 5.
2. On Political Faction, Man's Nature, and the Law, 3 March – 5 Sept. 1763, No. II.
3. To Richard Cranch, 2 Sept. 1755.
4. Replies to Philanthrop, Defender of Governor Bernard [ante 9 Dec. 1766] – 16 Feb. 1767.
7. Same, 3:295.
8. Same, 2:6.
9. To James Warren, 15 March 1775.
10. See Hannah Arendt's interesting discussion in On Revolution, N.Y., 1963, p. 34–40.
12. A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law, 21 May–Oct. 1765, No. V.
13. Replies to Philanthrop, No. XI.
15. All the quotations in this paragraph are from Constitutional Debate between Thomas Hutchinson and the House of Representatives, 26 Jan. – 2 March 1773, No. I.
16. Same, No. III.
18. John Adams' Service in the Continental Congress, 5 Sept. – 26 Oct. 1774, No. IV, Article 4.
19. To James Burgh, 28 Dec. 1774.
20. In letters Nos. IV and VIII.
21. Several English radicals insisted that the American colonies were not under the authority of Parliament, that their sole connection with Great Britain was their sharing a common king with it, but they based their argument on natural rights. See John Cartwright, American Independence the Interest and Glory of Great Britain, London, 1774, in Paul H. Smith, comp., English Defenders of American Freedom, Washington, 1972, p. 133–192. Also Granville Sharp, A Declaration of the People's Natural Right to a Share in the Legislature, London, 1774. Cartwright specifically ruled out resort to “mouldy parchments” (p. 137, 138).
22. Charles H. Mcllwain, The American Revolution: A Constitutional Interpretation, N.Y., 1923.
24. To the Boston Committee of Correspondence [Sept.? 1774].
{ xxxvii }



Given the passage of time, a full listing of persons and institutions that have furnished materials and guidance to the Adams Papers enterprise would make a small volume in itself. A reader wanting to understand what that help has meant ought to review the acknowledgments given as the various sets of volumes have come out since 1961, for the present volumes are indebted to past ones and thus to those specialists, directors of institutions, and owners of manuscripts and illustrative materials mentioned in them. Even the new editors cannot trace back fully the extent of their debt. Behind a single learned footnote may lie the expertise of several scholars who contributed time and thought years ago and were thanked in an appreciative but general statement. To all those of the past, we utter our own heartfelt thanks. Mary-Jo Kline, Associate Editor 1973–1975, now Editor of the Aaron Burr Papers, made such an important contribution that we felt her name belonged on the titlepage.
In editing the general correspondence and other papers of John Adams, we have benefited directly from the assistance of Edith G. Henderson of the Treasure Room of the library of the Harvard Law School. She is expert in tracking down and interpreting old legal tomes in the various editions cited by John Adams. Professors Samuel E. Thorne of Harvard Law School and John W. Zarker of Tufts University translated and identified for us legal and literary passages in Latin. Professors Bernard Bailyn of Harvard, L. Kinvin Wroth of the University of Maine School of Law, and Richard D. Brown of the University of Connecticut speculated thoughtfully on the origin and dating of an anonymous letter to the Boston Committee of Correspondence. Members of the Advisory Committee commented upon the principles of selection and treatment of texts, but in these, as in all other matters, the editors must take final responsibility for the decisions made.
The editors have turned repeatedly for help from neighboring institutions in the Boston area. The Boston Athenaeum continues under its director, Rodney Armstrong, a special relationship of long standing with the Adams Papers staff by not only furnishing materials but granting long-term loan privileges for indispensable works. The libraries of Harvard University have been opened to the editors in a { xxxviii } most generous way. Time and again we have had resort also to the Boston Public Library and particularly to its noted Rare Book Room, where a good part of John Adams' Library, conveniently catalogued, is now housed. Useful for a rather specialized search was the library of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. Also important was the Massachusetts Archives under the immediate direction of Leo Flaherty. Virtually every scholarly work on the history of Massachusetts produced in the last three decades or so has had to acknowledge its deep debt in that quarter.
The courtesy of institutional and private owners of materials we have used is indicated in appropriate places where they are printed or described, but the staffs of some institutions have made unusual efforts in searching for what we required. We would like to mention the Huntington Library, the American Antiquarian Society, the New York State Library, the New York Public Library, the Vermont Historical Society, and John Nevins of Marlboro College. Thanks are also owed to James H. Hutson and Paul H. Smith of the American Revolution Bicentennial Office of the Library of Congress.
The superb manuscript collections and rare books of the Massachusetts Historical Society have, of course, been basic to our work. The Society also provides ample office space and staff support, but to say just that leaves too much unsaid. Librarian John D. Cushing, Assistant Librarian Winifred V. Collins, and Editor of Publications Malcolm Freiberg have willingly answered dozens of requests for aid, and Aimée Bligh and Gertrude Fisher have been patient with the demands put upon them by editors still finding their way among the Society's collections. Above all, former Director Stephen T. Riley's dedicated support of the Adams Papers enterprise has been a source of strength to the editor.
The present volumes could not have appeared without the generous funding of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The staff of the NHPRC has been understanding of our needs and professional in calling to our attention documents in the National Archives and promoting exchange of ideas among the many editorial projects around the country that it sponsors. The NEH came to our financial aid in a particularly difficult year. Closer to home, the members of the Administrative Board of the Adams Papers have been discerning and cooperative about budgetary and personnel matters, ready to give advice in the best interests of the enterprise when called upon.
{ xxxix }
Although their names do not appear upon the titlepage, Editorial Assistant Janet Romaine and Office Manager Celeste Walker, assisted by Nancy Koltes Leach, have been indispensable to the editing of the papers. Their knowledge of Adams family materials and their familiarity with work done in the past saved the new editors from some mistakes and misspent time. Their work built upon the contributions of those who preceded them in transcribing and researching. Among these, we would like particularly to mention the preliminary annotation done by Eugene R. Sheridan. Newer members of the staff, Editorial Assistant Elisabeth H. Breuer and Associate Editor David G. Allen, gave assistance in the final stages.
Special words of gratitude are owing to former editors L. H. Butterfield and Marc Friedlaender, who gave advice, criticized first drafts, took their turn at solving knotty problems, and were unfailingly supportive and patient in listening to tales of frustration and occasional triumph. Without their generous counsel and steady kindness, the task might have overwhelmed the new editors.
Finally, the editors thank the members of the Massachusetts Historical Society Publications Committee, some of whom read galleys—Malcolm Freiberg, Robert E. Moody, Marc Friedlaender, and Stephen T. Riley—and our editor at Harvard University Press, Ann Louise McLaughlin, who went over the copy meticulously, trying her best to keep us clear, succinct, and consistent. An astonishing number of people have contributed to these volumes, but responsibility for any shortcomings must lie at our door.
{ xl }
Guide to Editorial Apparatus
Guide to Editorial Apparatus

Guide to Editorial Apparatus

Guide to Editorial Apparatus

Textual Devices

The following devices will be used throughout The Adams Papers to clarify the presentation of the text.
[. . .], [. . . .]   One or two words missing and not conjecturable.  
[. . .]1, [. . . .]1   More than two words missing and not conjecturable; subjoined footnote estimates amount of missing matter.  
[ ]   Number or part of a number missing or illegible. Amount of blank space inside brackets approximates the number of missing or illegible digits.  
[roman]   Editorial insertion or conjectural reading for missing or illegible matter. A question mark is inserted before the closing bracket if the conjectural reading is seriously doubtful.  
<italic>   Matter canceled in the manuscript but restored in our text.  

Adams Family Code Names

In dealing with an assemblage of papers extending over several generations and written by so many members of a family who often bore the same or similar names, the editors have been obliged to devise short but unmistakable forms for the names of the persons principally concerned. They could not be forever adding dates and epithets to distinguish between the two or more Abigails, Charles Francises, Johns, John Quincys, and Louisa Catherines in the family. The following table lists the short forms that will be used in the annotation throughout The Adams Papers, together with their full equivalents and identifying dates. It includes the principal writing members of the “Presidential line” of the Adamses and certain others in that line (and their husbands and wives) who either appear frequently in the family story or have been important in the history of the family papers. Users should bear in mind that this table is highly selective, and in no sense is a complete genealogical table for each generation.
First Generation    
JA   John Adams (1735–1826)  
AA   Abigail Smith (1744–1818), m.JA 1764  
Second Generation    
JQA   John Quincy Adams (1767–1848), son of JA and AA  
LCA   Louisa Catherine Johnson (1775–1852), m.JQA 1797  
{ xli }
CA   Charles Adams (1770–1800), son of JA and AA  
Mrs. CA   Sarah Smith (1769–1828), sister of WSS, m.CA 1795  
TBA   Thomas Boylston Adams (1772–1832), son of JA and AA  
Mrs. TBA   Ann Harrod (1774–1846), m.TBA 1805  
AA2   Abigail Adams (1765–1813), daughter of JA and AA, m.WSS 1786  
WSS   William Stephens Smith (1755–1816), brother of Mrs. CA  
Third Generation    
GWA   George Washington Adams (1801–1829), son of JQA and LCA  
JA2   John Adams (1803–1834), son of JQA and LCA  
Mrs. JA2   Mary Catherine Hellen (1807–1870), m.JA2 1828  
CFA   Charles Francis Adams (1807–1886), son of JQA and LCA  
ABA   Abigail Brown Brooks (1808–1889), m.CFA 1829  
ECA   Elizabeth Coombs Adams (1808–1903), daughter of TBA and Mrs. TBA  
Fourth Generation    
JQA2   John Quincy Adams (1833–1894), son of CFA and ABA  
CFA2   Charles Francis Adams (1835–1915), son of CFA and ABA  
HA   Henry Adams (1838–1918), son of CFA and ABA  
MHA   Marian Hooper (1842–1885), m.HA 1872  
BA   Brooks Adams (1848–1927), son of CFA and ABA  
LCA2   Louisa Catherine Adams (1831–1870), daughter of CFA and ABA, m. Charles Kuhn 1854  
MA   Mary Adams (1845–1928), daughter of CFA and ABA, m. Henry Parker Quincy 1877  
Fifth Generation    
CFA3   Charles Francis Adams (1866–1954), son of JQA2  
HA2   Henry Adams (1875–1951), son of CFA2  
JA3   John Adams (1875–1964), son of CFA2  

Descriptive Symbols

The following symbols will be employed throughout The Adams Papers to describe or identify in brief form the various kinds of manuscript originals.
D   Diary (Used only to designate a diary written by a member of the Adams family and always in combination with the short form of the writer's name and a serial number, as follows: D/JA/23, i.e. the twenty-third fascicle or volume of John Adams' manuscript Diary.)  
Dft   draft  
Dupl   duplicate  
FC   file copy (Ordinarily a copy of a letter retained by a correspondent other than an Adams, for example Jefferson's press copies and polygraph copies, since all three of the Adams statesmen systematically entered copies of their outgoing letters in letterbooks.) { xlii }  
Lb   Letterbook (Used only to designate Adams letterbooks and always in combination with the short form of the writer's name and a serial number, as follows: Lb/JQA/29, i.e. the twenty-ninth volume of John Quincy Adams' Letterbooks.)  
LbC   letterbook copy (Letterbook copies are normally unsigned, but any such copy is assumed to be in the hand of the person responsible for the text unless it is otherwise described.)  
M   Miscellany (Used only to designate materials in the section of the Adams Papers known as the “Miscellany” and always in combination with the short form of the writer's name and a serial number, as follows: M/CFA/32, i.e. the thirty-second volume of the Charles Francis Adams Miscellany—a ledger volume mainly containing transcripts made by CFA in 1833 of selections from the family papers.)  
MS, MSS   manuscript, manuscripts  
RC   recipient's copy (A recipient's copy is assumed to be in the hand of the signer unless it is otherwise described.)  
Tr   transcript (A copy, handwritten or typewritten, made substantially later than the original or than other copies—such as duplicates, file copies, letterbook copies—that were made contemporaneously.)  
Tripl   triplicate  

Location Symbols

The originals of most of the letters and other manuscript documents printed, quoted, and cited in this edition are in the Adams Papers in the Massachusetts Historical Society. But the originals of the Adamses' outgoing letters and dispatches, and of many other papers by them, are preserved in numerous public and private archives and collections in this country and elsewhere. Locations of privately owned documents are given in expanded or at least completely recognizable form. Locations of documents held by public institutions abroad are indicated by abbreviations generally familiar to scholars; in the United States by the short, logical, and unmistakable institutional symbols used in the National Union Catalog in the Library of Congress, of which a published listing is available and which do not vary significantly from the library location symbols in the familiar Union List of Serials.
The following list gives the symbols and their expanded equivalents for institutions owning originals drawn upon in the present volumes. A similar listing, appropriate to the volumes concerned, will appear in the Guide to Editorial Apparatus prefixed to succeeding volumes of the Papers of John Adams.
BM   The British Museum, London  
CSmH   Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery  
DLC   Library of Congress  
ICN   Newberry Library, Chicago  
M-Ar   Massachusetts Archives  
MB   Boston Public Library  
{ xliii }
MBAt   Boston Athenaeum  
MH   Harvard College Library  
MHi   Massachusetts Historical Society  
MQA   Adams National Historic Site, Quincy, Massachusetts  
MeHi   Maine Historical Society  
MiU-C   William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan  
NN   New York Public Library  
NNC   Columbia University  
NNPM   Pierpont Morgan Library  
NhHi   New Hampshire Historical Society  
NhPoA   Portsmouth Atheneum  
PHi   Historical Society of Pennsylvania  
PPAmP   American Philosophical Society  
P.R.O.   Public Record Office, London  

Other Abbreviations and Conventional Terms

  • Adams Papers
  • Manuscripts and other materials, 1639–1889, in the Adams Manuscript Trust collection given to the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1956 and enlarged by a few additions of family papers since then. Citations in the present edition are simply by date of the original document if the original is in the main chronological series of the Papers and therefore readily found in the microfilm edition of the Adams Papers (see below). The location of materials in the Letterbooks and the Miscellany is given more fully, and often, if the original would be hard to locate, by the microfilm reel number.

  • Adams Papers, Adams Office Files
  • The portion of the Adams manuscripts given to the Massachusetts Historical Society by Thomas Boylston Adams in 1973 and retained in the editorial office of the Adams Papers.

  • Adams Papers Editorial Files
  • Other materials in the Adams Papers editorial office, Massachusetts Historical Society. These include photoduplicated documents (normally cited by the location of the originals), photographs, correspondence, and bibliographical and other aids compiled and accumulated by the editorial staff.

  • Adams Papers, Fourth Generation
  • Adams manuscripts dating 1890 or later, now separated from the Trust collection and administered by the Massachusetts Historical Society on the same footing with its other manuscript collections.

  • Adams Papers, Microfilms
  • The corpus of the Adams Papers, 1639–1889, as published on microfilm by the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1954–1959, in 608 reels. Cited in the present work, when necessary, by reel number. Available in research libraries throughout the United States and in a few libraries in Europe. { xliv }

  • The Adams Papers
  • The present edition in letterpress, published by The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. References between volumes of any given unit will take this form: vol. 3:171. Since there will be no overall volume numbering for the edition, references from one series, or unit of a series, to another will be by title, volume, and page; for example, JQA, Papers, 4:205. (For the same reason, references by scholars citing this edition should not be to The Adams Papers as a whole but to the particular series or subseries concerned; for example, John Adams, Diary and Autobiography, 3:145; Adams Family Correspondence, 6:167.)

  • Braintree Town Records, 1731–1783
  • Braintree Town Records, 1731–1783, Town Hall, Braintree, Mass.

Short Titles of Works Frequently Cited

  • Samuel Adams, Writings
  • The Writings of Samuel Adams, ed. Harry Alonzo Cushing, New York and London, 1904–1908; 4 vols.

  • T. R. Adams, American Independence
  • Thomas R. Adams, American Independence: The Growth of an Idea. A Bibliographical Study of the American Political Pamphlets Printed Between 1764 and 1776 . . . , Providence, R.I., 1965.

  • Adams Family Correspondence
  • Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1963– .

  • Allibone, Dict. of Authors
  • Samuel Austin Allibone, A Critical Dictionary of English Literature, and British and American Authors, Living and Deceased, from the Earliest Accounts to the Middle of the Nineteenth Century. . . , Philadelphia, 1858–1871; 3 vols.

  • Amer. Philos. Soc., Trans.
  • American Philosophical Society, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Held at Philadelphia, for Promoting Useful Knowledge.

  • Bailyn, ed., Pamphlets
  • Bernard Bailyn, ed., Pamphlets of the American Revolution, 1750–1776, Cambridge, 1965– .

  • Bailyn, Thomas Hutchinson
  • Bernard Bailyn, The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson, Cambridge, 1974.

  • Berkin, Jonathan Sewall
  • Carol Berkin, Jonathan Sewall: Odyssey of an American Loyalist, New York and London, 1974.

  • Biddle, Old Family Letters
  • Old Family Letters: Copied from the Originals for Alexander Biddle, Series A, Philadelphia, 1892. { xlv }

  • BM, Catalogue
  • The British Museum Catalogue of Printed Books, 1881–1900, Ann Arbor, 1946; 58 vols. Supplement, 1900–1905, Ann Arbor, 1950; 10 vols.

  • Boston Record Commissioners, Reports
  • City of Boston, Record Commissioners, Reports, Boston, 1876–1909; 39 vols.

  • Braintree Town Records
  • Samuel A. Bates, ed., Records of the Town of Braintree, 1640 to 1793, Randolph, Mass., 1886.

  • Brown, Revolutionary Politics
  • Richard D. Brown, Revolutionary Politics in Massachusetts: The Boston Committee of Correspondence and the Towns, 1772–1774, Cambridge, 1970.

  • Burnett, ed., Letters of Members
  • Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress, Washington, 1921–1936; 8 vols.

  • Catalogue of JA's Library
  • Catalogue of the John Adams Library in the Public Library of the City of Boston, Boston, 1917.

  • Century Cyclo. of Names
  • Benjamin E. Smith, ed., The Century Cyclopedia of Names, New York, 1894.

  • CFA2, Three Episodes
  • Charles Francis Adams, Three Episodes of Massachusetts History: The Settlement of Boston Bay; The Antinomian Controversy; A Study of Church and Town Government, Boston and New York, 1892; 2 vols.

  • Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns.
  • Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Publications.

  • Conn. Hist. Soc., Bull.
  • Connecticut Historical Society, Bulletin.

  • DAB
  • Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; 20 vols. plus index and supplements.

  • DAH
  • James Truslow Adams and R. V. Coleman, eds., Dictionary of American History, New York, 1940; 5 vols. and index.

  • Deane Papers
  • Papers of Silas Deane, 1774–1790, in New-York Historical Society, Collections, Publication Fund Series, vols. 19–23, New York, 1887–1891; 5 vols.

  • DNB
  • Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., The Dictionary of National Biography, New York and London, 1885–1900; 63 vols. plus supplements.

  • Docs. of Amer. Rev.
  • K. G. Davies, ed., Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783, Shannon and Dublin, 1972– .

  • Essex Inst., Hist. Colls.
  • Essex Institute Historical Collections. { xlvi }

  • Evans
  • Charles Evans and others, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America [1639–1800], Chicago and Worcester, 1903–1959; 14 vols.

  • Force, Archives
  • [Peter Force, ed.,] American Archives: Consisting of a Collection of Authentick Records, State Papers, Debates, and Letters and Other Notices of Publick Affairs, Washington, 1837–1853; 9 vols.

  • Franklin, Papers
  • The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Leonard W. Labaree, William B. Willcox (from vol. 15), and others, New Haven, 1959– .

  • Gage, Corr.
  • The Correspondence of General Thomas Gage with the Secretaries of State, 1763–1775, ed. Clarence E. Carter, New Haven, 1931–1933; 2 vols.

  • Gipson, Empire before the Revolution
  • Lawrence Henry Gipson, The British Empire before the American Revolution, Caldwell, Idaho and New York, 1936–1970; 15 vols.

  • HA, Education
  • Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography, Boston, The Massachusetts Historical Society, 1918.

  • Hoefer, Nouv. biog. Générale
  • J. C. F. Hoefer, ed., Nouvelle biographie générale depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu'à nos jours, Paris, 1852–1866; 46 vols.

  • Hutchinson, Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo
  • Thomas Hutchinson, The History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts-Bay, ed. Lawrence Shaw Mayo, Cambridge, 1936; 3 vols.

  • JA, Diary and Autobiography
  • Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols.

  • JA, Earliest Diary
  • The Earliest Diary of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1966.

  • JA, Legal Papers
  • Legal Papers of John Adams, ed. L. Kinvin Wroth and Hiller B. Zobel, Cambridge, 1965; 3 vols.

  • JA, Papers
  • Papers of John Adams, ed. Robert J. Taylor and others, Cambridge, 1977– .

  • JA, Works
  • The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, ed. Charles Francis Adams, Boston, 1850–1856; 10 vols.

  • JAH
  • Journal of American History.

  • JCC
  • Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. { xlvii }

  • Jefferson, Papers
  • The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd and others, Princeton, 1950– .

  • Jones, Loyalists of Mass.
  • E. Alfred Jones, The Loyalists of Massachusetts: Their Memorials, Petitions and Claims, London, 1930.

  • LC, Catalog
  • A Catalog of Books Represented by Library of Congress Printed Cards, Ann Arbor, 1942–1946; 167 vols. Supplement, Ann Arbor, 1948; 42 vols.

  • Mass., Acts and Laws
  • Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [1780–1805], Boston, 1890–1898; 13 vols.

  • Mass., House Jour.
  • Journals of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts [1715– ], Boston, reprinted by the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1919– . (For the years for which reprints are not yet available, the original printings are cited, by year and session.)

  • Mass., Province Laws
  • The Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, Boston, 1869–1922; 21 vols.

  • Mass. Provincial Congress, Jours.
  • William Lincoln, ed., The Journals of Each Provincial Congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775, and of the Committee of Safety, Boston, 1838.

  • Mass., Speeches of the Governors, &c., 1765–1775
  • [Alden Bradford, ed.] Speeches of the Governors of Massachusetts, from 1765–1775. . . , Boston, 1818.

  • Massachusetts Gazette
  • Massachusetts Gazette: and the Boston Weekly News-Letter.

  • Md. Hist. Mag.
  • Maryland Historical Magazine.

  • MHS, Colls., Procs.
  • Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections and Proceedings.

  • Morgan, Prologue to Revolution
  • Edmund S. Morgan, ed., Prologue to Revolution: Sources and Documents on the Stamp Act Crisis, 1764–1766, Chapel Hill, 1959.

  • Morgan, Stamp Act
  • Edmund S. Morgan and Helen M. Morgan, The Stamp Act Crisis, Chapel Hill, 1953.

  • New England Historical and Genealogical Register.

  • NEQ
  • New England Quarterly.

  • Niles, Principles and Acts
  • Hezekiah Niles, Principles and Acts of the Revolution in America, Baltimore, 1822. { xlviii }

  • OED
  • The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford, 1933; 12 vols. and supplement.

  • Parliamentary Hist.
  • The Parliamentary History of England, from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803, London: Hansard, 1806–1820; 36 vols.

  • Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy
  • William S. Pattee, A History of Old Braintree and Quincy, with a Sketch of Randolph and Holbrook, Quincy, 1878.

  • PMHB
  • Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography.

  • Quincy, Reports
  • Josiah Quincy Jr., Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Superior Court of Judicature of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, between 1761 and 1772, ed. Samuel M. Quincy, Boston, 1865.

  • Sabin
  • Joseph Sabin and others, comps., A Dictionary of Books Relating to America, from Its Discovery to the Present Time, New York, 1868–1936; 29 vols.

  • Sabine, Loyalists
  • Lorenzo Sabine, Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution, with an Historical Essay, Boston, 1864; 2 vols.

  • Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates
  • John Langdon Sibley and Clifford K. Shipton, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge and Boston, 1873– .

  • Sprague, Annals Amer. Pulpit
  • William B. Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit; or Commemorative Notices of Distinguished American Clergymen of Various Denominations, New York, 1857–1869; 9 vols.

  • Stiles, Literary Diary
  • The Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles, D.D., LL.D., President of Yale College, ed. Franklin Bowditch Dexter, New York, 1901; 3 vols.

  • Thorpe, Federal and State Constitutions
  • Francis N. Thorpe, ed., The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories and Colonies Now or Heretofore Forming the United States of America, Washington, 1909; 7 vols.

  • Warren-Adams Letters
  • Warren-Adams Letters: Being Chiefly a Correspondence among John Adams, Samuel Adams, and James Warren (Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections, vols. 72–73), Boston, 1917–1925; 2 vols.

  • Wells, Samuel Adams
  • William V. Wells, The Life and Public Services of Samuel Adams, Boston, 1865; 3 vols.

  • Whitmore, Mass. Civil List
  • William H. Whitmore, comp., The Massachusetts Civil List for the Colonial and Provincial Periods, 1630–1774, Albany, 1870.

  • WMQ
  • William and Mary Quarterly.
{ xlix }

volume 1


September 1755 – October 1773

{ l }
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, 2017.