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

Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0024

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1776-07-10

John Adams to Abigail Adams

You will see by the Newspapers, which I from time to time inclose, with what Rapidity, the Colonies proceed in their political Maneuvres. How many Calamities might have been avoided if these Measures had been taken twelve Months ago, or even no longer ago than last december?
The Colonies to the South, are pursuing the same Maxims, which have heretofore governed those to the North. In constituting their new Governments, their Plans are remarkably popular, more so than I could ever have imagined, even more popular than the “Thoughts on Government.” And in the Choice of their Rulers, Capacity, Spirit and Zeal in the Cause, supply the Place of Fortune, Family, and every other Consideration, which used to have Weight with Mankind. My Friend Archibald Bullock Esq. is Governor of Georgia. John Rutledge Esq. is Governor of South Carolina. Patrick Henry Esq. is Governor of Virginia &c. Dr. Franklin will be Governor of Pensilvania. The new Members of this City,1 are all in this Taste, chosen because of their inflexible Zeal for Independence. All the old Members left out, because they opposed Independence, or at least were lukewarm about it. Dickinson, Morris, Allen, all fallen, like Grass before the Scythe notwithstanding all their vast Advantages in Point of Fortune, Family and Abilities.
I am inclined to think however, and to wish that these Gentlemen may be restored, at a fresh Election, because, altho mistaken in some Points, they are good Characters, and their great Wealth and numerous Connections, will contribute to strengthen America, and cement her Union.
{ 43 }
I wish I were at perfect Liberty, to pourtray before you, all those Characters, in their genuine Lights, and to explain to you the Course of political Changes in this Province. It would give you a great Idea of the Spirit and Resolution of the People, and shew you, in a striking Point of View, the deep Roots of American Independence in all the Colonies. But it is not prudent, to commit to Writing such free Speculations, in the present State of Things.
Time which takes away the Veil, may lay open the secret Springs of this surprizing Revolution. . . .2 But I find, altho the Colonies have differed in Religion, Laws, Customs, and Manners, yet in the great Essentials of Society and Government, they are all alike.
1. In the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention, for which elections had just been held and which convened on 15 July. For its members and proceedings see Force, Archives, 5th ser., 2:1 ff.
2. Suspension points in MS.

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0025

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1776-07-11

John Adams to Abigail Adams

You seem to be situated in the Place of greatest Tranquility and Security, of any upon the Continent. . . .1 I may be mistaken in this particular, and an Armament may have invaded your Neighbourhood before now. But We have no Intelligence of any such Design and all that We now know of the Motions, Plans, Operations, and Designs of the Enemy, indicates the Contrary.—It is but just that you should have a little Rest, and take a little Breath.
I wish I knew whether your Brother and mine have inlisted in the Army, and what Spirit is manifested by our Militia, for marching to New York and Crown Point. . . . The Militia of Maryland, New Jersey, Pensilvania, and the lower Counties, are marching with much Alacrity, and a laudable Zeal, to take Care of Howe and his Army at Staten Island. The Army in New York is in high Spirits, and seems determined to give the Enemy a serious Reception.
The unprincipled, and unfeeling, and unnatural Inhabitants of Staten Island, are cordially receiving the Enemy, and Deserters say have engaged to take Arms.—They are an ignorant, cowardly, Pack of Scoundrells. Their Numbers are small, and their Spirit less.
It is some Time, since I received any Letter from you; the Plymouth one was the last. You must write me, every Week by the Post. If it is but a few Lines, it gives me many Spirits.
{ 44 }
I design to write to the General Court, requesting a Dismission, or at least a Furlow. I think to propose that they choose four more Members or at least two more, that so We may attend here in Rotation. Two or three or four may be at home at a Time, and the Colony properly represented notwithstanding.—Indeed, while the Congress were employed in political Regulations, forming the Sentiments of the People of the Colonies into some consistent System, extinguishing the Remainders of Authority under the Crown, and gradually erecting and strengthening Governments, under the Authority of the People, turning their Thoughts upon the Principles of Polity and the Forms of Government, framing Constitutions for the Colonies seperately, and a limited and defined Confederacy, for the united Colonies, and in some other Measures, which I do not choose to mention particularly, but which are now determined, or near the Point of Determination,2 I flattered myself that I might have been of some little Use here. But, now, these Matters will be soon compleated, and very little Business will be to be done here, but what will be either military or Commercial, Branches of Knowledge and Business, for which hundreds of others in our Province, are much better qualified than I am. I shall therefore request my Masters to relieve me.3
I am not a little concerned about my Health which seems to have been providentially preserved to me, much beyond my Expectations. But I begin to feel the disagreable Effects, of unremitting Attention to Business for so long a Time, and a Want of Exercise, and the bracing Quality of my Native Air: so that I have the Utmost Reason to fear an irreparable Injury to my Constitution, if I do not obtain a little Relaxation.
The Fatigues of War, are much less destructive to Health, than the painfull laborious Attention, to Debates, and to Writing, which drinks up the Spirits and consumes the Strength.—I am &c.
1. Here and below, suspension points are in MS.
2. This undoubtedly alludes to the work of the committee, which had been appointed on 12 June and of which JA was a member, “to prepare a plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign powers,” meaning (at this time) specifically France (JCC, 5:433). JA was himself the draftsman of the famous and influential “Plan” and instructions which resulted; see his Diary and Autobiography, 3:337–338, 393, 400, 412, 413, 414, 432–433, 435, with notes and references there. The committee submitted its report on 18 July, and debates on it followed intermittently for two months. JA considered the matter of such consequence that he would not ask for leave to visit his family even after hearing, on the 16th, that all of them were undergoing inoculation.
3. JA's proposal to the General Court for “an Alteration in their Plan of Dele• { 45 } gation,” urging that nine delegates be chosen annually so that part of them could always be on leave, is in a letter he apparently drafted on 17 July to John Avery, deputy secretary of state, but did not send until the 25th (M-Ar: vol. 195; printed in JA, Works, 9:426–427). See also the editorial note in JA's Diary and Autobiography, 2:251.
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/