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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0026

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Paine, Robert Treat
Date: 1759-12-06

To Robert Treat Paine

[salute] Sir1

I was too much gratified with the Proposal you made me of writing to you, to neglect it long. For as Nature and Fortune have conspired to strip me of all other means of Pleasure I cannot think it either Vanity or Virtue to acknowledge, that the Acquisition and Communication of Knowledge, are the sole Entertainment of my Life. I should therefore be inattentive to my object, and stupidly forget my own designs, if I neglected the Liberty you gave me of opening this Correspondence.
Such is the social Constitution of our Nature, that Conversation arouses Passions in our Breasts, which give new Vigour and Freedom to our Thoughts, raises Hints and Arguments which we should never find in solitude, and is at least the best scene to gather Ideas, if not to compare and seperate them, and finally to settle a difficult Enquiry. Conversation may promote Benevolence in general, as well as Friendship to Individuals, raises a Spirit of Industry and Emulation, and evaporates the Spleen which we are all too apt to contract, by long and close attention to Business or study.
{ 32 }
But as we are seldom so happy, as to find Company much inclined to Speculation, and as some of us, can find no Company at all, the only Method left, is that of Correspondences, which, in my Opinion have all the Advantages of Conversation, with the Additional ones of searching deeper into subjects, of crushing many vain and more offensive Thoughts, and of perpetuating such as are useful and judicious.
How well or ill qualified you may be to maintain a Correspondence on the wisest Principles and Motives you have forbidden me to tell you, and I had much rather say to other People. If you condemn this as a Compliment I will not mention your Name in my next, in the mean time, I will conclude this (after requesting your Answer to the Underwritten Questions) with the Name of your honest Friend,
[signed] John Adams
A mortgages an House to B, conditioned for the Payment of a certain sum. A dies insolvent. The House is apprized at £500 less than it was mortgaged for.—Q. In this Province can B come in as a Creditor for the £500, and claim his proportional share, in the Division with the other Creditors?
A mortgages an House in N to B, conditioned for the Payment of £1300, and another House in O, conditioned for the Payment of £1000, and dies insolvent. The House in N. is appraised at £500 less than it is mortgaged for; and the House in O is appraised at £500 more than it is mortgaged for. Q. Is the Administrator of A entituled to his Right of Redemption of the House in O, without paying the £500 deficient in the other Mortgage?
These two Questions will fill a very sizeable Letter, without leaving Room for one Compliment.2
RC (MHi: Paine Papers); addressed: “To Mr. Robert Treat Paine [] Attorney att Law in Boston”; endorsed or docketed: “Jno. Adams 1759.”
1. Robert Treat Paine (1731–1814), Harvard 1749, of Taunton, JA's longtime colleague and rival at the bar; later a delegate to the Continental Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence; attorney general of Massachusetts and from 1790 associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. See numerous allusions to Paine, many of them not in the cordial tone of this letter, in JA's Diary and Autobiography and in his Legal Papers, where there is a sketch of Paine at 1:cv–cvi; see also DAB and Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 12:462–482. Paine's extensive papers are in MHi, and his correspondence is being edited for publication by the Society.
2. There is only the slightest evidence to show that the correspondence thus begun on legal subjects was continued. On the cover page of William Crawford to JA, 13 Jan. 1760, below, appears the following fragment: “To Bob Paine / Since you will oblige me to spin a Web out of my own Bowells take this, which has enta[n]gled me, these 6 months.”

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0027

Author: Adams, Deacon John
Author: Adams, John
Date: 1760-01-08
Date: 1761-07-10
Date: 1774-04-29

Will of Deacon John Adams, with Comments by His Son John

In the Name of God Amen. The Eighth day of January in the year of our Lord one Thousand Seven hundred and Sixty, and in the thirty third year of his Majestys Reign King George the Second &c. I John Adams of Braintree in the County of Suffolk in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England Gentleman,1 being in Health of Body and of Perfect mind and Memory thanks be given to God therefor. Calling to mind the Mortality of my Body and knowing that it is appointed for man once to dye, Do make and ordain this my last Will and Testam[ent], That is to Say, Principally and first of all I Give and Recommend my soul into the Hands of God that gave it, hopeing thro' the Merits, death and Passion of my saviour Jesus Christ, to have full and free pardon and forgiveness of all my Sins and to Enherit Eternal life. My Body I Commit to the Earth to be decently buried at the discretion of my Executors hereafter named Believing that at the General Resurrection I shall Receive the same again by the Mighty power of God. And as for such worldly Estate where with it hath pleased God to bless me in this Life, I Give, devise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form. That is to Say, First I Will that all those Debts which I owe in right or Conscience to any Person or persons whatsoever shall be well and truly paid in Convenient time after my decease by my Executors hereafter named. Item I Give to Susannah my well beloved Wife2 to be enjoyed and Improved by her during her natural life one third of my Real Estate. The third part of my Real Estate [is] to be understood as including not only what I shall be possessed of at my decease but also such as I have made over to any of my Sons by deeds of gift. Also I Give to my wife one third part of my personal Estate to her and her heirs and assigns. Item I have given my Son John Adams a Libberal Education also I have given my Son John Adams by deed of gift one half of the house that Doctr. Elisha Savel lives in that I bought of Mr. John and Richard Billing with half the Barn and half the land belonging to the said House which I Confirm to him and his heirs and Assigns forever to which I add the other half of the above said House and Barn and land thereto belonging the whole Containing about ten Acres { 34 } be it more or less3 also the Priviledge [of] drawing Water out of my Well, and I also give to my Son John Adams and his heirs &c. twelve acres part orchard and part Pasture land, adjoyning to Mr. John Curtis's land. Also about Eight Acres of Fresh Meadow adjoyning to Benjamin Vesey's land and the Town Common. Also two small wood Lotts that I bought of Brother Owen one Esteemed Six Acres and the other four.4 All which I give to him and his heirs and Assigns forever. Item I Give and Bequeath to my Son Peter Boylston Adams5 and to his heirs and Assigns forever the house I live in with the Barn and other buildings and all the Lands of the Remainder of my homestead Containing about thirty five Acres.6 Also I Give to my Son Peter Boylston Adams and his heirs and assigns four Acres of Salt Marsh two at Rock Island and two at the farms.7 Also a Quarter part of the Seventh Lott in the Six hundred acres so Called lying in partnership with Brother Ebenezer Adams.8 Also the half of about ten Acres lying in partnership with Mr. Samuel Bass, also a Share of Cedar Swamp in the Middle Swamp lying in partnership with Brother Ebenezer Adams. Item I Give and Bequeath to my Son Elihu Adams9 and his heirs and assigns forever my farm in the South Precinct in Braintree Joyning upon Lieut. Joseph Whites Land Easterly, North on Mr. Ruggles land and South on Noah Whitcombs land and West on the River against Lieutenant Joshua Haywards Land.10 Also I Give to my Son Elihu and his heirs and assigns forever my Salt Meadow in Milton at Penny fery so Called Containing two Acres and a half he paying ten pounds Lawfull Money to my Executors in one year after my decease.11 Further my Will is that after my Wife hath had her third part of my personal Estate the other two thirds be improved to pay debts if any be, otherwise to be Equally divided between my three sons. Lastly I do hereby Constitute make and ordain my two sons John Adams and Peter Boylston Adams Executors of this my last Will and Testament. And I do hereby utterly disallow, Revoke and Disanull all and every other and former Testament, Will, Legacies, Bequests and Executors by me in any wise before this time Named, Willed and bequeathed, Ratifying And Confirming this and no other to be my last Will and Testament. In Witness where of I have hereunto set my hand and Seal the day and year above written.
[signed] John Adams and a Seal
[signed] Signed, sealed, published, pronounced and declared by the said John Adams to be his last Will and Testament in Presence of us the Subscribers— Joseph Field, Elijah Belcher, Ebenezer Adams Junr.
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Suffolk ss By the Honble. Thomas Hutchinson Esqr. Judge of Probate &c.
The afore written Will being presented for Probate by the Executors therein named Joseph Feild, Elijah Belcher and Ebenezer Adams Junr. made Oath that they saw John Adams the Subscriber to this Instrument sign the same and also heard him Publish and declare it to be his last Will and Testament and that when he so did he was of sound disposing Mind and Memory according to these Deponents best discerning, and that they set to their hands as Witnesses thereof in the said Testators presence.
[signed] T Hutchinson12
[signed] Copy Examd.
Per Jno. Cotton Reg[iste]r

[John Adams' Comments on Cover of Will]13

This Testator married Susanna Boylstone, a Daughter of Peter Boylstone, of Brooklyne, who was a son of Thomas Boylstone, of the same Town a Physician, and Brother of Dr. Zabdiel Boylston, the first Practiser of Inoculation for the Small Pox.14
This Match produced John, the Writer of this Memorandum, Peter Boylstone, and Elihu.
This Testator had a good Education, tho not at Colledge, and was a very capable and usefull Man. In his Early Life he was an Officer in a Company of Militia—afterwards a Deacon of the Church, and a select Man of the Town, almost all the Business of the Town being managed by him in that Department for 20 Years together.—A Man of Strict Piety and great Integrity: much esteemed and beloved, wherever he was known, which was not far, his Sphere of Life being not extensive.
Boston April 29. 1774. This is a Copy of my Fathers Will. He lived in an House between the Episcopal Church and the Foot of Penns Hill, in Braintree. This House in His Will is given to my Brother Peter Boylston Adams, and of him was purchased by me, a few Months agone.
[signed] John Adams

What Fortune had he pray? His own:

And better got, than Bestia's from the Throne.

MS (Adams Papers, Wills and Deeds). Consists of three parts, of which the first and third are printed here: (1) contemporary copy, in an unidentified { 36 } hand and worn at the edges, of Deacon John Adams' will, dated 8 Jan. 1760, with appended copy, in same hand, of Judge of Probate Thomas Hutchinson's authentication of the witnesses' attestation; the copy is signed and certified by the Register of Suffolk Probate Court, John Cotton, and is docketed: “John Adams's Will Proved July 10–1761 Copy.” (2) Grant of probate, a printed form filled in, signed by Hutchinson, and certified by Cotton; bears seal of the court and is wafered to upper left corner of first page of will; not printed here, but see note 12. (3) Two memoranda in JA's hand about his father's life and character; one undated, the other dated 29 April 1774.
1. John Adams (1691–1761), father of JA, usually called Deacon John to distinguish him from his eldest son, held town, parish, and militia officerships throughout his mature life and is warmly and gracefully eulogized by his son in the comments following the will printed here. The will is sufficient testimony that Deacon John often acted upon the maxim attributed to him, namely, “that he never knew a Piece of Land run away or break” (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:286). The only connected account of this “typical New England yeoman," principally a farmer but often mentioned in contemporary documents as a “cordwainer” (shoemaker), is in CFA2, Three Episodes, 2:714–716, but there are numerous references to him in JA's Diary and Autobiography.
2. Susanna (Boylston) Adams (1709–1797) married the elder John Adams in 1734; long outliving him, she in 1766 married Lt. John Hall. In his added comments, below, JA describes her connections with the Boylston family of Brookline; she appears with some frequency in Diary and Autobiography, and in early volumes of Adams Family Correspondence.
3. This was the smaller of Deacon John Adams' two adjacent farmsteads, each having a saltbox “cottage” upon it, separated by only a cartway. They remain in situ on Franklin Street in Quincy today, having been given by the Adams family to the city in 1940, open to the public and administered by the Quincy Historical Society. Deacon Adams acquired the older and more southerly of the two dwellings and the lesser acreage adjacent to it from John and Richard Billings of Boston by a deed dated 13 April 1744 which is now among the Adams Papers, Adams Office Files. At an undetermined date Deacon Adams gave JA half of this house and farm; in his will be bequeathed him the remainder; and here JA established his first law office and in 1764 brought his bride, Abigail (Smith) Adams (AA). All their children were born in the house today known as the John Quincy Adams Birthplace. See JA, Diary and Autobiography, passim, and especially editorial note at 1:15 and illustration facing p. 256; also early volumes of Adams Family Correspondence. A valuable illustrated account, now somewhat out of date, was published by HA2, The Birthplaces of John and John Quincy Adams, Quincy, 1936 (reprinted from Old-Time New England, 26:79–99 [Jan. 1936]); this carries the story into the 19th century. More up-to-date and containing both more early and recent information is Waldo C. Sprague, The President John Adams and President John Quincy Adams Birthplaces, Quincy, 1959.
4. Deeds for some, possibly all, of these additional parcels survive in the original Adams Papers or in the Adams Office Files. For example, the woodlots totaling ten acres were bought of Benjamin Owen of Braintree, husband of Deacon Adams' sister Hannah, 2 Sept. 1736 (Adams Papers, Wills and Deeds).
5. Peter Boylston Adams (1738–1823), JA's next youngest brother, a farmer and land appraiser, was in 1768 to marry Mary Crosby, by whom he had five children. In his long life he held various town offices, served in the siege of Boston, and became Quincy's first representative in the General Court, 1792, 1794. But he emerged from obscurity only occasionally, for example in his disagreement with his brother the ex-President over the War of 1812, Peter being an uncompromising New England Federalist. See references to him in JA, Diary and Autobiography, { 37 } and in Adams Family Correspondence (including a notable letter on the climactic events of the siege of Boston, 1:371–372).
6. Deacon John Adams' principal farm, with the saltbox “cottage,” now known as the John Adams Birthplace, on Franklin Street in Quincy. The dwelling, a barn, well, and six acres of farm land had been purchased by Deacon John on 18 May 1720 from James Penniman (original deed in Adams Papers, Adams Office Files). Susanna (Boylston) Adams probably continued to live in this house until her remarriage in 1766, and Peter may have lived there both before and after his marriage, but in a diary entry of 28 Feb. 1774JA records:
“I purchased of my Brother, my fathers Homestead, and House where I was born. The House, Barn and thirty five acres of Land of which the Homestead consists, and Eighteen acres of Pasture in the North Common, cost me 440£. This is a fine addition, to what I had there before, of arable, and Meadow. The Buildings and the Water, I wanted, very much.
“That beautifull, winding, meandering Brook, which runs thro this farm, always delighted me.
“How shall I improve it?...
“I must ramble over it, and take a View.” (Diary and Autobiography, 2:87–88.)
This united property was what JA meant in his many nostalgic references over the years to “Penn's Hill” or his farm “at the foot of Penn's Hill.” For the earlier and later history of the John Adams Birthplace, see titles by HA2 and Waldo C. Sprague cited in note 3 above.
7. That is, The Farms (sometimes called “Massachusetts Farms”), a common local name for what is now North Quincy (Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy, p. 56).
8. Ebenezer Adams (1704–1769), younger brother of Deacon John Adams; in 1729 he had married Anne, sister of Susanna Boylston, who was later to marry Deacon John. Ebenezer, whose Braintree farm was about a mile from his brother's Penn's Hill property, held numerous town offices over a long period but is otherwise unknown to history. The land held “in partnership” by the brothers had been inherited from their father, Joseph Adams (1654–1737); see his will, 23 July 1731 (Adams Papers, Wills and Deeds).
9. Elihu Adams (1741–1775), third son and last child of Deacon John and Susanna (Boylston) Adams, was in 1765 to marry Thankful White, by whom he had three children. He died of “a contagious distemper” while serving as an officer in the Massachusetts forces in the first summer of the war. See the following note.
10. The South Precinct of Braintree where Elihu went to live upon the ample farm bequeathed to him there was later (1793) set off as Randolph.
11. This “Piece of Salt Marsh or Medow Situate in Milton ... at Penny-Ferry (so-called)” was conveyed by “Samuel Nightengal of Braintree . . . Clergyman” to “John Adams of the same Braintree Cordwainer” by a deed of 10 April 1738 for £77 (Adams Papers, Adams Office Files). Elihu and his wife sold the same parcel to JA in 1769 for £26 13s 4d (same), the deed being recorded 5 Oct.
Penny Ferry, the origin of whose name is self-evident, crossed the Neponset River on one common early route from Braintree to Boston. Deacon Adams' salt marsh there played an important and novel part in JA's early education; see JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:246–247, 257–258.
12. Upon the attestation of the three witnesses named above, Thomas Hutchinson, as judge of probate for Suffolk co., issued on 10 July 1761 his certification of probate (a printed form, filled in; see descriptive note), empowering the testator's sons John and Peter Boylston Adams, “to Execute the said Will, and to Administer the Estate of the said Deceased,” and ordering them to bring in to the court “a true and perfect Inventory” of the said estate on or before 10 Oct. 1761. This inventory is printed below under date of 9 Oct. 1761.
13. Both of these passages are in JA's hand and were written at not too great an interval of time between them, though only the second is dated. Actually it is not possible to say which passage was written first.
{ 38 }
14. Peter Boylston (d. 1743), maternal grandfather of JA, was a substantial citizen of Muddy River (later called Brookline) until a few years before his death, when he sold the family place to his brother Zabdiel and moved to Boston. Their father, Thomas Boylston (ca. 1644–1696), owned extensive property in the village of Muddy River and practiced surgery. Thomas' son Zabdiel Boylston (1679–1766) was a famous early American physician, for the reason JA gives.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0028

Author: Crawford, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1760-01-13

From William Crawford

[salute] My Friend

I am lately come from divine Service, if I may be allowed the Expression, performd by the Revd. Mr. Cushing,1 whom you're not unaquainted with. He has fill'd my head brimfull, of Portions of Sentences, concerning the spirituall and natural man. If what Mr. Locke says be true, that an intent fixedness on any particular object, will cause an alienation of the rational Faculties, I am under no concern that what I have heard this day will distract me. Happy were it for me had I not been born to be plagu'd by words without Ideas. Thus I am resolv'd to persecute you with a little, of that which I have had a great deal of.
I received [a] few lines from you per favour Mr. Thayer,2 for which I am oblig'd to you. I am glad you are not yet, gone to perpetual silence, as I had reason to fear, on account of my not hearing from you for these eight months past. I purpos'd as you observ'd, to spend some Time with you, this winter, but I have resolvd to go no where till I have finishd my physical study with the Doctor, so I must omit it till next Spring at which Time I purpose to launch into the world in the Character of a Physician. We expect with impatience that you will come and see us as you mention'd.—With regard to our last Campaigne, I have little more to say, but that we pursued a flying Enemy.—I wou'd not omit mentioning to you any part of my Happiness. I lodge at Mrs. Eeger's, and enjoy their the Conversation of a young Lady, of distinguishd merit, who in old Times was known by the Name of the fair Jilt. Give my Compliment to the young Ladies where you think it proper. I am &ca.,
[signed] W Crawford3
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mr. John Adams in Braintree”; endorsed: “1760,” and docketed with name of writer and full date by CFA. On cover page is the undated fragment of a letter from JA to Robert Treat Paine printed in note 2 on JA to Paine, 6 Dec. 1759, above.
1. Job Cushing (1694–1760), Harvard 1714, minister at Shrewsbury, Mass., from 1723 (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 6:45–46).
{ 39 }
2. Letter not found.
3. Crawford preached in the Worcester area while JA was a schoolmaster there (JA, Earliest Diary, p. 14).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0029

Author: Sewall, Jonathan
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1760-02-13

From Jonathan Sewall

[salute] My Friend

In my last, if I rightly remember, I joined with you in your panegyric on the superior Rewards which ancient Rome proposed to Application and Study, and in your Satyre on those despicable praemia, which we, whose Lot it is to live in the infant State of a new World, can rationally expect.1 But perhaps we have both been too hasty in our Conclusions; possibly, if we peirce through the Glare of false Glory, too too apt to dazzle and deceive the intellectual Eye; if, in Order to the forming a just Estimate, we secrete the genuine from the imaginary Rewards, we may find the Difference much less than at first Sight we are apt to concieve. For, let us, if you please my Friend, consider what was the palm for which the roman Orator ran? It was, the plaudit of a people, at that Time, sunk into a most shameful Effeminacy of Manners, governed by a Spirit of Faction and Licentiousness, to which this Father of his Country, at length fell himself a Sacrifice;—It was, the highest Post of Honour in that august Empire which hath since fallen an easy prey to Goths, Visigoths, Vandals and other barbarous and uncivilised Nations of the North;—It was to be the first Man in that Roma Aeterna, which, but for the Names of Brutus, Caesar, Cicero, Cataline, and a few other Patriots, Tyrants, Orators and Conspirators, which have been perpetuated by the Eminence of their Owners and their respective Employments, had been long since buried in eternal Oblivion.
To be caress'd, applauded and deify'd by Roman Citizens, to be raised to the highest Honours which Rome, the Mistress of the World, could give, are Rewards, it must be confessed, in their Nature more dazzling and, to an unthinking Mind, more captivating and alluring to the Toils of indefatigable Study and close thinking; and in these, it will be acknowledged, Cicero had greatly the Advantage of us. But are these the most striking? Are there not others, which we, as well as Cicero, have in prospect, infinitely superiour, in their Nature, more refined, more lasting? What think you my Friend of the inward pleasure and Satisfaction which the human Mind receiveth from the Acquisition of Knowledge? What, of rational Delight which the benevolent Man experienceth in the Capacity and Oportunity of doing Good to his fellow Men? What, of the Heart-felt Joy which the Man { 40 } of Virtue overflows with in relieving and supporting distressed Innocence and Goodness, and in detecting and punishing insolent Vice?
But Cicero's Name has been handed down thro' many Ages with Admiration and Applause; so may yours. “Worth makes the Man,” form's the Character, and perpetuates his Memory: Cicero is not revered because he was Rome's Consul; had his Orations been deliverd in the little Senate of Lillybaeum or Syracuse, yet still they would have been esteemed as they are, by all Men of Learning, and perhaps would have perpetuated the Names of Lillybaeum and Syracuse, for many Ages after they shall now be forgotten, and had A——n2 lived in Rome, it is more than probable we should never have heard his Name. It is not the Place where a Man lives, nor his Titles of Honour in that Place, which will procure him Esteem with succeeding Generations, tho perhaps, for the present it may command the outward Respect of the unthinking Mob for the most part dazzled with the Parade and Pomp of Nobility. But if in the Estimation of the World, a Man's Worth riseth in proportion to the Greatness of his Country, who knows but in future Ages, when New England shall have risen to its' intended Grandeur, it shall be as carefully recorded among the Registers of the Leterati, that Adams flourishd in the second Century after the Exode of its first Settlers from Great Brittain, as it is now, that Cicero was born in the Six-Hundred-&-Forty-Seventh Year after the Building of Rome?
A Man by Will gives his Negro his Liberty, and leave's him a Legacy. The Executor consents that the Negro shall be free, but refuseth to give Bond to the Selectmen to indemnify the Town against any Charge for his Support, in Case he should become poor, (without which, by the Province Law he is not manumitted) or to pay him the Legacy.
Quer. Can he recover the Legacy, and how?
I have just observed that in your last you desire me to say something toward discouraging you from removing to Providence, and you say any Thing will do. At present I only say, you will do well enough where you are. I will explain my self and add something farther, in some future Letter. I have not Time to enlarge now, for which, I believe, you will not be inconsolably grieved. So, to put you out of pain—I am, Your hearty Friend,
[signed] Jonath. Sewall
P.S. I hope you'll write me soon, I think you are scrupulously exact in writing only in turn.
{ 41 }
P.P.S. I am now going thro Co. Litt. again, and I suppose you are likewise. If you make any new Observations as you go along, or if any Questions arise in your Mind, it may possibly be of mutual Advantage to communicate them. I shall do the same. This may in some measure answer the End of reading him together, which I am persuaded would be eminently beneficial, at least to,
[signed] J.S.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mr. John Adams Atty. at Law In Braintree”; docketed in an unidentified hand: “J Sewell—1760 13. Feb'y.”
1. Two or more letters between JA and Sewall must be missing after their last surviving exchange, Sept.Oct. 1759, printed above. For other clues to their contents see the last paragraph of text (preceding the postscripts) in the present letter and the opening sentence of and postscript to JA's reply which follows.
2. Doubtless John Aplin (1709–1772), author of Verses on Dr. Mayhew's Book of Observation &c., a satirical attack on Rev. Jonathan Mayhew's criticism of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. See Bailyn, ed., Pamphlets, 1:274–291. In JA, Diary and Autobiography, “Applin” (1:317) is erroneously identified in the Index as “James Aplin.”

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0030

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Sewall, Jonathan
Date: 1760-02

To Jonathan Sewall

I am very willing to join with you, in renouncing the Reasoning of some of our last Letters.1
There is but Little Pleasure, which Reason can approve to be received from the Noisy applause, and servile Homage that is paid to any Officer from the Lictor to the Dictator, or from the sexton of a Parish to the sovereign of a Kingdom: And Reason will despize equally, a blind undistinguishing Adoration of what the World calls fame. She is neither a Goddess to be loved, nor a Demon to be feared, but an unsubstantial Phantom existing only in Imagination.
But with all this Contempt, give me Leave to reserve (for I am sure that Reason will warrant) a strong affection for the honest Approbation of the wise and the good both in the present, and in all future Generations. Mistake not this for an Expectation of the Life to come, in the Poets Creed.—Far otherwise. I expect to be totally forgotten within 70 Years from the present Hour unless the Insertion of my Name in the Colledge Catalogue, should luckily preserve it longer.—When Heaven designs an extraordinary Character, one that shall distinguish his Path thro' the World by any great Effects, it never fails to furnish the proper Means and Opportunities; but the common Herd of Mankind, who are to be born and eat and sleep and die, and be forgotten, is thrown into the World as it were at Random, { 42 } without any visible Preparation of Accommodations.—Yet tho I have very few Hopes, I am not ashamed to own that a Prospect of an Immortality in the Memories of all the Worthy, to [the] End of Time would be a high Gratification to my Wishes.
But to Return, Tully, therefore, had but few Advantages, in the Estimation of Reason more than We have, for a happy Life.—He had greater Political Objects to tempt his Ambition, he had better Opportunities to force the Hozanna's of his Countrymen, but these are not Advantages for Happiness. On the Contrary, the Passions which these Objects were designed to gratify, were so many stings for ever smarting in his Mind, which at last goaded him into that Excess of Vanity and Pusillanimity, for which he has been as often blamed, as ever he was praised for his Genius and his Virtues. Tis true, he had Abler Masters and more Opportunities for instructive Conversation, in a City, so fruitful of great Men. But in other Respects the rational sources of Pleasure, have been much enlarged since his Day.
In the Acquisition of Knowledge, without which it would be a Punishment to live, we have much greater Advantages (whatever some ingenious Men may say) than he had or could have. For the Improvements in Navigation, and the surprizing Augmentation of Commerce, by spreading civilized Nations round the Globe, and sending Men of Letters into all Countries, have multiplied the Means of Information concerning the Planet we inhabit; and the Invention of the Art of Printing, has perpetuated and cheapened the Means of every Kind of Knowledge, beyond what could have been immagined in his Day.
Europe has been, ever since his Death, the Constant Theatre of surprizing Characters, Actions, Events, Revolutions, which have been preservd in a sufficient Plenty of Memorials, to constitute a series of Political Knowledge of a greater Variety of Characters, more important Events, and more complicated Circumstances; and of Consequence better adapted for an Agreable Entertainment to the Mind, than any, that the World had ever known in his Times; and perhaps there never was before, nor has been since his Day, a Period, abounding with greater Heroes and Politicians, or with more surprizing Actions and Events, than that in which we live.
In Metaphysicks, Mr. Locke, directed by my Lord Bacon, has steered his Course into the unenlightened Regions of the human Mind, and like Columbus has discoverd a new World. A World whose soil is deep and strong producing Rank and unwholsome Weeds as well as wholsome fruits and flowers; a World that is incumbered with unprofitable Brambles, as well as stored with useful Trees; and in• { 43 } fested with motly Savages; as well as capable of furnishing civilized Inhabitants; he has shewn us by what Cultivation, these Weeds may be Extirmined and the fruits raised; the Brambles removed as well as the Trees grubbed; the savages destroyd, as well as the civil People increased. Here is another Hemisphere of Science therefore abounding with Pleasure and with Profit too, of which [Cicero]2 had but very few and we have many Advantages for learning.
But in Mathematicks, and what is founded on them, Astronomy and Phylosophy, the Modern Discoveries have done Honour to the human Understanding. Here is the true sphere of Modern Genius.—What a noble Prospect of the Universe have these Men opened before us. Here I see Millions of Worlds and systems of Worlds, swarming with Inhabitants, all engaged in the same Active Investigation of the great System of Universal and eternal Truth, and overflowing with Felicity.
And while I am ravished with such Contemplations as these, it imports me little on what Ground I tread or in what Age I live.
The Intention of the Testator to be collected from the Words, is to be observd in the Construction of a Will—and where any Title to Lands or Goods, or any other Act is devisd to any one, without any mention of something previous or concomitant, without which the Act or Title is not valid, in such Case the Thing previous or concomitant shall by Implication be devised too, e.g.
A Man devises Lands and Tenements to A.B., the said A.B. paying £100 out of the same Lands to B.C.—Here are no Words of Inheritance or of Freehold you see, yet since The Testator plainly intended, that £100 should be paid to B.C. out of the Land, it must be presumed that he knew the Rule of Law which entitles a Devisee of Lands encumbered with a Charge, to a Fee simple, and therefore a fee simple shall pass by Implication. So also
A Man devisd Lands and Tenements to A.B. in Trust for C.D. and his Heirs. Here are no Words of Inheritance, yet as he has established a Trust that may last forever, he shall be presumed to have intended a Fee simple in his Devise, and the Devisee shall hold the Tenements to himself and his own Heirs for ever, by Implication, altho the Cestuy que Trust should die Heirless tomorrow. Now
En mesure le manner. The Testator intended plainly that his Negro should have his Liberty, and a Legacy. Therefore the Law will presume that he intended his Executor should do all that, without which he could have neither. That this Indemnification was not in the Testators mind, cannot be proved from the Will, any more than it could { 44 } be proved in the 1st Case above that the Testator did not know a Fee simple would pass a Will without the Word Heirs; nor than in the 2d Case, that the Devise of a Trust that might continue for ever would convey a fee simple without the like Words.
I take it therefore, that the Executor of this Will is by Implication obligd to give Bonds to the The Town Treasurer, and in his Refusal is a wrong doer, and I cant think he ought to be allowed to take advantage of his own Wrong so much as to alledge this Want of an Indemnification, to evade an Action of the Case brot for the Legacy, by the Negro himself.
But why may not the Negro bring a special Action of the Case vs. Executor setting forth the Will, the Devise of Freedom, and a Legacy, and then the Necessity of Indemnification by the Province Law, and then a Refusal to indemnify and of Consequence to set free, and to pay the Legacy.
Perhaps the Negro is free at common Law by the Devise. Now the Province Law seems to have been made, only to oblige the Master to maintain his manumitted <slave> servant, not to declare a Manumission in the Masters lifetime or at his Death, void. Should a Master give his Negro his freedom under his Hand and seal, without giving Bond to the Town, and should afterwards repent and endeavour to recall the Negro into servitude, would not that Instrument be sufficient discharge vs. the Master?
P.S. I felt your Reproof, very sensibly, for being ceremonious. I must beg Pardon in a style that I threatend you with as a Punishment, a few letters ago, Μηδ᾽ ἓχθαιρε ϕίλον σὸν ἁμαρτάδος εινεκα μικρης.3
However, it is not Ceremony, so much as Poverty.4
Dft or LbC (Adams Papers); at head of text: “To Sewal.” This and the next letter from JA to Sewall, printed below under the assigned date post 10 Sept. 1760, were written on two leaves torn from a small folio book resembling a letterbook and very like the volume containing diary entries, letter copies, and miscellaneous material published in the present edition as The Earliest Diary of John Adams (q.v. at p. 4), though the leaves are not exactly the same size as those of any known volume in JA's hand of so early a period. The missing volume may have been such another miscellany as the Earliest Diary; see note 4.
1. See preceding letter and note 1 there.
2. Editorially supplied. JA may have intended to write “he,” but its antecedent would have had to be Cicero.
3. “And do not hate your friend because of a small sin.” From the Golden Verses of Pythagoras, written by disciples of Pythagoras in the first or second century b.c. (The editors are indebted to Professor Zeph Stewart of Harvard University for the translation and attribution.) JA quoted a longer passage in his diary entry for 26 Nov. 1760 and at a later period read and annotated a French translation of this col• { 45 } lection of Neo-Pythagorean maxims (Diary and Autobiography, 1:174).
4. At the head of the text of this letter, and just possibly intended as an addendum to it, but more likely part of a preceding (but missing) letter or even a wholly detached thought, is a passage reading as follows: “A Project has just started into my Mind of collecting the Anecdotes of the Lives of all the great Lawyers, ancient and modern. The Character of Sulpitius suggested it to me. Vid. Middleton, V. 3 P. 134.”
Apparently nothing came of this passing thought. The reference is doubtless to Conyers Middleton, The History of the Life of Cicero, of which JA owned a set, in 3 vols., London, 1755, now in MB, from which the third volume is missing. The set had been presented to JA as a Detur Prize at Harvard College (Catalogue of JA's Library).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0031

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1760-05-29

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Draft of a Letter on the Evils of Licensed Houses

Braintree, 29 May 1760. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:128–129. For the context of this draft and its three sequels, Jan.?May? 1761, none apparently published at the time, see note in same, p. 129–130, and JA's MS map of taverns, same, facing p. 65, with description and references at p. ix.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0032

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Sewall, Jonathan
Date: 1760-09-10

To Jonathan Sewall

[salute] Sir

You have perhaps expected from me (according to the Custom of the World) some Expressions of my Condolance, in your <unfortunate> loss of Judge Sewal.2—To be plain, I always feel extreamly awkward, whenever I attempt, by Writing or in Person, to console the sorrowful, or to rejoice with those that do rejoice. I had rather conceal my own <Sympathy> fellow feeling in their Joys or Griefs, at the Hazard of being thought insensible, than express any very great Degree of Either, at the Risque of being tho't insincere.—The Loss is certainly great to you, and to the Province in general: But Providence can neither be resisted, nor perswaded, nor fathomed. Implicit Resignation is our greatest Wisdom, both as our Duty, and as the only sufficient source of Tranquility. Relying on this foundation, we shall endeavour to turn our Thoughts as much as we can, from irretrievable Misfortunes, and towards the means of procuring, according to the Probabilities of Things, future Peace and Pleasure.
And in this View, instead of grieving excessively for what can never be avoided nor diminished, I shall be so free as to ask your Opinion, and to set you on the search (if at any loss) concerning the following Point of Law Practice.—If a Writt tryable before a Justice, is served within six days or five if you pleas, of the Time of Tryal, or one at { 46 } Court, within 12 or 13, what is the proper Method of taking Advantage of this Insufficiency? Must this be pleaded in Abatement? or must the Action be dismissed? Must Advantage be taken by motion or by Plea? The Law has provided that Court Writs shall be served, 14 days, and Justices, at least seven days before the Time of Tryal. And in general, what is the Method of taking Advantage of Insufficient services, and Returns?
And Q[uery], also. Suppose A. leased an House, in 1756, for one Year to B, at ten Pounds Rent, for that Year, and after that Year expired B. continued, in the House Another Year, without any Renewal of the Lease, or any new Contract for any certain Rent. Would Debt for Rent, in the common form lye, for the Year 1757, at £10 also for the Year.—Should be glad of an immediate Answer to these Questions, especially the last, as upon that, turns an affair of Importance to me.
In the mean time, wishing you, amidst all the Perplexities and Disappointments of this uncomfortable state, as great a share of Happiness as your Genius and Virtues may be said in the Language of Mankind to deserve, I subscribe as Usual your hearty friend,
[signed] John Adams
Dft or LbC (Adams Papers); at head of text: “To Jona. Sewal.” Text is on fourth page of two leaves torn from the (missing) letterbook or miscellaneous journal discussed in descriptive note on JA to Sewall, Feb. 1760, above.
1. For the assignment of this date see following note.
2. Chief Justice Stephen Sewall (b. 1702), Harvard 1721, died on 10 Sept. 1760; he was Jonathan Sewall's uncle (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 6:561–567). The competition for succession to the vacancy in this high office had profound effects on Massachusetts politics and family alignments that lasted into the era of the Revolution. For JA's views on the issue, see his Draft of a Letter of the Succession, 5 Nov. and note, Diary and Autobiography, 1:167–168.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0033

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1760-11-05

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

Draft of a Letter on the Succession to the Chief Justiceship

Braintree 5 November 1760. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:167–168. See above, JA to Jonathan Sewall, post 10 Sept. 1760 and note there.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0034

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Parsons, Samuel Holden
Date: 1760-12-05

To Samuel Holden Parsons

[salute] Sir1

I presume upon the Merits of a Brother, both in the Academical { 47 } and legal family, to give you this Trouble and to ask the favour of your correspondence. The Science which we have bound ourselves to study for Life, you know to be immensely voluminous, perhaps intricate and involved, so that an arduous application to Books at Home, a critical observation of the Course of Practice, and the Conduct of the Elder Practicioners in Courts, and a large Correspondence with fellow students abroad, as well as much conversation in private Companies upon legal subjects are needful, to gain a thorough Mastery, if not to make a decent Figure in the Profession of the Law. The Design of this Letter then is to desire that you would write me a Report of any cause of Importance and Curiosity either in Courts of Admiralty or Common Law, that you hear resolved in your Colony, and on my Part I will readily engage to do the same of any such causes that I shall hear argued in this Province. It is an employment that gives me pleasure, and I find that revolving a Case in my mind, stating it on Paper, recollecting the Arguments on each side, and examining the Points thro' my Books that occur in the Course of a Tryal makes the Impressions deeper on my memory, and lets me easier into the Spirit of Law and Practice.
In view I send you the Report of a Cause argued in Boston last Term. And should be glad to know if the Point “whether Statutes of Mortmain are to be extended to the Plantations” was ever stirred in your Colony? And by what Criterion you determine what Statutes are and what are not extended to you?2
Tr (Adams Papers); incomplete; in hand of Samuel H. Parsons of Middletown, Conn. (grandson of original recipient); appended to the younger Parsons' letter to CFA, 10 Nov. 1856 and filed under that date.
1. Samuel Holden Parsons (1737–1789), Harvard 1756, at this time was studying law with an uncle in his native village of Lyme, Conn. An early patriot, he became a Continental brigadier general in 1776 and major general in 1780. After the war he invested in Ohio lands and settled in Marietta (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 14:50–73; see also JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:444–449).
2. Here appears in parentheses a note signed “S.H.P.,” the transcriber: “Here follows the case which [is] too long to be transcribed at this time.”

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0035

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1761-01

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Draft of a Letter from an Old Man on the Evils of Licensed Houses

Braintree, January? 1761. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:190–192 Unsigned, but the author introduces himself as “an old Man, seventy odd.” See entry for the earliest draft in this series, 29 May 1760, above, and references there.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0036

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1761-01

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Draft of a New Year's Address to His Nieces

Braintree, January? 1761. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:193–196. The letter is of course pseudonymous; at this time JA had no nieces.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0037

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Chardon, Peter
Date: 1761-01

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To Peter Chardon

Braintree, January? 1761. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:196–197. On Chardon (d. 1766), see JA's admiring characterization in same, p. 47, and note at p. 48.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0038

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1761-03

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Draft of a Letter from an Old Man on the Evils of Licensed Houses

Braintree, March? 1761. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:204–206. Third in the series of (unpublished) newspaper contributions on this subject. See entry for the earliest draft in the series, 29 May 1760, above, and references there.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0039

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Quincy, Samuel
Date: 1761-04-22

To Samuel Quincy

[salute] Dr. Sir

Since you claim a Promise I will perform as well as I can. The Letter so long talked of, is but a Mouse though the offspring of a pregnant Mountain. However, if amidst the cares of business, the gay diversions of the Town, the sweet refreshments of private study, and the joyful expectations of approaching Wedlock,1 you can steal a moment to read a letter from an old Country-friend, I shall chearfully transcribe it, such as it is, without the least alteration, or the least labor to connect this preamble to the subsequent Purview.
The Review of an old Letter from you upon original Composition and original Genius, has raised a war in my mind.2 “Scraps of Verse, sayings of Philosophers,” the received opinion of the World, and my own reflections upon all, have thrown my imagination into a Turmoil, like the reign of Rumour in Milton, or the jarring elements in Ovid, Where

“Nulli sua forma manebat

Obstabatque alliis aliud.”3

a picture of which I am determined to draw.
Most writers have represented Genius as a rare Phenomenon, a { 49 } Phoenix. Bolingbroke says, “God mingles sometimes among the societies of Men, a few and but a few, of Those on whom he is graciously pleased to bestow a larger portion of the aetherial spirit, than in the ordinary Course of his Providence he bestows on the Sons of Men.” Mr. Pope will tell you, that this “vivida vis animi, is to be found in very few, and that the utmost stretch of study, learning, and industry, can never attain to This.” Dr. Cheyne4 shall distinguish between his Quick-thinkers, and Slow-thinkers, and insinuate that the former are extreamly scarce.
We have a becoming Reverence for the authority of these Writers, and of many Others of the same Opinion—but we may be allowed to fear that the vanity of the human heart, had too great a share in determining these Writers that Opinion.
The same vanity which gave rise to that strange religious Dogma, that God elected a precious few (of which few however every Man who believes the doctrine is always One) to Life eternal without regard to any foreseen Virtue, and reprobated all the Rest, without regard to any foreseen Vice—A doctrine which, with serious gravity, represents the world, as under the government of Humour and Caprice, and which Hottentots and Mohawks would reject with horror.
If the orthodox doctrine of Genius is not so detestable as that of unconditional Election, it is not much less invidious, nor much less hurtful. One represents eternal life, as an unattainable Thing without the special favor of the Father—and even with that attainable by very few, one of a Tribe or two of a Nation, and so tends to discourage the practice of virtue. The other represents the talents to excell as extreamly scarce, indulged by Nature to very few, and unattainable by all the Rest, and therefore tends to discourage Industry. You and I shall never be persuaded or frightened either by Popes or Councils, Poets or Enthusiasts, to believe that the world of nature, learning and grace is governed by such arbitrary Will or inflexible fatality. We have much higher Notions of the efficacy of human endeavours in all Cases.
It is not improbable (as some Men are taller, stronger, fairer &c., than Others) that some may be by the Constitution of their bodies more sensible than others, so some may be said to be born with greater geniuses than others—and the middle point between that of the most perfect organization and the least perfect, in an healthy Child, that is not an Idiot nor a Monster, is the point of Common Sense. It is therefore likely, there are as many who have more than Common Sense, and so may be in different degrees denominated great { 50 } geniuses, as there are who have less, and these surely will not by Mr. Pope, my Lord Bolingbroke, or Dr. Cheyne, be thought extreamly few.—The falacy seems to lie here. We define Genius to be the innate Capacity, and then vouchsafe this flattering Title only to Those few, who have been directed, by their birth, education and lucky accidents, to distinguish themselves in arts and sciences, or in the execution of what the World calls great Affairs, instead of planting Corn, freighting Oysters, and killing Deer, the worthy employments in which most great Geniuses are engaged—for in truth according to that definition the world swarms with Them.
Go down to the Market-place, and enquire of the first Butcher you see, about his birth, education and the fortunes of his Life, and in the course of his rude history, you will find as many instances of Invention (Mr. Pope's Criterion of genius) as you will find in the works of most of the celebrated Poets. Go on board an Oyster-boat, and converse with the Skipper, he will relate as many instances of invention, and intrepidity too, as you will find in the lives of many British Admirals, who shine in history as the ornaments of their Country. Enquire of a Gunner in Braintree-bay, or of an Hunter upon the Frontiers of this Province, and you will hear of as many artful devices to take their Game, as you will read in the lives of Caesar, or Charles or Frederick. And as genius is more common, it seems to me it is much more powerful than is generally thought. For this mighty favour of Nature, of which the Poets and Orators, Philosophers and Legislators of the world, have been in all ages so proud and which has been represented as sufficient of itself to the formation of all those Characters—is so far otherwise, that if you pick out your great Men, from Greek or Roman, and from English history, and suppose them born and bred in Eskimeaux or Caffraria, Patagonia or Lapland, no Man would imagine that any great effects from their genius would have appeared.
Mr. Pope tells us, that De la Motte5 confesses, in whatever age Homer had lived, he must have been the greatest Poet of his Nation—but in my humble opinion, Mr. Waller6 was nearer the truth when he said, that in certain Circumstances.

“The Conqueror of the world had been,

But the first Wrestler on the Green.”

The gods sell all Things to Industry, and Invention among the Rest. The Sequel upon Industry, you may possibly have sometime or other, but remember it is not promised by,
[signed] J. A.
{ 51 }
Early Tr (Adams Papers); apparently in Samuel Quincy's later hand; addressed: “To Mr. Saml. Quincy Attorney at Law. Boston”; docketed: “Copy of Mr. Adams's Letter to me, Samuel Quincy [name inserted in a different hand] on original Composition &c. April 22d. 1761.” For provenance of this text see CFA's note in JA, Works, 1:645. Obvious errors made in copying have been silently corrected.
1. Samuel Quincy married Hannah Hill of Boston on 16 June 1761.
2. No earlier letter from Samuel Quincy to JA has been found, but that they had been in the habit of correspondence since leaving college in successive years is indicated by plentiful evidence. Apparently JA had long promised an answer to a letter from Quincy “upon original Composition and original Genius”—subjects, or, rather, a subject much discussed in literary and philosophical circles in the 18th century. (A discussion by JA himself is in his Earliest Diary, p. 72–73.) The present effusion, characterized by JA as “but a Mouse” from “a pregnant Mountain,” is his attempt to fulfill his promise.
3. “Nothing remains in the same shape; each was at odds with all the others” (Metamorphoses, bk. I, lines 17–18).
4. George Cheyne (1671–1743), British physician and a prolific writer of popular medical works (DNB). JA had for a time followed Cheyne's rigorous dietary regimen (Diary and Autobiography, 3:269).
5. Antoine Houdart de La Motte (1672–1731), French poet and critic (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale).
6. Edmund Waller (1606–1687), British poet, best known for his verses in the “cavalier” tradition (DNB).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0040

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1761-05

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

Draft of a Letter to the Boston Gazette on the Evils of Licensed Houses

Braintree, May 1761. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:212–215. Fourth and last in the series of newspaper communications on this subject. See entry for the earliest draft in the series, 29 May 1760, above, and references there.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0041

Author: Savil, Elisha
Author: Field, Joseph
Author: Belcher, Elijah
Author: Hutchinson, Thomas
Date: 1761-10-09

Inventory of Deacon John Adams' Estate

A true Inventory1 of the Estate whereof John Adams late of Braintree Gent. dec[ease]d died seized and Appraised according to the best skill and Judgment of Elisha Savil, Joseph Feild and Elijah Belcher, Viz.
An House Out Houses and 35 Acres   }   366   13   4  
Land belonging to it  
An House & Barn 10 Acres Land     186   1   34  
An House 92 Acres land     400   0   0  
{ 52 }
7 Acres Salt Marsh     56   0   0  
8 Acres fresh Meadow     40   0   0  
12 Acres Upland     80   0   0  
22 Acres Woodland     73   6   0  
2 Acres Cedar Swamp     5   7   0  
A Pew in the North Precinct Meeting House     6   13   4  
An House [£] 1: 6/. 6 Cows £17     18   6    
1 Yoke of Oxen     12      
3 Steers     8   16    
5 Sheep     1   7    
3 Hogs     4   12    
1 Cart & Wheels & Wheel Timber     1   12    
3 Chains 1 Plow & Horse Gears     1   6   0  
4 Hoes 3 Rakes 5 Forks 2 Iron Bars     1   17   0  
4 Axes a Beetle & Wedges     0   12   0  
A Chest with Draws     0   10   0  
An Oval Table     0   16   0  
A small round Table     1   4   0  
A small Desk     0   10   0  
eight Chairs     0   16   0  
A looking Glass     1   8   0  
1 Silver Spoon 2 small Dito     0   16   0  
A Chest of Draws     2   13   0  
1 Oval Table     0   12   0  
A looking Glass     0   10   0  
6 Chairs     0   12   0  
A Bed Bedstead & Beding     5   0   0  
3 Beds     9   0   0  
8 Blankets 1 Quilt     2   5   0  
2 Beadsteads 2 Cords     0   14   0  
A Suit of Curtains     2   8   0  
Wearing Apparel     7   9   0  
30 Yards Homespun Cloth     6   0   0  
9 Sheets 3 table Cloths 3 Towels 4 Pellow Cases     2   15   0  
38 Ld. Sheeps Wool     1   18   0  
A Clock     2   0   0  
3 Tables     0   12   0  
9 Chairs     0   9   0  
{ 53 }
a small Glass       1    
2 warming Pans       10    
Sundry Books & Pamphlets     2   10    
an Hone & Rasor     0   5   0  
A Gun sword & Amunition     0   4   0  
An Iron Box and heaters     0   5   0  
2 Pair Tongs 1 Shovel 1 H Pair andirons     0   16   0  
2 Tramels     0   12   0  
1 Iron Kittle 1 Skillet 2 Pots       12    
1 Hatchil [Hatchel] 2 Wheels       13    
2 Brass Kittles 1 Skillet     0   2   8  
A Tea Kittle       13    
A Frying Pan Iron pan & Spitt       10    
10 pewter Dishes 19 plates 3 Basons 1 Cran2     2   6   0  
a pr. Steelyards       10    
Carpenters & Shoemakers tools       11    
7 Cyder Casks sundry dry Casks & tubs     2   5    
an old Bed & Beding     1   6    
  [Total]   [£1,330]   [3]   [8]  
[signed] Elisha Savil, Joseph Field, Elijah Belcher
Suffolk ss. John Adams one of the Executors presented the afore-written and made Oath that it contains a true and perfect Inventory of the Estate of John Adams deceased so far as has come to his hands and knowledge, and that if more appears hereafter he will Cause it to be added. The Subscribing Appraisers were sworn as the Law directs.
[signed] T. Hutchinson
[signed] A true Copy Examd.
Wm. Cooper Reg.
MS (Adams Papers); contemporary copy in an unidentified hand, including appended certification by Probate Judge Thomas Hutchinson; attested and signed by William Cooper, Register; docketed by JA: “Inventory.”
1. This Inventory was required by the grant of probate, 10 July 1761, to be presented to the court on or before 10 Oct.; see above, Will of Deacon John Adams, &c., under date of 8 Jan. 1760–29 April 1774.
2. Cran: “An iron instrument, laid across the fire, reaching from the ribs of the grate to the hinder part of it, for the purpose of supporting a pot or kettle” (OED).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0042

Author: Adams, John
Author: Niles, Samuel
Author: Wales, Thomas
Author: Braintree, town of
Date: 1762-04-12

Report of the Braintree Town Committee for the Sale of the South Common

The Freeholders and other Inhabitants of the Town of Braintree Qualifyed by Law to vote in Town affairs being assembled by adjournment from the Twenty ninth of March last.1
The Bonds of Arbitration between the Towns Committee and the Leasees of the South Commons with the award were read before the Town.2
Then the Committee Respecting the South Comons offered their Report thereon to the Town which is as follows (viz.)
We the Subscribers the Committee appointed to consider and report what method appears most advantageous to the Town relative to the disposal of the South Commons beg leave to report that having considered that Subject as thoughroughly as we were able it appears to us that the Town would reap very considerable advantages in the alleviation of their Taxes and the removal of jealousies and animosities by proceeding to appoint and impower a Committee to make sale of the whole of said South Commons in such Lotts and Divisions as shall be thought proper at public vendue and we beg leave further to Report as our opinion that the Proceeds of the sale of the Lands within said Commons formerly Sett apart for the Ministry be appropriated to that use.3
[signed] John Adams
[signed] Samll. Niles
[signed] Thomas Wales
The above Report being read before the Town was Voted accepted Benjamin Cleverly4 entered his Dissent against the proceedings of the meeting.
Voted. That the vote Respecting accepting the Committees Report as above be Reconsidered and Null.
Voted That the first Clause in the Committees report Relative to the Sale of the South Commons be accepted.
Voted That a Committee be appointed and impowered to proceed to the sale of the said South Commons, Agreeable to the Committees report and to make and execute good and Lawfull Deeds of the same in the Name and behalf of the Town.
{ 55 }
Then Collo. Josiah Quincy, Samll. Niles Esqr. and Captn. Thomas Wales were appointed a Committee for the purposes aforesaid.
Voted, A Committee be appointed to consider in what manner the proceeds that may Arise by the Sale of the South Commons be Secured to the Town as a fund that the Town may Reap the annual benefit and if possible be under no Capacity of being allienated.
Then Voted Messrs. John Adams, Samuel Bass, John Hayward, Deacon James Penniman, Deacon Jona. Allen be a Committee to consider that affair and Report to the Town.5
MS (Braintree Town Records, 1731–1783, p. 214); in hand of Elisha Niles, town clerk.
1. Uncertainty exists concerning JA's earliest official participation in Braintree town affairs. In his Autobiography he wrote at length of his appointment as a surveyor of highways “In March” of an undesignated year, apparently shortly after he had “become a Freeholder,” which was certainly by 1761, when he inherited substantial property from his father. The town records do not list him among the appointees to this office until 1765. However, as the town customarily named at least a dozen surveyors each year, and as only ten are listed for 1763 and only three for 1764, it is possible that several names were omitted from the lists entered by the clerk in the town records for these years, and JA's may have been among them (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:278–279; Braintree Town Records, p. 399). At the very least, we know that in March 1761 he was gathering extensive information, presumably offered to the town, on customs, procedures, and laws respecting the maintenance of highways; see Diary and Autobiography, 1:203.
It was in a different capacity, a year later, that JA first indisputably appears as a servant of the town. At a meeting held on 29 March 1762 the town considered the report of a committee which had met with the lessees of Braintree's South Common lands. The committee had found that the lessees were “unwilling to fulfill the conditions of their Lease” and submitted a “Representation” of the lessees' grievances. This Representation closed with the proposal that, if the Town would not release the lessees from the terms of their leases, the dispute be left to arbitration by “three or five indifferent Men” to be chosen by the lessees and a Town committee. JA, Samuel Niles, and Thomas Wales were named a committee to “join issue with the Leasees,” and the same committee was to report, “at the adjournment” of the 29 March meeting (that is to say, at the next town meeting), on “what may be proper for the Town to act Respecting the South Commons either by Renting or Selling the same” (Braintree Town Records, p. 382–383). The committee made the present Report on the South Common (or “Comons”) on 12 April. For the history of the Commons as an issue in Braintree, see note 3, below, and entries of 19 May 1762, 1 April, 30 Sept. 1765, below.
2. These papers have not been found.
3. The “jealousies and animosities” surrounding Braintree's common lands are ably described in CFA2's Three Episodes, 2:661–665. These 1800 acres, divided between the North and South Commons, demanded attention at “almost every town-meeting,” and CFA2 tabulated “no less than 180 votes” on the subject in the Braintree Town Records. (His copy of Bates' text, heavily marked in the margins, is in the Adams Papers Editorial Office.) Proposals to sell the Commons were made as early as 1753, but in Nov. 1754, the town voted instead to lease the lands. This proved no solution, for public ways were laid out through the North and South { 56 } Commons in 1755, and the lessees' efforts to maintain walls along these paths and to protect their lands from trespassers resulted in numerous complaints to the town and to modifications of the original leases to compensate the leaseholders (Braintree Town Records, p. 326, 338–339, 350–351, 352, 361).
South Common lessees may have been more impatient than their counterparts in North Common, for the South Common group received less generous terms in settlements made with the town as these disputes arose. Too, the South Common, which “included that high ridge of rocky hills directly south of the easterly end of Water street” in modern Quincy, may have been less profitable to its lessees than the North Common, which ran from the town lands on Granite Street and included quarries as well as arable acres, extending through modern Adams Street and including the “Blue Hill” lands (Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy, p. 37–40; and map in CFA2, Three Episodes, vol. 2, following p. 578).
4. The Cleverlys were an Anglican family and thus found unacceptable the proposed allotment of the proceeds of the sale to the Congregational “Ministry.” Benjamin's brother, Joseph Cleverly, though not ordained, for many years conducted services at Christ Church in Braintree as a “teacher.” On the Cleverlys see JA, Diary and Autobiography, vols. 1 and 3.
5. The Report of this committee is at 19 May, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0043

Author: Adams, John
Author: Bass, Samuel
Author: Penniman, James
Author: Allen, Jonathan
Author: Hayward, John
Author: Braintree, town of
Date: 1762-05-19

Report of the Braintree Committee on the Proceeds of the Sale of the South Common

The Committee appointed to Consider in what manner the Proceeds of the Sale of the South Commons may be Secured as a fund to the Town1 made their Report as follows, (viz.)
We the Subscribers appointed a Committee to consider in what manner the Proceeds that may arise by the Sale of the South Commons be Secured to the Town as a fund that the Town may Reap the annual Benefit of the Same and if possible be under no Capacity of being alianated Humbly report that the late Committee for Sale2 be desired and directed to take of the purchasers either the money or obligations for the money with good and Sufficient Security Personall Real or both at their best Discretion said Money to be payable to the Town Treasurer and his Successor in said office at and not before the Day of the Expiration of the North Common Lease3 and to be upon Interest. And in Case the Committee should take of the Purchasers any Cash said Cash to be placed out on good Security in like manner. That the { 57 } Town may if they see Cause after the Expiration of said North Common Lease Petition the General Court to Incorporate certain Trustees and impower them to take Bonds and Mortgages to themselves and their Successors in said office that so the Town may reap the annual Interest of said Money for ever without having any power to alienate the Principal.
[signed] Samll. Bass
[signed] James penniman
[signed] Jona. Allen
[signed] John Hayward
[signed] John Adams
The above Report being Read before the Town was Voted Accepted with this Amendment that any of the Purchasers of the above said Lands shall have Liberty to Pay their Respective Dues to the Town in one or Two years as they see Cause and that the Same be placed out as above directed.
Then Mr. John Adams was appointed and impowered by the Town to draw Conveyances and Securities respecting said South Commons.
MS (Braintree Town Records, 1731–1783, p. 215–216); in hand of Elisha Niles, town clerk.
1. For JA's appointment to this committee, see Report of 12 April, above.
2. The committee composed of Col. Josiah Quincy, Samuel Niles, and Thomas Wales. See Report of 12 April, above.
3. In 1756 the lessees of North Common agreed to erect fences along the public way through their lands in return for concessions which included a three-year extension of their leases (Braintree Town Records, p. 350–351). The North Common lands remained leaseholds until 1765; for the settlement reached on the expiration of these leases, see below, Reports of 1 April and 30 Sept. 1765, relative to laying out and sale of the North Common.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0044

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1763-02

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

Draft of a Letter to All Young Gentlemen on the Evils of Factionalism

Braintree, February 1763. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:242–243. Incomplete and evidently not published contemporaneously, this satirical fragment anticipates one of the themes developed in JA's newspaper pieces signed “Humphry Ploughjogger”; see the following entry.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0045-0001

Editorial Note

In 1763, John Adams made his first verifiable entry into print with the publication of his “Humphrey Ploughjogger” letter in the Boston Evening-Post on 14 March (No. I, below). He was to use the pseudonym several more times—twice that summer, once in 1765, and twice in 1767. His authorship of the 1763 Ploughjogger pieces is attested to in his own words, written long after the fact and inaccurate in detail, but convincing nonetheless.
In an enumeration of his published works prepared for the Abbé de Mably, 17 January 1783, Adams listed “2 or 3, fugitive peices written in the [year] 1762 or 3., under the Signature of Humphrey Ploughjogger, not worth mentioning” (LbC, “never sent,” Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 108). On 13 February 1792, in a letter to his son Charles, Adams recollected writing only one Ploughjogger letter, but he now gave a better report of its reception: “That my Confessions may be compleat I must tell you that I wrote a very foolish unmeaning thing in Fleets Paper in 1762 or 1763 under the signature of Humphrey Ploughjogger. In this there was neither good nor Evil, yet it excited more merriment than all my other writings together” (MHi: Seymour Coll. of Charles Adams Letters).
{ 59 }
Adams made only one other reference to Humphrey Ploughjogger in extant documents, considerably earlier than either of those just cited, but probably arising out of his 1765 use of the pseudonym. In his Diary, 10 January 1766, he wrote: “Humphry Ploughjogger received a Letter from a Friend, thanking him for his good Advice and presenting him with a Crimson, Homespun Cap to wear with his Hide, as a Reward” (Diary and Autobiography, 1:290). Since it was customary for 18th-century contributors to newspapers who used a pseudonym to continue to employ the same one, a practice insisted upon by colonial printers who wanted to be able to identify contributors in the event of prosecution for libel, writers only very rarely used a pseudonym already claimed by another. This practice was followed even if the pseudonym was used at long intervals over a period of years (Roger B. Berry, “John Adams: Two Further Contributions to the Boston Gazette, 1766–1768,” NEQ, 31:94–95 [March 1958]). Thus, Adams' authorship of the Ploughjogger pieces would seem well substantiated.
The pseudonymous pieces signed “U,” appearing in the Boston Gazette between July and September 1763, were also claimed by Adams in the listing he prepared for Abbé de Mably. Adams recalled that he composed these letters “in answ[er] to a Tory-Writer, who subscribed himself J [Jonathan Sewall].” Actually Adams' intention was more complicated than he remembered, for he sought to serve several purposes, not all of them related to “J.”
The Humphrey Ploughjogger letters are in an American tradition of humor that arises from illiterate phonetic spelling and rustic dialect, and that is meant to cover an undertone of serious purpose. One thinks, for example, of James Russell Lowell's Hosea Biglow. In his first Ploughjogger letter, Adams sought to ridicule “grate men [who] dus nothin but quaril with one anuther and put peces in the nues paper” and to poke fun at bugbears of the day—a standing army, popery, and the Pretender. For months the Boston press had been filled with vituperative charges and countercharges of two factions, one that gathered around James Otis Jr. and his cause, and the other that supported Gov. Francis Bernard and Lt. Gov. Thomas Hutchinson. The quarrel had its origin in the Governor's naming Hutchinson to the post of chief justice, despite his not being a lawyer and despite the promise made by a Bernard predecessor to name Otis Sr. to the next vacancy. Young Otis saw an insult to his family and, more important, the gathering in Hutchinson's hands of a multiplicity of offices, some of which would lead to a conflict of interests. Within a month or two of his appointment, Hutchinson participated in the famous writs of assistance case that Otis pleaded unsuccessfully before the Superior Court (JA, Legal Papers, 2:106–147). After that, Hutchinson had been involved, unintentionally and to his detriment, in the dispute between the Governor and the House over the naming of a new colonial agent (Bailyn, Thomas Hutchinson, p. 51–60). By 1763 these were already old quarrels, but it took little to revive them in young Otis' con• { 60 } tinuing campaign of harassment against the Lieutenant Governor. The immediate spark setting off fresh controversy was Otis' criticism of the Governor for spending money on a gunboat in the fall of 1762, in Otis' eyes a threat to legislative prerogative. The door was then opened to rehearsal of old grievances (Berkin, Jonathan Sewall, p. 29–30).
The intemperate language and abusive tone of these publications would have disturbed John Adams in any case (see Diary and Autobiography, 1:243), but his concern deepened when one of his closest friends entered the fray. On 14 February 1763 in the Boston Evening-Post appeared Jonathan Sewall's first effort in a defense of the Bernard-Hutchinson administration which grew into a series of newspaper contributions, the last published June 13. Writing as “J,” Sewall satirized the Otises and their allies in terms no worse than other newspaper combatants, but his enthusiasm and commitment to his task aroused Adams (Berkin, Jonathan Sewall, p. 167). Thus, it was no accident that he wrote the first Ploughjogger letter only seventeen days after Sewall had made his debut as “J.”
One can only speculate that the humorous first letter of Ploughjogger was a mild attempt to reprove Sewall and other disputants, but when Sewall continued, wholly committed to one side, his good friend felt betrayed. In this period Adams was an exemplar of the Anglo-American tradition that considered blind factionalism detrimental to the public good. Thus sometime in the spring of 1763, but most likely after Adams' first newspaper article appeared, he wrote an outraged and outrageous letter to his friend, identified only as Jonathan, which he broke off abruptly and apparently never copied and sent (No. II, below). The writing of it vented his spleen; keeping the letter prevented, for the time being at least, what would probably have been an irreparable breach in their friendship.
Shortly after the last of Sewall's “J” pieces appeared in print, Humphrey Ploughjogger came back after a three-month absence, still complaining about newspaper quarrels but directing his energies now to a call for agricultural diversification, particularly the cultivation of hemp. His postscript suggests he was driven to take up his pen once more by the outbreak of fisticuffs between two members of the legislature.
Gen. William Brattle of the Council and Col. John Murray, representative from Rutland, got into a scuffle outside the Town House on 8 June when Murray demanded an apology for a slighting remark he claimed Brattle had made some time before. When Brattle denied the accusation, Murray called him a liar and attacked him. The sheriff separated the two men, but when they met again the same afternoon another scuffle broke out. Although Murray apologized for his conduct the next day before the Council and was pardoned by the governor and the councilors, Brattle was not satisfied. Before the end of June, he retained John Adams as counsel in his suit for trespass against Murray, and the case first came to court in Boston on 5 July. (For JA's legal notes on the case, see No. V, note 2, below.) Brattle's suit was not disposed of until 1766, with Adams acting as attorney through the whole process. Brattle won token damages of £30, { 61 } although he had sued for £1,500. The episode was important for Adams as an instance of resort to unwritten law in defense of honor, a custom he was to attack in several of the “U” letters.
The first of the “U” letters, however, was an answer to Ploughjogger's request for information about the cultivation of hemp (No. IV, below); thus, Adams began a dialogue with himself carried on in two different newspapers. His original purpose was not as he remembered it many years later, when he told the Abbé de Mably the “U” letters were written to answer a tory. It was characteristic and understandable for Adams to shove farther back in the past his dedication to whig principles and his strong opposition to tory ideas. Sewall, of course, could not be called a tory in 1763. Although “U” began by posing as a learned gentleman who would satisfy Ploughjogger's desire to turn men's minds away from factional strife and toward the practical and needful matter of agricultural diversification, Adams was deflected from his purpose after the first letter by the Brattle-Murray imbroglio and by Sewall's dedication to one side in the political clash between the Otis and Bernard-Hutchinson factions. Subsequent “U” letters bemoan the writer's failure to get back to agricultural reform; only two, one of them unpublished, are addressed directly to “J” (Nos. VI and VII, below). Adams' lengthy treatment of the immorality of private revenge grew out of deep personal conviction, but he may have sought also to sway public opinion to his side as the plaintiff's attorney in Brattle's suit against Murray, who had sought directly to defend his honor.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0045-0002

Author: Adams, John
Author: Ploughjogger, Humphrey
Recipient: Boston Evening Post (newspaper)
Date: 1763-03-03

I. Humphrey Ploughjogger to the Boston Evening-Post

[salute] Lofing Sun

Thes fue Lins cums to let you no, that I am very wel at prisent, thank God for it, hoping that you and the family are so too. I haf bin here this fortnite and it is fiftene yeres you no sins I was here laste, and ther is grate alterashons both in the plase and peple, the grate men dus nothin but quaril with one anuther and put peces in the nues paper aginst one anuther, and sum sayes one is rite, and others sayes tuther is rite and they dont know why or wherefor, there is not hafe such bad work amumgst us when we are a goin to ordane a minstur as there is amungst these grate Fokes, and they say there is a going to be a standin armey to be kept in pay all pece time and I am glad of it Ime sure for then muney will be plenty and we can sell off our sauce2 and meat, but some other peple says we shall be force to pay um and that wil be bad on tuther hand becaus we haf pade taksis enuf alredy amungst us, and they say we are despretly in det now but howsomever { 62 } we dont pay near upon it so much as bostun folks and thats som cumfurt but I hop our depetys will be so wise as to take care we shant pay no more for that, the Bostun peple are grone dedly proud for I see seven or eight chirch minsturs3 tuther day and they had ruffles on and grate ty wigs with matter4 a bushel of hair on um that cums haf way down there baks, but I dont wonder they go so fin for there is a parcel of peple in Lundun that chuses um as they say and pays um, but our m—— thinks themselfs well off if they can get a toe shirt to go to Leckshun in,5 but that is not their sorts for if they ant well pade they cant help it and they ort to be for the bible says the laburrer is wurthy of his hier and they that prech the Gospel should live by the Gospel, but Ime dredful afrade that now there is so many of these minsturs here that they will try to bring in popiree among us and then the pritandur will come and we shal all be made slaves on.6 I have bote your juse harp and intend to come home next week and tell your mother so. so no more at prisent but that I am Your lofeing father
[signed] Humphry Ploughjogger
MS not found. Reprinted from ((Fleet's) Boston Evening-Post, 14 March 1763).
1. This is the only letter in this group for which the author assigned a date of composition.
2. See OED under Sauce, 4a: “Chiefly U.S. Vegetables or fruits, fresh or preserved, taken as part of a meal.”
3. Anglican clergymen. Americans had to go to England for ordination by a bishop.
4. Probably to be read as “with a matter of,” meaning “about a bushel.” See OED under Matter, 24. For another example, see No. III, below.
5. That is, Congregational ministers think they are well off if they can afford a coarse linen shirt to wear to Election Day ceremonies. These were held in Boston on the last Wednesday in May, when the General Court convened and elected the Governor's Council. It was a day “of 'treats' and feasts as well as sermons and politics” (A. W. Plumstead, ed., The Wall and the Garden: Selected Massachusetts Election Sermons 1670–1775, Minneapolis, 1968, p. 11).
6. Period editorially supplied.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0045-0003

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Sewall, Jonathan
Date: 1763

II. To Jonathan Sewall

[salute] My Dear Friend

For so I must call you, tho your late Behaviour, in Point of Ill Nature, and Jealousy, has savoured too much of the Instigations of the Devil. Jonathan, thou art1 become, an Artful Designing fellow.—Cunning, left handed, crooked Wisdom, is the highest Excellence thou canst <aspire> justly pretend to.—Had I but known this, three Years agone, I would have seen thee, gizzarded eer I would have honourd thee with my Friendship.
{ 63 }
Thou Fool, To praise, as thou dost, one side of the Question, in political Disputes, and to execrate as thou dost the other. Thou art Either an hireling Scribbler, and prostitutest thine Head, thine Heart and thy fingers to blacken every Feature of one Party, however fair some of them may be, and to whiten every feature of the other, how foul or swarthy soever [some] of them may be, or else thou art a silly, undistinguishing Jack Tar, on board the ship, who never lookest into the Right and the Wrong the True or the false, but eer fightest valiantly, whenever the Master gives a dram and pointeth out an Antagonist. Oh the perpetual Hankerings of France after universal Monarchy, cry, the Polititians of an English Coffee house, and an English Gazette.—Oh all grasping Ambition!—oh punic Perfidy, &c. &c. &c. Poor, virtuous, modest, Pious Phylosophical England, allways attentive to the Interests of human Nature, the Rights and Liberties of Mankind but especially of Christians is from these Considerations purely, not at all from Avarice, Ambition or self Love, excited to controul and destroy the [Powers?] of France and all other Powers, and to Monopolize, all the Trade, Wealth, Business and Power of the Universe.
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, <in small Th[ings?]> 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.
Dft (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 601); on the verso of this unfinished, undirected, and unsigned MS are some legal notes by JA unrelated to the text of the letter.
1. JA's resort to Biblical style, which he maintains throughout the remainder of the letter, underscores the bitter irony he sees in having a faithless friend named Jonathan, the name of Saul's son who remained true to David (1 Samuel: chs., 18–20).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0045-0004

Author: Adams, John
Author: Ploughjogger, Humphrey
Recipient: Boston Evening Post (newspaper)
Date: 1763-06-20

III. Humphrey Ploughjogger to the Boston Evening-Post

[salute] To the Publishers of the Boston Evening-Post.

Plese to put this following, in your next Print.
I Arnt book larnt enuff, to rite so polytly, as the great gentlefolks, that rite in the News-Papers, about Pollyticks. I think it is pitty, they should know how to rite so well, saving they made a better use ont. { 64 } And that they might do, if they would rite about something else. They do say we are a matter a million of muney in det. If so be the matter be so, I dont see but the Cunstibles must dragg two thirds on us to goal, for our land and housen and creeturs wont pay tacksis, without ther is muney to sell them for. And I am shure ther arnt haff a million of muney amongst us. And now the war is done, we cant bring in any more amungst us.—In the war time I could sell my fatt ocksen, and sheep, and every thing I could raise on my place, for a pretty good round price in muney. So that the war did me some good, 'tho' I lost by it two of my sons, as stout young fellows as ever took a man by the sholders. But now I cant sell any thing, because nobody has no muney hardly. And they do say that amost all the muney folks can rake and scrape, is sent away by water to buy Corn and Hemp and such like, besides that that is sent to buy fine cloths. As to finery gentlefolks may do what they ples, for we cant make um so fine here as they bring um from Lunnun. But I know we can raise as good Ingean corn here as they can in Virginny, and as good Wheet as they can in Connetticut, and folks say we could raise as good Hemp, as they raise in any part of the world. And if so be, this be true we might raise anuff amongst us, to send to Lunnun to pay for our fine cloths; for they do say, it fetches a nation1 price, and they want abundance of it ther, about their shipping, but no body amungst us knows how to raise it.
What I'me ater is, to get some great larnt gentleman, who has been to Old Ingland, and knows how they raise Hemp there, and can read books about it, and understand um, to print in your News, some direckshon, about it, that we may go to trying, for we cant afford to run venters, by working, may be, a month and then have nothing come of it for want of working right.2—I'le affirm it, a little short piece in the print, no bigger than these few lines I send you at this present riting, if it did but tell us how to raise Hemp, how to fitt our land and feed, how and when to sow it, how to gather the crop and when, and how to dress it, and suck like would do a thousand pounds worth of good.
Seems to me folks must have a queer kind of souls to love to study, to fling dirt and play hide and seek in the News, better to walk or ride about the country, in good weather, and study like King Solomon, the Herbs from the Cedar of Lebanon to the Hysop in the wall. I'le avouch it I've took more delight in looking upon a bunch of leeves, or blossoms, or sprigs of grass for two hours together, to see how nice and pretty it is made, than I ever did last winter, or spring in reeding any of them scolding pieces in the News, and yet tho' I want bro't up to College I love to reed.
{ 65 }
I wonder why folks will rite so as they do in the News, they make amost all the world hate um for it. whereas I'le say it they could make every body love um if they would rite about farming, and teech country folks how to pay their rates by rasing hemp and such like. For it would be strange, if we in a land of light were not as good as Heathens, and I've seen it in a sermon book, that they worshipt, even arter he was dead, that man that taut um how to use Grapes, and tother too that taut um how to sow corn and such like. Thes Pagans were fools to worship um, tho it shows that they lov'd and honour'd the man that did um good, which we Chrischans dont always do, tho I hope most of us should.—Sum of our ministers say that none of thes heathens are sav'd, which I cant hardly beleeve.
I do say that our great knowing rich men cant answer it to a good conshence, if they dont take sum panes and spend sum muney too, to learn us little ignorant poor folks how to pay our rates, and get a living, dont they remember the parable of the Talents!—besides we have work'd hard and lost our sons and brothers in the war, to defend them in hole skins, and got so far in det that we cant pay saving they contrive sum way for us.—I wonder whether they ever sit alone and medetate.—If they did their bowels would yerne toward us.—I sit up sumtimes till 12 a Clock at night thinking about myself and Naibours our land and stock and rates, and about the war, and about my too poor dear sons, one of um died of a camp fevur, and tother was skalp'd by the Ingeans, till my hart is redy to burst and my eyes run over. I'm shure if I had as much larning, books and time to spaer from my labor, with my poor abillitys, thof3 I say it, I could find out 20 ways of teeching mankind things they want to know, and helping um pay their dets and live comfortable.
Good Mr. Elliot did rite sumthing once about farming, but not enuff about Hemp.4—I see his book tother day, poor man he's ded now, but our loss in his gain.—I red a good deel in his book, and like it extrordinary well. I wish I had one of um. I suppose I could get one for haff a dollur. I think I'le leeve off tacking the News papers for haff a yeer, and bye one, and in haff a yeer I hope the News will get cleer again of so much wicked langage, and ripping and rending of one grate man agenst another! There's sundry leeves at the end ont, put out by a fine man, folks say I know him, I've seen him ride by my house, and thof I durst not speek to him yet I'm a fool for it, for they say he's a nice good-natur'd free Gentleman, yet I love him for the pains he has took to make folks ditch their meadows, and sow Wheet and Hemp and such like.5
{ 66 }
I do say it would be a nice thing if we could raise enuff Hemp to pay our rates, and bye a little rum and shuger, which we cant well do without, and a little Tea, which our Wifes wont let us have any peace without.
I've been as long as a sarmon amost, so I wont rite no more at present. Sumbody put a lettur of mine into the print tother day that I was asham'd to see there, so I wanted to let the world know I could if I try'd both spell and word a lettur, abundance better than that was, and I have told um sum things they would do well to think on, when they go to bed and when they get up, if their Wifes dont pester um too much. So I remain your's to sarve.
[signed] Humphrey Ploughjogger
P.S. Seems to me if grate Men dont leeve off writing Pollyticks, breaking Heads, boxing Ears, ringing Noses and kicking Breeches, we shall by and by want a world of Hemp more for our own consumshon.6
MS not found. Reprinted from ((Fleet's) Boston Evening-Post, 20 June 1763).
1. Short for damnation; used as an adjective and an adverb for great, extremely, &c. “All Chiefly Dial.” (Webster's, 2d edn.).
2. JA soon responded to Ploughjogger's request; see No. IV, below.
3. Dialect for though (OED).
4. Rev. Jared Eliot (1685–1763), Yale 1706, F.R.S., of Killingworth (now Clinton), Conn., published Essays upon Field-Husbandry in New England, As It Is or May Be Ordered, Boston, 1760 (Sabin, No. 22136), originally issued in parts, New London and N.Y., 1748–1759, “the most widely read and prized agricultural essays in America” before the Revolution (DAB).
5. The “sundry leeves at the end” are an appendix (p. [159]–166) containing laudatory comments on Eliot's book and some added notes on New England agriculture. The author, the “Gentleman” mentioned, was Peter Oliver, later chief justice of the Superior Court, whom JA (if not “Humphrey Ploughjogger”) knew; see Diary and Autobiography, 1:225–227 and passim. Oliver and Eliot corresponded on agricultural and scientific subjects, and Oliver urged and oversaw the publication of his friend's book in Boston; see Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 8:740. A copy of the Essays once owned by Rev. Ezra Stiles and now in MHi bears at p. [159] the notation “By the Hon. Judge Oliver of Middleborough,” and the appendix includes the several points of advice mentioned in Ploughjogger's letter.
6. Hemp for hanging.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0045-0005

Author: Adams, John
Author: U.
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1763-07-18

IV. “U” to the Boston Gazette

[salute] Messieurs Edes & Gill,

Please to give the following a Place in your next.
Among the Votaries of Science, and the numerous Competitors for literary Fame, Choice and Judgment, about the Utility of their Studies, and the Interest of the human Race, have been remarkably { 67 } neglected. Mathematicians have exerted, an obstinate Industry, and the utmost Subtilty of Wit, in demonstrating, little Niceties, among the Relations of Lines and Numbers, of Surfaces and Solids; and in searching for other Demonstrations, which, there is not the least Probability, will ever be found. Great Advantages of Genius, Learning, Wealth, and Leisure, have been improved by Philosophers, in examining and describing to the World, the Formation of Shells and Pebbles, of Reptiles and Insects, in which Mankind has no more Concern, than it would have in sage Conjectures about the Weight of the Indian's Elephant and Tortoise. Many Pens have been employed, and much Mischief and Malevolence occasioned, by Controversies concerning Predestination.—The original of Evil.—And other abstruse Subjects, which, having been to no good Purpose, under learned Examination, for so many Centuries, may by this Time, be well enough concluded unfathomable by the humane Line.
But Agriculture, the nursing Mother of every Art and Science, every Trade and Profession in Society, has been most imprudently, and ungratefully despised. It has been too much so, till of late in Europe; but much more so in America; and perhaps not the least so, in the Massachusetts-Bay.
With Advantages of Soil and Climate, which few Countries under Heaven can pretend to rival; we have never raised our own Bread.—Capable as we are, of making many wholsome and delicious Liquors, at a small Expence, we send abroad annually, at a very great Expence, for others that are less wholesome agreable and delicate.—When it is in our Power, without any Difficulty, to raise many other Commodities, in sufficient Plenty, not only for our own Consumption, but for Exportation, we send all the Globe over, Yearly to import such Commodities for our own Use!
All these Facts are indisputably true: But Things cannot long continue in the same Course. Many Sources of our Wealth are dried away; and unless we seek for Resources, from Improvements in our Agriculture, and an Augmentation of our Commerce, by such Means, we must forego the Pleasure of Delicacies, and Ornaments, if not the Comfort of real Necessaries, both in Diet and Apparel.
The Intention of this Paper then, is to intreat my worthy Countrymen, who have any Advantages, of Leisure, Education, or Fortune, to amuse themselves, at convenient Opportunities, with the study, and the Practice too, of Husbandry. Nor let any who have Ability, to think and act, tho' in narrow Circumstances, be discouraged, from exerting the Talents that have been given them, in the same Way.
{ 68 }

Haud facile emergunt, quorum Virtutibus Obstat

Res angusta Domi,1

With all its Truth and Pathos, has been the occasion of greater Evil, by Soothing the Pride and Indolence of Genius; than it ever was of Good, by prompting the rich and powerful, to seek the solitary Haunts of Merit, and to amplify her Sphere. In making Experiments, upon Soils and Manners [Manures],2 Grains and Grasses, Trees and Bushes; and in your Enquiries into the Course of Nature in producing them: You will find as much Employment for your Ingenuity, and as high a Gratification to a good Taste, as in any Business or Amusement you can choose to pursue. I said as high a Gratification to a good Taste; for, believe me, the finest Productions of the Poet or the Painter, the Statuary, or the Architect; when they stand in Competition with the great and beautiful Works of Nature, in the Animal and Vegetable Kingdoms; must be pronounced mean, and despicable Baubles—In such Inquiries as these, the Mathematician, the Philosopher, the Chymist and the Poet, may all improve their favourite Sciences to the Advancement of their Health, the Increase of their Fortunes, and the Benefit of their Country.
If I might descend, without Presumption, to Particulars, I would recommend such Enquiries to Divines and Physicians, more than to any other Orders. For, without enquiring into the Truth of the Observation, that the Lawyers among us, are the most curious in Husbandry, which, if true, is unnatural and accidental,—Divines, having more Leisure, and better Opportunities for Study than any Men, will find, in that Science, an agreeable Relaxation from the arduous Labours of their Profession, an useful Exercise for the Preservation of their Health, a Means of supplying their Families with many Necessaries that might otherwise cost them dear, and an excellent Example of Ingenuity and Industry, removing many Temptations of Vice and Folly, to the People under their Charge.—Besides, their Acquaintance with the Sciences subservient to Husbandry, will give them great Advantages, and in the Prosecution of such studies, they will find their Sentiments raised, their Ideas of divine Attributes display'd in the Scenes of Nature, improved, and their Adoration of the great Creator, and his Providence exalted.—Physicians have many Advantages, not only of the World in general, but of other liberal Professions—The Principles of those Sciences, which subserve more immediately their peculiar Occupation, are at the same Time the Foundations of all real, and rational Improvements in Husbandry. Necessitated as they are to much Travel and frequent Conversations, with many sorts of People, { 69 } they might, for their own mere Diversion, remark the Appearances of Nature, and store their Minds with many useful observations, which they might disperse among their Patients, without the least Loss of Time, or Interruption to the Duties of their Profession.
These Reflections have been occasion'd, by a late Piece in the Evening-Post, signed Humphrey Ploughjogger.—Who was the Writer of that Piece, what were his Intentions, whether to do good or to do Evil, for what Reasons he chose that Manner of Conveyance to the Public, or whether the whole was written to introduce the Postscript,

And “to shew by one Satyric Touch

No Country wanted Hemp so much”

I am not at Leisure to inquire. And indeed, since Mr. J. with his noble and ignoble Trumpeters, has propagated an universal Jealousy, of every Writer in your Paper, I shall leave the important Questions, whether this Publication springs from Benevolence or Vanity, a public Spirit or seditious Views, a Love of Money, or Desire of Fame, to the sage Discussion of Mr. J and his adherents.
My professed Design, as well as that of Mr. Ploughjogger, is not only innocent but important. There is no Subject less understood, or less considered, by Men in general even of the learned Orders, than the Theory of Agriculture. And the Writer, who should direct with Success, the Attention of inquisitive Minds, to that Branch of Learning, whether he intended to befriend the Public, or to blow it into Flames, would certainly be the occasion of much publick Utility. The particular Subject which, that Writer has chosen to recommend to the Consideration of the Province, promises, more fairly than any other, private Profit to the Farmer, and the Merchant, public Benefit to this Province, and perhaps to the Provinces in general, as well as to Great-Britain, (the Parent and Protector of them all) whose Society of Arts &c.3 have discovered their kind Concern for us, as well as their wise Provision for their native Country, among many other Instances, by offering Encouragement for raising this Commodity, in New-England. It has been said that “a thousand Weight to an Acre is an ordinary Crop of Hemp,” that “several Hundred Thousand Pounds worth of foreign Hemp, is yearly expended, in New-England,” that “Hemp may be raised, on drained Lands;” and that “if we can raise more than to supply our own Occasions, we may send it home.”4 It has been said too, by another good Authority, “that an Acre of Land well tilled, will produce a Ton Weight, and that a Ton of it is worth Sixty Pounds of Lawful Money.”5
It is not without Reason then, that I embrace with Pleasure, the { 70 } Opportunity of seconding Mr. Ploughjogger, in his Attempt, to recommend, to the Labours of the Farmer, the Enquiries of the Curious, and the Encouragement of Statesmen, a subject so important to this Province, to New-England in general, to Great-Britain herself, to the present Age, and to future Generations.
Hemp, is a Plant of great Importance, in the Arts and Manufactories, as it furnishes a great Variety of Threads, Cloths, and Cordage. It bears the nearest Resemblance to Flax, in its Nature, the manner of its Cultivation, and the Purposes to which it serves. It must be annually sown afresh. It arises, in a little space of Time, into a tall, slender, shrub, with an hollow Stem. It bears a small round seed, filled with a solid Pulp. Its Bark is a Tissue of Fibres, joined together with a soft substance, which easily rots it.—There are two Kinds of it, male, and female, the former only bears the seed, and from that seed arises both male and female. The seed should be sown in the Month of May, in a warm Sandy rich soil. They begin to gather it about the first of August, the Female being soonest ripe. The Proofs of its Ripeness are an Alteration of the Colour of its Leaves to Yellow, and its Stalks to White. It must be pulled up by the Roots and then bound in Bundles. The Male should stand Eight or Ten Days in the Air, that the Seed may ripen, which they afterwards get out, by cutting off, the Heads, and threshing them. It must then, be watered, by laying it, about a Week, in a Pond, in order to rot the Bark. I said, a Pond, tho' a Brook would be better if it did not give the Water an unwholsome Quality. After it is taken out, and dry'd, the woody Part of the Stem, must be broken from the Bark which covers it, by Crushing it, in an Instrument, called a Brake, beginning at the Roots. After it has been sufficiently broken, the small shivers, must be swingled out, as we swingle Flax. When this is done it must be beaten on a Block, or in a Trough with an Hammer, or with Beetles, till it becomes soft and pliable. When it has been well beaten it must be huckled, or passed thro' a toothed Instrument, like the Clothier's Comb, to seperate the shorter Tow, from that which is fit to be spun.6
This is a very short Answer to Mr. Ploughjogger's Enquiries, extracted from Writers, upon this excellent Plant; But if he or any other Person has a Curiosity to see a more particular Account of it (and give me Leave to tell him and them there is not an Herb, from the Cedar to the Hyssop, that may be studied to more Advantage) let them consult the Praeceptor, Nature delineated, Chamber's Dictionary, and above all the Compleat Body of Husbandry.7
And that I may add no more, Let the World in general consider, { 71 } that the Earth, the Air, and Seas, are to furnish all Animals with Food and Raiment: That mere Animal Strength, which is common to Beasts and Men, is not sufficient to avail us, of any considerable Part of the bountiful Provision of Nature: That our Understandings, as well as our Limbs and Senses, must be employed in this service. And let the Few, who have been distinguished by greater Intellectual Abilities, than Mankind in general, consider that Nature intended them for Leaders of Industry. Let them be cautious, how they suffer their Talents to sleep or rust, on one Hand; and of certain Airs of Wisdom and Superiority, on the other, by which some Gentlemen of real Sense, Learning and public Spirit, giving offence to the common People have in some Measure defeated their own benevolent Intentions. Let them not be too sparing of their Application or Expence, lest, failing of visible Profit and Success, they expose themselves to ridicule, and rational, useful Husbandry itself, to Disgrace, among the common People.—The Example of the few, if skilfully and judiciously set, will soon be admir'd and followed. For human Nature is not so stupid, or so abandoned as many worthy Men imagine, nor the common People if their peculiar Customs and Modes of Thinking are a little studied, so ungrateful or intractible, but that their Labours may be conducted by the Genius and Experience of a Few, to very great and useful Purposes.
[signed] U.
Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 18 July 1763). Dft suggesting that JA originally planned to publish this letter in the Boston Evening-Post printed in JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:245–250. JA probably submitted the letter to the Gazette instead of to the Evening-Post as a means of concealing that the “Humphrey Ploughjogger” and the “U” letters were by the same author.
1. From Juvenal. “Those people do not easily emerge from obscurity whose abilities are cramped by narrow means at home.”
2. A printer's error as is shown in draft text printed in JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:247.
3. The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture, and Commerce, established in England in 1754 to promote the development of new ideas in science (J. Steven Watson, The Reign of George III, 1760–1815, Oxford, 1960, p. 28).
4. The quotations are taken directly from or are paraphrases of material in Eliot, Essays upon Field Husbandry, p. 10, 11.
5. The “good Authority” has not been identified.
6. This account is a close paraphrase of the article on hemp in Ephraim Chambers (ca. 1680–1740), Cyclopaedia: or, an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, London, 1728, and later editions.
7. Robert Dodsley (1703–1764), ed., The Preceptor: Containing a General Course of Education, 2 vols., London, 1748, and later editions.
[Noël Antoine Pluche (1688–1761)], Le spectacle de la nature, ou entretiens sur les particularités de I'histoire naturelle, Paris, 1732–1735; transl. as Nature Delineated . . . , John Kelly, D. Belamy, J. Sparrow, 3d edn., 4 vols., { 72 } London, 1743–1744. Also transl. as Nature Displayed, both titles appearing in JA, Diary and Autobiography, index.
A Compleat Body of Husbandry, Containing Rules for Performing, in the Most Profitable Manner, the Whole Business of the Farmer and Country Gentleman . . . Compiled from the Original Papers of the Late Thomas Hale, 4 vols., London, 1756, 1758–1759. This source corrects the misinformation that the male plant bears the seed.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0045-0006

Author: Adams, John
Author: U.
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1763-08-01

V. “U” to the Boston Gazette

[salute] To the Printers.

Man, is distinguished from other Animals, his Fellow-Inhabitants of this Planet, by a Capacity of acquiring Knowledge and Civility, more than by any Excellency, corporeal, or mental, with which, mere Nature, has furnished his Species.—His erect Figure, and sublime Countenance, would give him but little Elevation above the Bear, or the Tyger: nay, notwithstanding those Advantages, he would hold an inferior Rank in the Scale of Being, and would have a worse Prospect of Happiness, than those Creatures; were it not for the Capacity, of uniting with others, and availing himself of Arts and Inventions, in social Life. As he comes originally from the Hands of his Creator, Self Love, or Self-Preservation, is the only Spring, that moves within him.—He might crop the Leaves, or Berries, with which his Creator had surrounded him, to satisfy his Hunger—He might sip at the Lake or Rivulet, to slake his Thrist—He might screen himself, behind a Rock or Mountain, from the bleakest of the Winds—or he might fly from the Jaws of voracious Beasts, to preserve himself from immediate Destruction.—But would such an Existence be worth preserving? Would not the first Precipice, or the first Beast of Prey, that could put a Period to the Wants, the Frights and Horrors, of such a wretched Being, be a friendly Object, and a real Blessing?
When we take one Remove from this forlorn Condition, and find the Species propagated, the Banks of Clams, and Oysters, discovered, the Bow and Arrow, invented, and the Skins of Beasts, or the Bark of Trees, employed for Covering: altho' the human Creature has a little less Anxiety and Misery than before; yet each Individual is independent of all others: There is no Intercourse of Friendship: no Communication of Food or Cloathing: no Conversation or Connection, unless the Conjunction of Sexes, prompted by Instinct, like that of Hares and Foxes, may be called so: The Ties of Parent, Son, and Brother, are of little Obligation: The Relations of Master and Servant, the Distinction of Magistrate and Subject, are totally unknown: Each Individual is his own Sovereign, accountable to no other upon Earth, { 73 } and punishable by none.—In this Savage State, Courage, Hardiness, Activity and Strength, the Virtues of their Brother Brutes, are the only Excellencies, to which Men can aspire. The Man who can run with the most Celerity, or send the Arrow with the greatest Force, is the best qualified to procure a Subsistence. Hence to chase a Deer over the most rugged Mountain; or to pierce him at the greatest Distance, will be held, of all Accomplishments, in the highest Estimation. Emulations and Competitions for Superiority, in such Qualities, will soon commence: and any Action which may be taken for an Insult, will be considered, as a Pretension to such Superiority; it will raise Resentment in Proportion, and Shame and Grief will prompt the Savage to claim Satisfaction, or to take Revenge. To request the Interposition of a third Person, to arbitrate, between the contending Parties, would be considered, as an implicit Acknowledgment of Deficiency, in those Qualifications, without which, none in such a barbarous Condition, would choose to live. Each one then, must be this own Avenger. The offended Parties must fall to fighting. Their Teeth, their Nails, their Feet or Fists, or perhaps the first Clubb or Stone that can be grasped, must decide the Contest, by finishing the Life of one. The Father, the Brother, or the Friend, begins then to espouse the Cause of the deceased; not indeed so much from any Love he bore him living, or from any Grief he suffers for him, dead, as from a Principle of Bravery and Honour, to shew himself able and willing to encounter the Man who had just before vanquished another.—Hence arises the Idea of an Avenger of Blood: and thus the Notions of Revenge, and the Appetite for it, grow apace. Every one must avenge his own Wrongs, when living, or else loose his Reputation: and his near Relation must avenge them for him, after he is dead, or forfeit his.—Indeed Nature has implanted in the human Heart, a Disposition to resent an Injury, when offered: And this Disposition is so strong, that even the Horse, treading by Accident on a gouty Toe, or a Brick-batt falling on the Shoulders, in the first Twinges of Pain, seem to excite the angry Passions, and we feel an Inclination to kill the Horse and to break the Brick-batt. Consideration, however, that the Horse and Brick were without Design, will cool us; whereas the Thought that any Mischief has been done, on Purpose to abuse, raises Revenge in all its Strength and Terrors: and the Man feels the sweetest, highest Gratification, when he inflicts the Punishment himself.—From this Source arises the ardent Desire in Men to judge for themselves, when and to what Degree they are injured, and to carve out their own Remedies, for themselves.—From the same Source arises that obstinate Disposition { 74 } in barbarous Nations to continue barbarous; and the extreme Difficulty of introducing Civility and Christianity among them. For the great Distinction between Savage Nations and polite ones, lies in this, that among the former, every Individual is his own Judge and his own Executioner; but among the latter, all Pretensions to Judgment and Punishment, are resigned to Tribunals erected by the Public: a Resignation which Savages are not without infinite Difficulty, perswaded to make, as it is of a Right and Priviledge, extremely dear and tender to uncultivated Nature.1
To exterminate, from among Mankind, such revengeful Sentiments and Tempers, is one of the highest and most important Strains, of civil and humane Policy: Yet the Qualities which contribute most, to inspire and support them, may, under certain Regulations, be indulged and encouraged. Wrestling, Running, Leaping, Lifting, and other Exercises of Strength, Hardiness, Courage and Activity, may be promoted, among private Soldiers, common Sailors, Labourers, Manufacturers and Husbandmen, among whom they are most wanted, provided sufficient Precautions are taken, that no romantic cavalier-like Principles of Honor intermix with them, and render a Resignation of the Right of judging and the Power of executing, to the Public, shameful. But whenever such Notions spread, so inimical to the Peace of Society, that Boxing, Clubbs, Swords or Fire-Arms, are resorted to, for deciding every Quarrel, about a Girl, a Game at Cards, or any little Accident, that Wine, or Folly, or Jealoussy, may suspect to be an Affront; the whole Power of the Government should be exerted to suppress them.2
If a Time should ever come, when such Notions shall prevail in this Province to a Degree, that no Priviledges shall be able to exempt Men from Indignities and personal Attacks; not the Priviledge of a Councellor, not the Priviledge of an House of Representatives of “speaking freely in that Assembly, without Impeachment or Question in any Court or Place,” out of the General Court; when whole armed Mobs shall assault a Member of the House—when violent Attacks shall be made upon Counsellors—when no Place shall be sacred, not the very Walls of Legislation,—when no Personages shall over awe, not the whole General Court, added to all the other Gentlemen on Change—when the broad Noon-Day shall be chosen to display before the World such high, heroic Sentiments of Gallantry and Spirit—when such Assailants shall live unexpelled from the Legislature—when slight Censures and no Punishments shall be inflicted,—there will really be Danger of our becoming universally, ferocious, barbarous and { 75 } brutal, worse than our Gothic Ancestors, before the Christian Aera.
The Doctrine that the Person assaulted “should act with Spirit,” “should defend himself, by drawing his Sword, and killing, or by wringing Noses and Boxing it out, with the Offender,” is the Tenet of a Coxcomb, and the Sentiment of a Brute.—The Fowl upon the Dung-Hill, to be sure, feels a most gallant and heroic Spirit, at the Crowing of another, and instantly spreads his Cloak, and prepares for Combat.—The Bulls Wrath inkindles into a noble Rage, and the Stallions immortal Spirit, can never forgive the Pawings, Neighings, and Defiances, of his Rival. But are Cocks, and Bulls and Horses, the proper Exemplars for the Imitation of Men, especially of Men of Sense, and even of the highest Personages in the Government!3
Such Ideas of Gallantry, have been said to be derived from the Army. But it was injuriously said, because not truly. For every Gentleman, every Man of Sense and Breeding in the Army, has a more delicate and manly Way of thinking; and from his Heart despises all such little, narrow, sordid Notions. It is true, that a Competition, and a mutual Affectation of Contempt, is apt to arise among the lower, more ignorant and despicable, of every Rank and Order in Society. This Sort of Men, (and some few such there are in every Profession) among Divines, Lawyers, Physicians, as well as Husbandmen, Manufacturers and Labourers, are prone from a certain Littleness of Mind, to imagine that their Labours alone, are of any Consequence in the World, and to affect, a Contempt for all others. It is not unlikely then, that the lowest and most despised Sort of Soldiers may have expressed a Contempt for all other Orders of Mankind, may have indulged a Disrespect to every Personage in a Civil Character, and have acted upon such Principles of Revenge, Rusticity, Barbarity and Brutality, as have been above described. And indeed it has been observed by the great Montesquieu, that “From a Manner of Thinking that prevails among Mankind (the most ignorant and despicable of Mankind, he means) they set an higher Value upon Courage than Timourousness, on Activity than Prudence, on Strength than Counsel. Hence the Army will ever despise a Senate, and respect their own Officers; they will naturally slight the Orders sent them by a Body of Men, whom they look upon as Cowards; and therefore unworthy to command them.”—This Respect to their own Officers, which produces a Contempt, of Senates and Counsels, and of all Laws, Orders, and Constitutions, but those of the Army, and their Superiour Officers, tho' it may have prevailed among some Soldiers of the illiberal Character, above described, is far from being universal. It is not found in one Gentleman { 76 } of Sense and Breeding in the whole service. All of this Character know, that the Common Law of England, is Superiour to all other Laws Martial or Common, in every English Government; and has often asserted triumphantly, its own Preheminence against the insults and Encroachments of a giddy and unruly Soldiery. They know too, that Civil Officers in England hold a great Superiority to Military Officers; and that a frightful Despotism would be the speedy Consequence of the least Alteration in these Particulars.—And knowing this, these Gentlemen who have so often exposed their Lives in Defence of the Religion, the Liberties and Rights of Men and Englishmen, would feel the utmost Indignation at the Doctrine which should make the Civil Power give Place to the Military; which should make a Respect to their superior Officers destroy or diminish their Obedience to Civil Magistrates, or which should give any Man a Right, in Conscience, Honor, or even in Punctilio and Delicacy, to neglect the Institutions of the Public, and seek their own Remedy, for Wrongs and Injuries of any Kind.
[signed] U.
Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 1 Aug. 1763); Dft among MSS docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles, signed U. 1763” (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 343).
1. In the draft, the paragraph ends at this point also. The first sentence of the following paragraph in the Gazette text was composed on the last page of the draft and apparently inserted at this point during final revision of the essay.
2. In the draft, this paragraph is followed by the cryptic comment: “Rusticity, is not Barbarity, was the late instances, Rusticity, Barbarity, or Brutality.” Probably this comment is a reference to the altercation between Murray and Brattle (see Editorial Note, above). JA's notes on the legal case that resulted survive, erroneously endorsed by CFA: “Draught of part of an Article upon the attack made by Colonel Murray upon General Brattle” (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 343, filmed under conjectural date of Aug. 1763). These notes were probably made shortly before the hearing on 5 July 1763 in the Inferior Court of Common Pleas. Records of the case are found in Suffolk County Court House, Early Court Files, &c., Office of the Clerk, Mass. Superior Court of Judicature, 577:100740, and M-Ar: Executive Council Records, 1761–1765, p. 255–257.
3. In the draft, a rough version of this paragraph appears at the end of the MS.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0045-0007

Author: Adams, John
Author: U.
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1763-08-29

VI. “U” to the Boston Gazette

[salute] To the PRINTERS.

My worthy and ingenious friend, Mr. J, having strutted and foamed his hour upon the stage and acquired as well as deserved a good reputation as a man of sense and learning, some time since made his exit, and now is heard no more.1
{ 77 }
Soon after Mr. Js departure, your present correspondent made his appearance; but has not yet executed his intended plan.—Mr. J inlisted himself under the banners of a faction, and employed his agreable pen, in the propagation of the principles and prejudices of a party: and for this purpose he found himself obliged to exalt some characters and depress others, equally beyond the truth—The greatest and best of all mankind, deserve less admiration; and even the worst and vilest deserve more candour, than the world in general is willing to allow them.—The favourites of parties, altho' they have always some virtues, have always many imperfections. Many of the ablest tongues and pens, have in every age been employ'd in the foolish, deluded, and pernicious flattery of one set of partisans; and in furious, prostitute invectives against another: But such kinds of oratory never had any charms for me.—And if I must do one or the other, I would quarrel with both parties, and with every individual of each, before I would subjugate my understanding, or prostitute my tongue or pen to either.
To divert mens minds from subjects of vain curiosity or unprofitable science, to the useful as well as entertaining speculations of agriculture,—To eradicate the Gothic and pernicious principles of private revenge, that have been lately spread among my countrymen, to the debasement of their character, and to the frequent violation of the public peace,—and to recommend a careful attention to political measures, and a candid manner of reasoning about them; instead of abusive insolence, or uncharitable imputations upon men and characters, has, since I first undertook the employment of entertaining the Public, been my constant and invariable point of view. The difficulty or impracticability of succeeding in my enterprize, has often been objected to me, by my friends: but even this has not wholly disheartened me—I own it would be easier to depopulate a province, or subvert a monarchy; to transplant a nation, or enkindle a new war; and that I should have a fairer prospect of success, in such designs as those: But my consolation is this, that if I am unable by my writings to effect any good purpose I never will subserve a bad one. If engagements to a party, are necessary to make a fortune, I had rather make none at all, and spend the remainder of my days like my favourite author, that ancient and immortal husbandman, philosopher, politician and general, Xenophon, in his retreat; considering kings and princes as shepherds, and their people and subjects like flocks and herds, or as mere objects of contemplation and parts of a curious machine in which I had no interest; than to wound my own mind by engaging in any party, and spreading prejudices, vices or follies.—Notwithstanding this, { 78 } I remember the Monkish maxim, fac officium taliter qualiter, sed sta benè cum priore.2 And it is impossible to stand well with the Abbot, without fighting for his cause thro' fas and nefas.3
Please to insert the foregoing and following, which is the last Deviation I purpose to make from my principal and favourite Views of writing on Husbandry and Mechanic Arts.
[signed] U.
There is nothing in the science of human nature, more curious, or that deserves a critical attention from every order of men, so much, as that principle, which moral writers have distinguished by the name of self-deceit. This principle is the spurious offspring of self-love; and is perhaps the source of far the greatest, and worst part of the vices and calamities among mankind.
The most abandoned minds are ingenious in contriving excuses for their crimes, from constraint, necessity, the strength, or suddenness of temptation, or the violence of passion; which serves to soften the remordings of their own consciences, and to render them by degrees, insensible equally to the charms of virtue, and the turpitude of vice. What multitudes, in older countries, discover, even while they are suffering deservedly the most infamous and terrible of civil punishments a tranquility, and even a magnanimity, like that, which we may suppose in a real patriot, dying to preserve his country!—Happy would it be for the world, if the fruits of this pernicious principle were confined to such profligates. But if we look abroad, shall we not see the most modest, sensible and virtuous of the common people, almost every hour of their lives, warped and blinded, by the same disposition to flatter and deceive themselves! When they think themselves injured, by any foible or vice in others, is not this injury always seen thro' the magnifying end of the perspective: When reminded of any such imperfection in themselves, by which their neighbours or fellow citizens are sufferers, is not the perspective instantly reversed? Insensible of the beams in our own eyes, are we not quick in discerning motes in those of others?—Nay however melancholy it may be, and how humbling soever to the pride of the human heart, even the few favourites of nature, who have received from her clearer understandings, and more happy tempers than other men; who seem designed under providence to be the great conductors of the art and science, the war and peace, the laws and religion of this lower world, are often seduced by this unhappy disposition in their minds, to their own destruction, and the injury, nay often to the utter desolation of millions of their fellow-men.—Since truth and virtue, as the means of { 79 } present and future happiness, are confessed to be the only objects that deserve to be pursued; to what imperfection in our nature or unaccountable folly in our conduct, excepting this of which we have been speaking, can mankind impute the multiply'd diversity of opinions, customs, laws and religions, that have prevailed, and is still triumphant, in direct opposition to both? From what other source can such fierce disputations arise concerning the two things which seem the most consonant to the entire frame of human nature?—Indeed it must be confessed, and it ought to be with much contrition lamented, that those eyes which have been given us to see, are willingly suffered by us to be obscured; and those consciences, which by the commission of God almighty have a rightful authority over us, to be deposed by prejudices, appetites and passions, which ought to hold a much inferior rank in the intellectual and moral system.—Such swarms of passions, avarice and ambition, servility and adulation, hopes, fears, jealousies, envy, revenge, malice and cruelty are continually buzzing in the world, and we are so extremely prone to mistake the impulses of these for the dictates of our consciences; that the greatest genius, united to the best disposition, will find it hard to hearken to the voice of reason, or even to be certain of the purity of his own intentions.
From this true but deplorable condition of mankind, it happens that no improvements in science or literature, no reformation in religion or morals, nor any rectification of mistaken measures in government can be made, without opposition from numbers, who, flattering themselves that their own intentions are pure (how sinister soever they may be in fact,) will reproach impure designs to others; or fearing a detriment to their interest, or a mortification to their passions from the innovation, will even think it lawful directly and knowingly to falsify the motives and characters of the innovators.
Vain ambition and other vicious motives, were charged by the sacred congregation, upon Gallilaei, as the causes of his hypothesis concerning the motion of the earth, and charged so often and with so many terms, as to render the old man at last suspicious, if not satisfy'd that the charge was true: tho' he had been led to this hypothesis by the light of a great genius, and deep researches into Astronomy.—Sedition, rebellion, pedantry, desire of fame, turbulence and malice, were always reproached to the great reformers, who delivered us from the worst chains that were ever forged by Monks or Devils, for the human mind.—Zozimus4 and Julian could easily discover, or invent annecdotes, to dishonour the conversion of Constantine, and his establishment of Christianity, in the empire.
{ 80 }
For these reasons, we can never be secure in a resignation of our understandings, or in confiding enormous power, either to the Bramble or the Cedar; no, nor to any mortal, however great or good: And for the same reasons, we should always be upon our guard against the epithets and reflections of writers and declaimers, whose constant art it is to falsify and blacken the characters and measures they are determined to discredit.
These reflections have been occasioned by the late controversies in our News-Papers, about certain measures in the political world.—Controversies that have this, in common with others of much greater figure and importance; and indeed with all others (in which numbers have been concerned) from the first invention of letters to the present hour: that more pains have been employed in charging “desire of popularity, restless turbulence of spirit, ambitious views, envy, revenge, malice, and jealousy,” on one side: and servility, adulation, tyranny, principles of arbitrary power, lust of dominion, avarice, desires of civil or military commissions on the other; or in fewer words, in attempts to blacken and discredit the motives of the disputants on both sides; than in rational enquiries into the merits of the cause, the truth and rectitude of the measures contested.
Let not writers nor statesmen deceive themselves. The springs of their own conduct and opinions are not always so clear and pure, nor are those of their antagonists in politics, always so polluted and corrupted as they believe, and would have the world believe too. Mere readers, and private persons, can see virtues and talents on each side: and to their sorrow they have not yet seen any side altogether free from atrocious vices, extreme ignorance, and most lamentable folly.—Nor will mere readers and private persons be less excuseable, if they should suffer themselves to be imposed on by others, who first impose upon themselves.—Every step in the public administration of government, concerns us nearly. Life and fortune, our own, and those of our posterity, are not trifles to be neglected or totally entrusted to other hands: And these, in the vicissitudes of human things, may be rendered in a few years, either totally uncertain, or as secure as fixed Laws and the British constitution well administered can make them, in consequence of measures that seem at present but trifles, and to many scarcely worth attention. Let us not be bubbled then out of our reverence and obedience to Government, on one hand; nor out of our right to think and act for ourselves, in our own departments, on the other. The steady management of a good government is the most anxious arduous and hazardous vocation on this side the grave: Let { 81 } us not encumber those, therefore, who have spirit enough to embark in such an enterprize, with any kind of opposition, that the preservation or perfection of our mild, our happy, our most excellent constitution, does not soberly demand.
But on the other hand, as we know that ignorance, vanity, excessive ambition and venality, will in spight of all human precautions creep into government, and will ever be aspiring at extravagant and unconstitutional emoluments to individuals; let us never relax our attention, or our resolution to keep these unhappy imperfections in human nature, out of which material, frail as it is, all our rulers must be compounded, under a strict inspection, and a just controul.—We Electors have an important constitutional power placed in our hands: We have a check upon two branches of the legislature, as each branch has upon the other two; the power I mean of electing, at stated periods, one branch, which branch has the power of electing another. It becomes necessary to every subject then, to be in some degree a statesman: and to examine and judge for himself of the tendency of political principles and measures. Let us examine them with a sober, a manly, a British, and a Christian spirit. Let us neglect all party virulence and advert to facts. Let us believe no man to be infallible or impeccable in government, any more than in religion: take no man's word against evidence, nor implicitly adopt the sentiments of others, who may be deceived themselves, or may be interested in deceiving us.
[signed] U.
MS not found. Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 29 Aug. 1763). In JA, Works, 3:432–437, CFA reprinted the two “U” letters in this issue of the Boston Gazette as a single essay with the title “On Self-Delusion.” The first is a kind of preamble to the second and directly precedes it in the newspaper.
1. Jonathan Sewall's last article as “J” in 1763 was published in the Boston Evening-Post, 13 June.
2. Do what is required as it should be done, but stand well with the abbot.
3. Through fair means and foul.
4. Zosimus, Zosimi Com. Historiarum libri VI, Procopius [sic] De bell. Justiniani libri totidem . . . MDCV. Recensuit . . . D.D. [sic] 1736 (Catalogue of JA's Library). Zosimus, a professed pagan, covered the history of Rome to the time of its fall before Alaric (The Cambridge Medieval History, N.Y., 1911, 1:passim).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0045-0008

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1763-08-29

VII. An Essay on Man's Lust for Power, with the Author's Comment in 1807

All Men would be Tyrants if they could.

My Brother J and my self have been very liberal of our Promises to the Publick and very Sparing of Performance: but I shall take the { 82 } Liberty to suspend the Execution of my Plan of Essays upon Agriculture, and entertain my Readers with an Explanation in some greater Detail of the moral and political Principles, contained [in] my former Essay upon Self Decipt.—“Self Deceipt is perhaps the source of far the greatest and worst Part of the Vices and Calamities among Man kind.”—The Love of Pleasure and Aversion to Pain, our affections for all Things that have Power either in Reality or in our own Imaginations only to give us the former, and our Hatred of all Things that communicate the later, our Senses, our Appetites, our Passions, and all our Habits and Prejudices, nay even our very Virtues and useful Qualities, our Piety towards God and our Benevolence to Mankind, The Reverence for our Parents and Affection to our Children, our Desires of Fame and aspirations after Independence, have all of them in their Turns a Tendency, unless more cautiously watched than the Condition of Humanity will allow, to deceive us into Error.—This is the great and important and melancholy Truth that is conveyd to us by the old Maxim, that I have chosen for the Motto of this Paper, that all Men would be Tyrants if they could.—The Meaning of that Maxim is not so uncharitable, as to suppose that all the sons of Adam, are so many abandond Knaves regardless of all Morality and Right, who would violate their Consciences, and oppress, mangle, burn, butcher and destroy their fellow Men, in direct opposition to their Judgments. It means, in my opinion no more than this plain simple observation upon human Nature which every Man, who has ever read a Treatise upon Morality, or conversd with the World or endeavord to estimate the comparative strength of the different springs of Action in his own Mind, must have often made, vist. that the selfish Passions, are stronger than the social, and that the former would always prevail over the latter in any Man, left to the natural Emotions of his own Mind, unrestrained and uncheckd by other Power extrinsic to himself.—i. e. that any Man, the best, the wisest, the brightest you can find, would after all external awe, and Influence should be taken away i.e. after he should be intrusted with sufficient Power, would soon be brought to think, by the strong Effervescence of his selfish Passions against the weaker Efforts of his social in opposition to them, that he was more important, more deserving, knowing and [necessary?] than he is, that he deserves more respect and Reverence Wealth and Power than he has, and that he was doing but his Duty in Punishing with great Cruelty those who should esteem him no higher and shew him no more Reverence and give him no more Money or Power than he deservd.
{ 83 }
This which is no new Discovery, but has been many thousands of Years consid[ered] by thinking Men, seems to have given rise to the wisest and best of Governments which seems to be calculated on Purpose, to controul and counteract the Ruinous Tendency of this Imperfection in our Natures.
Power is a Thing of infinite Danger and Delicacy, and was never yet confided to any Man or any Body of Men without turning their Heads.—Was there ever, in any Nation or Country, since the fall, a standing Army that was not carefully watched and contrould by the State so as to keep them impotent, that did not, ravish, plunder, Massacre and ruin, and at last inextricably inslave the People,—Was there ever a Clergy, that have gained, by their Natural Ascendancy over private Consciences, any important Power in the State, that did not restlessly aspire by every Art, by Flattery and Intrigues, by Bribery and Corruption, by wresting from the People the Means of Knowledge, and by inspiring misterious and awful apprehensions of themselves by Promises of Heaven and by Threats [of] Damnation, to establish themselves in oppulence, Indolence and Magnificence, at the Expence of the Toil, and Industry, the Limbs, the Liberties and Lives of all the rest of Mankind.
Aware of this usurping and encroaching Nature of Power, our Constitution, has laid for its Basis, this Principle that, all such unnatural Powers, as those of Arms and those of Confessions and Absolution for sin, should always bow to the civil orders that Constitute the State.—Nor is this the only Precaution she has taken. She has been as sensible of the Danger from civil as from military or casuistical Power, and has wisely provided against all.
No simple Form of Government, can possibly secure Men against the Violences of Power. Simple Monarchy will soon mould itself into Despotism, Aristocracy will soon commence an Oligarchy, and Democracy, will soon degenerate into an Anarchy, such an Anarchy that every Man will do what is right in his own Eyes, and no Mans life or Property or Reputation or Liberty will be secure and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral Virtues, and Intellectual Abilities, all the Powers of Wealth, Beauty, Wit, and Science, to the wanton Pleasures, the capricious Will, and the execrable Cruelty of one or a very few.
This last Paragraph has been the Creed of my whole Life and is now March 27 1807 as much approved as it was when it was written by John Adams.
{ 84 }
Dft (Adams Papers); docketed by JA, 27 March 1807: “Enthusiastic Remark upon long J. Some Sound Principles too.” JA clearly intended the essay as a successor piece to No. VI, above, or, as he here refers to it, the “Essay on Self Decipt.” Available sources permit no guess about why it was not published.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0045-0009

Author: Adams, John
Author: U.
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1763-09-05

VIII. “U” to the Boston Gazette



Impiger, iracundus, inexorabilis, acer

Jura neget sibi nata; nihil non arrogat Armis.


Rebuke the Spearmen, and the Troops

Of Bulls that mighty be.—

It seems to be necessary for me, (notwithstanding the declaration in my last)3 once more to digress from the road of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts; and to enter the list of disputation with a Brace of writers in the Evening Post, one of whom has subscribed himself, X, and the other, W.4—I shall agree with the first of these Gentlemen, that “to preach up non resistance, with the zeal of a Fanatick,” would be as extraordinary as to employ a Bastile in support of the freedom of speech or the Press; or an inquisition, in favour of Liberty of conscience: But if he will leave his own imagination, and recur to what I have written he will not find a syllable against resistance—Resistance to sudden violence, for the preservation not only of my person, my limbs and life, but of my property, is an indisputable right of nature, which I never surrendered to the public by the compact of society; and which, perhaps, I could not surrender if I would. Nor is there any thing in the common law of England (for which Mr. X supposes I have so great a fondness) inconsistent with that right—On the contrary, the dogmas of Plato, the maxims of the Law, and the precepts of Christianity, are precisely coincident, in relation to this subject.
Plato taught that revenge was unlawful, altho' he allowed of self-defence. The divine Author of our religion has taught us, that trivial provocations are to be over look'd; and that if a man should offer you an insult by boxing one Ear rather than indulge a furious passion, and return blow for blow, you ought even to turn the other also. This expression however, tho' it inculcates strongly the duty of moderation and self-government upon sudden provocations, imports nothing against the right of resistance or of self-defence. The sense of it seems { 85 } to be no more than this: that little injuries and insults ought to be born patiently for the present rather than run the risque of violent consequences by retaliation.
Now the common law seems to me, to be founded on the same great principle of philosophy and religion.—It will allow of nothing as a justification of blows, but blows—Nor will it justify a furious beating, bruising and wounding, upon the provocation of a fillip of the finger, or a kick upon the shins: But if I am assaulted, I can justify nothing but laying my hands lightly upon the aggressor for my own defence; nothing but what was absolutely necessary for my preservation. I may parry, or ward off, any blow: But a blow received is no sufficient provocation for fifty times so severe a blow, in return.—When life, which is one of the three favourites of the law, comes into consideration we find a wise and humane provision is made for its preservation. If I am assaulted by another, sword in hand, and if I am even certain of his intention to murder me, the common law will not suffer me to defend myself by killing him, if I can avoid it—Nay, my behaviour must absolutely be what would be called cowardice, perhaps, by Messirs X and W, tho' it would be thought the truest bravery, not only by the greatest philosophers and legislators, but by the best generals of the world: I must run away from such an assailant, and avoid him, if I have room, rather than stand my ground and defend myself: But if I have no room to escape, or if I run and am pursued to the wall or into a corner, where I cannot elude his fury, and have no other way to preserve my own Life from his violence but by taking his, there, I have an indisputable right to do it, and should be justified in warding thro' the blood of an whole army, if I had power to shed it and had no other way to make my escape.
What is said by Mr. W, that “if a gentleman should be hurried by his Passions, so far as to take the life of another, the common law5 will not adjudge it murder or manslaughter, but justifiable homicide only,” by which he must mean, if in truth he had any meaning at all, that killing upon a sudden Provocation, is justifiable homicide, is a Position in comparison of which the observations of the grave-digger upon the death of the young lady in Shakespear's Hamlet ought to be ranked among the responsa prudentum.
Every chatechumen in law, nay every common man, and even every porter upon the dock, that ever attended a trial for murder, knows, that a sudden provocation, raising a violent passion, where there is no precedent malice, is in consideration of human frailty, allowed to { 86 } soften killing, from murder down to manslaughter; but manslaughter is an heinous crime, and subjected to heavy Punishments.
Such is the wisdom and humanity of English law; upon so thorough a knowledge of human nature is it founded; and so well is it calculated to preserve the lives and limbs of men, and the interior tranquility of societies!—I shall not dispute with Mr. X. my affection for this law, in preference to all other systems of law, that have ever yet appeared in the world.—I have no connection with parishioners, nor patients, nor clients, nor any dependance upon either for business or bread; I study law as I do divinity and physick; and all of them as I do husbandry and mechanic arts, or the motions and revolutions of the heavenly bodies; or as I do magistracy and legislation, viz. as means and instruments of human happiness. It has been my amusement for many years past, as far as I have had leisure, to examine the systems of all the legislators, ancient and modern, fantastical and real, and to trace their effects in history upon the felicity of mankind: And the result of this long examination is a settled opinion that the liberty, the unalienable, indefeasable rights of men, the honor and dignity of human nature, the grandeur and glory of the public, and the universal happiness of individuals, was never so skilfully and successfully consulted, as in that most excellent monument of human art, the common law of England. A law that maintains a great superiority, not only to every other system of laws, martial, or cannon, or civil, but to all officers, and magistrates civil and military, even to majesty itself—It has a never sleeping jealousy of the cannon law, which in many countries, Spain in particular, has subjected all officers and orders, civil and military, to the avarice and ambition, the caprice and cruelty of a Clergy—And it is not less watchful over the martial law which in many cases, and in many countries, France in particular, is able to rescue men from the justice of the municipal laws of the kingdom.—And I will own that to revive in the minds of my countrymen a reverence for this law, and to prevent the growth of sentiments that seemed to me to be in their tendency destructive of it, especially to revive a jealousy of martial laws and cavelier like tempers, was the turn which I designed to serve for myself and my friends, in that Piece which has given offence to X and W.
A certain set of sentiments have been lately so fashionable, that you could go into few companies without hearing such smart sayings as these: “If a man should insult me, by kicking my shins, and I had a sword by my side, I would make the sun shine thro' him.”—“If any man, let him be as big as Goliah, shou'd take me by the nose, I would { 87 } let his bowels out with my sword, if I had one; and if I had none, I would beat his brains out with the first club I could find.”—And such tempers have been animated by some inadvertent expressions that have fallen from persons of higher rank and better sentiments, some of these have been heard to say, that “should a man offer a sudden insult to them, they could not answer for themselves, but they should lay him prostrate at their feet in his own blood.”—Such expressions as these, which are to be supposed but modest expressions of the Speaker's diffidence of his own presence of mind and government of his passions, when suddenly assaulted, have been taken for a justification of such returns to an insult, and a determination to practice them, upon occasion. But such persons as are watching the lips of others for wise speeches, in order to utter them afterwards as their own sentiments, have generally as little of understanding, as they have of spirit, and most miserably spoil, in reporting, a good reflection.—Now what I have written upon this subject was intended to shew the inhumanity of taking away the life of a man, only for pulling my nose, or boxing my ear; and the folly of it too, because I should be guilty of an high crime, that of manslaughter at least, and forfeit all my goods, besides receiving a brand of infamy.
But I have not yet finished my history of sentiments. It has been said by others, that “no man ought to receive a blow, without returning it.”—“A man ought to be despised that receives a cuff, without giving another in return.”—This I have heard declared for a sober opinion by some men of figure, and office, and importance.—But I beg leave to repeat it; this is the tenet of a coxcomb, and the sentiment of a brute; and the horse, the bull and the cock, that I mentioned before, daily discover precisely the same temper and the same sense of honor and decency.—If in walking the streets of this town, I should be met by a negro, and that negro should lay me over the head, with his cudgell should I think myself bound in honor, or regard to reputation, to return the blow with another cudgell? to put myself on a level with that negro, and join with him in a competition which was most expert and skilful at cudgells?—If a mad dog shou'd meet me and bite me, should I think my self bound in honor (I mean before the poison had worked upon me enough to make me as mad as the dog himself) to fall down upon that dog and bite him again?—It is not possible for me to express that depth of contempt that I feel for such sentiments, and for every mortal that entertains them. And I should chuse to be “the butt, the jest, and contempt” of all companies that entertain such opinions, rather than to be in their admiration or esteem.—I would take some { 88 } other way to preserve myself and other men from such insolence and violence for the future; but I would never place myself upon a level with such an animal for the present.
Far from aiming at a reputation for such qualities and accomplishments as those of boxing or cuffing, a man of sense would hold even the true martial qualities, courage, strength and skill in war, in a much lower estimation than the attributes of wisdom and virtue, skill in arts and sciences, and a true taste to what is right, what is fit, what is true, generous, manly, and noble in civil life. The competition between Ajax and Ulysses is well known:

Tu vires sine mente geris, mihi cura futuri.

Tu pugnare potes:

Tu tantum corpore prodes;

Nos animo.

Pectora sunt potiora manu. Vigor omnis in illis.6

[signed] Ovid Met.
and we know in whose favour the prize was deem'd.
I shall not be at the pains of remarking upon all the Rhodomontade, in the two pieces under consideration, and Mr. X and Mr. W. and the whole Alphabet of Writers may scribble as many volumes as the twenty-four letters are capable of variations, without the least further notice from me unless more reasoning and merit appears, in proportion to the quantity of lines, than is to be found in those two pieces.—But since I have made some remarks upon them it will perhaps, before I conclude be worth my while to mention one thing more in each.—Mr. X tells us “that cases frequently occur where a man's person or reputation suffer to the greatest degree, and yet 'tis impossible for the Law to make him any satisfaction.”
This is not strictly true, such cases but seldom occur; tho' it must be confessed, they sometimes do.—But it seldom happens very seldom indeed, where you know the man who has done you the injury, that you can get no satisfaction by law—And if such a case should happen nothing can be clearer than that you ought to sit down and bear it.—And for this plain reason, because it is necessary, and you cannot get satisfaction in any way.—The law by the supposition cannot redress you—And you cannot, if you consider it by any means redress yourself—A flagilation in the dark would be no reparation of the injury, no example to others, nor have any tendency to reform the subject of it, but rather a provocation to him to contrive some other way to injure you again; and of consequence would be no satisfaction at all to a man even of that false honour and delicacy of which I have been speaking; { 89 } unless he will avow an appetite for mere revenge, which is not only worse than brutal, but the attribute of Devils—And to take satisfaction by a flagilation in public, would be only, in other words, taking a severe revenge upon yourself.— For this would be a trespass and a violation of the peace, for which you would expose yourself to the resentment of the magistrate, and the action of the party: and would be like running your sword thro' your own body, to revenge yourself on another for boxing your ears; or like the behaviour of the rattlesnake, that will snap and leap and bite at every stick that you put near him, and at last when provoked beyond all honourable bearing, will fix his sharp and poisonous teeth into his own body.
I have nothing more to add, excepting one word of advice to Mr. W, and all his readers, to have a care how they believe or practice his rule about “passion and killing” lest the halter and the gibbet should become their portion: for a killing that should happen by the hurry of passion would be much more likely to be adjudged murder, than justifiable homicide only.—Let me conclude by advising all men to look into their own hearts, which they will find to be deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Let them consider how extreamly addicted they are to magnify, and exaggerate the injuries that are offered to themselves, and to diminish and extenuate the wrongs that they offer to others.—They ought therefore to be too modest and diffident of their own judgment, when their own passions, and prejudices, and interests are concerned, to desire to judge for themselves in their own causes, and to take their own satisfactions for wrongs and injuries of any kind.
[signed] U.
MS not found. Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 5 Sept. 1763).
1. Tireless, quick to anger, inexorable, fierce, / Let him deny that laws are made for him; / Let him think that everything must yield to force of arms. (Horace, Ars Poetica, I. 121–122.)
2. The author of these lines has not been identified.
3. “U” letter, 29 Aug., above.
4. “X” and “W” were two otherwise unidentified writers who emphatically disagreed with JA's veiled criticism of Murray's attack on Brattle (see Editorial Note, above). “X” sneered that “U” wanted “to convince the world, that an injured person ought never to demand satisfaction but by a law-suit—a doctrine truly serviceable to lawyers, but not always so comfortable to the injured person,” and pointed to “the many and various salutary effects club-logick has produced in the world in every period of life” (Boston Evening-Post, 22 Aug.). “W,” on the other hand, argued that even if “U” were correct in saying that the law afforded a remedy for every wrong, nevertheless men of honor were not obliged to obtain satisfaction for personal insult or injury through legal channels, because “there are those of a different character, who know how to resent, and to punish men for ill usage, without troubling a magistrate or a court of justice” (Boston Evening-Post, 29 Aug.).
{ 90 }
5. Following “the common law,” JA omitted the qualifying phrase used by “W”: “as I am inform'd.”
6. You have strength without intelligence; I have concern for the future. / You are able to fight: / You are outstanding only in body; I am outstanding in intellect. / My mind is superior to my hand. All my force is in my mind. (Ovid, Metamorphoses, 13:363–369, with some lines and parts of lines omitted.)

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0045-0010

Author: Adams, John
Author: Ploughjogger, Humphrey
Recipient: Boston Evening Post (newspaper)
Date: 1763-09-05

IX. Humphrey Ploughjogger to the Boston Evening-Post

[salute] To the Publishers of theBoston Evening-Post.

Plese to print this in your next,
[signed] Humphry Ploughjogger.
It is a pleasant Thing to see ones Works in print.—When I see the news, with my letter int about Hemp, I do say it made me feel as glad, as a glass full of West India rum, sweetned with loaf shugar, would.—But yet, even then I want so presumptious, as to hope hardly, that such a fine ellokent gentleman, as Mr. U. would stoop to take so much notice of me.—He is a noble, high flown riter, like Mr. Harvey, amost. I've red Mr. Harvey's meditations, our minister lent it to me.1—But tho' I will own Mr. U. is a wonderful, lofty, sublyme riter, yet I cant join with him, in a good many things. I hope his honor, wont be offended, if I tell him what they be.
1st. I dont like his advice to leeve off studying the decrees, and original sin.—for tho I cant hardly beleeve, that heathens and infants are all lost, for Adams first transgreshon, yet them doctrines are great misterees, that we ought to pry into, as far as the word can guide us.—I do declare I would not leeve off reeding Mr. Willard, Mr. Edwards, and Mr. Taylor, and Dr. Whitby2 about them points, for all my knowledge in farming, added to Mr. U's knowledge too.
2dly. Next comes one thing that I do like, that is the line of latin. I love to see, now and then, some latin, in the books I reed. I amost think I understand it sumtimes, especially when I see it in Mr. Flavels works,3 it comes in so natural.—I ask our ministur to conster it to me, and our schoolmaster sumtimes. But I find they dont understand every thing, they get plunged, now and then. I got our school-master to conster that line in Mr. U's piece. He made bungling work ont, but as well as I cou'd pick out it ment “that a man could not swim above water, that had poverty pulling him downwards at his heels.”—This is a queer picture, it made me laff, tho I tho't it was hard-hearted too for poverty to keep pulling a man down under water that try'd to keep { 91 } up.—And I dont know, since my ritings have been taken so much notice off, but I should have been a great larnt man if it had not been for this cruel jade poverty, that has allways been striving mite and main to drown me.—Nevertheless it put me in mind of a rogue's trick, I used to play when I was a boy.—I used to catch a grate pout, and put a wyth in his gills, and then put him in the water.—He would swim and struggle about the top of the water, but could not dive down deep. Now seems to me, we mite as well conster that latin thus. “The pout can't dive to the bottom that has a wyth in his gills.”—Poverty can be signify'd by a wyth in his gills, keeping the pout at the top of the water, as well as by an old rinkled hagg at a man's heels, pulling him under. But conster it which way you will there is a deel of sense int.—Seems to me there's more sense in sum of these latin skraps, that I get our larnt men to conster, than in so much Inglish any where.—I wonder how tis! I allways rite best about what I dont understand.—Ive rit a deel about this latin, and it sounds very well too, seems to me, considering.
3dly. Next comes one thing that I cant bare, i.e. advising ministurs to study farming and work at it too.—Our ministurs are wordly-minded enuff, aready, and they dont give themselves haff enuff to reeding and study now—I'm sure, many of um dont make so good sarmons, as I could with my poor abilities, thof I say't.—But if they should take to farming they would not reed at all hardly.—they would not reed their bibles enuff, I'm afeard, and they would leeve off reeding of Mr. Dodridge's works, and Mr. Harvey's, and Sandyman's4 and such like wonderful works, and would do nothing but grind sarmons, in that sarmon-mill a Concordance.—Their duty is to provide food and cloathing for our souls not our bodies, to feed the spiritual sheep and lambs, not to spend time in taking care of the herds and flocks of the field—to sow the seed of the word, and pray for the preparation of the spiritual soil in mans hart to receeve it, not to till the carnal ground.—I do avouch it, this tho't of Mr. U's is worse than poperee, and I had rather ministurs should be as lazey as they do say monks are in other countries and unmarried like them, that they mite give themselves wholly to reeding and study and prayer, than have um careful about farming.
4thly. But I do like his advice to doctors wonderful well. I wonder how Mr. U. could think of all them sensible remarks he made about the doctors. They mite do a world of good by taking his advice. Yet I'm afeard they wont, for if they should they would cure or prevent a grate many destempurs, that now fetch um good fees,—Yet I do raly beleeve { 92 } they would do more good to mens health, by making um drink good, cleer, well-made, well-kept cydur, and good currunt wine, and cherry wine, and such like, insteed of rum and brandy and wine made of haff rum and haff cydur, as they do now, than they can by all their pills and drops and rubub. And yet I beleeve they do a grate deel of good with these things, too.—Mr. U. does but just mention Lawyers, and indeed I dont know what bisness he had to mention them at all when riting about farming, or any thing else that is good, unless theyre grown better than they were when I was a young man. My great grandfather was one of Oliver Cromwell's men, and I've heard it, in our family by tradishon, that good, pious, larnt Mr. Hugh Peters5 us'd to say, it would never be good times, till the nation got rid of 150.—Sumbody asked what he ment by 150?—He said three L's.—and when he was asked what he ment by three L's? he said, the Lords, the Levites and the Lawyers.—About 30 years ago, when I us'd to go to court sumtimes, I used to be of Mr. Peters's mind amost about Lawyers, sumtimes.—But they do say, Lawyers are grown much better now, and stand up stoutly for liberty.—Indeed I've heard my grandfather say, his father told him, there was abundance of lawyers, that bawled out for liberty, and fought for it too, in his day, tho most of um went over o' t'other side to that calf the holy martir.
5thly. The next thing I dont altogether like.—Mr. U seems to run quite out of his way, to pick a quarrel with Mr. J.—I cant devise what his reason was.—I guess several things.—Sumtimes I think he has studied oratary, and oratary, our ministur says, is the art of gaining attenshon. And he mite think there was no way of gaining attenshon so shure, as to make fokes think him a party-man. For he would get the attenshon of one haff the world thro love, and of tother thro hatred.—Sumtimes I think he made a pass at Mr. J. to let fokes know his reason for signing himself U.—But upon the whole, I beleeve it most likely Mr. U. has been a deputy for sum town, and been made a justice by the Governor and then was dropt by his town, and so forsooth tho't his town was angry with him for taking a favour from the Governor, and now is turning about to tother side in order to get in again.—But I beleeve he is out in his pollyticks, for country fokes love to have their deputys in good understanding with the Governor, and I guess Mr. U's town turn'd him out for sumthing else.—Nevertheless I dont know but Mr. U is rite to quarrel a little, for there is sumthing in man that delites in fighting.—When I was a boy, I used to love to see boys box it, and cocks fight, and rams too.—I see two rams fight once, they would run back two or three rod, and then run head to { 93 } head, till one of them split the skull rite in two, and down he dropp'd, as dead as a herring.—This was a dredful cruel fight, yet I do say, I lov'd to see it.—And they do say, that in other countries, grate gentelfokes keep dogs, and bares, and bulls, a purpose to see um fight. Now just so our grate fokes do seem to love to see newspaper fighting among us, deerly. And Mr. U. by fighting a little this way, might hope to make fokes take more notice about our fine plant Hemp.—So that his quarrelling may do sum good.—But if he rites again I hope he'll go farther—For I've alter'd my mind since I rit my tother letter, and I amost think, he and I may rite, in a good natur'd way, to all itarnity, about any thing to do good, and our works will never be read twice.—But there is one sartain way of making fokes reed and study our works as larnt men do latin books, and that is by drawing plaguy, black, ugly pictures of sum grate men, as the Governor, Lt. Governor, sum Counsellors or Judges, or of Bluster and Whackum,6 and Gamuts and Chaplains.—Let us pick out sum rite down clever man, no matter what side he is of, and tell a parcel of rouzing lies about him, and our ritings will be got by heart, and by this meens we may slide into mens minds sum knolledge about hemp.—My mind is alter'd by what I since see in good Mr. Flavell's works, that “man is more wrathful than grateful.”
6thly. I dont know what bissness he had to suspect me of bad designs in what I rote.—I'le take my corporal oath, I never went to meeting of a sabbath day, nor never followed a corps to the grave in my life, with less mallice in my heart, and less designs of doing hurt, than I had when I rote that lettur, let U, or J, or he, or they suspect or beleeve what they will.
But I dont never know when to stop, hardly, matter comes in to my noddle so fast.—I've read abundance in my day, but I did not begin to read a grate deel till I was matter of 35, and I cant larn to spell nicely. But since I married this second wife, that is a young woman, I dont love to go to bed so soon as she does, so I reed and rite a world now, and I do spell better and better.
I've rambled about so long that I've no room hardly to say any thing about hemp, and I'm resolved I wont never rite a piece without sum stroke or other about hemp.—Mr. U has convinced me more than ever of the worth ont, and I'm resolved to sow an acre or two out next May, and if I make it do pritty well I'le send you an account ont, for I do desine to reed and rite and study and work about hemp, till I get it into fashon.—Our deputy tells me that a ropemaker told him, the best hemp he uses all the year round, grows in this country. I wish { 94 } I knew where it grows.—When I go to Boston I'le ask the ropemakers what town it is raised in, and then rite a lettur (not to be printed tho) to sumbody in that town, and ask him a few more questions about it, for Mr. U hant made every thing quite cleer to me.—I want to know whether they sow it in rows, and so plough amongst it, or whether they sprinkle it over all the land.—Whether they plough the land at first deep or shallow.—And how they brake and swingle and hatchel it.—It is such grate long trade I cant devise how they handle it. And I want to know whether they use such brakes and swingle boards and knives as we do about flax.—As for beeting with beetles or hammers I dont understand that very well.
They do say, they raise abundance ont, at Phyladelphy. I wish sum of our rich men would send there and hire a man that knows about it, and could do the labour to come here and teech us.—He would find his account int, and prove himself a grate paytrot.—But sum how or other I will find out how to manage it, if I spend a month in a year every year about it.—For it is a thing of grate value.—One thing I know, if we'd rais'd a little more ont for 20 years past, and made a proper use ont, I'll be hang'd with the first hemp I can raise, if we should have had so big rates to pay.
So no more at present, Cousin Fleets,7 from your lofing kinsman
[signed] Humphry Ploughjogger
MS not found. Reprinted from the (Boston Evening-Post, 5 Sept. 1763).
1. JA's library included the posthumous edition of A Collection of Letters of James Hervey, London, 1760, but the catalogue does not list that English devotional writer's more popular Meditations and Contemplations, London, 1746–1747 (Catalogue of JA's Library).
2. Samuel Willard (1640–1707), A Compleat Body of Divinity, Boston, 1726 (Catalogue of JA's Library); probably John Taylor (1694–1761), A Scheme of Scripture-Divinity, London, 1762 (a 1785 edn. in Catalogue of JA's Library). Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). Daniel Whitby (1638–1726), English divine who gained fame for anti-Catholic writings and notoriety for arguing in favor of concessions to nonconformists; author of A Paraphrase and Commentary on the New Testament, London, 1703 (DNB).
3. John Flavel (1630?–1691), a Presbyterian minister, author of many popular writings of evangelical character (DNB).
4. Philip Doddridge (1702–1751), English minister noted for his ability to unite nonconformists in common beliefs, author of On the Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul, London, 1745, his most popular work, and a writer of hymns (DNB). Robert Sandeman (1718–1771), a follower of the independent Presbyterian preacher John Glas and a founder of Glassite churches in New England (DNB). See also Williston Walker, “The Sandemanians of New England,” Amer. Hist. Assoc., Ann. Rpt. for 1901, 1:131–162.
5. Or Hugh Peter (1598–1660) (DNB).
6. “Bluster” and “Whackum” were names “J” used for James Otis Jr. and Oxenbridge Thacher. JA himself appropriated “Bluster”; see JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:243.
7. Thomas and John Fleet, publishers of the Boston Evening-Post after their father's death in 1758 (Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns., 9 [1907]:475).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0046

Author: Crawford, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1763-07-04

From William Crawford

[salute] My Friend

I hope you enjoy mens sana in Corpore Sano: My Body for more than six months past has been in some degree more than common tending to dissolution. I seem to have gain'd some better Health since the warm weather. I hear that you are like to make yourself happy, by a conjunction with one of the fairest parts of the fair part of the Creation. I picture in my Imagination how you sooth and soften the rigid Philosophic reasonings of your mind, with a rapturous and genial intercourse with the most soft and delicate piece of Natures workmanship.1 Mr. Putnam told me he wrote you, to Send some Books, if you cou'd put mine with his.2 I shall be glad if it is in your Power. I should be glad if you wou'd call at Mr. Bowmans in Dorchester, his son when in the army had a volume of Mahews Sermons and one volume of Byshe's Art of English Poetry, told me he left them with his father.3 If you can procure them and Send them along you'll oblige your,
[signed] W Crawford
RC (Adams Papers); address leaf torn with this portion of JA's endorsement remaining: “W. Craw . . . July . . . .”
1. A reference to JA's courtship of AA; for their correspondence during this period, see Adams Family Correspondence, 1:3–9.
2. JA's letter from James Putnam (1726–1789), under whom he had studied law in Worcester, has not been found. For numerous references to Putnam, see JA, Diary and Autobiography.
3. Jonathan Bowman (1703–1775), pastor of the First Church of Dorchester, was the father of JA's Harvard classmate Jonathan Bowman Jr. (1735–1804). Although historians of the Bowman family make no reference to the younger Bowman's military career, it appears from this letter that he and Crawford became acquainted during Crawford's service as surgeon and chaplain in various companies during the French and Indian War (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 7:312–317, 13:545–550, 561–563), and that Crawford had seen Bowman's copies of Jonathan Mayhew, Seven Sermons . . . , Boston, 1749, and Edward Bysshe, The Art of English Poetry, London, 1702, during one of these campaigns.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0047

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Zabdiel
Date: 1763-07-23

To Zabdiel Adams

[salute] My old Friend1

Your kind Letter I received,2 and after an Interval occasioned by Commencement, am seated to return an Answer. I acknowledge the Justice of your Rebuke for not answering your former Letters, and for not Writing you since your Departure from happy Braintree.
Matrimony, my dear Friend is yet at a greater Distance from me, than nine Months.3 I wish it was not Nine minutes off.—Affairs in { 96 } Church and State, are in a situation, you know not the most consonant to my Wishes and Way of thinking.—But Resignation is my Retreat, and Resource. “Quid supra Nos, nil ad Nos.”4 —“Erunt Vitia donec Homines.”5 —&c.—The–take Politicks for me.—Give me Bacon, and Cyder, and Books and Girl and Friend, and I will frisk it, like a Lambkin among the Clover, whether H—t—n [Hutchinson] or O—t—s [Otis], or neither of them, are in or out of Power.
But there is one Part of your Letter, demands a serious Answer.—The repeated Proof of the Approbation of Mankind, of which your Letter informed me, gave me Pleasure, for the same Reason that all other Instances of your success, have done the same, vizt. because, you know, I love you, and I think you deserve success.—But considered as laying you under (what shall I call it) an obligation or a Temptation to settle, at such a Distance from me and your other Friends, it gave me much friendly Anxiety. You ask my Advice, and you shall have it, with the Utmost Sincerity.—It is, by no means to think of settling, at that Place.6
You ask my Reasons, and you tell me, you may hearken perhaps too often to me and your other Friends, in refusing first a Church of England and then a good dissenting Parish.—My Reasons are these. You are yet young enough to settle by, some Years.—You have a Reputation as a Preacher which will not suffer you to want Business.—You have Talents and Abilities which entitle you to a better, and more conspicuous Theatre than George Town, and the same Talents and Abilities will, in no unseasonable Length of Time, procure you one.—One that lies nearer to Science, Wealth, Sense, Politeness and Happiness than George Town can be supposed to be.7
These you may take for the Ebullitions of Affection [but?] they are sincere, if they are not disinterested.—a C[hoice] nay an unanimous Choice, does not (talk of Vox Populi Vox Dei as long as you will) lay any obligation on any Man to act any Part which will in all Probability, diminish his Happiness, or his Usefulness, especially, that will diminish both.
Frankness, you know has always been used between you and me, and will always I hope continue. Clear and certain Foresight, is the Attribute of No Man.—It is not impossible you may be a looser, by taking this Advice, but I assure you with the utmost freedom it is the best that I can give, at present, let what will take Place hereafter.
I hope to see you soon at Braintree and am your assed. Friend & most hml. sert.
[signed] John Adams
{ 97 }
P.S. If you should not come soon to Braintree write me,—I am in great Haste. Hay, Corn, Barley, Law, Love, and Politicks, plague me to death, coming all together so in a Huddle.
N.B. dont let this P.S. be seen by Girl nor Politician, nor heard of, by Either.
RC (ICN:Strauss Collection); addressed: “For Mr Zabdiel Adams George-Town These”; MS mutilated, and missing material supplied by the editors. Although properly a part of the Adams Family Correspondence, this letter has been included here because the discovery of the MS came too late for inclusion in the regular sequence of the family correspondence, and its contents seemed too significant to postpone its publication until the appearance of a supplement to the Adams Family Correspondence. A facsimile of the letter was published in a limited edition, Boston, 1967, with the title, “John Adams on Matrimony, Church, State, and His Own Temperament, in a Letter of Advice to His Cousin Zabdiel Concerning His Settlement as a Minister of the Gospel 1763.” L. H. Butterfield's commentary on the facsimile is the source of the notes below.
1. Zabdiel Adams (1739–1801), JA's double first cousin, kept “the Latin School” in Braintree for three years after his graduation from Harvard in 1759. At the time this letter was written, Adams, who had received his M.A. degree, was filling pulpits on a temporary basis and seeking a permanent parish of his own.
2. Not found.
3. JA and AA were not married until Oct. 1764.
4. Freely: What is beyond us, we can do nothing about.
5. There will be vices as long as there are men.
6. Zabdiel Adams had received a call from Georgetown, an island community near Bath, Maine.
7. In Jan. 1764, Rev. Adams received a call from the First Congregational Society in Lunenburg, a village in Worcester co. He accepted this call and served as Lunenburg's minister for the remainder of his life.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0048

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Quincy, Samuel
Date: 1764-01-02

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

To Samuel Quincy

Braintree2 January 1764. RC (MHi:Misc. Bound Coll.). John Adams requests “Brother Quincy” to enter some legal actions for him and promises to bring Quincy's books to town next week. About forty actions are listed; of these, about half have been crossed out.
RC (MHi:Misc. Bound Coll.).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0049

Author: Sewall, Jonathan
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1764-02-15

From Jonathan Sewall

[salute] Dear Brother John

You may remember we had some Confab. together about having the Small Pox in Concert. I intend next week (Thursday) to be inoculated by Doctr. Joseph Gardner at Point Shirley,1 and I expect to have Brother Thacher's Company;2 —now if we could make a Triumvirate, I am perswaded it would be for our mutual Support, Com• { 98 } fort and Edification—but if Brother Thacher should not have Courage enough, yet it would be a singular pleasure to me if you and I could be pockey Companions. I want three Weeks close Conversation with you, which will be about the Time we shall have, as I suppose. I can have a warm convenient Room, and a fine Woman to look after us, (Mrs. Bennet,) and Doctor Gardner will be in the House with us, till we are safe thro'. John I beg you would accompany me, and pray let me know your Resolution imediately, by a Letter unless you can come to Town which you may do with the utmost Safety. If you are not down before the Court, let me know as soon as possible whether I shall secure you a Birth with me. If you can come to Town imediately upon the Rect. of this, it would be best, as we can conjointly settle preliminaries with the Doctr. &c. I think it much best to take it soon, and the Doctor is of this Opinion likewise. Brother, I feel a longing Desire to have you with me, and once more intreat and Command you not to let want of Courage, or any other Cause prevent your Complying with this Request from your Brother and Friend3
[signed] JonSewall
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in Jonathan Sewall's hand: “To John Adams Esqr. in Braintree”; docketed in an unidentified hand: “J Sewell 1764 Feby 15th did not go—but went to Boston and had it the same year.”
1. Gardner (1727–1788) was a prominent Boston physician and patriot, one of the fourteen founders of the Massachusetts Medical Society in 1781. He with three others had intended to establish a smallpox hospital on Point Shirley in Chelsea (now Winthrop) (Walter L. Burrage, A History of the Massachusetts Medical Society, privately printed, 1923, p. 25).
2. Oxenbridge Thacher Jr. (1719–1765), prominent and popular Boston attorney, who served with James Otis Jr. on the writs of assistance case in 1761. JA thought highly of his character, as did many in Boston, but less so of his intellectual powers. A political enemy of Thomas Hutchinson and a vigorous opponent of the Sugar Act, he was rated by JA as second only to Otis in importance in the early Revolutionary movement (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 10:322–328; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:passim).
3. No written reply to Sewall's invitation has been found. JA was inoculated for smallpox by Dr. Nathaniel Perkins and left a detailed record of his experience (Adams Family Correspondence, 1:16–17, 22–24, 28–30, 32–36, 39–401:16–17, 22–23, 23–24, 24–25, 28–29, 29–30, 32–35, 36, 39–40). The relative scarcity of Series III documents for 1764 is accounted for partly by JA's inoculation and his marriage to Abigail in October 1764, although he continued to be very active in legal work.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0050

Author: Adams, John
Author: Niles, Samuel
Author: Hayward, Joshua
Author: Braintree, town of
Date: 1764-05-21

Report of the Braintree Committee for Repairing Highways

The Committee appointed to Consider of Some Plan for Repairing the High ways1 having taken the Same into Consideration Report as follows (viz.)
{ 99 }
That there be a Tax laid on Polls and Estates this present year for that purpose.
That the Tax on Polls be two shillings per Poll and the Same proportion on Estates according to the Last Town Tax.2
That the assessors be directed as soon as may be to assess the Inhabitants accordingly and to deliver to the Several Surveyors a List of those Persons that are or may be assigned to their Respective districts with the Several Sums each one shall be Respectively assessed and that each Person so assessed shall have Liberty if he See Cause to pay the Sum he is assessed in said List or Tax in working on the High ways at the Rate of Two Shillings Per Day for a Man, Two Shillings Per Day for a pair of oxen, and eight pence Per Day for a Cart and Two Shillings Per Day for a Horse and Horse Cart. And if any Person or Persons shall refuse or neglect to work out his or their proportion at the Rates aforesaid on their being Legally Notified by the Surveyor in that Case the Surveyor or Surveyors shall return a List of Such Delinquent or Delinquents by the first of November next to the assessors with the Sum due from each one Respectively which Sum or Sums of Money remaining due on said Tax the assessors are directed when they make the next Town Rate to add to Such Delinquents Town Tax in a distinct Collumn by it Self and to impower the Several Constables in their Warrants to them to collect the Same and pay it in to the Town Treasurer. Excepting as hereafter expressed (viz.) That if it should be found unnecessary to Expend the full of that Proportion on the ways in the North Precinct that one half of Such Surplusage be returned to the Precinct Treasurer of that Precinct and for the use of that precinct and that the other half be returned to the Town Treasurer. And further. That all such Sums of money as shall come in this Way into the Town Treasury be appropriated to the Reparation of High ways in the Town and to no other purpose.3 And that each Surveyor be impowered to hire Persons at Customary Reasonable wages to work on the High ways to the amount of the Sum to be worked out by his district which Persons shall be paid by draughts on the Town Treasurer.

[salute] All which is Submitted.

[signed] Saml. Niles
[signed] Joshua Hayward
[signed] John Adams
The above Report being Read was voted accepted and the Reparation of the High ways within said Town to be managed in Conformity thereto the ensuing year.
{ 100 }
MS (Braintree Town Records, 1731–1783, p. 227–228); in hand of Elisha Niles, town clerk.
1. As early as 1730, Braintree's town meeting had considered proposals to substitute a system of tax-supported road maintenance for the traditional reliance on annually appointed surveyors who were expected to get out the inhabitants to labor, or furnish labor, on the roads (CFA2, Three Episodes, 2:674–676). On 1 March 1756, the town adopted such a plan, but the decision was reversed by another vote two weeks later. Although the question was revived in 1760 and 1761, Braintree did not actually approve the experiment of “Repairing the Highways by a Tax” until the town meeting of 19 March 1764 (Braintree Town Records, p. 346–347, 370, 376, 395).
JA was instrumental in winning this reform in Braintree in 1764, and his 21 March 1761 memorandum on local conditions and legal authorities respecting the question of road assessments (Diary and Autobiography, 1:203) demonstrated his long-standing interest in the subject. In later years, JA recalled that the old system left the roads “very bad, and much neglected,” and that he considered “a Tax a more equitable Method and more likely to be effectual.” Thus, at the town meeting of 19 March 1764, he joined advocates of the road tax “in a public Speech, carried a Vote by a large Majority and was appointed [to] prepare a By Law to be enacted at the next Meeting.” Having learned that Roxbury and Weymouth had already instituted the maintenance plan under discussion in Braintree, JA continued: “I procured a Copy of their Law and prepared a Plan for Braintree, as nearly as possible conformable to their Model, reported it to the Town [on 21 May] and it was adopted by a great Majority” (same, 3:279).
2. The last tax, set 24 Aug. 1763, was £300 (Braintree Town Records, p. 393). The proportion of town taxes to be paid by estates has not been ascertained; but if Braintree in apportioning town taxes followed the customary practice in Massachusetts with regard to province taxes, it would expect to raise two-thirds of the total tax from estates, the other third from polls.
3. The plan adopted by Braintree differed slightly from the Weymouth model as to rates of assessment and of valuation of labor and draft animals, but JA's plan preserved the basic principles of the Weymouth system: townsmen might fulfill their obligations by either labor or taxes, and the proceeds of such tax payments were reserved for bridge and highway maintenance. See Weymouth Hist. Soc., History of Weymouth, Massachusetts, Boston, 1923, 2:568.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0051

Author: Adams, John
Author: Niles, Samuel
Author: Bass, Jonathan
Author: Braintree, town of
Date: 1765-04-01

Report of the Braintree Town Committee to Lay Out the North Common

The Committee who was directed to take a Plan and make Division of the North Commons (so called) at the Meeting of the Town in March last past having proceeded on that affair1 and have taken a Plan thereof Excepting the following peices (viz.) about Three acres taken off by the Road at the Swamp called purgatory swamp, about { 101 } four acres taken off by the Road or Towns Way between Benja. Savels and Joseph Crains, about one acre opposite to William Fields House part of which is fenced and improved by said Field, about four acres near the Lane leading from said Commons, to Deacon Joseph Neals, and about four acres taken off by the Towns Way East of Capts. Bridge so called and have Divided said Commons (the above mentioned peices Excepted) in the manner described on the Plans herewith presented.2
Concerning the fence the Committee find rail fence in some Places where by the Leases stone wall was to be built and in other parts the stone wall not according to the Leases. But that in general the wall is well built and stands well. The Committee also find by the accounts of Mr. Elisha Niles Town Treasurer that said Lease[e]s have not accounted or Settled with him for any stones taken off said Commons since the Expiration of the first Lease. All which is Submitted by
[signed] Saml. Niles
[signed] John Adams
[signed] Jonathan Bass
The above Report being read before the Town was Voted accepted.
Then Samuel Niles Esqr., Mr. John Adams, and Mr. Jonathan Bass, were Seperately Chosen a Committee to Settle with the Leasees of the North Commons respecting their obligation to the Town and Provided said Committee and the Leasees do not agree then said Committee and the Leasees mutually to agree on Men from some other Town or Towns to determine the Same.3
Voted The above said Committee inform themselves in the best manner they can Respecting stones carried off said Commons since the Commencement of the Last Lease and that they Settle with such Persons as have carried off stones on the Same Condition as sett in the first Lease.
Voted the abovesaid Committee Proceed as soon as Conveniently may be to the Sale of the said North Commons the Lotts as Exhibited on the Plan of said Lands to be sold Seperately at Publick Vendue to the highest bidder.
Voted The abovesaid Committee have full Power in the Name and Behalf of the Town to make and Execute good and authentic Deeds of said Lands to the Purchasers.
Voted That said Committee take obligations of the Purchasers of said Lands said Obligations to be made to the Treasurer of Said Town of Braintree or to his Successor in said office for the use of the Town { 102 } and that there be two Sureties to the Satisfaction of said Committee bound with each purchaser, Except where Cash is paid.
Voted said Committee make Sale of those peices of Common Lands that are not included in the Plan Exhibited to the Town but Described in their Report to the Town.
Voted That the aforesaid Committee before they Proceed to the sale of said North Common Land make provision for such Drift Ways4 thro such parts of said Lands as may be Necessary.5
MS (Braintree Town Records, 1731–1783, p. 231–232)); in hand of Elisha Niles, town clerk. In entering the day's proceedings, Niles erroneously copied the first of two resolutions adopted in pursuance of the committee's Report before the text of the Report itself. Realizing his error, he noted: “The Report of the Towns Committee which was omitted in its proper place as it preceeded the votes Respecting the Commons is as follows (viz.).” He then copied the Report and continued his entry with the last five votes taken thereon. The Report and votes are here printed in their correct order.
1. As the date for the expiration of the leases on Braintree's North Common approached, the town considered the wisdom of selling these lands outright. The agenda for the town meeting of 5 March 1764 included this question, but no action was taken that year (Braintree Town Records, p. 393–394). As JA recalled the controversy, the South and Middle Precincts of the town favored the sale, while the North Precinct opposed it. As for himself, JA thought “the Lands in their common Situation . . . of very little Utility to the Public or to Individuals” and supported their sale when the issue was once again brought before the town meeting in March 1765 (Diary and Autobiography, 3:279). On 5 March, the town voted to sell the North Common, “as soon as conveniently may be after expiration of the Leases,” and named JA, who had just begun his term as a surveyor of highways, Samuel Niles, and Jonathan Bass a committee to divide the Common into salable lots as well as “to observe how far the Leasees . . . have or have not fulfilld the conditions of their Lease” (Braintree Town Records, p. 399, 400). To lay out the lots, JA, Niles, and Bass spent “three or four Weeks” with “Chainmen” and surveyors as they “rambled . . . over Rocks and Mountains and through Swamps and thicketts” so that they might submit their final plan for division of the Common on 1 April (Diary and Autobiography, 3:280). For the town's earlier sale of South Common and for the background of the problem of common lands in Braintree politics, see Reports of 12 April and 19 May 1762, above.
2. The plan or plans mentioned here and above have not been found.
3. This and the paragraph which follows were erroneously copied by the town clerk into the MS before instead of after the committee report. See descriptive note.
4. Driftway: “Local, Eng. A common way or path for driving cattle” (Webster's, 2d edn.).
5. For the committee's execution of the duties assigned by the resolutions of this date, see Report of 30 Sept., below.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0052-0001

Editorial Note

“A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law,” published unsigned and untitled in the Boston Gazette, 12, 19 August, 30 September, 21 October 1765, was at once John Adams' first effort to determine the significance of New England in American history and his initial contribution to the literature of the American Revolution. Seen from the first perspective, this work belonged to a genre which had begun at least as early as 1630 with John Winthrop's famed “Citty upon a Hill” sermon aboard the Arbella; while viewed from the second, it was a forceful justification of American opposition to the Stamp Act. From a strictly literary point of view, moreover, the “Dissertation,” written as it was in clear, concise, ringing tones, was the most satisfying of Adams' published works.
The “Dissertation” derived its dual character from the fact that Adams composed it in 1765 at widely different times, under widely different circumstances, and for widely different reasons. He first conceived the idea for it through his participation in the Sodality, a private club of provincial lawyers consisting, in addition to Adams himself, of Jeremiah Gridley, Samuel Fitch, and Joseph Dudley, which began to meet informally “for the study of Law and oratory” once a week starting in January 1765 (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:251). Despite their original intention to strive for self-improvement by pursuing both legal and rhetorical { 104 } studies, in practice the members of the Sodality confined themselves almost exclusively to discussing the historical significance of feudal law. These conversations prompted Adams to set down in fragmentary form—possibly as a prelude to presenting his colleagues in the Sodality with a finished essay for their private consideration—some random thoughts about the historic function of canon and feudal law as systems, respectively, of clerical and secular tyranny, the importance of the settlement of New England as a decisive episode in the chronicle of liberty's struggle against these two particular forms of despotism, and the role of popular education as a bulwark of freedom in colonial New England (same, p. 255–258; No. I, below). Written at various times between February and July 1765, these “Hints for future Enquiries,” as Adams described them, subsequently went through considerable refinement and expansion until at length they appeared in print in the first three published segments of the “Dissertation” (Diary and Autobiography, 1:255; Nos. IIIV, below).
Adams decided to expand the “Dissertation” for newspaper publication rather than submit it as a private communication to the Sodality owing to Parliament's approval of the Stamp Act in March 1765, news of which reached Boston the following May. As a result of these events, Adams' abstract speculations suddenly took on new meaning, for in the Stamp Act he saw nothing less than an “enormous Engine, fabricated by the british Parliament, for battering down all the Rights and Liberties of America” (Diary and Autobiography, 1:263). Thus, what had begun as an essay in historical analysis now became, in addition, an eloquent justification of American resistance to alleged British tyranny, as Adams devoted part of the third and all of the fourth published sections of the “Dissertation” to the argument that the passage of the Stamp Act, when taken in conjunction with the efforts of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts to convert New England Dissenters to the Anglican communion, represented a resurgence of political and ecclesiastical oppression which Americans could ignore only at their peril (Nos. V and VI, below).
Although Adams was later to claim that the “Dissertation” was the spark which ignited New England's opposition to the Stamp Act, in fact it did no such thing, resistance to this measure having developed in this region prior to and independent of the appearance of Adams' work (JA to Edmund Jenings, 20 April 17781780, Adams Papers). In a more modest moment Adams probably more accurately described the effect of his “Dissertation” on the Revolutionary controversy when he referred to it as a “Production . . . written at Random weekly without any preconceived Plan, printed in the Newspapers, without Correction, and so little noticed or regarded here [Massachusetts] that the Author never thought it worth his while to give it Either a Title or a signature” (JA to Catherine Macaulay, 9 Aug. 1770, Diary and Autobiography, 1:360–361).
Despite its failure to make an immediate impact in America, the “Dissertation” enjoyed a long and involved bibliographical history during the { 105 } era of the American Revolution. Before the outbreak of the War for Independence it was reprinted in England three times, on each occasion without Adams' prior knowledge or consent. In 1765 Thomas Hollis, an English radical determined to bring about the repeal of the Stamp Act, procured the republication of this work in the London Chronicle, 23, 28 Nov., 3, 26 Dec., under the title of “A DISSERTATION on the Feudal and the Canon Law” (same, 1:258, n. 1). Three years later Hollis also had it reprinted in the pamphlet The True Sentiments of America, London, 1768, in this instance with the more familiar title, “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law.” It was this reprinting that Charles Francis Adams used in his edition of his grandfather's works, incorporating the several corrections noted by John Adams in his copy of True Sentiments, which is now in the Stone Library at the Old House in Quincy. In this edition, however, Hollis mistakenly ascribed the authorship of the “Dissertation” to Jeremiah Gridley, who had died the previous year. Hollis was speedily disabused of this error by the Rev. Andrew Eliot, one of his correspondents in Boston, who advised him that Adams was the real author (Andrew Eliot to Thomas Hollis, 27 Sept., 17 Oct. 1768, MHS, Colls., 4th ser., 4 [1858]:426–427, 434). In his copy John Adams wrote in a palsied hand in the margin opposite Hollis' date of 1765, “Month of August”; and after Hollis' brief identification of Gridley, Adams wrote in a firm hand, “By John Adams.” The last reprinting of the “Dissertation” in England before the beginning of armed conflict with the colonies took place five years afterward, when it appeared in the second volume of A Collection of Tracts on the Subjects of Taxing the British Colonies in America, 4 vols., London, 1773. The responsibility for this edition has yet to be determined.
During the next decade two other editions of the “Dissertation” were printed, the first with Adams' full cooperation and support and the second possibly without them. In order to dispose English public opinion to support peace negotiations on terms the American commissioners thought favorable, Adams secured the publication in London in 1782 of A of State-Papers, Relative to the First Acknowledgment of the Sovereignty of the United States of America, and the Reception of Their Minister . . . by . . . the States General of the United Netherlands. To which is Prefixed the Political Character of John Adams, Ambassador . . . to . . . the Netherlands. By an American. Likewise an Essay on Canon and Feudal Law, by J. Adams, Esq. (MBAt pamphlet copy). Adams did this largely through the agency of Edmund Jenings, a native Marylander with contacts among English printers; he probably also wrote the laudatory sketch of Adams in the above pamphlet (JA to Edmund Jenings, 28 April, 19–28 Aug. (LbC), 30 Aug., 16 Sept. 1782, Adams Papers; Edmund Jenings to JA, 22, 29 Aug. 1782, same). In the following year, on the other hand, a pamphlet appeared in Philadelphia containing John Baker Holroyd, 1st Earl of Sheffield's “Observations on the Commerce of the American States . . . ,” Adams' “Dissertation,” and Jenings' “Political { 106 } Character” (Evans, No. 17976). So far the responsibility for this edition has not been determined.
The present edition of the “Dissertation” comprises some fragmentary notes Adams evidently wrote in connection with it as well as all four segments which were published in the Boston Gazette between 12 August and 21 October 1765. What is probably the earliest draft of the “Dissertation” has already been printed in Adams' Diary and Autobiography, 1:255–258, and so is not reprinted here.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0052-0002

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1765-05 - 1765-08

I. Fragmentary Notes for “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law”

Liberty, that has been compelled to skulk about in Corners of the Earth, and been everlastingly persecuted by the great, the rich, the noble, the Reverend, the proud, the Lasey, the Ambitious, avaricious, and Revengeful, who have from the beginning constituted almost all the sons of Adam. Liberty, that complication of real Honour, Piety, Virtue Dignity, and Glory, which has never been enjoyd, in its full Perfection, by more than ten or twelve Millions of Men at any Time, since the Creation, will reign in America, over hundreds and Thousands of Millions at a Time.
In future ages, when the Bones and sinews that now direct this Pen, shall become indistinguishable from the rest of Mother Earth, and perhaps incorporate into some Plant or other Animal, Man shall make his true Figure, upon this Continent, He shall make that great and happy Figure among Intellectual and sensible reigns that his great Creator intended he should in other Countries before his Ruin was effected by the Lust of Tyrants.
When science, Literature, Civility, Politeness, Humanity, [every?] Christian grace and Virtue shall be well understood by all Men, when <a few> one shall not be able to deceive a Thousand and two because 10,000 of their Souls and Bodies then will be the Aera of human Happiness.
Knowledge monopolized, or in the Possession of a few, is a Curse to Mankind. We should dispense it among all Ranks. We should educate our children. Equality should be preserved in knowledge.
Property monopolized or in the Possession of a few is a Curse to Mankind. We should preserve not an Absolute Equality.—this is unnecessary, but preserve all from extreme Poverty, and all others from extravagant Riches.1
{ 107 }
The Happiness of a Milion is in the sight of God, and in the Estimation of every honest and humane Mind, of more Importance, than that of 20 or an Hundred. Even tho the former may be called the Mob, the Vulgar, or the Herd, and tho the former may be called the reverd or right reverend, the honourable, or excellent, or noble, or puissant, or royal—for Happiness is Happiness to every human Creature, and they all feel nearly the Like Sensations from Hunger, Frost, from broken Bones, and bruised Flesh, notwithstand[ing] all such Accidental Titles of Dignity or Reproach.
Let us reverence, with hearty Gratitude, the Memory of the late Chief Justice Dudley,2 for his noble Foundation of a Lecture on the Validity of Presbyterian ordinations, an Institution, that will redound more to his Honor and that of his family, than all the offices, that could have been bestowd upon him by the Crown or the People, an Institution that has given every Friend to unsullied Liberty, a great Idea both of his foresight and Public Spirit.
MS (Adams Papers). These notes are located amidst a group of draft newspaper letters which JA wrote in 1763 and which CFA docketed: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles, signed U. 1763” (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 343). However, internal evidence, particularly that of a thematic nature, indicates that they were actually written by JA in 1765 in conjunction with the composition of “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law.” Like the published “Dissertation,” although in much more summary style, the notes deal with the themes of the natural dichotomy between power and liberty and the role of popular education in the preservation of freedom. Also like the published “Dissertation,” they pay tribute to the institution of the Dudleian Lecture at Harvard College. Because JA was heavily influenced by the Dudleian Lecture delivered by Jonathan Mayhew on 8 May 1765 (see below, No. IV, note 3, and No. V, note 2), there are good grounds for assuming that JA jotted down these notes no earlier than that date.
1. Although JA expounded at some length in his draft and in the finished version on the dangers of monopolized knowledge, he did not develop the theme of the dangers of monopolized property and of the extremes of wealth and poverty. His concentration on the monopolization of knowledge probably grew out of concern over the Stamp Act with its taxes on newspapers, college diplomas, and the like.
2. Paul Dudley (1675–1751) graduated from Harvard in 1690. He served as attorney general of Massachusetts from 1702 to 1718, Superior Court justice from 1718 to 1745, and chief justice of the same court from 1745 until his death. In his will he endowed Harvard with the funds for an annual lecture, soon known as the Dudleian Lecture, every fourth one of which was to be devoted to “the detecting and convicting and exposing the Idolatry of the Romish Church, Their Tyranny, Usurpations, damnable Heresies, fatal Errors, abominable Superstitions, and other crying Wickednesses in their high Places; And Finally that the Church of Rome is that mystical Babylon, that Man of Sin, That Apostate Church spoken of, in the New-Testament” (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 4:42–53).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0052-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1765-08

II. Draft of “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law”

“Ignorance and Inconsideration,” (says Dr. Tillotson) “are the two great Causes of the Ruin of Mankind.” This excellent observation, was made by that great Prelate, in the Way of his own Profession, with Relation to the Interest of his fellow Men; in a future and immortal state. But it is of equal Truth and Importance, when applied to the Happiness of Men, on this side the Grave. In the early Ages of the World absolute Monarchy seems to have been the universal form of Government. Kings and a few of their great Counsellors and Captains exercised, a cruel Tyranny over <their Vassals and Subjects> the People, who were little higher in those Days in the scale of intelligence than the Camells and Asses and Elephants, that carried them and their Arms and their Engines, to War.
By What Causes it was brought to pass that the People, in the middle ages, became more generally intelligent, would not perhaps be practicable, in these days to discover. But the Fact is certain, and it is as certain, that wherever, a general Knowledge and sensibility have prevailed among the People, Arbitrary Government and every kind of oppression, have lessened and disappeared in Proportion. Man has an exalted soul!—and the Same Principle in human Nature, that aspiring Noble Principle founded in Benevolence and cherished by Knowledge, I mean <Ambition> the Love of Power, has been the Cause of slavery and the Cause of Freedom. This Principle, it is, that has always prompted, the <Kings and> Princes and Nobles of the Earth <to grasp at unlimited P[ower]> by every subtlety to shake off, all the Limits of their Power: and the Same Principle has always prompted the Common People, to aspire at Independancy, and to confine the Power of the great ones, within the Limits of Reason, and Equity.
The poor People, it is true, have been much less successful, than the Great. They had not so much Leisure, they knew not so well how to unite and exert their strength—ignorant as they were of Arts and Letters, they could not frame and support a regular system of opposition.
This has been known, by the great, to be the Temper of Mankind and they have accordingly laboured, in all Ages, to wrest from the Populace, both the Knowledge of their Rights and Wrongs, and the Power to assert the former, and redress the Latter. I say Rights, for such they have undoubtedly, antecedent to all Earthly Government, { 109 } Rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human Laws—Rights derived from the great Legislater of the Universe.
Since the Promulgation of Christianity the two greatest systems of Tyranny that have Sprung from this source, are the Cannon and the feudal Law. The Desire of Dominion, however noble and useful on the whole, is however, when unawed and unrestrained by Hopes and Fears, an encroaching, grasping, restless and ungovernable Principle. And among all the Variety of iniquitous systems that have been contrived by the great, for the Gratification of it, in themselves was never So successful, as in the Invention and Establishment of the Cannon and the Feudal Law. In the former, the most refined, sublime, extensive and astonishing Constitution of Policy that was ever conceived by the human Mind, we find was framed by the Romish Clergy, for the Aggrandisement of their own order.
All the Epithets, that I have given to the Romish Policy, will be owned to be just, when it is considered, that they found it practicable to persuade Mankind, that God almighty had intrusted them with the Keys of Heaven, whose Gate they might open and Close at Pleasure—With a Power of Dispensation over all the Rules and Obligations of Morality—With an Authority to Licence all sorts both of Sins and Crimes.—With a Power of deposing Princes, and absolving subjects from their Allegiance.—With a Power of procuring or witholding the Rain of Heaven and the Beams of the Sun—With the Management of Earthquakes, Pestilence and Famine—Nay with the misterious, awful Incomprehensible Power of Creating out of Bread and Wine the Flesh and Blood of the great Creator of the Universe. And all these opinions, they were enabled to propagate and rivet in the Minds of the People, by reducing <the Minds of the Common People> them to a State of Sordid Ignorance and staring Timidity, and by infusing into them a religious Horror of Letters and Knowledge of every Kind. Thus was human Nature chained fast for ages in a cruel, shameful, deplorable Servitude, to him and his Subordinate Tyrants, who it was foretold, would exalt himself above all that was called God and that was worshiped.
In the latter We find another System, Similar in many Respects to the former: which, altho it was originally formed, perhaps for the necessary Defense of a barbarous People, against the Inroads and Invasions of her neighboring nations; Yet for the Same Purposes of Tyranny, Cruelty and Lust, which had dictated the Cannon Law, it was soon adopted by allmost all the Princes of Europe and wrought into the Constitution of their Govt. It was originally a Code of Laws { 110 } for a vast Army in a Perpetual Encampment. The General was invested with the Sovereign Propriety of all the Lands within their Territory—of Him the first Rank of his great officers, held the Lands, immediately, and the other subordinate Ranks, held of them, and all held by a Variety of Duties and services, tending to bind the Chains the faster on every order of Mankind. In this Manner the Common People were held together in Clans and Herds in a State of Servile Dependance on their Lords, bound by the tenure of their lands to follow them to their Wars whenever they commanded, and in a state of total Ignorance of every Thing divine and humane, excepting the Use of Arms and the Culture of the Lands.
But another Event, still more calamitous to human Liberty, was a wicked Confederacy between the two Systems of Tyrany above described. It seems to have been even stipulated between them that the temporal Grandees, should contribute every Thing in their Power to maintain the Ascendancy of the Priesthood, and the Spiritual Grandees in their turn, shold employ that ascendancy over the Consciences of the People, in impressing on their Minds a blind, implicit obedience to civil Magistracy.
Thus, as long as this Confederacy lasted and the People were kept in Ignorance, Liberty, and with her Knowledge and Virtue too, seem to have deserted the Earth, and one Age of Darkness succeeded another, till God in his Providence, raised up the Champions who began and conducted the Reformation. From the Time of the Reformation, to the first settlement of America, Knowledge gradually increased in Europe but especially in England and as fast as Knowledge increased, and Spread among the People, Ecclesiastical and civil Tyranny, which I use as synonimous Expressions for the Cannon and feudal Law, Seem to have lost their strength and Weight. The People grew more and more sensible of the Wrong that was done them, by those systems, more and more impatient under it, and determined at all Hazards to rid themselves of it, till the struggle at last, under the Stewarts grew, formidable violent and bloody.
It was this Struggle that peopled America. It is commonly Said that these Colonies were peopled by Religion—But I should rather say that the Love of Liberty, projected conducted and accomplished the settlement of America.
Dft (Adams Papers); docketed by CFA: “Canon and Feudal Law”; “Original Draught. On the Canon and Feudal law. 1765. The Essay is printed in the Works of JA vol iii p 447.” This is a Dft of the first published part of JA's “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law” (No. III, below). There are many stylistic variations between the Dft and printed texts, but in regard { 111 } to matters of substance both are virtually alike. The Dft contains all but the last paragraph and a half of the printed text, and was probably written sometime late in July or early in August 1765, although this is only a surmise.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0052-0004

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1765-08-12

III. “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law,” No. 1

[salute] To the Printers.

“IGNORANCE and inconsideration are the two great causes of the ruin of mankind.” This is an observation of Dr. Tillotson,1 with relation to the interest of his fellow-men, in a future and immortal state: But it is of equal truth and importance, if applied to the happiness of men in society, on this side the grave. In the earliest ages of the world, absolute monarchy seems to have been the universal form of government. Kings, and a few of their great counsellors and captains, exercised a cruel tyranny over the people who held a rank in the scale of intelligence, in those days, but little higher than the camels and elephants, that carried them and their engines to war.
BY what causes it was bro't to pass, that the people in the middle ages, became more intelligent in general, would not perhaps be possible in these days to discover: But the fact is certain; and wherever a general knowledge and sensibility have prevail'd among the people, arbitrary government, and every kind of oppression, have lessened and disappeared in proportion. Man has certainly an exalted soul! and the same principle in humane nature, that aspiring noble principle, founded in benevolence, and cherished by knowledge, I mean the love of power, which has been so often the cause of slavery, has, whenever freedom has existed, been the cause of freedom. If it is this principle, that has always prompted the princes and nobles of the earth, by every species of fraud and violence, to shake off, all the limitations of their power; it is the same that has always stimulated the common people to aspire at independency, and to endeavor at confining the power of the great within the limits of equity and reason.
THE poor people, it is true, have been much less successful than the great. They have seldom found either leisure or opportunity to form an union and exert their strength—ignorant as they were of arts and letters, they have seldom been able to frame and support a regular opposition. This, however, has been known, by the great, to be the temper of mankind, and they have accordingly laboured, in all ages, to wrest from the populace, as they are contemptuously called, the { 112 } knowledge of their rights and wrongs, and the power to assert the former or redress the latter. I say RIGHTS, for such they have, undoubtedly, antecedent to all earthly government—Rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws—Rights derived from the great legislator of the universe.
SINCE the promulgation of Christianity, the two greatest systems of tyranny, that have sprung from this original, are the cannon and the feudal law. The desire of dominion, that great principle by which we have attempted to account for so much good, and so much evil, is, when properly restrained, a very useful and noble movement in the human mind: But when such restraints are taken off, it becomes an incroaching, grasping, restless and ungovernable power. Numberless have been the systems of iniquity, contrived by the great, for the gratification of this passion in themselves: but in none of them were they ever more successful, than in the invention and establishment of the cannon and the feudal law.
BY the former of these, the most refined, sublime, extensive, and astonishing constitution of policy, that ever was conceived by the mind of man, was framed by the Romish clergy for the aggrandisement of their own order.2 All the epithets I have here given to the Romish policy are just: and will be allowed to be so, when it is considered, that they even persuaded mankind to believe, faithfully and undoubtingly, that GOD almighty had intrusted them with the keys of heaven; whose gates they might open and close at pleasure—with a power of dispensation over all the rules and obligations of morality—with authority to licence all sorts of sins and crimes—with a power of deposing princes, and absolving subjects from allegiance—with a power of procuring or withholding the rain of heaven and the beams of the sun—with the management of earthquakes, pestilence and famine. Nay with the mysterious, awful, incomprehensible power of creating out of bread and wine, the flesh and blood of God himself. All these opinions, they were enabled to spread and rivet among the people, by reducing their minds to a state of sordid ignorance and staring timidity; and by infusing into them a religious horror of letters and knowledge. Thus was human nature chained fast for ages, in a cruel, shameful and deplorable servitude, to him and his subordinate tyrants, who, it was foretold, would exalt himself above all that was called God, and that was worshipped.
IN the latter, we find another system similar in many respects, to the former:3 which, altho' it was originally formed perhaps, for the necessary defence of a barbarous people, against the inroads and in• { 113 } vasions of her neighbouring nations; yet, for the same purposes of tyranny, cruelty and lust, which had dictated the cannon law, it was soon adopted by almost all the princes of Europe, and wrought into the constitutions of their government. It was originally, a code of laws, for a vast army, in a perpetual encampment. The general was invested with the sovereign propriety of all the lands within the territory. Of him, as his servants and vassals, the first rank of his great officers held the lands: and in the same manner, the other subordinate officers held of them; and all ranks and degrees held their lands, by a variety of duties and services, all tending to bind the chains the faster, on every order of mankind. In this manner, the common people were held together, in herds and clans, in a state of servile dependance on their lords; bound, even by the tenure of their lands to follow them, whenever they commanded, to their wars; and in a state of total ignorance of every thing divine and human, excepting the use of arms, and the culture of their lands.
BUT, another event still more calamitous to human liberty, was a wicked confederacy, between the two systems of tyranny above described. It seems to have been even stipulated between them, that the temporal grandees should contribute every thing in their power to maintain the ascendency of the priesthood; and that the spiritual grandees, in their turn, should employ that4 ascendency over the consciences of the people, in impressing on their minds, a blind, implicit obedience to civil magistracy.
THUS, as long as this confederacy lasted, and the people were held in ignorance; Liberty, and with her, Knowledge, and Virtue too, seem to have deserted the earth; and one age of darkness, succeeded another, till GOD, in his benign providence, raised up the champions, who began and conducted the reformation. From the time of the reformation, to the first settlement of America, knowledge gradually spread in Europe, but especially in England; and in proportion as that increased and spread among the people, ecclesiastical and civil tyranny, which I use as synonimous expressions, for the cannon and feudal laws, seem to have lost their strength and weight. The people grew more and more sensible of the wrong that was done them, by these systems; more and more impatient under it; and determined at all hazards to rid themselves of it; till, at last, under the execrable race of the Steuarts,5 the struggle between the people and the confederacy aforesaid of temporal and spiritual tyranny, became formidable, violent and bloody.
IT was this great struggle, that peopled America. It was not religion { 114 } alone, as is commonly supposed; but it was a love of universal Liberty, and an hatred, a dread, an horror of the infernal confederacy, before described, that projected, conducted, and accomplished the settlement of America.
IT was a resolution formed, by a sensible people, I mean the Puritans, almost in despair. They had become intelligent in general, and many of them learned. For this fact I have the testimony of archbishop King6 himself, who observed of that people, that they were more intelligent, and better read than even the members of the church whom he censures warmly for that reason. This people had been so vexed, and tortured by the powers of those days, for no other crime than their knowledge, and their freedom of enquiry and examination, and they had so much reason to despair of deliverance from those miseries, on that side the ocean; that they at last resolved to fly to the wilderness for refuge, from the temporal and spiritual principalities and powers, and plagues, and scourges, of their native country.
AFTER their arrival here, they began their settlements, and formed their plan both of ecclesiastical and civil government, in direct opposition to the cannon and the feudal systems. The leading men among them, both of the clergy and the laity, were men of sense and learning: To many of them, the historians, orators, poets and philosophers of Greece and Rome were quite familiar: and some of them have left libraries that are still in being, consisting chiefly of volumes, in which the wisdom of the most enlightned ages and nations is deposited, written however in languages, which their great grandsons, tho' educated in European Universities, can scarcely read.
Reprinted from the Boston Gazette, 12 Aug. 1765. For partial Dft, see No. II, above, and descriptive note.
1. John Tillotson (1630–1694), Archbishop of Canterbury, popular preacher, and warm advocate of religious comprehension among English Protestants. JA owned an incomplete set of Tillotson's Works and admired the high moral tone of the Archbishop's sermons (DNB; Catalogue of JA's Library; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:224).
2. In his copy of True Sentiments . . . , containing the “Dissertation,” JA wrote the following marginal note at this point: “Rob. Hist. C. 5, page 54, and 141, 315.” The reference is to William Robertson, The History of the Reign of Charles the Fifth, Emperor of Germany; and of All the Kingdoms and States in Europe during His Age, 3 vols. [Phila.], 1770. Catalogue of JA's Library lists only a London edition of 1777 in 4 vols., but the pages listed here and below match the 1770 edition.
3. JA's marginal note here reads, “Rob. Hist. C. 5, 178, 9 &c.”
4. JA corrected the word that to read their.
5. JA underlined the whole phrase “the execrable race of the Steuarts.”
6. Since there was no Archbishop King in England during the reigns of James I and Charles I, the period presumably under discussion, the reference here is uncertain. In one of his drafts JA attributed this comment on Puritan su• { 115 } periority to “Archbishop King him self, (I think it was, for I say this upon Memory)” (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:257). There were two bishops named King in the period: John (1559?–1621), Bishop of London, 1611–1621, and Henry (1592–1669), Bishop of Chichester, 1642–1669 (DNB).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0052-0005

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1765-08-19

IV. “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law,” No. 2

THUS accomplished were many of the first Planters of these Colonies. It may be thought polite and fashionable, by many modern fine Gentlemen perhaps, to deride the Characters of these Persons, as enthusiastical, superstitious and republican: But such ridicule is founded in nothing but foppery and affectation, and is grosly injurious and false. Religious to some degree of enthusiasm it may be admitted they were; but this can be no peculiar derogation from their character, because it was at that time almost the universal character, not only of England, but of Christendom. Had this however, been otherwise, their enthusiasm, considering the principles in which it was founded, and the ends to which it was directed, far from being a reproach to them, was greatly to their honour: for I believe it will be found universally true, that no great enterprize, for the honour or happiness of mankind, was ever achieved, without a large mixture of that noble infirmity. Whatever imperfections may be justly ascribed to them, which however are as few, as any mortals have discovered their judgment in framing their policy, was founded in wise, humane and benevolent principles; It was founded in revelation, and in reason too; It was consistent with the principles, of the best, and greatest, and wisest legislators of antiquity. Tyranny in every form, shape, and appearance was their disdain, and abhorrence; no fear of punishment, not even of Death itself, in exquisite tortures, had been sufficient to conquer, that steady, manly, pertenacious spirit, with which they had opposed the tyrants of those days, in church and state. They were very far from being enemies to monarchy; and they knew as well as any men, the just regard and honour that is due to the character of a dispenser of the misteries of the gospel of Grace: But they saw clearly, that popular powers must be placed, as a guard, a countroul, a ballance, to the powers of the monarch, and the priest, in every government, or else it would soon become the man of sin, the whore of Babylon, the mystery of iniquity, a great and detestable system of fraud, violence, and usurpation. Their greatest concern seems to have been to establish a government of the church more consistent with { 116 } the scriptures, and a government of the state more agreable to the dignity of humane nature, than any they had seen in Europe: and to transmit such a government down to their posterity, with the means of securing and preserving it, for ever. To render the popular power in their new government, as great and wise, as their principles and theory, i. e. as human nature and the christian religion require it should be, they endeavored to remove from it, as many of the feudal inequalities and dependencies, as could be spared, consistently with the preservation of a mild limited monarchy. And in this they discovered the depth of their wisdom, and the warmth of their friendship to human nature. But the first place is due to religion. They saw clearly, that of all the nonsense and delusion which had ever passed thro' the mind of man, none had ever been more extravagant than the notions of absolutions, indelible characters, uninterrupted successions, and the rest of those phantastical ideas, derived from the common law,1 which had thrown such a glare of mystery, sanctity, reverence and right reverence, eminence and holiness, around the idea of a priest, as no mortal could deserve, and as always must from the constitution of human nature, be dangerous in society.2 For this reason, they demolished the whole system of Diocesan episcopacy and deriding, as all reasonable and impartial men must do, the ridiculous fancies of sanctified effluvia from episcopal fingers, they established sacerdotal ordination, on the foundation of the bible and common sense. This conduct at once imposed an obligation on the whole body of the clergy, to industry, virtue, piety and learning, and rendered that whole body infinitely more independent on the civil powers, in all respects than they could be where they were formed into a scale of subordination, from a pope down to priests and fryars and confessors, necessarily and essentially a sordid, stupid, wretched herd; or than they could be in any other country, where an archbishop held the place of an universal bishop, and the vicars and curates that of the ignorant, dependent, miserable rabble aforesaid; and infinitely more sensible and learned than they could be in either. This subject has been seen in the same light, by many illustrious patriots, who have lived in America, since the days of our fore fathers, and who have adored their memory for the same reason. And methinks there has not appeared in New England a stronger veneration for their memory, a more penetrating insight into the grounds and principles and spirit of their policy, nor a more earnest desire of perpetuating the blessings of it to posterity, than that fine institution of the late chief justice Dudley, of a lecture against popery, and on the validity of presbyterian { 117 } ordination.3 This was certainly intended by that wise and excellent man, as an eternal memento of the wisdom and goodness of the very principles that settled America. But I must again return to the feudal law.
The adventurers so often mentioned, had an utter contempt of all that dark ribaldry of hereditary indefeasible right—the Lord's anointed—and the divine miraculous original of government, with which the priesthood had inveloped the feudal monarch in clouds and mysteries, and from whence they had deduced the most mischievous of all doctrines, that of passive obedience and non resistance. They knew that government was a plain, simple, intelligible thing founded in nature and reason and quite comprehensible by common sense. They detested all the base services, and servile dependencies of the feudal system. They knew that no such unworthy dependences took place in the ancient seats of liberty, the republic of Greece and Rome: and they tho't all such slavish subordinations were equally inconsistent with the constitution of human nature and that religious liberty, with which Jesus had made them free. This was certainly the opinion they had formed, and they were far from being singular or extravagant in thinking so. Many celebrated modern writers, in Europe, have espoused the same sentiments. Lord Kaim's,4 a Scottish writer of great reputation, whose authority in this case ought to have the more weight, as his countrymen have not the most worthy ideas of liberty, speaking of the feudal law, says, “A constitution so contradictory to all the principles which govern mankind, can never be brought about, one should imagine, but by foreign conquest or native usurpations.” Brit. Ant. P. 2. Rousseau speaking of the same system, calls it “That most iniquitous and absurd form of government by which human nature was so shamefully degraded.” Social Compact, Page 164.5 It would be easy to multiply authorities, but it must be needless, because as the original of this form of government was among savages, as the spirit of it is military and despotic, every writer, who would allow the people to have any right to life or property, or freedom, more than the beasts of the field, and who was not hired or inlisted under arbitrary lawless power, has been always willing to admit the feudal system to be inconsistent with liberty and the rights of mankind.
MS not found. Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 19 Aug. 1765).
1. A printer's error for canon law, corrected in reprintings.
2. In JA's copy of True Sentiments . . . , containing the “Dissertation,” penciled in the margin opposite the beginning of this sentence are the words “omit No Papist” and a shaky line is drawn down the passage to include the whole sentence.
3. JA's praise of Dudley's gift to Har• { 118 } vard may have been prompted by Jonathan Mayhew's Dudleian Lecture of May 1765, in which he not only denounced Catholic doctrine but warned that the Church was a threat to civil liberty as well. In a manner strikingly parallel to the argument of JA's “Dissertation,” Mayhew declared that “Our controversy with her [Rome] is not merely a religious one. . . . But a defence of our laws, liberties and civil rights as men, in opposition to the proud claims of ecclesiastical persons, who under the pretext of religion and saving mens souls, would engross all power and property to themselves, and reduce us to the most abject slavery. . . . Popery and liberty are incompatible; at irreconcileable enmity with each other” (Popish Idolatry . . . , cited in Charles W. Akers, Called Unto Liberty: A Life of Jonathan Mayhew, 1720–1766, Cambridge, 1964, p. 195–196).
4. Henry Home, Lord Kames (1692–1782), Scottish judge and philosopher, wrote Essays upon Several Subjects concerning British Antiquities . . . , Edinburgh, 1747, one section of which dealt with the “Introduction of the Feudal Law into Scotland” (DNB). The third edition of this work (Edinburgh, 1763) is listed in Catalogue of JA's Library; JA was thoroughly familiar with Kames before he began to write the “Dissertation” (Diary and Autobiography, 1:254).
5. Jean Jacques Rousseau, A Treatise on the Social Compact; or the Principles of Politic Law, London, 1764 (Catalogue of JA's Library). The sentence begins, “The notion of representatives is modern, descending to us from the feudal system, that most iniquitous.”

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0052-0006

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1765-09-30

V. “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law,” No. 3

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 their King, as their sovereign Lord, and to him they were willing to render homage: but to no mesne and subordinate Lords, nor were they willing to submit to any of the baser services. In all this, they were so strenuous, that they have even transmitted to their posterity, a very general contempt and detestation of holdings by quit rents: As they have also an hereditary ardor for liberty and thirst for knowledge.
They were convinced by their knowledge of human nature derived from history and their own experience, that nothing could preserve their posterity from the encroachments of the two systems of tyranny, in opposition to which, as has been observed already, they erected their government in church and state, but knowledge diffused generally thro' the whole body of the people. Their civil and religious principles, therefore, conspired to prompt them to use every measure, and take every precaution in their power, to propagate and perpetuate knowledge. For this purpose they laid, very early the foundations of colleges, and invested them with ample priviledges and emoluments; and it is { 119 } { 120 } remarkable, that they have left among their posterity, so universal an affection and veneration for those seminaries, and for liberal education, that the meanest of the people contribute chearfully to the support and maintenance of them every year, and that nothing is more generally popular than projections for the honour, reputation and advantage of those seats of learning. But the wisdom and benevolence of our fathers rested not here. They made an early provision by law, that every town consisting of so many families, should be always furnished with a grammar school. They made it a crime for such a town to be destitute of a grammar school master, for a few months, and subjected it to an heavy penalty. So that the education of all ranks of people was made the care and expence of the public in a manner, that I believe has been unknown to any other people ancient or modern.
The consequences of these establishments we see and feel every day. A native of America who cannot read and write is as rare an appearance, as a Jacobite or a Roman Catholic, i. e. as rare as a Comet or an Earthquake. It has been observed, that we are all of us, lawyers, divines, politicians and philosophers.2 And I have good authorities to say that all candid foreigners who have passed thro' this country, and conversed freely with all sorts of people here, will allow, that they have never seen so much knowledge and civility among the common people in any part of the world. It is true, there has been among us a party for some years, consisting chiefly not of the descendants of the first settlers of this country but of high churchmen and high statesmen, imported since, who affect to censure this provision for the education of our youth as a needless expence, and an imposition upon the rich in favour of the poor—and as an institution productive of idleness and vain speculation among the people, whose time and attention it is said ought to be devoted to labour, and not to public affairs or to examination into the conduct of their superiours. And certain officers of the crown, and certain other missionaries of ignorance, foppery, servility and slavery, have been most inclined to countenance and increase the same party. Be it remembred, however, that liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned, and bought it for us, at the expence of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood. And liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know—but besides this { 121 } they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible divine right to that most dreaded, and envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the characters and conduct of their rulers. Rulers are no more than attorneys, agents and trustees for the people; and if the cause, the interest and trust is insidiously betray'd, or wantonly trifled away, the people have a right to revoke the authority, that they themselves have deputed, and to constitute abler and better agents, attorneys and trustees. And the preservation of the means of knowledge, among the lowest ranks, is of more importance to the public, than all the property of all the rich men in the country. It is even of more consequence to the rich themselves, and to their posterity. The only question is whether it is a public emolument? and if it is, the rich ought undoubtedly to contribute in the same proportion, as to all other public burdens, i. e. in proportion to their wealth which is secured by public expences. But none of the means of information are more sacred, or have been cherished with more tenderness and care by the settlers of America, than the Press. Care has been taken, that the art of printing should be encouraged, and that it should be easy and cheap and safe for any person to communicate his thoughts to the public. And you, Messieurs Printers,3 whatever the tyrants of the earth may say of your paper, have done important service to your country, by your readiness and freedom in publishing the speculations of the curious. The stale, impudent insinuations of slander and sedition, with which the gormandizers of power have endeavor'd to discredit your paper, are so much the more to your honour; for the jaws of power are always opened to devour, and her arm is always stretched out if possible to destroy, the freedom of thinking, speaking and writing. And if the public interest, liberty and happiness have been in danger, from the ambition or avarice of any great man or number of great men, whatever may be their4 politeness, address, learning, ingenuity and in other respects integrity and humanity, you have done yourselves honour and your country service, by publishing and pointing out that avarice and ambition. These views5 are so much the more dangerous and pernicious, for the virtues with which they may be accompanied in the same character, and with so much the more watchful jealousy to be guarded against.

“Curse on such virtues, they've undone their country.”6

Be not intimidated therefore, by any terrors, from publishing with the utmost freedom, whatever can be warranted by the laws of your country; nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberty, by any pretences of politeness, delicacy or decency. These as they are { 122 } often used, are but three different names, for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice. Much less I presume will you be discouraged by any pretences, that malignant's on this side the water will represent your paper as factious and seditious, or that the Great on the other side the water will take offence at them. This Dread of representation, has had for a long time in this province effects very similar to what the physicians call an hydropho, or dread of water. It has made us delirious. And we have rushed headlong into the water, till we are almost drowned, out of simple or phrensical fear of it. Believe me, the character of this country has suffered more in Britain, by the pusillanimity with which we have borne many insults and indignities from the creatures of power at home, and the creatures of those creatures here, than it ever did or ever will by the freedom and spirit that has been or will be discovered in writing, or action. Believe me my countrymen, they have imbibed an opinion on the other side the water, that we are an ignorant, a timid and a stupid people, nay their tools on this side have often the impudence to dispute your bravery. But I hope in God the time is near at hand, when they will be fully convinced of your understanding, integrity and courage. But can any thing be more ridiculous, were it not too provoking to be laughed at, than to pretend that offence should be taken at home for writings here? Pray let them look at home. Is not the human understanding exhausted there? Are not reason, imagination, wit, passion, senses and all, tortured to find out satyr and invective against the characters of the vile and futile fellows who sometimes get into place and power? The most exceptionable paper that ever I saw here, is perfect prudence and modesty, in comparison of multitudes of their applauded writings. Yet the high regard they have for the freedom of the Press, indulges all. I must and will repeat it, your Paper deserves the patronage of every friend to his country. And whether the defamers of it are arrayed in robes of scarlet or sable, whether they lurk and skulk in an insurance office, whether they assume the venerable character of a Priest, the sly one of a scrivener, or the dirty, infamous, abandoned one of an informer, they are all the creatures and tools of the lust of domination.
The true source of our sufferings, has been our timidity.
MS not found. Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 30 Sept. 1765).
1. This section was printed in the Gazette with a prefatory note to readers that it was a “Continuation of the Piece begun [in] our Paper of August the 12th, and continued in that of the 19th, upon the Canon and Feudal Laws,” the first suggestion for a title for the essay.
2. This observation was made by Jonathan Mayhew when he wrote, “It may be added, that the common people in New-England, by means of our schools, and the instructions of our 'able, learned, orthodox, ministers,' are, and have all along been, philosophers and divines in { 123 } comparison of the common people of England, of the communion of the church there established” (Observations on the Charter and Conduct of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts . . . , Boston, 1763, p. 45, Evans, No. 9441).
3. Benjamin Edes (1732–1803) and John Gill (1732–1785), printers of the Boston Gazette (DAB).
4. JA's copy of True Sentiments has a marginal correction in JA's hand of their to his.
5. A marginal correction of views to Vices in JA's hand.
6. Joseph Addison, Cato, Act IV, scene iv. JA substituted such for his.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0052-0007

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1765-10-21

VI. “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law,” No. 4

WE have been afraid to think. We have felt a reluctance to examining into the grounds of our privileges, and the extent in which we have an indisputable right to demand them against all the power and authority, on earth. And many who have not scrupled to examine for themselves, have yet for certain prudent reasons been cautious, and diffident of declaring the result of their enquiries.
The cause of this timidity is perhaps hereditary and to be traced back in history, as far as the cruel treatment the first settlers of this country received, before their embarkation for America, from the government at Home. Every body knows how dangerous it was to speak or write in favour of any thing in those days, but the triumphant system of religion and politicks. And our fathers were particularly, the objects of the persecutions and proscriptions of the times. It is not unlikely therefore, that, although they were inflexibly steady in refusing their positive assent to any thing against their principles, they might have contracted habits of reserve, and a cautious diffidence of asserting their opinions publickly. These habits they probably brought with them to America, and have transmitted down to us. Or, we may possibly account for this appearance, by the great affection and veneration, Americans have always entertained for the country from whence they sprang—or by the quiet temper for which they have been remarkable, no country having been less disposed to discontent than this—or by a sense they have, that it is their duty to acquiesce, under the administration of government, even when in many smaller matters gravaminous to them, and until the essentials of the great compact are destroy'd or invaded. These peculiar causes might operate upon them; but without these we all know, that human nature itself, from indolence, modesty, humanity or fear, has always too much reluctance to a manly assertion of its rights. Hence perhaps it has happened that nine tenths of the species, are groaning and gasping in misery and servitude.
{ 124 }
But whatever the cause has been, the fact is certain, we have been excessively cautious of giving offence by complaining of grievances. And it is as certain that American governors, and their friends and all the crown officers have avail'd themselves of this disposition in the people. They have prevailed on us to consent to many things, which were grosly injurious to us, and to surrender many others with voluntary tameness, to which we had the clearest right. Have we not been treated formerly, with abominable insolence, by officers of the navy? I mean no insinuation against any gentleman now on this station, having heard no complaint of any one of them to his dishonor. Have not some generals, from England, treated us like servants, nay more like slaves than like Britons? Have we not been under the most ignominious contribution, the most abject submission, the most supercilious insults of some custom house officers? Have we not been trifled with, browbeaten, and trampled on, by former governors, in a manner which no king of England since James the second has dared to indulge towards his subjects? Have we not raised up one family,1 in them placed an unlimitted confidence, and been soothed and battered and intimidated by their influence, into a great part of this infamous tameness and submission? “These are serious and alarming questions, and deserve a dispassionate consideration.”2
This disposition has been the great wheel and the mainspring in the American machine of court politicks. We have been told that “the word 'Rights' is an offensive expression.” That “the King his ministry and parliament will not endure to hear Americans talk of their Rights.” That “Britain is the mother and we the children, that a filial duty and submission is due from us to her,” and that “we ought to doubt our own judgment, and presume that she is right, even when she seems to us to shake the foundations of government.” That “Britain is immensely rich and great and powerful, has fleets and armies at her command, which have been the dread and terror of the universe, and that she will force her own judgment into execution, right or wrong.” But let me intreat you Sir to pause and consider. Do you consider your self as a missionary of loyalty or of rebellion? Are you not representing your King his ministry and parliament as tyrants, imperious, unrelenting tyrants by such reasoning as this? Is not this representing your most gracious sovereign, as endeavouring to destroy the foundations of his own throne? Are you not putting language into the royal mouth, which if fairly pursued will shew him to have no right to the crown on his own sacred head? Are you not representing every member of parliament as renouncing the transactions at Running• { 125 } mede,3 and as repealing in effect the bill of rights, when the Lords and Commons asserted and vindicated the rights of the people and their own rights, and insisted on the King's assent to that assertion and vindication? Do you not represent them as forgetting that the prince of Orange, was created King William by the People, on purpose that their rights might be eternal and inviolable? Is there not something extremely fallacious, in the common-place images of mother country and children colonies? Are we the children of Great-Britain, any more than the cities of London, Exeter and Bath? Are we not brethren and fellow subjects, with those in Britain, only under a somewhat different method of legislation, and a totally different method of taxation? But admitting we are children; have not children a right to complain when their parents are attempting to break their limbs, to administer poison, or to sell them to enemies for slaves? Let me intreat you to consider, will the mother, be pleased, when you represent her as deaf to the cries of her children? When you compare her to the infamous miscreant, who lately stood on the gallows for starving her child? When you resemble her to Lady Macbeth in Shakespear, (I cannot think of it without horror)

Who “had given suck, and knew

How tender 'twas to love the Babe that milk'd her.”

But yet, who could

“Even while 'twas smiling in her Face,

Have pluck'd her Nipple from the boneless Gums,

And dash'd the Brains out.”

Let us banish forever from our minds, my countrymen, all such unworthy ideas of the King, his ministry and parliament. Let us not suppose, that all are become luxurious effeminate and unreasonable, on the other side the water, as many designing persons would insinuate. Let us presume, what is in fact true, that the spirit of liberty, is as ardent as ever among the body of the nation, though a few individuals may be corrupted. Let us take it for granted, that the same great spirit, which once gave Caesar so warm a reception; which denounced4 hostilities against John 'till Magna Charta was signed; which severed the head of Charles the first from his body, and drove James the second from his kingdom; the same great spirit (may heaven preserve it till the earth shall be no more) which first seated the great grand father of his present most gracious Majesty, on the throne of Britain, is still alive and active and warm in England; and that the same spirit in America, instead of provoking the inhabitants of that country, will endear us to them for ever and secure their good will.
{ 126 }
This spirit however without knowledge, would be little better than a brutal rage. Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak and write. Let every order and degree among the people rouse their attention and animate their resolution. Let them all become attentive to the grounds and principles of government, ecclesiastical and civil. Let us study the law of nature; search into the spirit of the British constitution; read the histories of ancient ages; contemplate the great examples of Greece and Rome; set before us, the conduct of our own British ancestors, who have defended for us, the inherent rights of mankind, against foreign and domestic tyrants and usurpers, against arbitrary kings and cruel priests, in short against the gates of earth and hell. Let us read and recollect and impress upon our souls, the views and ends, of our own more immediate forefathers, in exchanging their native country for a dreary, inhospitable wilderness. Let us examine into the nature of that power and the cruelty of that oppression which drove them from their homes. Recollect their amazing fortitude, their bitter sufferings! The hunger, the nakedness, the cold, which they patiently endured! The severe labours of clearing their grounds, building their houses, raising their provisions amidst dangers from wild beasts and savage men, before they had time or money or materials for commerce! Recollect the civil and religious principles and hopes and expectations, which constantly supported and carried them through all hardships, and patience and resignation! Let us recollect it was liberty! The hope of liberty for themselves and us and ours, which conquered all discouragements, dangers and trials! In such researches as these let us all in our several departments chearfully engage! But especially the proper patrons and supporters of law, learning and religion.
Let the pulpit resound with the doctrines and sentiments of religious liberty. Let us hear the danger of thraldom to our consciences, from ignorance, extream poverty and dependance, in short from civil and political slavery. Let us see delineated before us, the true map of man. Let us hear the dignity of his nature, and the noble rank he holds among the works of God! that consenting to slavery is a sacriligious breach of trust, as offensive in the sight of God, as it is derogatory from our own honor or interest or happiness; and that God almighty has promulgated from heaven, liberty, peace, and good-will to man!
Let the Bar proclaim, “the laws, the rights, the generous plan of power,” delivered down from remote antiquity; inform the world of { 127 } the mighty struggles, and numberless sacrifices, made by our ancestors, in defence of freedom. Let it be known, that British liberties are not the grants of princes or parliaments, but original rights, conditions of original contracts, coequal with prerogative and coeval with government.—That many of our rights are inherent and essential, agreed on as maxims and establish'd as preliminaries, even before a parliament existed. Let them search for the foundations of British laws and government in the frame of human nature, in the constitution of the intellectual and moral world. There let us see, that truth, liberty, justice and benevolence, are its everlasting basis; and if these could be removed, the superstructure is overthrown of course.
Let the colleges join their harmony, in the same delightful concern. Let every declamation turn upon the beauty of liberty and virtue, and the deformity, turpitude and malignity of slavery and vice. Let the public disputations become researches into the grounds and nature and ends of government, and the means of preserving the good and demolishing the evil. Let the dialogues and all the exercises, become the instruments of impressing on the tender mind, and of spreading and distributing, far and wide, the ideas of right and the sensations of freedom.
In a word, let every sluice of knowledge be open'd and set a flowing. The encroachments upon liberty, in the reigns of the first James and the first Charles, by turning the general attention of learned men to government, are said to have produced the greatest number of consummate statesmen, which has ever been seen in any age, or nation. Your Clarendons, Southamptons, Seldens, Hampdens, Faulklands, Sidneys, Locks, Harringtons, are all said to have owed their eminence in political knowledge, to the tyrannies of those reigns. The prospect, now before us, in America, ought in the same manner to engage the attention of every man of learning to matters of power and of right, that we may be neither led nor driven blindfolded to irretrievable destruction. Nothing less than this seems to have been meditated for us, by somebody or other in Great-Britain. There seems to be a direct and formal design on foot, to enslave all America. This however must be done by degrees. The first step that is intended seems to be an entire subversion of the whole system of our Fathers, by an introduction of the cannon and feudal law, into America. The cannon and feudal systems tho' greatly mutilated in England, are not yet destroy'd. Like the temples and palaces, in which the great contrivers of them, once worship'd and inhabited, they exist in ruins; and much of the domineering spirit of them still remains. The designs and labours of a cer• { 128 } tain society,5 to introduce the former of them into America, have been well exposed to the public by a writer of great abilities,6 and the further attempts to the same purpose that may be made by that society, or by the ministry or parliament, I leave to the conjectures of the thoughtful. But it seems very manifest from the S—p A-t itself, that a design is form'd to strip us in a great measure of the means of knowledge, by loading the Press, the Colleges, and even an Almanack and a News-Paper, with restraints and duties; and to introduce the inequalities and dependances of the feudal system, by taking from the poorer sort of people all their little subsistance, and conferring it on a set of stamp officers, distributors and their deputies. But I must proceed no further at present. The sequel, whenever I shall find health and leisure to pursue it, will be a “disquisition of the policy of the stamp act.”7 In the mean time however let me add, These are not the vapours of a melancholly mind, nor the effusions of envy, disappointed ambition, nor of a spirit of opposition to government: but the emanations of an heart that burns, for its country's welfare. No one of any feeling, born and educated in this once happy country, can consider the numerous distresses, the gross indignities, the barbarous ignorance, the haughty usurpations, that we have reason to fear are meditating for ourselves, our children, our neighbours, in short for all our countrymen and all their posterity, without the utmost agonies of heart, and many tears.
MS not found. Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 21 Oct. 1765).
1. The family of Lt. Gov. Thomas Hutchinson. In Aug. 1765 JA had surveyed the multiplicity of public offices held by Hutchinson and his relatives in Massachusetts and concluded that this constituted an “amazing ascendancy of one Family” that was a “Foundation sufficient on which to erect a Tyranny” (Diary and Autobiography, 1:260).
2. The source of this quotation and those that follow has not been determined. For an interesting analysis of the role of the parent-child analogy in Revolutionary thought, see Edwin G. Burrows and Michael Wallace, “The American Revolution: the Ideology and Psychology of National Liberation,” Perspectives in American History, 6 (1972): 167–306.
3. The version of the “Dissertation” in The True Sentiments of America contains a bracketed editorial insertion after “Runing Med”: “the meadow, near Windsor, where Magna Charta was signed.”
4. Denounce: announce or proclaim, obs.; see OED under 1b.
5. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.
6. Jonathan Mayhew.
7. JA never wrote a sequel.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0053

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1765-08-15

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

On the Pillaging of Andrew Oliver's Home

15 Aug. 1765. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:259–261. Probably designed as a newspaper contribution.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0054-0001

Editorial Note

Although “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law” was John Adams' first contribution to the literature of the American Revolution, the Braintree Instructions about the Stamp Act were the first defense of American rights publicly recognized as having come from his pen. These Instructions, drafted in the first instance by Adams, then approved with modifications by a Braintree town meeting, and finally broadcast through Massachusetts in the Massachusetts Gazette and the Boston Gazette with additional variations, vigorously denounced the Stamp Act for depriving Americans of their rights as Englishmen to be taxed only with their consent and to be tried by juries of their peers. Adams advanced no novel principles and recommended no particularly radical mode of opposition to parliamentary authority. Nevertheless, his instructions deserve more than passing commentary because of the opportunity they offer both for textual analysis of one of the more significant documents of the early Revolutionary period and for a critical appraisal of the author's own subsequent account of their history.
Writing in his Autobiography almost forty years after the events in question, Adams composed the only extended description of the provenance of the Braintree Instructions known to exist (Diary and Autobiography, 3:282–283). According to this account, Adams became alarmed by the Stamp Act sometime in 1765 and thereupon secured the approval of his fellow townsmen in Braintree for a petition he had drawn up, calling for a town meeting in order “to instruct their Representatives in Relation to the Stamps.” When this meeting convened, on 24 September, the towns people chose Adams and four others to be a committee to prepare a set of instructions for the town's representative. This committee immediately repaired to the home of Samuel Niles, one of its members. There Adams presented his colleagues with a draft set of instructions about the Stamp Act, which he had written some time prior to the town meeting and { 130 } which that same day were “unanimously adopted [by the committee] without Amendment, reported to the Town and Accepted without a dissenting Voice.” Several days later, Richard Draper, printer of the Massachusetts Gazette, asked Adams to furnish him with a copy of the Braintree Instructions—an indication, perhaps, of the extent to which Adams' authorship was already known. Adams readily complied with Draper's request, and the Instructions appeared in the 10 October 1765 issue of the Massachusetts Gazette—from which they were taken and reprinted four days later in the Boston Gazette. Once in print, Adams went on to recall, the Braintree Instructions made a profound impression upon the freemen of the province. Forty other towns adopted them, “in so many Words,” to guide their representatives during the session of the General Court which began in the fall of 1765; even Samuel Adams, that master of propaganda, saw fit to incorporate “some paragraphs” from the Braintree Instructions into those which he wrote at this time for the town of Boston.
Although Adams' memory served him well in the reconstruction of some features of this episode, it was either deficient or misleading in regard to at least three others. He only partially explained the fundamental question of motivation, or what exactly prompted him to write these particular Instructions at this particular time. That he acted out of opposition to the Stamp Act, as the Autobiography implies, is indisputable. But the question remains of why he waited till the fall of 1765 to call for a town meeting to protest an act of Parliament that he had known about since the preceding spring. This delay between awareness and action becomes comprehensible, when two events that Adams forgot to mention in his Autobiography are taken into account. The first was Governor Bernard's issuance of a proclamation, on 6 September, ordering a meeting of the General Court for the 25th of the month, and the second, the arrival in Boston, on 21 September, of the first consignment of stamp paper (Boston Post-Boy, 9, 23 Sept. 1765). While the one gave the voters their first opportunity after the riots and tumults of the preceding August to reaffirm their opposition to the Stamp Act through their regularly elected representatives, the other made it technically possible to implement this measure on 1 November 1765, the date it was scheduled to go into effect. The forthcoming session of the General Court provided Adams with the occasion for writing the Braintree Instructions, and the arrival of the stamps almost certainly lent a note of urgency to this work. The conjuncture of these two events, combined with Adams' prior opposition to the Stamp Act, elicited these Instructions.
If Adams said too little in the Autobiography about specifically why he wrote the Braintree Instructions, he claimed too much for their impact upon Massachusetts. His assertion that they were adopted, “in so many Words,” by forty other towns in the fall of 1765 does not stand up. A scrupulous examination of the town instructions printed in the Boston newspapers (Boston Gazette, Boston Evening-Post, Boston Post-Boy, Massachusetts Gazette) for the period October–December 1765 reveals { 131 } that a few towns voted instructions that might have been inspired by those of Braintree, but that many more did not. Thus, it is highly unlikely that Adams' Instructions were nearly so effective in 1765 as he claimed in 1804.
Caution must also be observed with respect to Adams' version of the influence he exercised over the writing of cousin Samuel's Boston Instructions. These received the approval of the Boston town meeting, 18 September 1765, and were printed in the Boston Gazette five days later, thereby raising the possibility that it was Samuel who influenced John, and not vice versa (Boston Record Commissioners, 16th Report, p. 155–156; Boston Gazette, 23 Sept. 1765). Besides preceding the Braintree Instructions in time, the Boston Instructions show no evidence of the specific sort of influence which Adams described in his Autobiography and during his controversy with Mercy Warren in 1807. In the first he asserted that Samuel Adams had incorporated into the Boston Instructions “some paragraphs” from a “Copy” of the Braintree Instructions furnished him by cousin John; and in the second, that “Boston, whose instructions were drawn by Mr. Samuel Adams, had, in the main essential point of all, adopted the sentiment and the very expressions of my instructions” (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:283; same to Mercy Warren, 20 July 1807, MHS, Colls., 5th ser., 4 [1878]:341). But a close comparison of the two sets of instructions shows that Boston's have absolutely none of the “paragraphs” and only several of the “expressions” of Braintree's. The best one can say, therefore, is that although Adams might have had some influence on the drafting of the Boston Instructions, it was neither of the magnitude nor of the type that he claimed in his Autobiography.
In contrast, the textual history of the Braintree Instructions is considerably more involved than one would gather from Adams' autobiographical account of it. There are three distinct texts of the Instructions—Adams' own undated draft (No. I, below); the instructions approved by the town meeting of Braintree on 24 September 1765 (No. II, below); and the two identical newspaper printings of them (No. III, below). All express substantially the same general arguments—that the Stamp Act was unconstitutional because it deprived Americans of their rights to taxation by consent and trial by jury, and inexpedient because of the economic problems it would produce in Massachusetts—but in several significant respects each one differs from the others in content, tone, or phraseology. Consequently, one cannot accept Adams' statement that Braintree approved his draft Instructions without any amendments, or his insinuation that the newspapers printed them without any changes (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:282).
Adams' draft instructions breathed defiance. In addition to stating constitutional and economic objections to the Stamp Act, they indirectly but unmistakably criticized recent parliamentary acts affecting trade; reminded one and all that the august Parliament was made up of mere men; questioned the learning and probity of some of the admiralty judges; { 132 } and, most of all, descried a conspiracy of Parliament to enslave Americans.
Adams' draft was evidently too radical for his committee colleagues, or the members of the town meeting, or both. In any case, the Instructions the town approved retained the principal arguments against the Stamp Act that Adams had formulated, but omitted his pointed allusion to recent parliamentary economic regulation as well as his sharp comments about M.P.'s, admiralty judges, and enslavement. These changes made the officially adopted Instructions less radical than Adams' draft in content and in tone; yet the net effect was still a forthright defense of colonial rights against an allegedly unconstitutional exercise of parliamentary authority. Whether these modifications were made with or without Adams' consent is impossible to determine. Nor are there any specific explanations, contemporary or otherwise, for why they were made at all. Conceivably they might have resulted from the publication, twelve days before the town meeting convened, of news from England of the formation of the Rockingham ministry, which was known to be sympathetic to America (Massachusetts Gazette, 12 Sept. 1765). But this is only speculation.
The variations between the Instructions in the newspapers and in the Braintree Town Records are verbal rather than substantive, except for some sentences printed out of order. In at least this respect, the newspaper text differs significantly from the other two. Once again, however, it is impossible to say whether these variations originated with Adams as he was making a copy of the official Instructions for Draper's use, or with Draper as he was putting this copy through the press for publication in the Massachusetts Gazette. In two instances a word appears in the newspaper that is in Adams' draft but not in the voted Instructions. Clearly, Draper saw the draft or Adams supplied the words verbally.
Charles Francis Adams included in his edition of John Adams' Works (3:465–468) only the text of the Braintree Instructions from the 14 October 1765 Boston Gazette. So that the intricate evolution of one of Adams' more important early public writings may be followed, the present editors have reprinted John Adams' draft, the Instructions adopted by the Braintree town meeting, and the Instructions printed in the Massachusetts Gazette, 10 October 1765. Benjamin Franklin sent the Braintree Instructions as well as those of Boston for publication in the London Chronicle, where they appeared in January 1766. Franklin's accompanying note explained that American opposition to the Stamp Act had not occurred out of “niggardliness” (Franklin, Papers, 13:26–28).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0054-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1765-09-24

I. Adams' Original Draft

[addrLine] To Ebenezer Thayer Esqr1

[salute] Sir

[addrLine] To Ebenezer Thayer Esqr1

In all the Calamities, which have ever befallen this our dear native Country, <since our the first settlement> within the Memory of the { 133 } oldest of Us all, We have never felt So <great and> sincere a Grief, and Concern or So many Allarming Fears and Apprehensions, as at the present Time. We have many of Us lived to see, both Pestilence and Scarcity, and the Encroachments And <Depredations,> Hostilities of <French and Indian> bitter, subtle and powerful Enemies, but We never yet apprehended, our Liberties and Fortunes and our very Being, in any real Danger, till now. It was the Saying of a great Statesman that “Britain, could never be undone but by a British Parliament.” In the same Manner We may truly say, that such is our affectionate and dutiful Loyalty <to our King> and Devotion to our most gracious King, such our profound Reverence and Veneration for both Houses of Parliament, and such our Love, Esteem, and Friendship to all our fellow subjects in Britain, that it is that Country and that Parliament only, <that and by means of our> that could enslave and destroy us.2 And We can no longer forbear complaining, that, to our infinite astonishment We Apprehend we have Reason to fear, that <Designs> Plans have been formed in that Country, and Measures pursued with a direct and formal Intention to enslave Us. We apprehend that great Evidence of such a Design may be deduced from the late Acts of Parliament restricting, and burdening and embarrassing our Trade: but We shall confine ourselves at present chiefly to the Evidence that Results, from what is called the stamp Act.3
By this Act a very burdensome, and in our apprehension, unconstitutional Tax is to be laid upon us all.—and by the same Act we are all of Us subjected to numerous and enormous Penalties and Forfeitures, for Violations of that Act, seventy shillings to fifty Pounds Sterlg. which are at the option of an Informer to be prosecuted, sued for and recovered in a Court of Admiralty, without a Jury.4
We have called this a burdensome Tax, because, the Duties are so numerous and so high, and the Embarrassments to Business, in this infant Country, sparcely settled as it is, would be so great that it would in our opinion be totally impossible for the People to subsist under it, even if We had no Controversy at all about the Right and Authority of imposing it. We have Reason to think that the Execution of that Act for <much less space than one year> a short Space of time, considering the present Scarcity of Money, would dreign the Country of <every shilling of> its Cash, <and reduce Multi> strip Multitudes of the poorer People of all their Property and reduce them to absolute Beggary. And what the Consequences of so sudden a shock and such a convulsive Change in the whole Course of our Business, and subsistence, would be to the Peace of the Province, we tremble to consider.
{ 134 }
We further apprehend this Tax to be unconstitutional. By the great Charter of Liberties, no Amerciament is to be imposed, but by the oaths of good and lawful Men of the Vicinage, and no Freeman is to be disseized of his Freehold &c but by the Judgment of his Peers &c or Law of the Land.—And We have always understood it to be a grand and fundamental Principle of the British Constitution that no Freeman should be subjected to any Tax to which he has not given his own Consent in Person or by Proxy. And indeed, the Maxims of the Common Law, as we have hitherto received them, are to the same Effect that a Man and his Property cannot be seperated but by his own Act or fault. And we have heard and read in <History> the History of other Countries, now groaning under the Iron scepter of Tyranny, that they were always able to vindicate their Rights and Liberties, as long as they maintained stedfastly the aforesaid Maxims, but that cruel, and arbitrary Government, commenced in those Countries from the very Period, when the Right and Power of Taxation was surrendered by the People.5 We take it clearly therefore to be inconsistent with the Spirit of the Common Law, and with the essential Fundamental Principles of the British Constitution, that We should be subjected to any Tax, imposed by the British Parliament, which with all its transcendant Power, and truly respectable and venerable Character and Authority, is but an Assembly of Men,6 and an Assembly in which, we are not represented, in any Sense unless it be by a Fiction of Law, as insensible and irrational in Nature, as it will be injurious in fact if so cruel a Taxation should be grounded on it.
But the most cruel, and grievous, and as we esteem it, unjust Innovation of all, in the Act aforesaid, is the alarming Extension of the Powers of Courts of Admiralty, in the Plantations. In these Courts one Judge alone, presides.—No Juries, have any Concern there.—The Judges Commissions are only during Pleasure.—Nay, the most mischievous of all immaginable Customs has become established there, that of taking Commissions on all Condemnations—so that the Judge, single and dependant as he is, is under a pecuniary Temptation always against the subject. Now if the Wisdom and spirit of liberty of the Mother Country has thought the impartial Administration of Justice of so great Importance, as to render the Judges independant of every Power on Earth, independant of the King, the Lords, the Commons, the People, nay independant in Hope and Expectation of the Heir apparent to the Crown, by continuing their Commissions in Force even in the Case of a Demise of the Crown, what Justice and Impartiality are we, at three thousands miles distance from the fountain, to { 135 } expect from a single Judge, without a Jury, dependant, perhaps ignorant perhaps wicked—for <all these> some of these are certain, many of them probable, all of them possible Cases.7 We have all along thought, the Late Acts relative to Trade in this Respect a Grievance, to the Persons concerned and of Consequence to the whole Community: But the Stamp Act has created a vast Number of Sources of new Crimes and offences, which may, be committed by every Man in the province, and cannot but be committed by Multitudes, and prodigious Penalties and Punishments annexed and all these are to be tryd by the Judge described before. What after all this can be wanting but the Appointment of a weak or a wicked Man for a Judge, which may happen by Accident or Design, without any fault of any Branch or Member of Parliament, to render Us the most sordid and forlorn Slaves who live upon the Earth.
We cannot help Observing therefore that this Act, “will make such a Distinction, and create such a Difference between <great Britain and America> the subjects of our most gracious sovereign, in Great Britain,” and those in “America,” as would have come more consistently, from “an Enemy to both,” than from the wise, and noble and Royal Guardians of Liberty in Both.”
As these, Sir, are our Sentiments of that Act, We must enjoin it upon You, to comply with no Measures or Proposals <for> Countenancing, and assisting, in the Execution of that Act, but by all lawful Means to oppose, the Execution of it, till We can hear, the success of the Cries and Petitions of America, for Relief. Nor can We think it adviseable to agree to any extraordinary, or expensive, Exertions for the Protection of Stamped Papers or Stamp officers.—There are already good and wholesome and sufficient Laws for the Preservation of the public Peace and for the Protection of all Persons and goods—and We apprehend there is no danger of further Tumults and Disorders, to which we have a well grounded aversion; and We therefore take it that Extraordinary steps would tend rather to exasperate, and endanger the public Peace rather than the Contrary.
And indeed We cannot too often inculcate upon you, our Desires, that all, extraordinary and expensive, Grants and Measures may upon all occasions be avoided. A great Part of the Public Money is Toil and labour of the People, who are under many uncommon Difficulties and Distresses, at the present Time. So that all reasonable frugality ought, by all Means to be observed: and We must recommend Particularly, { 136 } a careful Enquiry, and the Utmost firmness and Caution to prevent all unconstitutional Draughts upon the public Treasury.8
And We cannot avoid saying, upon this occasion, that if a particular Enquiry into the state of that Treasury should at the first Leisure opportunity be promoted, and an exact state [there]of published to the People, it might have a very good and Useful Tendency.
We should think ourselves guilty of great Impiety to the Memory of our Fore fathers, of cruel Inhumanity to our Posterity and of great Injustice to our selves, nay We should dishonour the Name and Character of British subjects, in which we glory, and should even blush before our fellow subjects in great Britain if we tamely and silently saw our Rights and Liberties wrested from Us.—We cannot but recommend therefore the most clear and explicit Assertion and Vindication of our Rights, to be entered on the Public Records, that the World may know both in the present and all future Generations, that We have a just and clear Knowledge of those Rights and Liberties, and that We have the jealous Watchful Spirit of true Britons, over all Attempts to take them from Us and that with submission to divine Providence we never can be slaves.
Dft (Adams Papers); docketed by JA in his late hand: “Instructions to the Representative of Braintree against the Stamp Act 1765,” and by CFA: “First draught—the instructions as adopted are to be found in the Boston Gazette 14 October 1765.”
1. Capt. Ebenezer Thayer Jr. (1721–1794), Braintree's representative in the Massachusetts General Court from 1760 to 1775.
2. In the Instructions as voted by the Braintree town meeting (No. II, below), the quotation about Parliament and the two clauses following “our fellow subjects in Britain” were omitted.
3. In the voted Instructions, the reference to “Plans ... to enslave Us” and to legislation affecting trade is softened to “many of the measures of the late ministry and Some of the late Acts of Parliament have a Tendency in our apprehension to divest us of some of our most Essential Rights and Liberties.”
4. By making vice-admiralty courts an alternative to common law courts with their juries, Parliament at a stroke expanded their powers—jurisdiction over offenses committed on the high seas—to include trying violations against the Stamp Act, making these courts “revenue courts, with powers which in England were delegated to the Court of the Exchequer, a common-law tribunal” (Carl Ubbelohde, The Vice-Admiralty Courts and the American Revolution, Chapel Hill, 1960, p. 75–76).
5. In the voted Instructions this entire passage on the record of history is omitted.
6. JA's characterization of Parliament is omitted from Braintree's Instructions.
7. JA's characterization of some admiralty judges is omitted from Braintree's Instructions.
8. The reference here is probably to any unconstitutional attempt to secure compensation to the sufferers from the Stamp Act riots. In his speech to the General Court, Governor Bernard was to warn that compensation be freely made lest a requisition be made on the legislature (Hutchinson, Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 3:94, 337).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0054-0003

Author: Adams, John
Author: Niles, Samuel
Author: Quincy, Norton
Author: Penniman, James
Author: Hayward, John
Author: Braintree, town of
Recipient: Braintree, town of
Recipient: Ebenezer, Thayer
Date: 1765-09-24

II. Instructions Adopted by the Braintree Town Meeting

The Freeholders and other Inhabitants of the Town of Braintree Qualifyd to vote in Town affairs being assembled at the Meeting House in the Middle Precinct of said Town pursuant to warrants for assembling said Town To inform their Representative Respecting their Sentiments Relative to the Stamp Act And other matters of Grievance, Also to see if the Town will instruct their Representative on this important and allarming occasion, Assembled as aforesaid Mr. Norton Quincey Mod[erato]r.
Voted Samll. Niles Esqr., John Adams Esqr., Mr Norton Quincy, Deacon James Penniman and Captn. John Hayward be a Committee to draw instructions for their Representative and present the Same to the Town. The aforesaid Committee Presented the following draught to the Town.

[addrLine] To Ebenezer Thayer Esqr.

[salute] Sir

In all the Calamities that have ever befallen this Country we have never felt so great a Concern nor so many allarming apprehensions as at this time. Such is our Loyalty to the King, such our veneration for both Houses of Parliament and Such our Freindship to all our fellow Subjects in Britain that measures which Seem to discover any unkindness towards us in that Country are the more Sensibly and intimately felt. And we can no longer forbear Complaining that many of the measures of the late ministry and Some of the late Acts of Parliament have a Tendency in our apprehension to divest us of some of our most Essential Rights and Liberties.
We Shall confine our Selves however Cheifly to the Act of Parliament Commonly Called the Stamp Act by which a very burthensome and in our opinion unconstitutional Tax is to be laid upon us all: and we are Subjected to numerous and enormous Penalties which are to be prosecuted, Sued for and recovered at the option of an Informer at a Court of Admiralty without a Jury. We have called this a burthensome Tax because the duties are so numerous and so high and the embarrassments to Business in this infant Sparcely Settled Country so great that it would be totally impossible for the people to Subsist under it even if we had no Controversy att all about the Right and authority of imposing it Considering the present Scarcity of money. We have Reason to think the Execution of that act for a Short Space { 138 } of time would dreign the Country of Cash, Strip multitudes of the Poorer people of all their property and Reduce them to absolute beggary. And what the Consequence would be of so Sudden a Shock and Such a Convulsive Change in the whole Course of our business and Subsistance, to the peace of the Province We tremble to consider.
We further apprehend this Tax to be unconstitutional, By the great Charter no americament shall be assessed but by the oath of Honest and Lawfull men of the Vicinage. And by the Same Charter no Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned or be disseised of his Freehold or Liberties or Free Customs nor passed upon nor Condemned but by Lawfull Judgment of his Peers or by the Law of the Land: And we have Always understood it to be a grand and fundamental principal of the British Constitution that no Freeman should be Subjected to any Tax to which he has not given his own Consent in person or by proxy. And the maxims of the Law as we have Constantly Received them are to the Same Effect that no Freeman can be Seperated from his property but by his own act or Fault. We take it clearly therefore to be inconsistant with the Spirit of the Common Law and of the Essential Fundamentall principles of the British Constitution that we should be Subjected to any Tax imposed by the British Parliament because we are not Represented in that assembly in any sense unless it be by a Fiction of Law as insensible in Theory as it would be Injurious in Fact if so heavy a Taxation should be grounded on it. But the most Grievous of all is the allarming Extension of the Powers of Courts of Admiralty. In these Courts one Judge presides alone, no Juries have any Concern there, the Law and the Fact are to be decided by the Same Single Judge whose Commission is only during pleasure and with whom as we are told the most mischievous of all Customs has become established that of taking Commissions on all Condemnations so that he is under a pecuniary temptation always against the Subject. Now if the wisdom of the Mother Country has thought the Independency of the Judge[s] so Essential to an impartial Administration of Justice as to Render them Independent of any Power on Earth, Independent of the King, the Lords, the Commons and the People, nay Independent in Hope and Expectation of the Heir apparent by Continuing their Commissions in Case of a Demise of the Crown, What Justice and Impartiallity are we at Three thousand miles distance from the fountain to expect from Such a Judge of Admiralty. We all along thought the Acts of Trade in this Respect a grievance, But the Stamp Act has erected a vast Number of Sources of New Crimes which may be Committed by any Man and Cannot but be Committed by multitudes and { 139 } Prodigious Penalties are annexed and all these to be tryed by such a Judge of Such a Court; What can be wanting after this but a weak or wicked Man for a Judge to Render us the most Sordid and forlorn of Slaves. We mean the Slaves of a Slave of the Servant of a Minister of State.1
We cannot help asserting therefore that this part of the Act will make an Essential Change in the Constitution of Juries with Regard to us, is directly repugnant to Magna Charta it Self and will make Such a distinction and Create such a difference between Great Brittain and America as we could not have Expected from the Guardian of Liberty in both.
As these Sir are our Sentiments of that Act we the Freeholders and other Inhabitants Legally assembled for that Purpose must enjoin it upon you to comply with no Measures or Proposalls for countenancing the same or assisting in the Execution of it but by all Lawfull means consistent with our allegiance to the King and Relation to Great Britain2 to oppose the Execution of it till we can hear the Success of the Cries and Petitions of America for relief.
We further Recommend the most Clear and Explicit assertion and vindication of our Rights and Liberties to be entered on the Public Records that the world may know in the Present and all future Generations that We have a Clear Knowledge and a just Sense of those Rights and Liberties and that with Submission to divine Providence we never can be Slaves.
Nor can We think it adviseable to agree to any Steps for the Protection of Stamp Papers or Stamp officers. Good and wholesome Laws we have already for the Preservation of the Public peace. And we apprehend there is no further danger of Tumults and disorders to which We have a well Grounded aversion. And that any Extraordinary and Expensive Exertions would tend to exasperate the People and endanger the Public tranquility rather than the Contrary.
Indeed We cannot too often Inculcate upon you our desires that all Extraordinary and Expensive Grants and Measures may upon all occasions as much as possible be avoided. The Public money of this Country is the Toil and Labour [of the People] who are under many uncommon difficulties and Distresses at this time so that all reasonable Frugality ought to be observed. And we would Recommend Particularly the strictest Care and Firmness to prevent all unconstitutional Draughts upon the Public Treasury. And we cannot avoid Saying that if a particular Enquiry into the state of that Treasury should at the { 140 } first leasure opportunity be promoted and an Exact State of it published to the People it would have a very good and usefull Tendency.
All which is Humbly Submitted by the Committee of the Town of Braintree to draw Instructions to their Representative.
[signed] Saml. Niles
[signed] John Adams
[signed] Norton Quincey
[signed] James Penniman
[signed] John Hayward
The above Report being read before the Town was Voted Accepted and ordered a Copy of the Same be Transmitted to their Representative.
MS (Braintree Town Records, 1731–1783, p. 234–236); in hand of Elisha Niles, town clerk. Minimal punctuation supplied for clarity.
1. This sentence does not occur in JA's draft (No. I, above).
2. This important qualifier of “Lawfull means” beginning “consistent with” does not occur in JA's draft.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0054-0004

Author: Adams, John
Author: Niles, Samuel
Author: Quincy, Norton
Author: Penniman, James
Author: Hayward, John
Author: Braintree, town of
Recipient: Massachusetts Gazette (newspaper)
Recipient: Thayer, Col. Ebenezer
Date: 1765-10-10

III. Instructions as Printed in the Massachusetts Gazette

We hear from Braintree that the Freeholders and other Inhabitants of that Town, legally assembled on Tuesday the Twenty fourth of September last, unanimously voted, that Instructions should be given their Representative, for his Conduct in General Assembly, on this great Occasion—The Substance of these Instructions is as follows:
“In all the Calamities which have ever befallen this Country, we have never felt so great a Concern, or such alarming Apprehensions,1 as on this Occasion.—Such is our Loyalty to the King, our Veneration for both Houses of Parliament, and our Affection for all our Fellow subjects in Britain, that Measures, which discover any Unkindness in that Country towards Us, are the more sensibly and intimately felt. And we can no longer forbear complaining, that many of the Measures of the late Ministry, and some of the late Acts of Parliament, have a Tendency, in our Apprehension, to divest us of our most essential Rights and Liberties.—We shall confine ourselves, however, chiefly to the Act of Parliament, commonly called the Stamp- { 141 } Act, by which a very burthensome, and in our Opinion, unconstitutional Tax, is to be laid upon us all; and we subjected to numerous and enormous Penalties, to be prosecuted, sued for, and recovered, at the Option of an Informer, in a Court of Admiralty without a Jury.
We have called this a burthensome Tax, because the Duties are so numerous and so high, and the Embarrassments to Business in this infant, sparsely-settled Country, so great, that it would be totally impossible for the People to subsist under it, if we had no Controversy at all about the Right and Authority of imposing it. Considering the present Scarcity of Money, we have Reason to think, the Execution of that Act for a short Space of Time would drein the Country of its Cash, strip Multitudes of all their Property, and reduce them to absolute Beggary. And what the Consequence would be to the Peace of the Province, from so sudden a Shock and such a convulsive Change, in the whole Course of our Business and Subsistence, we tremble to consider.—We further apprehend this Tax to be unconstitutional: We have always understood it to be a grand and fundamental Principle of the Constitution, that no Freeman should be subjected to any Tax, to which he has not given his own Consent, in Person or by Proxy. And the Maxims of the Law as we have constantly received them, are to the same Effect, that no Freeman can be separated from his Property, but by his own Act or Fault. We take it clearly, therefore, to be inconsistent with the Spirit of the Common Law, and of the essential fundamental Principles of the British Constitution, that we should be subjected to any Tax, imposed by the British Parliament: because we are not represented in that Assembly in any Sense, unless it be by a Fiction of Law, as insensible in Theory as it would be injurious in Practice, if such a Taxation should be grounded on it.
But the most grievous Innovation2 of all, is the alarming Extension of the Power of Courts of Admiralty. In these Courts, one Judge presides alone! No Juries have any Concern there!—The Law, and the Fact, are both to be decided by the same single Judge, whose Commission is only during Pleasure, and with whom, as we are told, the most mischievous of all Customs has become established, that of taking Commissions on all Condemnations; so that he is under a pecuniary Temptation always against the Subject. Now, if the Wisdom of the Mother Country has thought the Independency of the Judges, so essential to an impartial Administration of Justice, as to render them independent of every Power on Earth, independent of the King, the Lords, the Commons, the People, nay independent, in Hope and Expectation, of the Heir apparent, by continuing their Commissions { 142 } after a Demise of the Crown; What Justice and Impartiality are we, at 3000 Miles distance from the Fountain to expect from such a Judge of Admiralty? We have all along thought the Acts of Trade in this Respect a Grievance: but the Stamp-Act has opened a vast Number of Sources of new Crimes, which may be committed by any Man, and cannot, but be committed by Multitudes, and prodigious Penalties are annexed, and all these are to be tried by such a Judge of such a Court!—What can be wanting, after this, but a weak or wicked Man for a Judge, to render Us the most sordid and forlorn of Slaves? We mean the Slaves of a Slave of the Servants of a Minister of State:—We cannot help asserting therefore, that this Part of the Act will make an essential Change in the Constitution of Juries, and is directly repugnant to the Great Charter itself. For by that Charter “No Amerciament shall be assessed, but by the Oath of honest and lawful Men of the Vicinage.”—And “No Freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned, or disseized of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, nor passed upon, nor condemned, but by lawful Judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land.”3—So that this Act will “make such a Distinction, and create such a Difference between” the Subjects in Great-Britain, and those in America as we could not have expected from the Guardians of Liberty in “Both.”
As these, Sir, are our Sentiments of that Act, We, the Freeholders and other Inhabitants, legally assembled for this Purpose, must enjoin it upon you, to comply with no Measures or Proposals for countenancing the same, or assisting in the Execution of it, but by all lawful Means, consistent with our Allegiance to the King, and Relation to Great Britain, to oppose the Execution of it, till we can hear the Success of the Cries and Petitions of America for Relief.
We further recommend the most clear and explicit Assertion and Vindication of our Rights and Liberties, to be entered on the Public Records; that the World may know, in the present and all future Generations, that we have a clear Knowledge and a just Sense of them, and, with Submission to Divine Providence, that we never can be Slaves.
Nor can we think it adviseable to agree to any Steps for the Protection of stamped Papers, or Stamp-Officers.—Good and wholsome Laws we have already, for the Preservation of the Peace: And we apprehend there is no further Danger of Tumult and Disorder,—to which we have a well-grounded Aversion; and that any extraordinary and expensive Exertions, would tend to exasperate the People and endanger the public Tranquility, rather than the contrary.—Indeed we cannot { 143 } too often inculcate upon you our Desires, that all extraordinary Grants and expensive Measures, may, upon all Occasions, as much as possible be avoided.—The Public Money, of this Country, is the Toil and Labour of the People, who are under many uncommon Difficulties and Distresses, at this Time: So that all reasonable Frugality ought to be observed. And we would recommend particularly, the strictest Care, and the utmost Firmness to prevent all unconstitutional Draughts upon the Public Treasury.
Reprinted from (Draper's Massachusetts Gazette, 10 Oct. 1765).
1. The occurrence of “Apprehensions” here as well as in JA's draft but its absence in the voted Instructions suggests that JA may have influenced the wording of the newspaper version. See also note 2, below.
2. The significant word “Innovation” occurs in JA's draft but not in Braintree's Instructions.
3. The preceding two sentences do not follow the order of the text of the Braintree Instructions.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0055

Author: Adams, John
Author: Niles, Samuel
Author: Bass, Jonathan
Author: Braintree, town of
Recipient: Braintree, town of
Date: 1765-09-30

Report of the Braintree Committee for the Sale of the North Common

The Committee appointed by the Town for the Sale of the North Commons1 offered their Report to the Town and therewith exhibited a number of Bonds payable to the Treasurer of said Town being the produce of the Sale of said Commons together with the account of their Expences.2 The Report as follows (viz.). We the subscribers the Committee appointed to make Sale of the North Commons beg leave to report that We have attended that Service and Sold the whole of said Commons except as is hereafter excepted according to our Commission and taken Bonds of the Purchasers for the Considerations of their Deeds. A List of which Bonds as also an account of our Services and Expences in taking the Plans of said Commons and in Selling the same, giving the Deeds and taking the Bonds is herewith exhibited and likewise a list of the Promisory Notes still remaining in our hands which were given as Earnest by those Persons who bid off Lotts in said Commons but have refused to take Deeds. We ask leave further to report that we have given Notice to the Late Leasees of said North Commons to meet us in order to an accommodation of the Controversies between the Town and the said Lessees respecting the Fences and the Stones but We have not been able to accomplish such a settlement. One exception we are oblidged to make in the List of Deeds and Bonds (viz.), that to Luke Lambert which we have not been able to ac• { 144 } complish neither Bond nor Deed being executed according to expectation.
[signed] John Adams
[signed] Samll. Niles
[signed] Jonathan Bass
The above Report was voted accepted and the account, Bonds and Promisory Notes was Lodged with the Treasurer of said Town. The amount of the whole of said Bonds was [blank in MS].3
Then voted the aforesaid Committee be directed and impowered to Call on the late Lessees of said Commons to settle their obligations Respecting the fences also to give an account of and Secure the Town for stones carried off said Lands during the three last years of their Lease and those that neglect or refuse to settle with said Committee within six weeks next ensuing said Committee to Prosecute and Sue for the same in the Name and Behalf of the Town.4
MS (Braintree Town Records, 1731–1783, p. 237); in hand of Elisha Niles, town clerk.
1. For JA's appointment to this committee and an account of its duties, see Report of 1 April, above.
2. This and other accompanying documents mentioned herein have not been found.
3. JA described the committee's energetic efforts to sell the North Common: “We handled the Mallett ourselves as Vendue Masters and finished all the Sales in one Night.” JA himself bought two lots of the North Common land and admitted that he would have purchased more “if the awfull Prospect of publick affairs had not discouraged me” (Diary and Autobiography, 3:280). Deeds for the lots sold to JA and for a single lot sold to his brother Peter Boylston Adams are in Adams Papers, Adams Office Files, Pattee lists other purchasers (Old Braintree and Quincy, p. 38–40).
4. On the following 21 Oct. JA's committee and the North Common lessees agreed on five arbiters of the dispute. This panel submitted its recommendations on 25 Nov., and the original committee's report urging adoption of this settlement and submitting the lessees' final accounts for stones from the Common was accepted by the town meeting on 27 Aug. 1766 (Braintree Town Records, p. 412). Pattee's comment is worth quoting: “Thus ended the strifes, contentions, litigations and ill-feelings that [the disposition of Braintree's common lands] had engendered in the town between neighbors, friends and citizens for a century and a quarter; it also removed a great element that was yearly manipulated and used in the interest of politicians at the election of town officers in jobbing out the town common to the friends of the successful candidates” (Old Braintree and Quincy, p. 40).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0056

Author: Sewall, Jonathan
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1765-10-05

From Jonathan Sewall

[salute] Dear Bror: Adams

The Bearers John Oliver and Michael Nagail are indicted of the ignominious narrow-Soul'd Crime of Sheep-stealing (at Taunton Superior Court). They depended on my going down to defend them { 145 } but my Business at Boston Court prevents me. I have therefore advised them to you; they intend also to engage Colo: White1 with you.
Their Defence principally rests on these two points which they expect to prove, namely, that they bonâ fide, bought and paid for as many Sheep as were ever seen in their Drove, and that some of them were mark'd with the same Marks as Colo. Northrop's, whose they are charged with stealing. The proof against them is this, Colo. Northrop will swear that at, or near, the Time when they passed by his Farm he lost the Number of Sheep mentioned in the Indictment, which, as I remember is 50. or upwards. One Ezekiel Gardner swears that about the same Time he lost 15. out of his pasture, and hearing that Oliver and Nagail were seen in his pasture, he pursued them and found his 15. Sheep and they delivered them up to him; and at the same Time he saw a Number of Sheep in their Drove with Colo. Northrop's mark. This is the material Evidence against which you are sensible is clearly avoided, if they can prove they bought Sheep with the same Mark, and bought the full Number which they brot: home with them (unless the Kings Attorney can prove that they disposed of 50. before they reach'd home; which he cannot do.) Observe, I dont find that any one will swear he saw in their Drove to the Number of Fifty, with Colo. Northrops Mark, or near that Number, but only that they saw some, and this (if they bonâ fide bought of another person, some with the same Mark) proves nothing.
But let me just add, that even if our Clients Should fail in their proof; yet if it be considered with Attention how difficult it is, when passing thro' the Country with a Drove, to prevent other sheep from mixing with them; when the Drove are frequently jumping over into pastures, and the Sheep in Inclosures jumping into the Road when they hear the bleating of a large Drove, how easily others mark'd precisely, or nearly, in the same Manner, may get among them unobserved by the Drovers; and if it be considered that the Intention constitutes the Crime. These Things being attended to, I say, the Jury ought to have clear proof of an Intention to steal, before they can declare them guilty, even tho' they should be satisfyed that some of Northrops Sheep were in their Drove. The Evidence which would prove Conversion, in Case he had brought Trover for the Sheep, will by no Means prove a Theft.
I hint these Things to you not because I think my Head is better than your's, but because two Heads are better than one; on the Credit of which proverb you know the Boy advised his Father to take the Dog with him.
{ 146 }
As I really believe them innocent I am concerned for them, and beg you would exert your Talents in their Defence, for which I hope they will give you a hansome Fee.
I am with great Affection, Your hearty Friend and Bror. (in Law),
[signed] Jon. Sewall
RC (MHi: Robert Treat Paine Papers, 11:26); endorsed.
1. Samuel White (1710–1769), attorney in Bristol co. and speaker of the House of Representatives, 1759, 1764–1766 (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 9:110–112). Apparently JA failed to join White in defending Oliver and Nagail, since there is no mention of these defendants in JA's legal records nor any indication of a connection between them in the Superior Court of Judicature Records.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0057

Author: Adams, John
Author: Ploughjogger, Humphrey
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1765-10-14

Humphrey Ploughjogger to the Boston Gazette

[salute] MessieursEdes & Gill,

I Han't rit nothing to be printed a great while:1 but I can't sleep a nights, one wink hardly, of late. I hear so much talk about the stamp act and the governor's speech,2 that it seems as if 'twould make me crazy. The governor has painted a dreadful picture of the times after the first of November—I hate the thoughts of the first of November. I hope twill be a great storm, and black and gloomy weather, as our faces and hearts will all be. Tis worse than all the fifth of Novembers3 that ever was. The Pope never did half so much mischief, as that stamp act will do, if the world stands as long as the Pope has done. However, seems to me the governor has represented the times worse than they will be. For in the first place they do say, that thieves and robbers and rioters, ay and lyars too, and all sorts of rogues, may be punish'd as well after the stamp act takes place as before. And as to suing poor folks for money, that does no body no good but the lawyers. But as to trade and shipping and such like, it seems to me we had better be without the most of that than with it—for it only makes rum and such things cheap, and so makes folks drink toddy and flip instead of cyder, when they an't half so good and holsome—and it mades [makes] us all beaus, and dresses us up fine. We got into a way on't o late,—our young men buy them blue surtouts, with fine yellow buttons, and boughton broad cloth coats jackets and breeches—and our young women wear callicoes, chinces and laces, and other nicknacks to make them fine. But the naughty jacks and trollops must leave off such vanity, and go to nitting and spinning. I always used to keep a comely boughten coat to go to meeting in, but I'le vow I'le { 147 } never put it on again after first November, if the stamp act takes place; I'le cut up the hide of my fat Ox that I'm fatting for my winter's beef first, and make a coat of that, with the hair on. I'm sure I could be edified as much with the sermon, as if I had on a royal robe, and be as warm in it too. I've read somewhere that the folks in old England before Caesar went there, wore such skins of beasts, and yet loved liberty, and knew how to keep it too. I don't believe our young folks would love to dance together at husking frolicks, and to kiss one another a bit the less, if they wore woolen shirts and shifts of their own making, than they do now in their fine ones. I do say, I won't buy one shilling worth of any thing that comes from old England, till the stamp act is appeal'd, nor I won't let any of my sons and daughters; I'de rather the Spittlefield weavers should pull down all the houses in old England, and knock the brains out of all the wicked great men there, than this country should loose their liberty. Our fore fathers came over here for liberty of conscience, and we have been nothing better than servants to 'em all along this 100 years, and got just enough to keep soul and body together, and buy their goods to keep us from freezing to death, and we won't be their negroes. Providence never designed us for negroes, I know, for if it had it wou'd have given us black hides, and thick lips, and flat noses, and short woolly hair, which it han't done, and therefore never intended us for slaves. This I know is good a sillogissim as any at colledge, I say we are as handsome as old England folks, and so should be as free.
So I don't like the governor's speech very well, any more than I did tother speech that he made, where he has not done fairly by me.4 I'me sure I wrote abundance, about Hemp before he said a word about it. Mr. U and I wrote a good many papers,5 and us'd many arguments for it, and told the way of managing ont, a year or two before the governor said a word about it. Ay, and a great many folks were stirred up to try it, by our writings too, and I believe raly Mr. U and I ought to have the honor and glory and profit ont too—of bringing ont into fashion. I dont see why it would not be reasonable for our Deputies to make Mr. U and I a grant or two for our extraordinary services, as they do sometimes to other great men that dont deserve it half so much.
[signed] Humphry Ploughjogger
MS not found. Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 14 Oct. 1765).
1. On Humphrey Ploughjogger, see above, Editorial Note, 3 March – 5 Sept. 1763.
2. Gov. Francis Bernard addressed the General Court, 25 Sept. 1765, defending Parliament's right to tax the colonies. Although he did not specifically justify the Stamp Act, he warned that Massachusetts would virtually lapse into anarchy if it did not obey the act after it { 148 } went into effect on 1 Nov. (Mass., Speeches of the Governors, &c., 1765 – 1775, p. 39–43).
3. Pope's Day, commemorating the frustration of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. In Boston this was usually the occasion for an outburst of anti-Catholic demonstrations and bruising battles between the town's South End and North End mobs.
4. Among other things, Gov. Bernard's address to the General Court, 30 May 1765, recommended the approval of bounties to encourage the production of hemp.
5. Humphrey Ploughjogger and “U” wrote three and four pieces respectively for Boston newspapers; see note 1, above.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0058

Author: Cooper, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1765-12-18

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

From William Cooper

Boston, 18 December 1765. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:265–266. See Notes on the Opening of the Courts [19 Dec. 1765?], and Argument before Gov. Bernard [20 Dec. 1765], below.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0059

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1765-12-19

Notes on the Opening of the Courts

Right, Wrong and Remedy.2
Common Law is common Right, 1. Inst. 142.a. Cokes Proem to 2d Inst.
The Law is the Subjects best Birthright. 2. Inst. 56.
Want of Right and Want of Remedy is all one, for where there is no Remedy, there is no Right, 1. Inst. 95.b.
The Law provides a Remedy for every Wrong. 1. Inst. 197.b. 2. Inst. 55. 56. [4]05. but see 1. Inst. 199.b.
The Law hath a Delight in giving of Remedy. Lit. 323. 1. Inst. 54.b. 199.b. [2]00.a.
The Act of Law, never doth Wrong. 1. Inst. 88.b. 148.a.b. 379.a.
Where the Construction of any Act is left to the Law, the Law will never construe it to work a wrong. Woods. Inst. P. 4. 5.3
A statute must be construed that no innocent man may by a literal Construction receive Damage. Wood Page 9.
An Act of Parliament can do no Wrong. Holt. 12. Mod. 687. 688. Hill. [13]Wm. 3. B. R. City of London vs. Wood.4
Actus dei nemini facit Injuriam.—Actus Legis nulli facit Injuriam.
Cases of Necessity and Impossibility.
The Law forces no one to that which is impossible or vain. 1. Inst. 79.a. 92.a. 127.b.—to procure the Stamp Papers is impossible, and to stop Justice would be vain.
Things of Necessity are to be excepted out of a general Law. 2. Inst. 168.5
{ 149 } { 150 } { 151 }
There is nothing of greater Necessity than the Administration of Justice,—Justice cannot be administered at present but in the Usual Way.—Therefore the present Case and these Times are excepted out of that general Law the Stamp Act.
Things for Necessity Sake, or to prevent a Failure of Justice, are excepted out of a Statute. Woods. Inst. Page 9 [8].6
Acts of Parliament that are against Reason, or impossible to be performed shall be judged void. 8. Rep. 118. 128. 129. 2. Inst. 587. 588.7
MS (Adams Papers); endorsed by JA: “before Govr and Council abt opening Courts”; Tr (Adams Papers); copied by CFA into M/CFA/31 (Microfilms, Reel No. 327). JA's MS is torn at several points along the edges; missing words and numbers are supplied from JA's source; see note 3, below.
1. In JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:267, note 2, this MS was tentatively dated 20 Dec. 1765, the day on which JA, together with James Otis and Jeremiah Gridley, appeared before the Governor and Council to argue in behalf of Boston's memorial calling for the opening of the courts in defiance of the Stamp Act. Probably, however, JA made these notes a day earlier when he received a brief note from William Cooper notifying him of his selection to appear with Otis and Gridley as town counsel in this matter (see 18 Dec. 1765, above). After getting Cooper's letter, JA gave a good deal of thought to the kinds of argument he might use on Boston's behalf (Diary and Autobiography, 1:265–266). The next day JA was busy traveling to Boston and conferring there with political leaders before he appeared before the Governor and Council—too busy to have had opportunity to write out these notes on that day. Thus, 19 Dec. seems the more plausible date.
2. Presumably JA was unable to avail himself fully of these notes when he appeared in the council chamber, for Otis and Gridley gave their younger colleague the apparently unexpected honor of speaking first. According to a slightly flustered JA, “Then it fell upon me, without one Moments Opportunity to consult any Authorities, to open an Argument, upon a Question that was never made before, and I wish I could hope it never would be made again” (Diary and Autobiography, 1:267). For JA's argument, which does cite two authorities, see the next document.
3. Thomas Wood, An Institute of the Laws of England . . . Published for the Direction of Young Beginners, or Students in the Law . . . , 7th or 8th edn., London, 1745, 1754. Pages 4 and 5 under the heading “Rules Concerning Law” contain verbatim all of the statements above, including the citations from Coke's Institutes. Where the MS is torn numbers have been supplied from Wood. In the first rule, the reference to Coke's “Proem to 2d Inst.” was apparently supplied by JA.
4. Modern Reports or Cases Adjudged in the Court of King's Bench from the Second Year of King William III to the End of His Reign, London, 12 [1738]: 687, 688, Hillary [term] 13 William. The quotation is taken from Chief Justice Sir John Holt in City of London v. Wood.
5. These two rules are also from Wood, p. 4–5.
6. JA miscopied the page number.
7. From Wood, p. 9, but JA omitted “common Justice and” before “Reason.”

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0060

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Bernard, Francis
Recipient: Massachusetts Council
Recipient: Massachusetts, Governor of
Date: 1765-12-20

Argument before Governor Bernard and the Council in Favor of Opening the Courts

Present his Excellency Francis Bernard
Esqr. Govr. &c in Council.

Mr. Adams1 Innumerable are the Calamities which flow from an Interruption of Justice. Necessity requires that the Doors of Justice should ever be open to hear the Complaints of the Injured and Oppressed.
The Stamp-Act, I take it, is utterly void, and of no Binding force upon Us; for it is against our Rights as Men, and our Priviledges as Englishmen. An Act made in Defiance of the first Principles of Justice: an Act which rips up the foundation of the British Constitution, and makes void Maxims of 1800 years standing.
Parliaments may err; they are not infallible; they have been refus'd to be submitted to. An Act making the King's Proclamation to be a Law, the Executive Powers adjudg'd absolutely void.
The Stamp Act was made where we are in no Sense represented, therefore no more binding upon Us, than an Act which should oblige Us to destroy One half of Our Species.
There are certain Principles fix'd unalterably in Nature. Convention and Compact are the Requisites to make any Law obligatory. That the Subject is not bound by Acts, when He is not represented, is a sound Maxim of the Law, and not pecu[liar] to the British Constitution, but a Maxim of the antient Roman Law: “What concerns All shall be judged of by All.”
The only Reason of the Power of the Parliament in England, is because they are elected by the People; who, if their Liberties are infringed, have a Check at the next Election. Have Americans any such Check? Have they any Voice in Deputation? A Parliament of Great Britain can have no more Right to tax the Colonies, than a Parliament of Paris.
This Act has never been received from Authority, therefore in a legal Sense we know nothing of it.
The Necessities of Business, the Cries of the People call aloud for Justice. It has become impossible to execute this Act, therefore if it were binding, we are excus'd by every Law, human or divine, from a Compliance with it. Wood's Inst. 561.2 The King's Writs are ex debitâ Justitiâ, and cannot be denied the Subject. And in Magna { 153 } Charta, it is said, We deny no Man Justice, we delay no Man Justice. 2 Inst. ch. 29. p. 56.3
MS (MHi:Quincy Papers, 57:96–98); printed with minor variations in Quincy, Reports, p. 200–202.
1. Although this document is only a report by Josiah Quincy Jr. of JA's arguments before the Governor and Council supporting the Boston memorial for reopening the courts, its accuracy in reproducing JA's line of argument would seem acceptable on consideration of the two possible ways that Quincy might have acquired his information.
According to JA, he, Otis, and Gridley went to the Council chamber in company with a committee from the Boston town meeting, as well as with a number of unofficial spectators. Only the three attorneys were allowed to enter the chamber, but nothing prevented the town meeting committee or the spectators from waiting outside. Quincy was not a member of the committee, nor is there evidence that he was one of the spectators; yet for reasons to be given below, it seems likely that he went with the rest and stationed himself outside the Council chamber door, where he was able to hear and record the arguments (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:266–267; 3:283–284).
Although Quincy may have heard the three lawyers retell their pleas later, the striking similarity between Quincy's report and JA's own description of his argument suggests that Quincy actually overheard the arguments (same, 1:267). JA wrote that he argued for opening the courts on the ground that the Stamp Act was invalid, “it not being in any sense our Act, having never consented to it,” but also “least that foundation should not be sufficient, on the present Necessity to prevent a Failure of Justice, and the present Impossibility of carrying that Act into Execution.” Both in substance and in topical sequence Quincy's report and JA's account are virtually identical except that Quincy has JA discussing the need for preventing “an Interruption of Justice” before attacking the constitutionality of the Stamp Act. Since JA stated that the denial of the Stamp Act's constitutionality was only the primary part of his plea, however, without specifying whether it was his first argument, the discrepancy between his account and Quincy's does not seem significant.
2. The citation of Wood's Institute applies to the sentence following the page number.
3. In answer to the counsel for the town of Boston, the Governor and Council ruled that they had no power to decide whether the courts should be opened without stamps, that the decision should rest with the judges of the various courts. JA decided to recommend that the town approach first “the Governor in Council, as the Supreme Court of Probate” and then the other judges in turn (Diary and Autobiography, 1:268–270).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0061

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1765-12-26

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

A Dissertation upon Office-Seekers

26 December 1765. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:277. Fragment of an unpublished newspaper letter warning Massachusetts freeholders to beware of politicians who openly solicit their votes on election day and, even more reprehensible, seek employment from the Crown.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0062

Author: Palmer, Joseph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1765

From Joseph Palmer

[salute] [Dr?] Sir

My known fondness for Agriculture and Manufactures,2 has given many Opportunitys, which I have often embraced, for recommending the forming Societies for their improvement; but as nothing of that kind has yet taken place among us, that I know of; I wou'd now take the liberty of proposing a Society in this Town, for improvements in Agriculture, Commerce, Arts, and Manufactures: Agriculture is principally intended; but as there is a natural connection between 'em in many Cases in which they are mutually assistants to each other, I tho't it best to include all, lest we might otherwise be debarr'd some useful enquiry into Commerce &c., by being confined only to Agriculture. Could we establish such a Society here, other Towns might catch the Spirit, which might be diffused to the general rise of County Societies, and finally be all United into One grand Provincial-Society; the possible advantages of which, consider'd in the whole, and in all it's parts, Surpasses all my present conceptions; and I think it needless to enter into any particulars, as many great advantages are so obvious, that they cannot but be observed by every person of the least Attention.
I had several reasons for proposing the Thing first to you; for the present it may Suffice to Say, that knowing your love for Agriculture, and the many opportunitys you have of inviting the most Suitable persons for Members, did, in part, point out you as a proper person to begin, and form such a Society; the Rules for which, I shou'd think, had best be few; and the Meetings not often, but calculated to Suit the Farmers leisure: Perhaps it might be best for each intended Member, to come at the first Meeting, provided with Rules for their Formation; and then, out of the whole to collect a Sett of Articles for establishing the Society.
If in your hands, these Hints shou'd be improved for the establishment [of the Soci]ety, I doubt not but others w[ould] Soon be form[ed u]pon the same Principles; and whether it shou'd ever proceed so far as to form a Provincial-Society or not, yet, we may be assured of many advantages, so far as Society-Influence, may reach.
If you shou'd so far approve of this Plan, as to Act upon it;3 you may be assured of my most ardent wishes for your Success; but whether the Multiplicity of my affairs will admit of any thing more than meer Wishes, shou'd you need other assistance, is utterly unknown to Dear Sir Your real Friend and very humbl. Servt.
[signed] J Palmer
{ 155 }
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “J Adams Esqr.” This MS has been torn at the top, with the resultant loss of parts of the place of origin, date of composition, salutation, and text.
1. A section of Braintree, not a separate town.
2. Joseph Palmer (1716–1788), connected to AA through his marriage to Mary, sister of AA's brother-in-law Richard Cranch; Palmer was co-owner with Cranch in the 1750's of a glassworks in Braintree and thereafter a prosperous farmer (Adams Family Correspondence, 1:18, note 8; see also JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:228).
3. No response from JA to this letter has been found, nor any record that the society described here was ever founded in Braintree.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0063-0001

Editorial Note

In January 1766 John Adams, signing himself Clarendon, published three letters in the Boston Gazette in reply to William Pym, who had published four letters in the London Public Ledger, 13, 19, 26, 30 August 1765. Only the second of Pym's letters was reprinted by a Boston newspaper, the Boston Evening-Post, 25 November. Adams' was not the earliest reply, for Hampden had taken up the challenge in the Boston Gazette, writing a series of eight letters running from 9 December 1765 to 27 January 1766. Hampden, who was James Otis Jr. (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:287 and note), added a postscript to his last letter: “My most sincere, affectionate and respectful compliments to my Lord of Clarendon, when next you shall see him. Tell him there is great joy even on earth over a repenting sinner, of so eminent a genius.” So the two men kept up the joke; curiously, neither of them noted that the London polemicist had been mistaken about Pym's first name—John.
Not all that John Adams had to say appeared in the newspaper, and it is doubtful that he even read all four Pym letters. But he read Hampden, who by his quotations made it plain that he had read all that Pym had written. As so often happened, Adams used the debate as a springboard for his own reflections. He undoubtedly enjoyed the little fiction of these { 156 } long-dead men commenting upon the reversal of positions of Pym and Clarendon. Where Hampden wrote in astonishment that Pym could have so departed from his principles as to write provocatively about taxation and jury trials, Adams, the student of history, was prepared to believe that the switch gave some insight into “the labyrinth of your [Pym's] politicks in 1641” and sorrowfully acknowledged that the change gave rise to “very painful reflections on the frailty, inconstancy and depravity of the human race” (Boston Gazette, 13 Jan.; No. I, below).
Adams' first thinking about Pym and how he should be answered was recorded in his diary on 23 December 1765, some two weeks after Hampden had made his first sally (Diary and Autobiography, 1:272–273). These early thoughts were a fragmentary draft for his first published letter, No. I, below. There were seven other diary entries, those for 25, 26, 30 December, and 7, 9, 11, 18 January 1766 (same, 1:274–275, 275–277, 281–282, 287–288, 288–290, 290–292, 296–299). Those for 25, 26 December, and 7 January were drafts for No. II, and that for 18 January, for No. III, below.
Although William Pym refers more than once to “fellow subjects,” he takes the typical view that colonies by definition are dependent and that the recent war was fought largely in their interest; thus, they must now expect to pay their share of the costs of empire. He is convinced that the colonies really seek independence and asserts that they in fact become a separate people if they are not bound by the Stamp Act. To some degree he holds Great Britain to blame for the colonies' behavior, in that its trade policies have encouraged opulence and its administration has encouraged the growth of legislative capacity in the colonies—their raising of taxes, levying forces, and the like. The recent Virginia resolves on the Stamp Act, from which he quotes only the seventh, which was published but not actually passed, he labels as “indecent” (London Public Ledger, 13, 19 Aug. 1765; Morgan, Stamp Act, p. 91–95). He notes that Ireland, which also has a legislature, has accepted without fuss such laws as Parliament chooses to extend to it. Parliament at a stroke can abrogate any Irish law.
As for charters, Pym holds that they should be adhered to so far as “public contingencies will admit,” but he insists that Parliament can abrogate them at any time. Parliament must be concerned for the welfare of the larger community; its acts are bound to injure some. But those injured must acquiesce in Parliament's interpretation of the larger good (same).
Pym does feel that certain hardships have resulted from British policies. It was a mistake to forbid American trade with the Spanish settlements, a trade mutually beneficial to the colonies and the mother country. He thinks that perhaps the military establishment was increased too much, but that, unfortunately, the riotous behavior of the past months will only seem to justify larger forces. Finally, he sees a genuine grievance in the colonies' having no representation in Parliament; representation would benefit not only the colonies but the mother country as well. His final letter is de• { 157 } voted wholly to the “absolute necessity” for a proper number of American representatives in Parliament. The alternative may be unification of the colonies to shake off dependence. The price of representation, however, must be abolition of their assemblies, which can be dangerous only if continued. He sees a problem in how much representation to allow them, for without care the time may come when the seat of empire may shift to the “Oronoque” or the Ohio. He would give them enough representatives to provide advice but not enough to dictate. In any event, the colonies must remain the children of the mother country.
Although Hampden makes virtually a point-by-point refutation of the arguments of Pym, John Adams as Clarendon seems more intrigued with the literary device of debate between these 17th-century gentlemen. Fascinated by the shifts in character, Adams spends about half his second Clarendon letter explaining how the noble lord could take the position he had assumed. Character analysis aside, the meat of the argument for Adams is the unconstitutionality of courts without juries and taxation without consent. He does not comment on Pym's strictures on Britain's past policies, nor does he say anything about Ireland's position in the empire, a matter of some concern in later Revolutionary debates. Most important, Adams says nothing directly about Pym's proposal to substitute representation in Parliament for local assemblies. In his diary entries he develops the implications of Hampden's assertion that the courts must be opened without stamps, noting that the people are perfectly loyal (Diary and Autobiography, 1:289, 291). Indeed, he sees the “Liberties of Mankind” as in the keeping of America according to God's design (same, 1:282).
In asserting that liberty is the noble end of British government, the third published Clarendon letter rises to true eloquence. The British constitution “stands not on the supposition that kings are the favourites of heaven. ... It is not built on the doctrine that a few nobles or rich commons have a right to inherit the earth.” Contemporaries of Adams and some modern scholars who dismiss him as the proponent of aristocratic government have perhaps overlooked his ringing defense of the ordinary people and the vital role they have in constitutional government, both in lawmaking and in determining the facts in jury trials. The people “have no other fortification against wanton, cruel power: no other indemnification against being ridden like horses, fleeced like sheep, worked like cattle, and fed and cloathed like swine and hounds.” Here speaks the lawyer in the best sense of that term—one who reveres the law and the protections it affords, without favor, to all.
For an interesting interpretation of the Clarendon letters suggesting that Adams used the occasion to pay tribute to his deceased father, Deacon John, under the guise of Clarendon's recalling his own father's good advice and high character, see Peter Shaw, The Character of John Adams, Chapel Hill, 1976, p. 50–51.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0063-0002

Author: Adams, John
Author: Clarendon, Earl of
Recipient: Pym, William
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1766-01-13

I. The Earl of Clarendon to William Pym

[salute] Sir,

The revolution which one century has produced in your opinions and principles, is not quite so surprizing to me, as it seems to be to many others. You know, very well, I had always a jealousy, that your humanity was counterfeited, your ardor for liberty canker'd with simulation, and your integrity problematical at least.
I confess however, that so sudden a transition from licentiousness to despotism, so entire a transformation, from a fiery, furious declaimer against power, to an abject hireling of corruption; tho' it furnishes a clue to the labyrinth of your politicks in 1641, gives me many very painful reflections on the frailty, inconstancy and depravity of the human race. These reflections nevertheless are greatly molified by the satisfaction I feel in finding your old friend and coadjutor Mr. Hampden, unalter'd and unalterable in the glorious cause of liberty and law. His inflexibility, has confirmed the great esteem my Lord Fau'kland and I, always had of his wisdom, magnanimity and virtue: and we are both of us at present as well convinced of his excellency as a subject and citizen, as we were formerly of his amiable accomplishments in private life. But your apostacy has confirmed our belief of what was formerly suspected, viz. your subornation of witnesses, your perjuries, briberies, and cruelties; and that tho' your cunning was exquisite enough to conceal your crimes from the public scrutiny, your heart was desperately wicked and depraved.
Can any thing less abominable have prompted you to commence an enemy to liberty? an enemy to human nature? Can you recollect the complaints and clamours, which were founded with such industry, and supported by such a profusion of learning in law and history, and such invincible reasoning by yourself and your friends; against the star chamber, and high commission; and yet remain an advocate for the newly formed courts of admiralty in America? Can you recall to your memory, the everlasting changes which were rung, by yourself and your party, against ship-money, and the other projects of that disgraceful reign; and on the consent of the subject, as indispensably necessary, to all taxations, aids, reliefs, tallages, subsidies, duties, &c. and yet contend for a taxation of more than Five Million subjects, not only without their consent expressed, or implied, but directly against their most explicit, and determined declarations, and remonstrances?
{ 159 }
You of all mankind should have been the last, to be hired by a minister to defend or excuse such taxes and such courts.—Taxes, more injurious and ruinous, than Danegeld of old, which our countryman Speed1 says, “emptied the land of all the coyn, the kingdom of her glory, the commons of their content, and the Sovereign of his wanted [wonted] respects and observance”—Courts, which seem to have been framed in imitation of an ancient jurisdiction, at the bare mention of which I have often seen your eyes lighten, I mean the court of the masters of the King's forfeitures. I cannot omit so fair an opportunity of repeating the history and unfolding the powers of that court, as it seems to have been the very antitipe of the new courts of admiralty in America, and to have been created and erected with the same powers and for the same purposes. It was in the reign of King Henry the seventh that a British parliament was found to be so timid, or ignorant or corrupt, as to pass an act, that “justices of assize, as well as justices of peace, without any finding or presentment of twelve men, upon a bare information for the King, should have full power and authority, to hear and determine by their discretions, all offences against the form, ordinance and effect of certain penal statutes. This unconstitutional act was passed, in the eleventh year of that reign, and thus the commons were found, to sacrifice that sacred pillar, that fundamental law, that everlasting monument of liberty the great charter, in complaisance to the ravenous avarice of that monarch. In pursuance of this act, Sir Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley, were made justices throughout England, and “masters of the King's forfeitures. The old sage Coke says that act was against and in the face of that fundamental law, Magna Charta, and that it is incredible what oppressions and exactions, were committed by Empson and Dudley, upon this unjust and injurious act shaking that fundamental law.” And that in the first year of the reign of King Henry the eighth the parliament recited that unconstitutional act, and declared it void.” And those two vile oppressors fell a sacrifice to the righteous indignation of an injured and exasperated nation. And he closes with an admonition, that the fearful end of these two oppressors, should deter others from committing the like, and admonish parliaments, that instead of this ordinary and precious tryal per pares, et per legem terrse, they bring not in absolute and partial tryals by discretion.
Give me leave, now, to ask you Mr. Pym, what are the powers of the new courts of admiralty in America? Are the tryals in these courts per pares, or per legem terras? Is there any grand jury there to find presentments or indictments? Is there any pettit jury to try the fact { 160 } guilty or not? Is the tryal per legem terrse, or by the institutes, digests, and codes and novells, of the Roman law? Is there not a judge appointed or to be appointed over all America? Is not this a much more expensive jurisdiction than that of Empson and Dudley as justices over all England? Will you say that no Empsons and Dudleys will be sent to America?—Perhaps not.—But are not the jurisdiction and power, given to the judges greater than that to those oppressors? Besides, how can you prove that no Empsons will be sent there? Pray let me know, are not the forfeitures to be shared by the governors and the informers? Are we not to prophecy the future by the experience of the past? And have not many governors been seen in America, whose avarice, was at least as ravenous as that of Henry the seventh? Have not many of their tools, been as hungry, restless, insolent and unrelenting as Empson and Dudley in proportion to their power? Besides, are not the Americans at such a distance from their King, and the august council of the mother country, and at the same time so poor, as to render all redress of such insolence and rapacity impracticable?
If you reconsider the nature of these new American taxations, the temper and manners of the people in that country, their religious and civil principles; and if you recollect the real constitution of Great Britain, and the nature of the new courts of admiralty, you will not wonder at the spirit that has appeared in that country. Their resistance is founded in much better principles, and aims at much better ends, than I fear yours did in Charles's reign, tho' I own you was much nearer the truth and right of the cause then, than now.—And you know, if you had lived in America, and had not been much changed, you would have been the first, to have taken arms against such a law, if no other kind of opposition would do. You would have torn up the foundations, and demolished the whole fabrick of the government, rather than have submitted; and would have suffered democracy, aristocracy, monarchy, anarchy, any thing or nothing to have arisen in its place.
You may perhaps wonder to hear such language as the foregoing from me, as I was always in an opposite faction, to yours, while we lived on earth. I will confess to you, that I am in many respects altered, since my departure from the body, my principles in government were always the same, founded in law, liberty, justice, goodness and truth: But in the application of those principles I must confess, my veneration for certain churchmen, and my aspiring ambitious temper sometimes deceived me and led me astray. This was a source of remorse, at times, thro' my life, and since my seperation, and the sublimation of my { 161 } faculties, and the purification of my temper, the detestation of some parts of my conduct has been greatly increased. But as these are subjects of very great importance, I shall make them the materials of a correspondence with you for some time to come.
[signed] CLARENDON
Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 13 Jan. 1766, Suppl.); partial Dft in JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:272–273.
1. John Speed (1552?–1629), thought by some to be “the first of English historians as distinguished from chroniclers and annalists,” wrote The History of Great Britaine under the Conquests ofthe Romans, Saxons, Danes, and Normans, London, 1611 (DNB). JA's quotation, from which he omits one phrase—“the Nobles of courage”—after “glory,” is on p. 393–394.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0063-0003

Author: Adams, John
Author: Clarendon, Earl of
Recipient: Pym, William
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1766-01-20

II. The Earl of Clarendon to William Pym

[salute] Sir,

You and I have changed Sides. As I told you in my last, I can account for your Tergiversation, only on the Supposition of the Insincerity, Baseness and Depravity of your Heart. For my own Part, as the Change in me is not so great, neither is it so unaccountable. My Education was, in the Law, the Grounds of which were so riveted in me, that no Temptation could induce me, knowingly, to swerve from them. The Sentiments, however, which I had imbibed in the Course of my Education, from the Sages of the Law, were greatly confirmed in me, by an Accident that happened to me, in my Youth. This is an Anecdote, relative to my Father and me, which I presume you must have heard—A Scene, which will remain with indelible impressions on my Soul, throughout my Duration. I was upon that Circuit, which led me down to my native Country, and on a Visit to my aged Father; who gave me an Invitation to take a Walk with him, in the Field. I see the good old Gentleman, even at this Distance of Time, and in his venerable Countenance, that parental Affection to me, that Zeal for the Law, that fervent Love of his Country, that exalted Piety to God and Good will to all Mankind, which constituted his real Character. My Son says he, I am very old, and this will probably be the last Time I shall ever see your Face. Your Welfare is near my Heart. The Reputation you have in your Profession, for Learning, Probity, Skill and Eloquence, will in all Probability, call you to manage the great Concerns of this Nation in Parliament, and to council your King in some of the greatest Offices of State. Let me warn you, against that Ambition, which I have often observed in Men of your Profession, { 162 } which will sacrifice all, to their own Advancement. And I charge you, on a Father's Blessing, never to forget this Nation, nor to suffer the Hope of Honors or Profits; nor the Fear of Menaces or Punishments from the Crown, to seduce you from the Law, the Constitution, and the real Welfare and Freedom of this People.—And—these Words were scarcely pronounced, before his Zeal and Concern were too great for his Strength, and he fell upon the Ground before me,—never to rise more! His Words sank deep into my Heart, and no Temptation, no Bias, or Prejudice, could ever obliterate them. And you Mr. Pym, are one Witness for me, that, altho' I was always of the Royal Party, and for avoiding Violence and Confusion, I never defended what could be proved to be real Infringements on the Constitution, while I sat in Parliament with you I was as heartily for rectifying those Abuses, and for procuring still further Security of Freedom, as any of you. And after the Restoration, when the Nations were rushing into a Delirium with Loyalty, I was obliged, in Order to preserve even the Appearance of the Constitution, to make a Stand. And afterwards, in the Reign of my infamous and detestable, tho' Royal Son in Law James the Second, I chose to go into Banishment, rather than renounce the Religion and Liberties of my Country.1
I have made these Observations to excuse my Conduct in those Reigns, in some Degree; tho' I must confess there were many Parts of it, which admit of no Excuse at all. I suffered myself to be blindly attached to the King, and some of his spiritual and temporal Minions, particularly Laud and Stafford, in some Instances, and to connive at their villainous Projects, against my Principles in Religion and Government, and against the dying Precepts of my Father:—Besides my Intimacy with that Sort of Company, had gradually wrought into me, too great a Reverence for kingly and priestly Power, and too much Contempt of the Body of the People; as well as too much Virulence against many worthy Patriots of your Side the Question; with whom, if I had co-operated, instead of assisting the Court, perhaps all the Confusions and Bloodshed which followed might have been prevented, and all the Nation's Grievances redressed.
These Reflections were a Sourse of Remorse, at Times, thro' my Life: And since my Departure from the Earth, I have revolved these Things so often, and seen my Errors so clearly, that were I to write an History of your Opposition now, I should not entitle it a Rebellion; nay I should scarcely call the Protectorate of Cromwell, an Usurpation.
With such Principles as these, and divested as I am of all Views and { 163 } Motives of Ambition, as well as all Attachment to any Party, you may depend upon it, the Conduct of Barbados, has given me great Uneasiness.2 That Island, was settled in the Oliverian Times, by certain Fugitives of the Royal Party, who were zealous Advocates for passive Obedience: And I suppose a Remnant of the servile Spirit of their Ancestors, and of that ruinous Doctrine, has prevailed on them to submit. I own it as a severe Mortification to me, to reflect that I ever acted in Concert with a People with such Sentiments, a People who were capable of so mean, and meaching a Desertion of the Cause both of Liberty and Humanity.* But the gallant Struggle in St. Christopher's,3 and on the Continent of NORTH AMERICA, is founded in Principles so indisputable, in the Moral Law; in the revealed Law of God; in the true Constitution of Britain; and in the most apparent Welfare of the British Nation, as well as of the whole Body of the People in America; that it rejoices my very Soul. When I see that worthy People, even in the Reign of a wise and good King fetterd, chained, and sacrificed, by a few abandoned Villains, whose Lust of Gain and Power, would at any Time fasten them in the Interest of France or Rome or Hell, my Resentment and Indignation are unutterable.
If ever an Infant Country deserved to be cherished, it is America: If ever any People merited Honor and Happiness, they are her Inhabitants. They are a People, whom no Character can flatter or transmit in any Expressions, equal to their Merit and Virtue. With the high Sentiments of Romans, in the most prosperous and virtuous Times of that Common Wealth, they have the tender Feelings of Humanity, and the noble Benevolence of Christians. They have the most habitual, radical Sense of Liberty, and the highest Reverence for Vertue. They are descended from a Race of Heroes, who, placing their Confidence in Providence alone, set the Seas and Skies, Monsters and Savages, Tyrants and Devils, at Defiance for the Sake of Religion and Liberty.
And the present Generation have shewn themselves worthy of their Ancestors. Those cruel Engines, fabricated by a British Minister, for battering down all their Rights and Privileges; instead of breaking their Courage, and causing Despondency, as might have been expected in their Situation, have raised and spread thro' the whole Continent, a Spirit, that will be recorded to their Honor with all future Ages. In every Colony from Georgia to New-Hampshire, inclusively, the Executioners of their Condemnation, have been compelled by the unconquerable and irresistable Vengeance of the People to renounce { 164 } their Offices. Such and so universal has been the Resentment, that every Man, who has dared to speak in Favour of them, or to soften the Detestation in which they are held, how great soever his Character had been before, or whatever were his Fortune, Connections and Influence; has been seen to sink into universal Contempt and Ignominy. The People, even to the lowest Ranks, have become more attentive to their Liberties, more inquisitive about them, and more determined to defend them, than they were ever before known, or had Occasion to be; innumerable have been the Monuments of Wit, Humour, Sense, Learning, Spirit, Patriotism and Heroism, erected in the several Provinces in the Course of this Year. Their Counties, Towns, and even private Clubs and Sodalities, have voted and determined; their Merchants have agreed to sacrifice even their Bread to the Cause of Liberty; their Legislatures have Resolved; the united Colonies have Remonstrated; the Presses have every where groaned; and the Pulpits have thundered: And such of the Crown Officers as have wished to see them enslaved, have every where trembled, and all their little Tools and Creatures been afraid to speak, and ashamed to be seen. Yet this is the People, Mr. Pym, on whom you are contributing for paltry Hire, to rivet and confirm, everlasting Oppression.
[signed] CLARENDON
* Nova Scotia, Quebec, Pensacola, &c. are more excuseable on account of their Weakness and other peculiar Circumstances.
Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 20 Jan. 1766); partial Dfts in JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:274–277, 287–288.
1. In actuality, Edward Hyde, first Earl of Clarendon (1609–1674), fled from England during the reign of Charles II in 1667 to escape prosecution by Parliament for alleged treason (DNB). JA owned at least two of Hyde's works: A Collection of Several Tracts . . . , London, 1727; The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England, Begun in the Year 1641 . . . , vols. 2 and 3, Oxford, 1720 (Catalogue of JA's Library).
2. Since the beginning of Jan. 1766, JA had been aware that Barbados had submitted to the Stamp Act (Diary and Autobiography, 1:285; Gipson, Empire before the Revolution, 10:326–327).
3. On 31 Oct. 1765, the eve of the day on which the Stamp Act was to go into effect, St. Christopher demonstrated its resistance to the act through mob action, forcing the stamp distributor and his deputy to swear not to execute the law and by destroying about £2,000 worth of stamped paper. News of this incident was printed in the Boston Gazette, 9 Dec. 1765.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0063-0004

Author: Adams, John
Author: Clarendon, Earl of
Recipient: Pym, William
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1766-01-27

III. The Earl of Clarendon to William Pym

[salute] Sir,

You are pleased to charge the Colonists with ignorance of the British constitution—But let me tell you there is not even a Son of Liberty among them who has not manifested a deeper knowledge of it, { 165 } and a warmer attachment to it, than appears in any of your late writings. They know the true constitution and all the resources of liberty in it, as well as in the law of nature which is one principal foundation of it, and in the temper and character of the people, much better than you, if we judge by your late most impudent pieces, or than your patron and master,1 if we judge by his late conduct.
The people in America have discovered the most accurate judgment about the real constitution, I say, by their whole behaviour, excepting the excesses of a few, who took advantage of the general enthusiasm, to perpetrate their ill designs: tho' there has been great enquiry, and some apparent puzzle among them about a formal, logical, technical definition of it. Some have defined it to [be] the practice of parliament; others, the judgments and precedents of the King's courts; but either of these definitions would make it a constitution of wind and weather, because, the parliaments have sometimes voted the King absolute and the judges have sometimes adjudg'd him to be so. Some have call'd it custom, but this is as fluctuating and variable as the other. Some have call'd it the most perfect combination of human powers in society, which finite wisdom has yet contrived and reduced to practice, for the preservation of liberty and the production of happiness. This is rather a character of the constitution, and a just observation concerning it, than a regular definition of it; and leaves us still to dispute what it is. Some have said that the whole body of the laws; others that King, Lords, and Commons, make the constitution. There has also been much inquiry and dispute about the essentials and fundamentals of the constitution, and many definitions and descriptions have been attempted: But there seems to be nothing satisfactory to a rational mind, in any of these definitions: Yet I cannot say, that I am at any loss about any man's meaning when he speaks of the British constitution, or of the essentials and fundamentals of it.
What do we mean when we talk of the constitution of the human body? What by a strong and robust, or a weak and feeble constitution? Do we not mean certain contextures of the nerves, fibres and muscles, or certain qualities of the blood and juices, as fizy, or watery, phlegmatic or fiery, acid or alkaline? We can never judge of any constitution without considering the end of it; and no judgment can be formed of the human constitution, without considering it as productive of life or health or strength. The physician shall tell one man that certain kinds of exercise, or diet, or medicine, are not adapted to his constitution, that is, not compatible with his health, which he would readily agree are the most productive of health in another. The patient's habit { 166 } abounds with acid, and acrimonious juices: Will the doctor order vinegar, lemmon juice, barberries and cramberries, to work a cure? These would be unconstitutional remedies; calculated to increase the evil, which arose from the want of a balance, between the acid and alkaline ingredients, in his composition. If the patient's nerves are overbraced, will the doctor advise to jesuits bark? There is a certain quantity of exercise, diet, and medicine, best adapted to every man's constitution, will keep him in the best health and spirits, and contribute the most to the prolongation of his life. These determinate quantities are not perhaps known to him, or any other person: but here lies the proper province of the physician to study his constitution and give him the best advice what and how much he may eat and drink; when and how long he shall sleep; how far he may walk or ride in a day; what air and weather he may improve for this purpose; when he shall take physick, and of what sort it shall be; in order to preserve and perfect his health, and prolong his life. But there are certain other parts of the body, which the physician can in no case have any authority to destroy or deprave; which may properly be called stamina vitae, or essentials and fundamentals of the constitution. Parts, without which life itself cannot be preserved a moment. Annihilate the heart, lungs, brain, animal spirits, blood; any one of these, and life will depart at once. These may be strictly called fundamentals, of the human constitution: Tho' the limbs may be all amputated, the eyes put out, and many other mutilations practiced to impair the strength, activity and other attributes of the man; and yet the essentials to life may remain, unimpaired many years.
Similar observations may be made with equal propriety concerning every kind of machinery. A clock has also a constitution, that is a certain combination of weights, wheels and levers, calculated for a certain use and end, the mensuration of time. Now the constitution of a clock, does not imply such a perfect constructure of movement as shall never go too fast or too slow, as shall never gain nor lose a second of time, in a year or century. This is the proper business of Quare, Tomlinson, and Graham,2 to execute the workmanship like artists, and come as near to perfection, i.e. as near to a perfect mensuration of time, as the human eye and finger will allow. But yet there are certain parts of a clock, without which, it will not go at all, and you can have from it no better account of the time of day, than from the ore of gold, silver brass and iron, out of which it was wrought. These parts therefore are the essentials and fundamentals of a clock.
Let us now enquire whether the same reasoning is not applicable { 167 } in all its parts to government. For government is a frame, a scheme, a system, a combination of powers, for a certain end, viz the good of the whole community. The public good, the salus populi is the professed end of all government, the most despotic, as well as the most free. I shall enter into no examination which kind of government, whether either of the forms of the schools, or any mixture of them is the best calculated for this end. This is the proper inquiry of the founders of Empires. I shall take for granted, what I am sure no Briton will controvert, viz. that Liberty is essential to the public good, the salus populi. And here lies the difference between the British constitution, and other forms of govenment, viz. that Liberty is its end, its use, its designation, drift and scope, as much as grinding corn is the use of a mill, the transportation of burdens the end of a ship, the mensuration of time the scope of a watch, or life and health the designation of the human body.
Were I to define the British constitution, therefore, I should say, it is a limited monarchy, or a mixture of the three forms of government commonly known in the schools, reserving as much of the monarchial splendor, the aristocratical independency, and the democratical freedom, as are necessary, that each of these powers may have a controul both in legislation and execution, over the other two, for the preservation of the subjects liberty.
According to this definition, the first grand division of constitutional powers is, into those of legislation and those of execution. In the power of legislation, the King, Lords, Commons, and People, are to be considered as essential and fundamental parts of the constitution. I distinguish between the house of commons, and the people who depute them, because there is in nature and fact a real difference; and these last have as important a department in the constitution as the former, I mean the power of election. The constitution is not grounded on “the enormous faith of millions made for one.” It stands not on the supposition that kings are the favourites of heaven; that their power is more divine than the power of the people, and unlimited but by their own will and discretion. It is not built on the doctrine that a few nobles or rich commons have a right to inherit the earth, and all the blessings and pleasures of it: and that the multitude, the million, the populace, the vulgar, the mob, the herd and the rabble, as the great always delight to call them, have no rights at all, and were made only for their use, to be robbed and butchered at their pleasure. No, it stands upon this principle, that the meanest and lowest of the people, are, by the unalterable indefeasible laws of God and nature, as well intitled to { 168 } the benefit of the air to breathe, light to see, food to eat, and clothes to wear, as the nobles or the king. All men are born equal: and the drift of the British constitution is to preserve as much of this equality, as is compatible with the people's security against foreign invasions and domestic usurpation. It is upon these fundamental principles, that popular power was placed as essential in the constitution of the legislature; and the constitution would be as compleat without a kingly as without a popular power. This popular power however, when the numbers grew large, became impracticable to be exercised by the universal and immediate suffrage of the people: and this impracticability has introduced from the feudal system, an expedient which we call a representation. This expedient is only an equivalent for the suffrage of the whole people, in the common management of public concerns. It is in reality nothing more than this, the people chuse attornies to vote for them in the great council of the nation, reserving always the fundamentals of the government, reserving also a right to give their attornies instructions how to vote, and a right, at certain stated intervals of choosing a new, discarding an old attorney, and choosing a wiser and a better. And it is this reservation, of fundamentals, of the right of giving instructions, and of new elections, which creates a popular check, upon the whole government which alone secures the constitution from becoming an aristocracy, or a mixture of monarchy and aristocracy only.
The other grand division of power, is that of execution. And here the King is by the constitution, supreme executor of the laws, and is always present in person or by his judges, in his courts, distributing justice among the people. But the executive branch of the constitution, as far as respects the administration of justice, has in it a mixture of popular power too. The judges answer to questions of law: but no further. Were they to answer to questions of fact as well as law, being few they might be easily corrupted; being commonly rich and great, they might learn to despise the common people, and forget the feelings of humanity: and then the subjects liberty and security would be lost. But by the British constitution, ad questionem facti respondent juratores, the jurors answer to the question of fact. In this manner the subject is guarded, in the execution of the laws. The people choose a grand jury to make enquiry and presentment of crimes. Twelve of these must agree in finding the Bill. And the petit jury must try the same fact over again, and find the person guilty before he can be punished. Innocence therefore, is so well protected in this wise constitution, that no man can be punished till twenty four of his Neighbours { 169 } have said upon oath, that he is guilty. So it is also in the tryal of causes between party and party: No man's property or liberty can be taken from him, till twelve men in his Neighbourhood, have said upon oath, that by laws of his own making it ought to be taken away, i.e. that the facts are such as to fall within such laws.
Thus it seems to appear that two branches of popular power, voting for members of the house of commons, and tryals by juries, the one in the legislative and the other in the executive part of the constitution are as essential and fundamental, to the great end of it, the preservation of the subject's liberty, to preserve the balance and mixture of the government, and to prevent its running into an oligarchy or aristocracy; as the lords and commons are to prevent its becoming an absolute monarchy. These two popular powers therefore are the heart and lungs, the main spring, and the center wheel, and without them, the body must die; the watch must run down; the government must become arbitrary, and this our law books have settled to be the death of the laws and constitution. In these two powers consist wholly, the liberty and security of the people: They have no other fortification against wanton, cruel power: no other indemnification against being ridden like horses, fleeced like sheep, worked like cattle, and fed and cloathed like swine and hounds: No other defence against fines, imprisonments, whipping posts, gibbets, bastenadoes and racks. This is that constitution which has prevailed in Britain from an immense antiquity: It prevailed, and the House of Commons and tryals by juries made a part of it, in Saxon times, as may be abundantly proved by many monuments still remaining in the Saxon language: That constitution which had been for so long a time the envy and admiration of surrounding nations: which has been, no less than five and fifty times, since the Norman conquest, attacked in parliament, and attempted to be altered, but without success; which has been so often defended by the people of England, at the expence of oceans of their blood, and which, co operating with the invincible spirit of liberty, inspired by it into the people, has never yet failed to work the ruin of the authors of all settled attempts to destroy it.
What a fine reflection and consolation is it for a man to reflect that he can be subjected to no laws, which he does not make himself, or constitute some of his friends to make for him: his father, brother, neighbour, friend, a man of his own rank, nearly of his own education, fortune, habits, passions, prejudices, one whose life and fortune and liberty are to be affected like those of his constituents, by the laws he shall consent to for himself and them. What a satisfaction is it to { 170 } reflect, that he can lie under the imputation of no guilt, be subjected to no punishment, lose none of his property, or the necessaries, conveniencies or ornaments of life, which indulgent providence has showered around him: but by the judgment of his peers, his equals, his neighbours, men who know him, and to whom he is known; who have no end to serve by punishing him; who wish to find him innocent, if charged with a crime; and are indifferent, on which side the truth lies, if he disputes with his neighbour.
Your writings, Mr. Pym, have lately furnished abundant Proofs, that the infernal regions, have taken from you, all your shame, sense, conscience and humanity: otherwise I would appeal to them who has discovered the most ignorance of the British constitution; you who are for exploding the whole system of popular power, with regard to the Americans, or they who are determined to stand by it, in both its branches, with their lives and fortunes?
[signed] CLARENDON
Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 27 Jan. 1766); Dft in JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:296–299.
1. Probably an allusion to George Grenville.
2. Daniel Quare, William Tomlinson, and George Graham were watch and clockmakers of the early 18th century (Catalogue of the Museum of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers of London in the Guildhall Library, London, 3d edn., London, 1949, passim). Quare and Graham are included in the DNB.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0064

Author: Sons of Liberty
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1766-02-05

From the Sons of Liberty

[salute] Sr

You doubtless and every American must be Sensible, that where there is a Union happily established we Should Endeavour to Support it by all possible Means Especially when the grand Object in View is the Preservation of our Invaluable Rights and Priveledges.
The Colonies (we Mean) New York and Connecticut have entered into Certain Reciprocal and Mutual Agreements Concessions and Associations,1 a Copy of which we received (by an Express) the Last Sunday2 with their Desire to Accomplish the Like Association with us; which deserves our most Serious Attention as thereby it will be the Means of Strenghtning this Late Union and in our humble Opinnion of preventing the Execution of an Act of Parliment, commonly known by the Name of the Stamp Act. But to avoid enlargeing permitt us to Single out a few Words by which you will know their Intentions.
{ 171 }
The Worthy Sons of Liberty in New York and Connecticut takeing into their most serious Consideration the Melancholy and unsettled State of Great Britain and her North American Colonnies, proceeding as they are fully perswaded from a Design in her most Inveterate Enemies to alienate the Affections of his Majesties most Loyall and Faithfull Subjects In America from his Person and Goverment, which they are Detirmined to maintain and support: and for the Preservation of which, they have Signified their Resolution and Determination to March with all Dispatch, at their own Costs and Expence, on the First proper Notice with their Whole Force (If required) to the Releif of those who shall or may be in Danger from the Stamp Act or its Abettors and to keep a Watchfull Eye over all those who from the Nature of their Offices, Vocations, or Dispossitions may be the most Likely to Introduce the use of Stamped Paper, to the total Subversion of the British Constitution and American Liberty.
We address ourselves to you; as a Gentleman well vers'd in the Constitution of your Country and Consequently will do your Utmost, to Oppose all Measures Detrimental to the Welfare of it, and we should be Glad if you would inform Us as Soon as possible of your Sentiments on the Above and the Dispossitions of the People in Your Town.3
Please to Direct to us under Cover to Messrs. Edes & Gill, Printers in Boston. We are Sr Your most Humble Servants
[signed] The Sons of Liberty
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To John Adams Esqr In Brantry.”
1. The military association which the New York and Connecticut Sons of Liberty concluded between themselves, 25 Dec. 1765, and by which they pledged themselves to use armed force to prevent the execution of the Stamp Act. For the text of the agreement, see Morgan, Prologue to Revolution, p. 117–118.
2. 2 Feb. 1766.
3. No reply to this letter has been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0065

Author: Crafts, Thomas Jr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1766-02-15

From Thomas Crafts Jr.

[salute] Sir

Yesterday I wrote you a few Lines by Docr. Tuffts informing you the Sons of Liberty Desired your Company at Boston Next Wensday and Mentioned for What Occation.2 I would now Desire it as a favour if you Can spare the time to Come on Monday Next Because they want you to Write those Incriptions that I mentiond to you when Last at { 172 } Boston, one in favour of Liberty Not forgiting the Tru Born Sons and Another with Encomiums on King George Expressive of our Loyalty—which if you Can Do by wensday we will Excuse your Coming Sooner.3 Pray Lett them [be] as Short and as Expressive as Possable, the stamp Paper I Informd you of in my Last was found St[r]agling About this town but on Thursday at 11 O Clock shall Commit it to its proper Eliment with no small parade.

[salute] I am with Great Respect your frind

[signed] Tho Crafts Junr.
Destroy this after Reading it. Mr. Saml. Adams sends his Complements and Desire you would Come.
Ps we Expect the News of the Repeal of thet Act Commonly Called the stamp Act in three weeks from this by the News we have had by the Last Ships from London which I dobt not you have heard of.4 NB an Answer to Letter Sent by the sons of Liberty Last Saterdy will [be] Exceptable.5
I had Wrote this Letter before I Received yours6 and hope you Will [be] here on thursday Next.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To John Adams Esqr At Brantree”; endorsed: “T. Crafts. Feby 15th. 1766”; MS slightly torn at several places, resulting in the partial defacement of three words.
1. Friday was the 14th.
2. No letter from Crafts of this date has been found. Crafts, a painter, was a member of the Loyal Nine, which grew into the Sons of Liberty (Morgan, Stamp Act, p. 121). By 1772 JA thought that Crafts was cooling toward the whig cause (Diary and Autobiography, 2:72).
3. The “Inscriptions” which Crafts wanted from JA were probably intended for use at the ceremonial burning of stamped paper, which took place in Boston, 20 Feb. 1766 (Boston Gazette, 24 Feb. 1766). It is not known whether JA complied with Crafts' request.
4. Probably a reference to a certain Capt. Disney, who arrived in Boston, 10 Feb., carrying among other things extracts from private letters written in London hinting that the Stamp Act would soon be repealed (Massachusetts Gazette, 13 Feb. 1766).
5. No letter from the Sons of Liberty to JA dated 8 Feb. has been found. Since Crafts says “sent” rather than “written” last Saturday, he may be referring to the letter of 5 Feb., above.
6. Not found.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0066

Author: Adams, John
Author: Clarendon, Earl of
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1766-05-12

Clarendon to the Boston Gazette

[salute] Messieurs PRINTERS,

Seeing a Piece in the New Hampshire Gazette of last Friday, mentioning the Composition that was made by Mr. Cockle2 and the G––––r some Time ago, it occur'd to me to enquire what was be• { 173 } come of the Money compounded for by them, for the Duties on those Cargoes of Molasses;3 I have heard that the G––––r received his third Part last September was twelve Months, that Mr. Cockle received his before he was dismissed; the other third Part which I understand belongs to the Province, I have never heard any Thing at all about. I am informed that it amounts to upwards of Eight Hundred Pounds Sterling, which may be worth the Attention of those who have a Right to Enquire into these Things; and if the Province Treasury is in no want of Money, why may not this £800 Sterling go in Part towards the Requisition that is to be made for the Sufferers,4 or be applied to the erecting a Monument to Mr. PITT, or to the cultivating that fine Island Mount Desart.5 But however it may be disposed of, the Money I am credibly informed is at present, and has been more than Eighteen Months in the Hands of some of the Gentlemen of the Court of Admiralty.

[salute] I am your constant Reader,

[signed] CLARENDON
Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 19 May 1766). JA's recent use of the pseudonym “Clarendon” (13–27 Jan. 1766, above) and the consistency with which newspaper writers used such pseudonyms, already mentioned (Editorial Note, 3 March – 5 Sept. 1763, above, and work cited there), justifies attribution of authorship to JA, although no draft or fragment has been found for this letter.
1. That is, Bernardston, founded in 1762 and named after the Governor; Cockleboro' is fictitious (Historical Data Relating to Counties, Cities and Towns in Massachusetts, Boston, 1966).
2. On James Cockle, former royal customs collector in Salem and Marblehead, see JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:328–329 and note.
3. The New-Hampshire Gazette, 9 May 1766, printed official documents and unofficial commentary about the alleged collusion between Bernard and Cockle in profiting in illegal trade. In 1764 they were supposed to have allowed about 2,000 hogsheads of molasses from the foreign West Indies to land in Salem under false clearance papers and then to have brought suit against the merchants involved. In consequence of their action, the merchants were able to settle out of court instead of having their cargo seized by the royal surveyor of customs. Thus, the merchants had to pay only £2,400—one-third of which went to Cockle, Bernard, and the provincial government each—rather than more than twice that amount in customs duties to the king (Jordan D. Fiore, “The Temple-Bernard Affair: A Royal Custom House Scandal in Essex County,” Essex Inst., Hist. Colls., 90 [1954]:58–83).
4. As long ago as 25 Sept. 1765 in his speech to the House of Representatives, Bernard had called for compensation for those who had suffered at the hands of the Stamp Act rioters. Among the sufferers were Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver. See Mass., Speeches of the Governors, &c., 1765–1775, p. 42; Gipson, Empire before the Revolution, 11:16.
5. That is, Mount Desert, off the Maine coast, which the General Court had granted to Bernard, 27 Feb. 1762 (Bernard to Lord Barrington, 20 Feb. 1762, postscript 27 Feb., Edward Channing and Archibald Gary Coolidge, eds., The Barrington-Bernard Correspondence . . . , Cambridge, 1912, p. 50–51).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0067-0001

Editorial Note

In the winter of 1766–67, Jonathan Sewall, writing as Philanthrop, took it upon himself to defend Governor Francis Bernard against an unremitting series of attacks being made upon him in Boston newspapers, chiefly in the Gazette, by a number of pseudonymous writers. It is possible that Sewall wrote in hope of preferment, for soon after he had finished his series of letters, Governor Bernard offered him a newly created position, that of Special Attorney General. Yet there seems no reason to doubt the sincerity of Sewall's concern that attacks on the Governor would threaten the stability of the political state (Berkin, Jonathan Sewall, p. 43–44; Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 12:311).
Bernard had incurred the hatred of the whig faction for his official support of the Stamp Act, despite his private position, and, later, in May { 175 } 1766, for his refusal to approve James Otis Jr. as the choice of the House of Representatives for speaker and his veto of six men, whig supporters all, chosen as councilors by the joint ballot of the House and outgoing Council (Berkin, Jonathan Sewall, p. 36–37). In retaliation, whig writers vilified the Governor in print. He was accused of customs racketeering, with some basis in fact, of greediness, of violation of the privileges of the House, and of undermining the colonists' rights as Englishmen.
Sewall began his defense with a long letter in the Boston Evening-Post for 1 December 1766. Almost every Monday thereafter until early February, Post readers were treated to a vigorous, sometimes slashing attack on Bernard's detractors and a careful presentation, too often written in a superior tone, concerning the Governor's conduct on particular occasions so far as it was known to the author. Sewall did not want for material. His entry into the field raised a regular hornet's nest of critics, signing themselves “A,” “AA,” “B,” “BB”; as Sewall put it, “almost the whole alphabet [was] conjured up.” And Sewall tried to answer them all. But by spring nearly everyone had said all there was to say. Philanthrop's letter of 9 February did not have a sequel until 2 March; and then there was silence. Joseph Hawley, defending the Lanesborough Stamp Act rioters, whose attorney he was, rekindled the fires in the summer of 1767, with Philanthrop answering him in three long letters (Boston Evening-Post, 6 and 13 July; 27 July; 3 and 10 Aug. 1767).
John Adams, of course, could not keep from replying to his old friend, just as he had answered him some three and one-half years before (3 March – 5 Sept. 1763, above). But Adams had trouble settling upon the literary style of his response. He began in straightforward fashion, addressing himself to “J Phylanthrop,” his addition of “J” suggesting the continuity he saw between Sewall's “J” letters of 1763 and those appearing over Sewall's new pseudonym (No. I, below). His first effort, unpublished and unsigned, was largely an attack on the character of Sewall, whom he called the “old Trumpeter” of “that restless grasping turbulent Crew of Villains” seeking the destruction of the people. Adams accused Philanthrop of ingratitude and of “venemos Bilingsgate.” It is almost as though Adams were working off steam, just as he did with the unfinished and unpublished letter to Sewall in 1763 (No. II, 3 March – 5 Sept. 1763, above). Next, in his diary, Adams wrote a thoughtful analysis of what should be understood by “the better Sort of People,” whom Sewall claimed as supporters of Bernard (Diary and Autobiography, 1:326–329).
But when he appeared in print, Adams adopted once again the pseudonym he had used before in replying to Sewall, that of Humphrey Ploughjogger. Although he retained a kind of farmerish and common sense approach, most of the dialect and phonetic spelling was dropped. He had perhaps tired of these devices; the cause was too serious for playfulness. Attention was centered upon Philanthrop's contempt for the ordinary run of men and his fallacious belief that sharp criticism of high officials would undermine the due subordination of persons necessary for any kind of { 176 } government. Adams wound up his series of three Ploughjogger letters, of which the first was unpublished, with a kind of rustic condescension toward the craziness of Philanthrop, who reminded Adams of his “little black Ram” (Nos. IIIV, below).
Further Sewall pieces that reproved his critics in what seemed a sweet reasonableness of tone that could be dangerously persuasive led Adams to lift out sentences and phrases from their context so that their sheer depth of spite stood revealed. If Sewall posed as a lover of men, then Adams had perforce to sign himself “Misanthrop.” The new pseudonym set Adams off on a long fantastical narrative in which he sought to expose Philanthrop as greedy for office but made craven by the gnawing of self-doubt. None of the “Misanthrop” performances saw print (Nos. VI and VII, below); they were probably intended for his own amusement.
Finally, and more seriously, Adams assumed the role most natural to him, that of historian. Writing as a figure of history called to life, and thus able to comment with unique perspective on significant developments since his own day, Adams demonstrated the continuity of love of freedom from the time of Governor Winthrop to his own. A common thread in the series of letters from Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford is the elemental soundness of the people despite the insidious efforts of Philanthrop to lead them astray by appealing to the weaknesses of human nature. The Winthrop letters discern parallels between the tyrannical precepts of the first two Stuarts and those of Philanthrop and warn Bostonians that liberty “has always been surrounded with dangers.” Only men who remain on guard remain free. In the end Adams analyzes at great length the role of Governor Bernard in refusing to administer the oath to two men elected to the House from Newbury and sees a most serious breach of the privileges of that body (Nos. VIIXI, below).
With the exception of his discussion of Bernard's interference in the affairs of the House, Adams confined himself to attacking the more theoretical of Philanthrop's arguments, leaving to others, as he said, the critique of the Governor's conduct. And even here, it was the principle at stake that caught Adams' attention. Philanthrop's defense of Bernard was based upon a concept of government that Adams saw as wholly wrongheaded and subversive of liberty.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0067-0002

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Sewall, Jonathan
Recipient: Philanthrop
Date: 1766-12-09

I. To J Philanthrop

To J Phylanthrop

I confess I was in Hopes, that after the Repeal of the ever memorable Stamp Act, The People of this Province would have had a little Respite from the Teasings of that restless grasping turbulent Crew of Villains who have been for many Years past planning their Destruction.—This infamous set of Banditti, in the Course of the glorious { 177 } Struggles of America for her Freedom received So many Mortifications and Disappointments, that for my own Part I felt myself much disposed to commisserate their Distresses, and to let them all sink into a peaceful and perpetual oblivion.—But it seems they now think themselves out of Danger, that the people are settling into Tranquility, and are grown innatentive to their Machinations, and that they may now set about their old Work, of fretting, teasing, lying, vapouring, and deceiving. And for these purposes they have hired their old Trumpeter J. Philanthrop, to start forth. A Champion, forsooth for Truth, Peace, order, Justice, and Civility the supporter of good Government, and the Vindicator of injured Innocence! And is it not very modest in this Author, to begin, with so many pious Lamentations about Party Spirit, Political Jealousies, undue Prejudices &c and to declaim so warmly against, throwing Dirt at respectable Characters, when he begins his Lucubrations with his venemos Bilingsgate upon a Character than which there is none more respectable in this Province,2 and with black malicious, impudent slander upon a Paper,3 without which the People of this Province, would have been ruind and enslaved by his Friends Patrons, Masters and Clients before they would have known or suspected their Danger. This is the very fellow, who but a few years ago, drew the Characters of Bluster, Thwackum, Gamut, Adjutant Trowel, Justice Gripe and Captn. Bluff4 —nay the very Rascall who drew the Character of the reverend Chaplain to the Junto, in which he <bespatered with Dirt and Filth> falsely and maliciously slanderd one of the politest Gentlemen, accomplished Scholars, and able Divines upon this Continent,5 with unparrallelled Virulence and Effrontery. A Gentleman to whom that very Rascall was under particular and very strong obligations for his Friendship and Charity to him in his needy Circumstances.
I have no more to say at present, but that I know you perfectly well, I know your Name, Character Descent Circumstances, Alliances, your Patrons, Prompters, Views, Temper and Designs,—further I know every syllable you have Scribbled from the first of your Productions which contained the Character of Bluster to the last of them, which appeard in last Mondays Ev. Post, and that unless you desist I will develop the whole black scene—and will expose the whole Faction and all their Views and Designs, from the Time they raised the villanous Clamour against Govr. Pownal6 to this Time that they are endeavouring to preserve, another Govr. of a very different and much worse Character.
{ 178 }
MS (Adams Papers); microfilmed as part of a 27-page cluster of MSS under the date Aug. – Sept. 1763 and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles, signed U. 1763” (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 343); but for its actual provenance and date, see Editorial Note, above, and note 1, below.
1. The fact that specific references to Philanthrop's words are all to those found in the first of his letters, published in the Boston Evening-Post, 1 Dec. 1766, and that JA refers to “last Mondays Ev. Post” means that this letter had to have been written before 9 Dec.
2. James Otis Jr., whom Philanthrop referred to as “Tertullus haranguing in the Senate” (Boston Evening-Post, 1 Dec. 1766).
3. The Boston Gazette, which Philanthrop alluded to as “the dirty channel” of popular criticism of Bernard (same).
4. Nicknames used by Jonathan Sewall in his “J” series of letters published in the Post in 1763 (Editorial Note, 3 March – 5 Sept. 1763, above).
5. Samuel Cooper (1725–1783), pastor at the Brattle Street church (1746–1783) and ardent whig, “became the moral validation of the policies of the Whigs” (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 11:197). It was his father, William Cooper, however, who helped Sewall financially (same, 12:306).
6. Thomas Pownall, successor to William Shirley, was Governor of Massachusetts, 1757–1759 (DNB).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0067-0003

Author: Adams, John
Author: Ploughjogger, Humphrey
Recipient: Sewall, Jonathan
Recipient: Philanthrop
Date: 1767-01-05

II. Humphrey Ploughjogger to Philanthrop

To the learned Philanthrop

As It is my Design to write a good deal to you, before I have done, So I have gained favour in the Eyes of our S[c]hool Master, to write out my Letters to you, for the Time to come, and to mend the Spelling a little that I may appear in public a little more handsome; tho he will not be very nice about the Matter, and will leave you now and then an opening, Pedant as you are to carp, at Spelling and pointing when you are brought to a plunge in Point of Reason.2
This is all the Introduction and all the apology, I purpose to make, for a more particular Examination of your wicked Doctrine, in your first Treatise, vist that “the Person and office are so connected in the Minds of the greatest Part of Mankind, that a Contempt of the former, and a veneration for the latter are totally incompatible.”3
I dont care so much about Govr. Bernards Character, nor any Instances of his Conduct, to which the other Writers concernd are very able to do Justice, as I do about your general Maxims, Principles and precepts, which seem to me to be the very same that the evil Spirits would have believed and propagated, and the very same that their Missionaries have been preaching, and Scribling and trumpeting among Mankind ever since the fall of Adam. I say ever since the fall, for, from that time to this, there has been one Continued Conspiracy between the World, the Flesh and the Devil, against the Cause of { 179 } Liberty, and we have Reason to fear and believe it will continue till the Fall of Antichrist, but this by the by.
Your Principles I say appear to me to be wicked, unsound, unorthodox, nay your Doctrine is heretical, and damnable, and your Precepts, the Precepts and Mandates of Earthly and infernal Tyranny.
And to prove that my apprehensions of it are not illgrounded, I crave leave to offer a few observations.
1st I think I see in your Doctrine “the Person and office so connected in the Minds of the greatest Part of Mankind,” a Contempt of the greatest Part of Mankind. It is wonderful and lamentable to Behold the Pride and Vanity there is in the great ones of the World. A Man of Learning is <sure> apt to despise all that he thinks ignorant, a Man of Courage all that he thinks Cowards, a Man of Wit all who are of slower apprehension, a Man of fortune all the poor, nay a Dancing Master all whose Heels are clumsey, and a Beau all who do not dress to finely as himself.
Now a Court is <almost> often made up of the learned, rich, Courageous, witty, Dancers, and Beaus. The Consequense is, that all the rest of the World is called by them the Generality, the Herd, Rabble, Mob, common People, Vulgar and such like stuff. Scorn and Contempt and turning up of the Nose is the Consequence of this. The common People they say, are not fit for any thing, but Hewers of Wood &c,—only the discerning few, the Choice Spirits, the better sort say they, are capable of any thing—and they themselves are always the discerning few, the Choice Spirits and better sort. (I am going to trace out the Course of it). These Fleers, and flouts, and sneers and snubbs are often thrown out by them to the People, who being a 1000 to one of them in Number and made of as good Clay as them selves, often return their scorn, with scorn, this soon setts them outragious,—and they presently grow to hate the common People instead of despi[si]ng them, and Nero shall wish the People had but one Neck that he might strike it off at one blow, Caligula shall swear to tear up all remaining Virtue among the People, and Temerlane and Attilla, Shall glory that they were not Men but the Scourges of God and the Plagues of Mankind. All this hellish Temper, this blasphemous Rant, this numbrous Designs Spring Phylanthrop, from such a Contempt, as you have expressed for the Generality of Mankind.
MS (Adams Papers); microfilmed as part of a 27-page cluster of MSS under the date Aug. – Sept. 1763 and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles, signed U. 1763” (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 343); but for its actual provenance and date, see note 1, below.
{ 180 }
1. Although unsigned, this MS very likely was a draft of an unpublished “Humphrey Ploughjogger” newspaper letter written prior to the one published 5 Jan. (No. III, below). JA's quotation in the second paragraph of this draft of a passage from Philanthrop's first letter (1 Dec. 1766) means that he wrote it after that date. The reference in the opening paragraph to a “Design to write a good deal to [Philanthrop]” suggests that this draft was meant to be the first of a distinct series of letters. JA's comment in the same paragraph about the schoolmaster's correcting his spelling so that he might “appear in public a little more handsome” suggests that he planned to publish under the Ploughjogger pseudonym, the only one he had used for letters written with illiterate spelling. Given these facts, this draft must have been written before 5 Jan.
2. A reference to Philanthrop's complaint about the spelling and punctuation of “X,” one of his several newspaper opponents.
3. Here JA puts his finger upon a principle that would give Philanthrop trouble later when he tried to argue that Bernard should be respected for his private opposition to the Stamp Act despite his official need to enforce it (compare Berkin, Jonathan Sewall, p. 41–42).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0067-0004

Author: Adams, John
Author: Ploughjogger, Humphrey
Recipient: Sewall, Jonathan
Recipient: Philanthrop
Date: 1767-01-05

III. Humphrey Ploughjogger to Philanthrop

[salute] MessieursEdes & Gill,

Please to insert the following.

[salute] To the learned PHILANTHROP.

In your first Treatise, I find these Words, “Whatever tends to create in the Minds of the People, a Contempt of the Persons of those who hold the highest Offices in the State, tends to induce in the Minds of the People a Belief that Subordination is not necessary, and is no essential Part of Government.” Now if I understand the Meaning of your high-flown Words, for the Gizzard of me, I can't see the Truth of them. Should any one say, and in Print too, that the Steeple of Dr. Sewall's Meeting-House, was old, and decayed, and rotten, as it was the last Time I see it, and in Danger of falling on the Heads of the People in the Street, would this tend to induce in the Minds of the People, a Belief that a Steeple was not necessary to a Meeting-House, and that any Meeting House, might as well be turned topsy-turvey, and the Steeple stuck down into the Earth, instead of being erected into the Air? Again, suppose the Sweep of my Cyder-Mill was cracked and shivered, so that it had not Strength to grind an Apple, or to turn the Rolls, if one of my Neighbours should tell me of this, would this tend to create in me a Belief, that a Sweep was no necessary Part of a Cyder-Mill, and that the Sweep might as well be placed where the Rolls are, or where the Hopper is, or the Trough, as where we commonly put it? Once more, I have a Mare that is old, and lean, and hipped, and stifled, and spavined, and heavy, and botty, and has { 181 } lost her Mane and Tail, and both her Ears, by the naughty Boys. Now if I should put this Jade into a Horse Cart, and lead her through the Town in the Sight of all the People, I believe they would one and all, despise my old Beast, and laugh at her too, and if any of them came near her, and she should kick 'em and bite 'em, they would hate her too; but would all this their Contempt and Laughter and Hatred, tend to induce in their Minds a Belief that a Horse was not necessary to draw a Horse Cart, and that a Cart might as well be put before a Horse, as a Horse before a Cart?
This now seems to be a strong Rashosination, so do you answer my Questions directly, not find Fault with my Pointing and Spelling as you served Mr. X, who our School-Master tells me is a Man of better Sense than you are, and Spells and Points better too, notwithstanding your Braggadocio airs.

[salute] So I remain yours to sarve,

[signed] H. P[L]OUGHJOGGER
P.S. I'm so well known in the larned World, that I tho't it not worth while to write my Name out at length, but you may print it so if you pleas.
Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 5 Jan. 1767); Dft, with minor variations, of first paragraph in JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:330, dated 31 Dec. 1766.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0067-0005

Author: Adams, John
Author: Ploughjogger, Humphrey
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1767-01-19

IV. Humphrey Ploughjogger to the Boston Gazette

[salute] To the PRINTERS.

I Did flatter myself, as I had got so much Credit by my Writings upon Hemp, and Stamp-Act, &c. &c.1 that the learned Phylanthrop would just have taken some small Notice of me. * I have enquired about the Reason why he did not. Some tell me, the poor Man's Council is always despised by the great and larned. Some say that it would be below the Dignity of Government, to take Notice of such a Man as I am—and others say that my Arguments were so strong that there was no answering of them. Now for my Part I am inclined to this last way of Thinking, and so I shant advance any new Rashosinations till the old ones, are defuted—and in Truth I feel concerned for poor Phylanthrop—tho' he is very learned, yet 20 or 30 learned Men to one makes a dreadfull great odds2 —and it seems to have made the poor Man a most crazey. I pitty Crazyness from the bottom of my Heart—but it makes this Man behave so odd that I can't help laughing. { 182 } I've got about 3 score Sheep at Home, that I take great Pleasure in feeding with Corn. I take a Cobb every Morning, and a Basket full of Ears, and go out and shell 'em to the Sheep—amongst the rest there is one little black Ram, a Year old, that gives me a good deal of Diversion. He is a spiteful little Thing—and he rushes in among the stately Weathers to get the Kernals of Corn, in the most fierce Manner imaginable—and will sometimes come behind a fine great Weather, or upon the side of him, and give him a paultry Bunt at unawares, and before the Weather can turn about to kill him, he will skulk and run away. But all the Sheep of the Flock hate him, and at Times bunt him and bang him, and bruise him most unmercifully, till the poor Beast's Flesh is almost worn off of his Bones. Now thinks I, this is certainly the learned Phylanthrop among my Sheep. His Nose, like Phylanthrop's is not clean, their Spite is alike, and their Slyness is alike, and in many other Respects they are alike. But I really think my little Ram looks cowed and sorry oftentimes that he ever picked a Quarrell with the whole Flock, and now sees that it will not do, and wishes himself out of the Scrape—which puts me in Mind of a comical Thing that happened tother Day in our Town. My Neighbour Worldly had a Yoke of Oxen, that he was going to sell to a Stranger, for a fine Yoke of working Cattle, but seven Years old, but the Stranger happen'd to go one side a little, and sees my Neighbour Worldley's Negro Man Toney, and asks him about them Oxen. Oh says Tony, they are as nice a Yoke of Oxen to work as ever stood under a Yoke, I have drove 'em myself this 12 Years, and never drove so good a Yoke as they are. Upon this the Stranger comes back to my Neighbour, told him what Tony had said, and would not have the Cattle. My Neighbour was very wroth, and after he got Home, he scolds at Tony very sadly. You told the Man that you had driven the Oxen 12 Years, and I told him they were but 7 Year old you Blockhead says my Neighbour.” Oh Master says Tony, I'm very sorry, I see now where I mist it. Just so I really believe Phylanthrop now sees where he mist it, and is very sorry—

[salute] I remain your's to sarve,

[signed] h. ploughjogger
* I do think he might just have mention'd me, and quoted some lines at me, or something—for instance he might have said,

Joggs slowly on, unknowing what he sought,

And whistled as he went for want of thought.

MS not found. Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 19 Jan. 1767).
1. Nos. I, III, and IX, 3 March – 5 Sept. 1763 and 14 Oct. 1765, above.
2. A reference to the spate of pseudonymous letters appearing mainly in the Boston Gazette which attacked Philanthrop's assertions and arguments.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0067-0006

Author: Adams, John
Author: Misanthrop
Date: 1767-01

V. Misanthrop, No. 1

Phylanthrops Principles, Motives and Views2
“'Tho I sincerely wish the Reformation of Paskalos3 and his Abettors and Assistants, yet I own from what I know of their Views and Principles, I am without Hopes of it: But my design is4 to contribute according to my best Ability, towards the support of good Government, and the Vindication of much injured Innocence. These two great Ends I am determined Steadily to pursue; and if I can be in any degree instrumental in promoting these—if I can undeceive my well meaning Countrymen, and perswade them to judge for themselves and attend to their true Interests, as they are subjects of Social, and moral Laws, I shall think myself amply recompenced for my Trouble, and I shall heartily despise whatever Paskalos and his Associates may say of this or my future Performances. I profess to be of no Party in Politicks, but I am a Friend to my Country, and consequently a Friend to good Government, Peace and order. I am an enemy to all Injustice and a Sincere Lover of all good and virtuous Men. From these Principles I now write, and from these I shall write again.5 And deliver my sentiments with decent Freedom.”
“I will always endeavour to avoid rendering Railing for Railing.” I doubt not I shall be able in the Name and Cause of Truth, to sustain the Charge, whenever this Goliah shall advance.6 They will excuse me, if, for the future, I take no Notice of any unmannerly ill founded Reflections.” Surely this Writer knows the Difference between Reasoning and Railing” I assure the Gentleman I am no Hireling nor do I write from selfish Views, notwithstanding the illnaturd Squibs of Some little Scriblers. But I write because I really think I am on the side of Truth, good order, and injured and almost deserted Innocence. He shall find me candid and free from Bigotry. I am determined to unravel the whole Mystery of Iniquity—and not quit the subject, till I have exposed every falshood, which has been, or may hereafter be published against his Excellency, or any others in Authority. Happy would it be, if all Christians had so much of the genuine Spirit of Christianity.” “I do now in the fear of God, declare and protest I shall, with Pleasure see, that Justice, Charity, Peace and good order, will take Place which is the only end in Writing, at first Sincerely proposed and still pursued by
[signed] Phylanthrop
The Principles Motives and Views of Phylanthrops Opponents
{ 184 }
“To revile and slander Rulers, to endeavour to destroy all Confidence and affection in the People towards them, is highly offensive to God, criminal against the state and barbarously injurious to the Persons.7
It must, it cannot but be evident, notwithstanding the slander of Paskalos Scribling in the Gazette, or Tertullus harranguing in the senate, that we never had a milder Govr.” “When, thro the dirty Channell of a Gazette, and the more dirty Channell of XXXX, he has received such foul abuse” —&c and unprecedented Insults.
Surely my Countrymen can no longer be deceived by the groundless Insinuations of Faction and Malice. Shall we suffer Government to be openly insulted, and Innocence trampled on—The Ribaldry of a few Malicious Writers.
Have we not lent too ready an Ear to the Calumnies of ambitious envious Pretenders to Patriotism?—too easily given Credit to bold assertions instead of rational Evidence—given Countenance to those turbulent Destroyers of the public Peace, who have been Sapping the foundations of society and violating the Laws of Morality and Decency. Is it not a Reproach to us, that a public Paper infamous for wantonly affronting Majesty itself, treacherously subverting the first Principles of Government, inhumanly traducing the Character of the living and impiously trampling on the ashes of the dead, should be so generally purchased thro the Prov. When a Party Spirit prevails, Men are too apt to overleap the bounds of Decency8 to vilify and anathematize those who differ from them—foul Language! Revilings and bad Names —grossly abused and inhumanly insulted.—X, by his Reasoning, Spelling and Pointing, is no formidable enemy—yet has shewn his hearty good Will, and by the Dirt he has thrown, were he less impotent he would be less contemptible. His furious Attack, unmannerly Ribaldry—discharge of venemous Weapons—round Assertion—a Question, which cannot be fairly discussed, without entering so minutely into particulars, as might be disagreable to Some.
Paskalos is, and will ever be the same in Point of Decency and Veracity. It is disagreable to brush off Filth and Dirt.
Jealousies and undue Prejudices—groundless Calumnies of a few artful designing Men,—implicit faith—airy phantoms—temerary9 Presumtions, improbable Conjectures—Trifles lighter than Vanity—while the fren[z]y lasts—ungenerous Libels—idle tittle tattle of the credulous —wicked dogmatical assertions of the malicious—an assertion, notoriously repugnant to Truth—unjust and indecent affronts, subversive of Government and inconsistent with good Manners—with pharisaical os• { 185 } tentation proclaiming their Patriotism in the Market Places and on the House Tops.
Rude savage Treatment—Libels signed Paskalos—how unfair, how dishonest is this—a smal Crime, compared with what I shall now lay open—abusive Ribaldry of Paskalos—I blush for the pretended fair dealer A—I have great Reason to fear this Writer, notwithstanding his fair Pretensions, has wilfully imposed a palpable falshood upon the public. Let this warn him to be cautious of Detraction. He who publisheth a lie to the World.
The impatient X—angry X,—choleric, galloping, ranting Piece—his Friends wish him to the XXXXX miserable little Shifts,—inveterate Enemies—ungenerously and falsely charged him with Smuggling—not the least foundation in Truth—unjust Persecutors,—inhuman End of ruining a Gentlemans Character—a Spirit, truly diabolical—Enemies to the Gover and the Province—intended as an Injury and affront to the Govr.
Petulant impatient X—disaffected Individuals—imaginary Slight of their superiour Merits—mad Ambition which overturns Empires—Shake the State with internal Convulsions, in order to accomplish their revengeful and ambitious Schemes—Sow the seeds of Jealousy and discontent—inflame the Passions—general Accusations—minutest faults printed in the blackest Colours—all actions construed into Tyranny—The grossest Falshoods with bold Assertions—false alarms—detect the fraud—pretended Zealots for the public good—September 1760 the cry began—who first sounded and has continued to sound the Alarm—groundless and trifling Accusations—led blindfold by those whose Views and Designs are utterly inconsistent with public Peace and Happiness—basely suggested—such a Mixture of Injustice, Barbarity, and inexpressible Littleness of Soul in this Group of malicious supine [insin]uations, that is painful to refute them—peculiarly Sordid, cruel [ . . . ] and eminently wicked—false narrow Spirited Insinuations—wicked Attempts to disturb the People, and make em jealous and suspicious—Snarling Writer X vent his Malice—have their Source not in Truth but in the worst of Passions.
Gentle Reader let me ask you, is this fellow Mad, or drunk? Is this decent Freedom? Is this Piety, Christian Piety, the true Spirit of Christianity. Upon Reading this choice Collection of Rhetoric, I cant help, recollecting King Lear in the cold Storm, calling out to the howling Winds, the flashing Lightning and hoarse, tremendous Thunder,

Rumble thy fill—&c—

{ 186 }
I made this Collection at first for the sake of the vinous, new kind of oratory and Rhetoric that is in it—Such Flowers, such Beauties, such Harmony, and Elegance, and Grandeur—Such Meekness, Patience Modesty, Politeness, Piety Loyalty, Love of order, Justice, Peace. This Man must be the Dove and the Lamb, if we believe his Professions. His opponents, every Man, who ever said, or thought amiss of the Govr. or Lt Govr., such cruel, wicked, envious, malicious, turbulent, dirty, sordid, barbarous, inhuman, diabolical.
† Only let me intreat the Reader to keep this Paper by him, and to Study the Beauties of this Parcell of Extracts.
Upon Contemplating this excellent Group of Expressions, and comparing them together and considering their perfect Causistry &c I felt a most flaming Curiosity to know, who this perfect Christian, this spotless Saint, this disinterested Lover of his Country, really was. I conjectured a Multitude of Persons,—and considered their Characters and Actions. But none would do. At last as I must and will know the Bottom in all these Cases, I had recourse to the Occult Sciences.10 And I discovered, with precise Certainty, who this Phylanthrop, is, what are his Principles, Motives and Views, which I am determined, as they are very curious and remarkable to make public next Monday. I shall publish it with great Pleasure, because such Discoveries always yield great Pleasure to
[signed] Mysanthrop
MS (Adams Papers); microfilmed as part of a 27-page cluster of MSS under the date Aug. – Sept. 1763 and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles, signed U. 1763” (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 343); but for its actual provenance and date see Editorial Note, above, and notes 1 and 10, below.
1. Since this draft of an unpublished newspaper letter consists mainly of extracts from those Philanthrop letters which were published in the Boston Evening-Post between 1 Dec. 1766 and 5 Jan. 1767, a conjectural date for the draft is the first half of January.
2. Both paragraphs under this heading consist of quotations, more or less exact but sometimes with words and phrases omitted, from Philanthrop letters. Note is taken below only of those omissions that seem significant.
3. The pseudonym of one of Philanthrop's opponents, reputedly used by Joseph Warren (Berkin, Jonathan Sewall, p. 37).
4. Omitted here is “in the room of an abler pen, (which I have long wished would start forth).”
5. Omitted here is “and offer to the publick my candid thoughts on the grand question now under consideration, 'Whether justice shall be done to the sufferers in the late times of tumult and distress, or not?' In this, I shall, without designing offence to any, deliver my sentiments with that decent freedom which becomes, and is the birth-right of, an Englishman.”
6. This sentence, lacking quotation marks, does not immediately precede the next sentence, which has closing quote marks. Here and elsewhere no attempt has been made to supply such marks where normally they would be required.
{ 187 }
7. Omitted here is a set of qualifying phrases that precedes the quotation: “when rulers, by the whole course of their conduct, evince, to the satisfaction of all sober impartial judges, that they uniformly aim, with integrity and singleness of heart, to promote the true interest and happiness of those they govern; tho' they should sometimes err in their judgments, in trifling instances, with regard to the means to this end; yet to revile.”
8. Omitted here is: “and instead of endeavoring to convince their opponents by sober argument, are led, thro' an intemperate zeal.”
9. Temerary: Rash, reckless, Obs. (OED).
10. This reference to “Occult Sciences” ties this piece in with No. VI, below; see note 1 for that document.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0067-0007

Author: Adams, John
Author: Misanthrop
Date: 1767-01

VI. Misanthrop, No. 2

During a Course of twenty Years, it has been the constant Amusement of my Life, to examine, the Secret Springs, Motives and Principles of human Actions: And I am more and more perswaded, every day, that from the Fall of Adam to this Time, Mankind in general, has been given up, to Strong Delusions, vile Affections, sordid Lusts, and brutal Appetites. The first Inquiry, that commonly arises in the Heart is, how will such a Thing affect my Humour, my Interest, my private Views and Designs? If it militates or non-conforms with these, —right or wrong—good or bad—wise or foolish—it must be discarded and renounced at once. If it coincides with these, at all hazards to others or the Public, and at any Expence of Honour, Truth or Conscience, it must be embraced and pursued. This great Point being once determined, the next Rule is to cover all this Matter up from the View of the World, in Secresy and Dissimulation, and to give out without a Blush or a Simper, that I am, in no possible Respect interested in it, or that it manifestly contradicts my Interest, and that I have no View, but to Serve God, holy Church, Religion, good Government, injured Innocence, Mankind in general or the particular Community to which I belong. And if the People will not otherwise believe me, I must boldly call God to witness that I speak, write and Act, from no other Principle or Inducement whatever, but pure Benevolence and Piety.
Long Practice and Experience, have given me, Some Dexterity and Sagacity, in unravelling Such Snarls, and in investigating, 'thro all the winding Labyrinths of Hypocrisy, Chicanery and Dissimulation, the real Springs, and original Movements in the Minds of Men.
An extraordinary Case, has however, now and then, happened which has puzzled all my Skill. As, I must and will fathom all such Cases to the Bottom, I have had Recourse, upon these occasions, to { 188 } the occult Sciences. A little familiar Spirit attends me, whom, in Imitation of Shakespeare I have called Ariel. This little Spright, who hops about upon the Clouds and Rainbows, rides upon the Sun beams, dives down to the Center of the Earth, 'thro the Springs and Subterranean Canals; and indeed can circulate 'thro the Mass of a Mans Blood upon a Globule of Mercury, or dart 'thro the Pore of the Nerves in the Cerebrum or Cerebellum, upon a Particle of nervouse Juice or Animal Spirit; is of great Service to me, and never fails to unriddle the most mysterious Phaenomena, in Politicks or Ethicks.
A Late Writer in Fleet,2 has furnished one of these Cases.3 I could not account upon any Principles, for this Affair. Good Principles I saw at first thought could never prompt any Man to write upon that subject in that Manner. And, so excessively unpopular and odious was the Task, that no Man could well expect to serve himself by it in any scheme of Pride, Anger, Malice, Covetousness, Revenge, or Lust. After ruminating a while upon the subject without satisfaction, I calls my Ariel and bids him look out—away flutters my little Ariel, and the next Morning returned with the following Information.
That he flitted away to Ede's Printing office, and peeped into their Books of Account and found the Number of their subscribers, and when he had that, gave the signal to the Legions of the Air, and had the same Number of his Ariel Companions, attending him in an Instant (for such is the Association of these Ethereal Inhabitants that any one of them, can at a Call have any Number he wants to attend him in any Enterprise). Each of these Companions he ordered to attend each of the Papers, where ever they should go, and to enter the Brain of every Man who should read them, and if any of them would discover <the author of> Phylanthrop he was to return to the office and give the Hint to Ariel.
Not many Minutes after, in comes a Boy for a Paper and carries it into a certain Room in Town and gives it to a Gentleman, who seizes it with great Agitation and Impatience and reads. In thro his Eye Balls, flew the little Spirit into the much ruffled Regions of his Brain and attentively observes all that passes. It was that Paper Signd A,4 in which such a dismal Catalogue is given of the Governors Virtues. The first Thought which the Spirit observd after he had red a little while, was an Ejaculation Good God! what shall I do? what an everlasting Task have I undertaken to unravel all these facts and Reasonings? A Man must have more Charity and Phylanthropy than I have pretended to in the Name I have assumed, to cover this Multitude of sins.—I—Upon this the little one had all he wanted. He darted to Ariel { 189 } and both of them returned in an Instant and reent[er]ed. I shall not enumerate all the Resolutions and Irresolutions, Hopes, fears, Resentments, Conflicts, Reasonings, Ridicule, Rage, Revenge, Compunction, Conviction, self Condemnation &c which took Place in his Mind while he rambled a while about the Town and at last crossed the ferry and walkd Home.
After he gets home, he retires to his office and seats himself at his Desk to ruminate and scrible. Where Ariel observd and recordd the following Lucubrations. I am the most miserable of all Mortals! I was born to trouble, as the Sparks fly upwards. I am not my own Man! I am a Slave! more unhappy than the basest <Negro> in Town, because I have the Sentiments of Liberty, her Feelings, the most exquisite Relish of her Charms, but am past a possibility of enjoying the heavenly Goddess! In the Affair of the Cabinet disputes, I was wronged, injured, abused, and my Brother was treated with the most wicked Cruelty. I began to vindicate my self And him. But it was signifyd to me that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, would be offended, if I proceded. And I knew that I had such dependance upon them that my Hands were ty'd, and I could not proceed.
And to go still further back. I knew and concievd [in] my soul, that the Legislative and Executive Powers ought to be kept asunder—that all Law, and all History, and common sense are in favour of this. And that all my Brethren of the Profession were of this Mind, yet my Masters prompted me to write and encouragd me with the Hopes of Bread and so I was brought to write the Pieces signed J in which among Many Instances in which I contradicted the sentiments of my Heart and Conscience I was prevail'd on to write in favor of the Judges sitting in Council.
And in Times of the late Stamp Act, I was fully and clearly, satisfyd, in my own Mind that the Parliament had no Authority to pass such a Law, and that Resistance to it was not only lawful but meritorious lawdable and glorious. And I was then convinced and yet remain so, that Resistance on this side the Water, and that alone saved Us, and I felt an eager affection for my Country and a strong Inclination, to write upon these subjects, and had sometimes begun and wrote but fear of grieving Mr G——fe,5 and offending the Governor and Lieutenant Governor on whom my Bread, and my preservation from Gaol depended, always obstructed me.
And now, I must acknowledge within myself that this my native Country has been insulted, most arrogantly insulted, misrepresented at home, most wickedly, and maliciously misrepresented by the Governor, { 190 } and schemes are now going on under his Direction, to irritate and inflame the People to some new Extravagance, that the Necessity of regular Troops, and of some new fund for independent Salaries to Crown officers, might be made to appear. Vile schemes my soul detests. But Judge Russell6 is gone to England, there is a Vacancy on the superiour Bench. This Vacancy haunts me. I have no rest by day, no sleep by Night.—Shall I hearken to the Remonstrances of my Conscience, and write no more! Why if I should not, Mr. Gridley, who stands well with the Governor, and has helped a long Time to keep him in Countenance, and whose indisputable Learning, Genius and Merit entitle him to fill that vacancy before any Man, will I have reason to think obtain it. Besides Brigr. Ruggles,7 if I leave real Merit, and come to the Governors Notions of it, by his endeavours to defend the Measures of the Congress, and by his other similar faithful services, and sufferings in that Cause both before and since has deserved the Place before Mr. G—f. And The Governor may be afraid of giving offence to those Gentlemen by appointing Goffe, and so may be disposed to [befriend?] Judge Russell so much as to appoint no Body till his Return. And unless Mr Goffe is made a Judge I cannot be Attorney General. Oh Jesü! what would I do and give for that Place!
MSS (Adams Papers); Dft of an unpublished newspaper letter which has been conflated from two physically distinct but organically related drafts. The first of these, comprising the first three paragraphs printed above, was microfilmed as part of a 27-page cluster of MSS under the date Aug. – Sept. 1763 and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles, signed U. 1763” (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 343). The second, consisting of the remaining paragraphs, was microfilmed as part of a 20-page cluster of MSS under the date [16 Feb. 1767] and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford. 1767” (same, Reel No. 344). For their actual provenance and date, see notes 1 and 6, below. See also note 3, below, for the only substantive textual alteration resulting from their conflation.
1. Although neither of the two drafts which have been conflated to produce the text as here given was signed or dated, the evidence is nearly conclusive that they are one of two “Misanthrop” pieces written as replies to Philanthrop in Jan. 1767. The last part of the signed Misanthrop draft above (No. V), certainly composed in January, promises resort to the occult to learn Philanthrop's identity. The present draft introduces the spirit Ariel. Moreover, this piece concludes with a fanciful soliloquy uttered by Philanthrop. That soliloquy is finished and signed “Misanthrop” in JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:330–331. The physical appearance of the MS in the diary is different from that of the diary entry dated 31 Dec. 1766 that precedes it and similar to that of the conflated draft. That is, the ink is similarly heavy, and the pen point seems the same.
2. That is, Philanthrop in the Fleets' Boston Evening-Post.
3. In the first of the pieces from which this text has been conflated, the remainder of this paragraph, which concludes the draft, reads:
“The late remarkable Writer in Fleet, has furnished { 191 } one of these Cases. His Name Phylanthrop professed Benevolence, but not Satisfyed with this, he was profuse in his Professions, of Sincerity, Justice, order, Piety, public Spirit, and even Christianity, and his Declarations frequent that he had no other View or Design, or Hope of Reward; and his Charges upon all who differed from him, of Malice, Envy, Ambition, Revenge, Cruelty, Turbulence, Petulance, Disaffection &c. were very liberal. These Professions, together with the very curious Instructions and Informations he gives to the Public, and his Panegyricks and Invectives.”
4. “A,” whom a contemporary identified as Samuel Adams (MHi:Harbottle Dorr Papers, 1B:564), began his answers to Philanthrop on 8 Dec. 1766 in the Boston Gazette. Philanthrop remarked that “A” had “more the appearance of a Gentleman” and seemed to promise “to confine himself within the bounds of decent freedom” (15 Dec. 1766).
5. Edmund Trowbridge (1709–1793), Massachusetts attorney general, 1749–1767, and Superior Court justice, 1767–1775, had for many years used the name Goffe because he had been raised by his uncle and guardian Col. Edmund Goffe (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 8:507–520).
6. Chambers Russell (1713–1766), Massachusetts vice admiralty judge, 1746–1766, died in England in Nov. 1766 while on a mission concerning a boundary dispute between New York and New Jersey (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 9:81–87). News of his death appeared in the Boston Post-Boy, 19 Jan. 1767. Obviously JA wrote before knowing about his death.
7. Brigadier Timothy Ruggles (1711–1795), as delegate to the Stamp Act Congress, had been one of two who refused to sign its resolves. He later became a noted loyalist (Morgan, Stamp Act, p. 109).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0067-0008

Author: Adams, John
Author: Winthrop, Governor
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Recipient: Bradford, Governor
Date: 1767-01-26

VII. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford

[salute] Messi'rsEdes and Gill

Please to insert the following.

Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford

We have often congratulated each other, with high satisfaction, on the glory we secured in both worlds, by our favourite enterprize of planting America. We were Englishmen. We were citizens of the world. We were christians. The history of nations and of mankind was familiar to us; and we considered the species chiefly in relation to the system of great nature, and her all-perfect author. In consequence of such contemplations as these, it was the unwearied endeavour of our lives, to establish a society, on English, humane, and christian principles. This, (altho' we are never unwilling to acknowledge that the age in which we lived, the education we received, and the scorn and persecution we endured, had tinctured our minds with prejudices unworthy of our general principles and real designs,) we are conscious was our noble aim. We succeeded to the astonishment of all mankind, and our posterity, in spite of all the terrors, and temptations which have from first to last surrounded them, and endangered their very being, have been supremely happy. But what shall we say to the { 192 } principles, maxims, and schemes, which have been adopted, warmly defended, and zealously propagated in America, since our departure out of it? adopted I say, and propagated, more by the descendents of some of our worthiest friends, than by any others? You and I, have been happier, in this respect, than most of our contemporaries. If our posterity, have not, without interruption maintained the principal ascendency in public affairs, they have always been virtuous and worthy, and have never departed from the principles of the Englishman, the citizen of the world, and the christian. You very well remember, the grief, we felt, for many years together, at the gradual growth and prevalence of principles opposite to ours; nor have you forgotten our mutual joy, at the very unexpected resurrection of a spirit, which contributed so much to the restoration of that temper and those maxims, which we have all along wished and pray'd might be established in America. Calamities are the causticks and catharticks of the body politick. They arouse the soul. They restore original virtues. They reduce a constitution back to its first principles. And to all appearance, the iron sceptre of tyranny, which was so lately extended over all America; and which threatned to exterminate all, for which it was worth while to exist upon earth; terrified the inhabitants into a resolution and an ardor for the noble foundations of their ancestors.
But how soon is this ardor extinguished! In the course of a few months, they have cooled down, into such a tame, torpid state of indolence and inattention; that the missionaries of slavery, are suffered to preach their abominable doctrines, not only with impunity, but without indignation and without contempt.1 What will be the consequence, if that, (I will not say contemptible but abominable) writer Philanthrop, is allowed, to continue his wicked labours? I say, allowed, tho' I would not have him restrained by any thing, but the cool contempt and dispassionate abhorrence of his countrymen; because the country whose interiour character is so depraved as to be endangered from within by such a writer, is abandoned and lost. We are fully perswaded that New-England is in no danger from him; unless his endeavours should excite her enemies abroad, of whom she has many and extreamly inveterate and malicious; and enable them, in concert with others within her own bosom, whose rancour is no less malignant and venemous, to do her a mischief. With pleasure I see that gentlemen are taking measures to administer the antidote, with the poison.
As the sober principles of civil and ecclesiastical tyranny are so { 193 } gravely inculcated, by this writer, as his artifices are so insidious, and his mis-affirmations so numerous, and egregious, you will excuse me if I should again trouble you with a letter upon these subjects, from your assured and immutable friend,
[signed] Winthrop
Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 26 Jan. 1767); partial Dft (Adams Papers); part of a 20-page cluster of MSS microfilmed under the date [16 Feb. 1767] and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford. 1767”; “No. 1. N.B. Boston Gazette 26 Jany. 1767”; “(Incomplete).”
1. The partial draft ends at this point. There are no significant differences between draft and printed text.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0067-0009

Author: Adams, John
Author: Winthrop, Governor
Recipient: Bradford, Governor
Date: 1767-01

VIII. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford, Some Fragments

I am Sorry to find Phylanthrop, attempting to vindicate the high flying, Maxims, the arbitrary Precedents, and the Tyrannical Practices of that self sufficient Innovator that arrogant, pedantical Tyrant King James the first.1
This Exception in the Dedimus,2 is laying the Ax to the Root of the Tree of Liberty. It is Hewing it down, or tearing it up, as Nero swore he would Virtue by the Roots.
They are so—and It was a fundamental of your Politicks and mine to take away their Power and render the People capable.
If the Prince is remarkable for his Gluttony Drunkeness and Lust, they commended his Temperance, and Chastity, if notorious for Falshood and Deceit, they admired his noble Simplicity and Sacred Regard to Probity and Truth, if he was malicious, cruel, and revengeful they extolled his Clemency, Moderation and Condescention, and if he was infamous for Sordid Avarice and unfeeling Rapacity, they celebrated his Generosity, Humanity, Magnificence and Liberality.3
All the Disputes that have been between Power and Priviledge, between Tyranny and Liberty, between Phylanthrop and me, may be reduced to this single Question, who shall judge? Private Judgment is the Right of Mankind, and from this all other Rights originate.
Now shall we allow this Right in Individuals, in the greatest Part of Mankind, and yet deny that Individuals, the greatest Part of Mankind, have a Capacity to judge?4 Would not this be a Contradiction and [in] terms and a solecism in Nature? I grant that sound and shew { 194 } have too much Influence, on Mankind in general, but it is owing to such Tempers and Principles as Phylanthrops that
To the Printers.
Cassius from Bondage shall deliver Cassius.
MS (Adams Papers); part of a 20-page cluster of MSS, 3 blank pages separating this document from No. VII, above; microfilmed under the date [16 Feb. 1767] and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford. 1767”; probably meant as possible ideas for the Winthrop-Bradford series of letters. For probable date see notes 1–4, below, and No. IX, note 1, below.
1. Philanthrop as subscriber to King James' belief in promoting dread of the prince is first mentioned by JA in No. IX, below.
2. The governor's power to administer the oath to newly elected representatives, discussed by Philanthrop, 26 Jan. 1767, Boston Evening-Post, and by JA in Nos. X and XI, below.
3. JA makes this point more briefly in No. XI, below.
4. In No. XI, below, JA discusses at length the question of “who shall judge.”

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0067-0010

Author: Adams, John
Author: Winthrop, Governor
Recipient: Bradford, Governor
Date: 1767-02-02

IX. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford

Govr. W. to Govr. B.
I promised you, another Letter, concerning the wicked Maxims, the delusive Arts, and the false Assertions, of that devoted Writer, Phylanthrop.
I remember to have read in Diodorus the Sicilian, of an Institution among the ancient Aegyptians, intended to reconcile a Reverence for the Persons of their Princes, with an Endeavour to instruct and reform them. This Method was, when they were desirous of warning their Monarchs against particular Vices, they commended and extolled them for opposite Virtues. And I must confess when I read in the first Dissertation of Phylanthrop, such <tryumphant> possitive assertion[s] as these, “It must, it cannot but be evident, to all who are willing to see, and judge for them selves, notwithstanding the slander of Paskalos,2 Scribbling in the Gazette, or Tertullus harranguing in the Senate, that we never had a Governor in the Chair, who discoverd more Mildness and Condescention in his Administration or a more uniform Steady Attention to the true Interests of this Province than G——r B——d has discovered,” and his triumphant, Interogations Has he ever discovered the least Inclination to abridge Us of any of our constitutional Rights and Liberties? Has he ever attempted to stretch Prerogative beyond its just Bounds? &c. I was much inclined to believe that Phylanthrop was, attempting that Aegyptian Method of { 195 } Reformation and Instruction. But, upon a more thorough Examination of Phylanthrops Writings I was soon convinced, he was more zealous to Shroud his Hero, from the candid Inspection, and free Examination of the public, than he was for his Amendment or Information. And upon a careful Review of all the Writings, subscribed with that Name, I should sooner believe the Author to have received his Education in the detestible society of the Gypsies, where it is said they administer an oath to every Member, on his first Admission, never to Speak one Word of Truth, than that his Attempt was an Imitation of the Custom of AEgypt.
Impotent, wretched, and little as Human Nature is, in Relation to Superiour Intelligences, yet you my old Friend and I know from dear bought Experience, that human Ambition is infinite. We know it because We have felt the cruel oppressions, which Sprung out of it. From this expansive allgrasping Passion, it has happened, that nothing could ever satiate the Lust of Tyrants. Alexander and Caeesar after having desolated one World, cryed for another to desolate, and having arisen <gradually greatly> above all Mortalls in Power, nothing would content them, but to be worshiped on Earth by their Fellow Men, as immortal Gods. That the subject, in the Eastern Monarchies may be kept in a continual Adoration of his Sovereign, and may be properly prepared, to submit thankfully to be tortured, mangled and slaughtered at his Pleasure, and that Tyrany may stalk and ravage in all his Horrors; it must be high Treason to look the Monarch in the Face.
This Reverence and Awe, this Dread and Terror of the Prince and his favourites has in all Ages and Nations been cultivated among their Vassalls and slaves. And indeed Usurpation would long since have been abolished in the World, if there was not a great Disposition in human Nature itself to Timidity, Staring, Astonishment and Adoration,—which the Rich, the Learned, the Cunning, and the Wicked, have addresd themselves to and aval'd themselves of. The very first Maxim of Tyranny, is and always was, to puzzle the Understandings and excite the Admiration of the People—inspire them if possible with Religious scruples about seeing the Persons of the Magistrate or Priest, without Prostration before them, and much more about enquiring into their Conduct or Thinking about it.
If We go from Greece and Rome and Aegypt and Turkey and Persia, and fetch our Examples from England we shall not find them wanting. That selfsufficient Innovator, that arrogant pedantical Tyrant, King James the first the great School Master of the Kingdom as { 196 } he affected to style himself, inculcated the same Maxim, upon his Pupils, the Parliament and People of England.
In one of his Speeches to both Houses, in which he displayd <all> some of his exalted Notions of Monarchy and the Authority of Princes, he expressed himself in the following Terms. “I conclude then the Point, touching the Power of Kings, with this Axiom in Divinity, that as to dispute what God may do is Blasphemy, But what God wills that Divines may lawfully and do ordinarily dispute and discuss: so is it sedition in subjects to dispute what a King may do in the Height of his Power. I will not be content that my Power be disputed upon &c.”3
It is with inexpressible sorrow that I see, in a Country that has always been so dear to Us, a Writer So venal and prostituted, as gravely to transfer these awful and misterious Doctrines of Despotism, to a few small Provincial Magistrates.
His Words are these “an Attempt to destroy the established Form of Government, is the highest Crime versus the State—whoever Says or does any Thing tending to destroy it, is a public Enemy.4 Subordination is essential to every Form of Government. What ever tends to destroy subordination tends to destroy Government. Whatever tends to induce in the Minds of the People a Belief that subordination is not essential, tends to destroy subordination. And what ever tends to create in the Minds of the People, a Contempt of the Persons of those who hold the highest offices, tends to a Belief that Subordination is not essential, because the Person and office are so connected in the Minds of the greatest Part of Mankind, that a Contempt of the Person and a Veneration of the office, are incompatible.”
The Maxim intended to be established by this dark Train of Propositions, is to use Phylanthrops own Language is truly diabolical. In what Respect does this axiom differ from the Eastern Rule of Despotism that subjects shall never look their Princes in the Face. The Reason they give is the Same, to behold the Princes Face, will diminish his Reverence, and from thinking his Prince a God or an Angel in his Imagination, his sight will inform him, he is but a Mortal Man—or in other Words for the People to look at their Prince, tends to create in their Minds a Contempt of his Person, and consequently of his office.
I should be glad to know if Phylanthrop will extend his Doctrine so far? Would he prohibit the People of Boston from looking at the G——r — L——t G——r—&c looking in their Faces, and observing their Air especially if the People should have Skill in Phisiognomy by discover• { 197 } ing accidentally some malevolent Passion. The least Anger, Fear, Jealousy, or Revenge may tend to create in their Minds a Contempt of their Persons—nay if they should not happen to be handsome and Genteel, Ladies and fine Gentlemen may conceive some Contempt, even from their Features and shapes, tho their Countenances should be ever so sweet and pleasant. Or would our Writer extend his Maxim, only to Speaking and Writing, or in the Language of King James, would he only, not be content to have their Power disputed upon. Would he only have it sedition, to dispute what a Governor or other Ruler may do, in the Hight of his Power! Talking and Writing about the Actions of Rulers may tend I grant, to create in the Minds of the People both a Contempt and an Hatred of them, and so thought K. James. Is every Talker and Writer about their Actions and Power a public Enemy and guilty of Sedition, or the highest Crime versus the State? Phylanthrops pretended Limitation [afterwards?] that the Persons of Rulers are sacred no longer than they pursue the Good of the Community, is worse than Nothing; for who shall judge when they pursue that noble End or when they deviate from it—shall the Rulers themselves judge or their subjects, Phylanthrop or J.?
MS (Adams Papers); part of a 20-page cluster of MSS microfilmed under the date [16 Feb. 1767] and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford. 1767.” For probable date see note 1, below.
1. Presumably this is the second in the series of Winthrop-Bradford letters, never published because JA abandoned the approach taken in it, that of discussing Philanthrop's general principles, in favor of dealing with a particular issue: Bernard's refusal to administer oaths of office to two men, which Philanthrop raised 26 Jan. 1767. JA concluded No. VII, above, with a promise of another letter about Philanthrop's “sober principles of civil and ecclesiastical tyranny.” The present document begins “I promised you, another Letter,” and No. X, below, printed in the Gazette, also mentions the promise, but notes that it will depart from the original plan. In the issue of 2 Feb. 1767 the printers of the Gazette announced that a letter from Winthrop to Bradford had arrived too late for publication and would appear in the issue of 9 Feb. (its continuation appeared 16 Feb.). This circumstance suggests that the present document was written before 2 Feb.
2. For this pseudonym, see No. V, note 3, above.
3. In 1610, quoted, somewhat abridged, in G. W. Prothero, ed., Select Statutes and Other Constitutional Documents Illustrative of the Reigns of Elizabeth and James I, Oxford, 1906, p. 293–295. JA's rendition is accurate in substance except that before the last sentence that he quotes he omits the following: “But just kings will ever be willing to declare what they will do, if they will not incur the curse of God.”
4. JA omits at this point the following: “so far at least as to give a check to his proceedings; because his actions tend eventually to dissolve the society which is necessary for the defence and support of every individual in it” (Boston Evening-Post, 1 Dec. 1766).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0067-0011

Author: Adams, John
Author: Winthrop, Governor
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Recipient: Bradford, Governor
Date: 1767-02-09

X. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford


That the Hypocrite reign not, lest the People be ensnared.

[signed] Job.

[salute] Sir,


That the Hypocrite reign not, lest the People be ensnared.

[signed] Job.
You have my promise of another letter, concerning the maxims, arts, and positions of Philanthrop; whose performances of the last week1 I shall proceed to consider, without any formal apology for departing from the plan I proposed at first.
The art employed by this writer, in the introduction to his account of the Concord2 anecdote, is worth observation; before we undertake an examination of the account itself, and his reasonings upon it. God forbid that I should trifle with religion, or blame any man for professing it publickly. But there is a decency to be observed in this. True religion is too modest and reserved to seek out the market places and corners of the streets, party news papers, and political pamphlets, to exhibit her prayers and devotions. Besides there is so much in the temper of times and manners of ages, that ostentations of this kind, may be more excusable in one century than in another. The age in which you and I lived, was religious to enthusiasm: Yet we may safely say, that canting and hypocrisy, were never carried to so shameless a pitch, even by a sir Henry Vane, an Oliver St. John, an Oliver Cromwell or an Hugh Peters, as Philanthrop in his last monday's paper has carried them. True religion, my friend Bradford, was the grand motive, with you and me, to undertake our arduous and hazardous enterprize, and to plant a religion in the world, on the large and generous principles of the bible, without teaching for doctrines the commandments of men, or any mixture of those pompous rituals, and theatrical ceremonies, which had been so successfully employed, to delude and terrify men out of all their knowledge, virtue, liberty, piety and happiness, a religion that should never be made subservient to the pride, ambition, avarice, or lust, of an aspiring priesthood, or a cruel and usurping magistracy, was our incessant aim, and unwearied endeavour. And we have now the happiness to reflect on our success: for at least we have approached nearer to such an institution, than any others have done, since the primitive ages of christianity. And altho' stiffness, formality, solemnity, grimace and cant, very common in our times, have worn off, in a great measure from New-England: yet true religion, on the plan of freedom, popular power and private { 199 } judgment, remains and prospers. This we are fully perswaded is truth, tho' the deluded Philanthrop seems to be so far given up to blindness of mind, as to think that his quotations from scripture, his affected meekness, charity, benevolence and piety; his formal stiffness and hypocritical grimace, will divest his countrymen of their senses, and screen him from their jealousy, while he is tearing up, by his principles and practices, conversation and writings, the foundations of their constitution, both in church and state.
But it is not only by attempting to throw around himself the rays of religion, that this writer has attempted to deceive his countrymen: he has laboured to possess their minds with principles in government, utterly subversive of all freedom, tending to lull them into an indolent security and inattention. In one of his late papers he has a paragraph to this purpose, “a brave and free people who are not thro' luxury, enervated and sunk to that degree of effeminate indolence, which renders them insensible to the difference, between freedom and slavery, can never fail to perceive the approaches of arbitrary power. The constitution of all free governments, especially that of the English, is of such a nature, the principles of it are so familiar, and so interwoven with the human mind, and the rulers are so circumscribed with positive laws, for the directing and controling their power, that they can never impose chains and shackles on the people, nor even attempt it, without being discovered. In such a government and among such a people, the very first act, in pursuance of a design to enslave or distress the subjects in general, must be so obvious, as to render all false colouring totally unnecessary to arouse the public attention; a simple narration of facts, supported by evidence, which can never be wanting in such a case, will be sufficient, and will be the surest means to convince the people of their danger.”3
What conclusion, shall a candid reader draw, by a fair interpretation from this wordy, cloudy passage? would he not conclude, that a free government, especially the English, was a kind of machine, calculated for perpetual motion and duration? That no dangers attended it? And that it may easily preserve and defend itself, without the anxiety or attention of the people?
The truth is precisely the reverse of this. Tho' a few individuals may perceive the approaches of arbitrary power, and may truly publish their perceptions to the people; yet it is well known the people are not perswaded without the utmost difficulty, to attend to facts and evidence. Those who covet such power, always have recourse to secresy and the { 200 } blackness of darkness, to cover their wicked views, and have always their parties and instruments and minions at hand to disguise their first approaches, and to vilify and abuse, as turbulent destroyers of the public peace, as factious, envious, malicious pretenders to patriotism, as sowers and stirers of sedition, all those who perceive such approaches, and endeavour to inform and undeceive their neighbours. Liberty, instead of resting securely within the entrenchment of any free constitution of government, ever yet invented and reduced to practice, has always been surrounded with dangers—exposed to perils by water and by fire. The world, the flesh and the devil have always maintained a confederacy against her, from the fall of Adam to this hour, and will probably continue so till the fall of Antichrist. Consider the common-wealths of Greece. Were not their liberties in continual danger? Were not the wisest of them so sensible of it, as to establish a security of liberty, I mean the ostracism, even against the virtues of their own citizens? that no individual, even by his valour, public spirit, humanity and munificence, might endear himself so much to his fellow citizens, as to be able to deceive them, and engross too much of their confidence and power. In Rome, how often were the people cheated out of their liberties, by Kings, Deumvirs, Triumvirs, and conspirators of other denominations? In the times when Roman valour, simplicity, public spirit and frugality were at the highest, tyranny, in spight of all the endeavours of her enemies, was sometimes well nigh established, and even a Tarquin, could not be expelled but by civil war. In the history of the English nation, which Philanthrop is pleased to distinguish from all others, how many arbitrary reigns do we find since the conquest? sometimes, for almost an whole century together, notwithstanding all the murmur, clamour, speeches in the senate, writings from the press, and discourses from the pulpit, of those whom Philanthrop calls turbulent destroyers of the public peace: but you and I think, the guardian angels of their countries liberties, the English nation, has trembled and groaned under tyranny.
For reasons like these, the spirit of liberty, is and ought to be a jealous, a watchful spirit. Obsta Principiis4 is her motto and maxim; knowing that her enemies are secret and cunning, making the earliest advances slowly, silently and softly, and that according to her unerring oracle Tacitus, “the first advances of tyranny are steep and perilous, but when once you are entered, parties and instruments are ready to espouse you.” It is one of these early advances, these first approaches of arbitrary power, which are the most dangerous of all, and if not { 201 } prevented, but suffered to steal into precedents, will leave no hope of a remedy without recourse to nature, violence, and war, that I now propose to consider.
And in the first place, let us see how far the court writer and his opponents are agreed in the facts. They seem to agree that two gentlemen chosen and returned as members of the house, were expressly excepted by the Governor, in the Dedimus, or power of administring the usual oaths to the members of the house. That the house, i.e. the gentlemen returned from the other towns, besides Newbury, would not receive the dedimus with this exception, i.e. refused themselves to be sworn by virtue of it. I say by the way, that Philanthrop agrees to this fact, tho' he seems to endeavour by the obscurity of his expression to disguise it, because the house itself must have considered the exception, as an infraction of their right, tho' Philanthrop only says it was so considered by some among them, otherwise the house would not have chosen a committee to remonstrate against the exception. That the governor erased the exception, or gave a new Dedimus, upon the remonstrance of the committee. That the governor however gave it up, only for that time, expresly reserving the claim of right to except members out of the commission, and told the committee he should represent the case home, for further instructions concerning it. This being the acknowledged state of facts,5 trifling with the instance in the reign of King James the first, is as good a proof of Philanthrop's knowledge in history and the constitution, as his shrewd suggestion that Cassius and B.B.6 are the same person is of his sagacity. It is with real sorrow that I now observe and propose hereafter to demonstrate, that both Philanthrop and his idol are too much enamoured with the fine examples of the Jemmys and Charleys, and too much addicted to an aukward imitation of their conduct, one example of such an imitation is this of the Dedimus at Concord, this memorable attempt to garble the house of representatives, which bears so exact a resemblance to the conduct of that self-sufficient innovator, that pedantical tyrant, that I own it seems more probable to me to have been copied designedly from it; than to have happened by accident. For the gentleman whose conduct and character Philanthrop defends cannot be denied to be well read in the reigns of the Stuarts, and therefore cannot be supposed to have been ignorant of James's conduct.7 That a solid judgment may be formed of the nature of the priviledge for which I contend, and whether it has been invaded or not, I shall produce a short sketch { 202 } of the history of that transaction, and will then produce the opinion of writers, quite impartial, or to be sure not partial in my favour, concerning it.
[To be continued]
Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 9 Feb. 1767); partial Dft (Adams Papers), part of a 20-page cluster of MSS microfilmed under the date [16 Feb. 1767] and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford. 1767”; this item docketed: “Rough draught. Boston Gazette 16 Feby. 1767.” There are no substantive differences between Dft and printed text, of which the Dft includes all but a portion of the final paragraph.
1. That is, 26 Jan. 1767. JA says “last week” because his response was originally intended for publication in the issue of 2 Feb. See No. IX, note 1, above.
In his letter of 26 Jan., Philanthrop rebutted charges that Gov. Bernard had infringed upon the right of the House of Representatives to judge the qualifications of its members by refusing to swear in two representatives from Newbury in May 1764 who he believed had been illegally elected. According to Philanthrop, however, the accusation had little substance. In 1763, he pointed out, Bernard had demonstrated his willingness to conciliate the House by ignoring a royal instruction against further division of Massachusetts towns in order to approve an act dividing the town of Newbury, which hitherto had enjoyed the privilege of sending two representatives to the lower house, into the towns of Newbury and Newburyport, each to have one representative. Despite the clarity of the law reducing Newbury's representation that town returned two members to the House in May 1764. Bernard, having been informed that the House did not examine election returns until after Council members had been chosen on the first day of meeting, and not wanting two illegally elected representatives to participate in the Council elections, decided to exclude the Newbury representatives from the oath-taking. His action brought complaints that the Governor was interfering with the right of the House to determine the qualifications of its members. Bernard then met with some representatives and councilors and explained that he did not want two questionably elected representatives taking part in the election of councilors. It was then explained to Bernard that it was the custom of the House to examine disputed returns before choosing the Council. Claiming that he had misunderstood, Bernard issued a new Dedimus, including the two men from Newbury. The House then voted for councilors; afterward it decided that Newbury was entitled to only one representative and ordered the town to hold new elections (Mass., House Jour., 1764–1765, 41:8–9). Thus, what Philanthrop's critics called malice, he attributed to ignorance of parliamentary procedure in Massachusetts.
2. Because of smallpox in Boston the General Court met in Concord in May 1764 (Mass., House Jour., 1764–1765, 41:vii).
3. Boston Evening-Post, 5 Jan. 1767.
4. Resist the first beginnings.
5. Draft ends here.
6. “Cassius” and “B.B.,” two unidentified critics of Philanthrop (Boston Gazette, 5, 12 Jan. 1767).
7. JA expressed a frank opinion of the character of Governor Bernard in the margin of his copy of Thomas Hollis' The True Sentiments of America, London, 1768, p. 92, Bernard's speech on the prorogation of the General Court, 4 March 1768. Next to Bernard's remark “But there are men to whose being (I mean the being of their importance) everlasting contention is necessary,” JA wrote: “true! and Bernard was the very first in the List of those Men.”

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0067-0012

Author: Adams, John
Author: Winthrop, Governor
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Recipient: Bradford, Governor
Date: 1767-02-16

XI. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford

Remainder of Governor Winthrop's second Letter to Governor Bradford, begun in our last.
If we go back as far as the reign of Elizabeth, we find her, on one occasion, infringing on this priviledge, of the Commons, of judging solely, of their own elections and returns. This attempt was however so warmly resented by the Commons, that they instantly voted “That it was a most perilous precedent, when two knights of a county were duly elected, if any new writ should issue out, for a second election, without order of the house itself; that the discussing and adjudging of this and such like differences, belonged only to the house; and that there should be no message sent to the Ld. Chancellor, not so much as to enquire what he had done, in the matter; because it was conceived to be a matter derogatory to the power and priviledge of the house.”1 After this vote, which had in it something of the spirit of liberty and independency, we hear of no more disputes upon that subject, till we come to the reign of James the first, whose whole life was employed in endeavouring to demolish every popular power, in the constitution, and to establish the awful and absolute sovereignty of Kingship, that, as he express'd himself to the convocation, Jack and Tom, and Dick and Will, might not meet and censure him and his Council. And in order to accomplish the important purpose of his reign, he thought that nothing could be more useful, than to wrest from the Commons, into his own hands, or those of his creature, the Chancellor, the adjudication of their elections and returns. Outlaws, whether for misdemeanours or debts, had been declared by the judges, in the reign of Henry the sixth, incapable by law of a seat in the house, where they themselves must be lawgivers. Sir Francis Goodwin was now chosen for the county of Bucks, and his return was made as usual into Chancery. The Chancellor decreed him an outlaw, vacated his seat, and issued writs for a new election. Sir John Fortesque was chosen in his room. But the first act of the house was to reverse the decree of the Chancellor, and restore Goodwin to his seat. At James's instigation the Lords desired a conference on this subject, but were absolutely refused by the Commons, as the question regarded intirely their own priviledges. They agreed however to make a remonstrance to the King, by their speaker; where they maintained that tho' the returns were by form made into chancery, yet the sole right of judging with regard to elections belonged to the house itself. James was not { 204 } satisfied, and ordered a conference between the house and the judges. The Commons were in some perplexity. Their eyes were now opened, and they saw the consequences of that power, which had been assumed, and to which their predecessors had in some instances blindly submitted.2 This produced many free speeches in the house, “By this course, said one member, the free election of the counties is taken away, and none shall be chosen but such as shall please the King and Council. Let us therefore with fortitude, understanding and sincerity, seek to maintain our priviledges. This cannot be construed any contempt in us, but merely a maintenance of our common rights, which our ancestors have left us, and which is just and fit for us to transmit to our posterity.” Another said, this may be called a quo warranto to seize all our liberties. “A Chancellor, added a third, by this course may call a parliament consisting of what persons he pleases. Any suggestion by any person, may be the cause of sending a new writ. It is come to this plain question, whether the Chancery or Parliament ought to have authority.”3 The Commons however, notwithstanding this watchful spirit of liberty, appointed a committee to confer with the judges before the King and Council. There the question began to appear a little more doubtful than the King had imagined, and to bring himself off, he proposed that Goodwin and Fortesque should both be set aside, and a writ be issued by the house, for a new election. Goodwin consented, and the Commons embraced this expedient; but in such a manner, that while they shewed their regard for the King, they secured for the future, the free possession of their seats, and the right which they claimed of judging solely of their own elections and returns. Hume who will not be suspected of prejudice against the Stuarts, and in whose words very nearly this story is related, remarks at the conclusion, “Power like this, so essential to the exercise of all their other powers, themselves so essential to public liberty, cannot fairly be deemed an encroachment in the Commons, but must be regarded as an inherent priviledge, happily rescued from that ambiguity, which the negligence of former parliments had thrown upon it.”4 Smollet concludes his account of this affair with this reflection, “Thus the commons secured to themselves the right of judging solely in their own elections and returns.”5 And my Ld. Bolingbroke, whose knowledge of the constitution will not be disputed, whatever may be justly said of his religion, and his morals, remarks upon this transaction of James thus, “Whether the will of the Prince becomes a law independently of parliament, or whether it is made so upon every occasion, by the concurrence of parliament, arbitrary power is alike { 205 } established. The only difference lies here. Every degree of this power, which is obtained without parliament, is obtained against the forms, as well as against the spirit of the constitution; and must therefore be obtained with difficulty and possessed with danger. Whereas in the other method of obtaining and exercising this power, by and with parliament, if it can be obtained at all, the progress is easy and short, and the possession of it is so far from being dangerous, that liberty is disarmed, as well as oppressed by this method; that part of the constitution (viz. the house of commons) which was instituted to oppose the encroachments of the Crown, the maladministration of men in power, and every other grievance, being influenced to abet these encroachments, to support this mal-administration, and even to concur in [op]posing the grievances.”6
Now if we compare the attempt of King James, with the attempt of the Governor, who can discern a difference between them? James would have vacated the seat of Sir Francis Goodwin, because his election was against law, i.e. because Sir Francis was an outlaw; The Governor would have vacated the seats of Col. Gerrish and Capt. Little, because their election was against law, i.e. because they were both chosen and returned by a town, which by law was to choose and return but one. The King in one case, the Governor in the other, made himself judge of the legality of an election, and usurped authority to vacate the seats of members. I consider the power of the Chancellor here, which the King contended for as the power of the King, because there is no great difference in such cases, as has been very well known from the time of James to this day, between the power of the creator and that of the creature. And I say vacate the seats, because an exception from the Dedimus, is an absolute annihilation of a gentleman's seat, because by charter no man can vote or act as a representative till he has taken the oaths. It is as entire an exclusion from the house as an expulsion would be.
We will now if you please throw together a few reflections upon the soothing, amazing, melting solution of this arduous difficulty, with which Philanthrop has entertained the public.
He begins with an instruction to the Governor from his Majesty, not to consent to the division of towns.7 There has often been conversation during the administration of several late Governors, concerning such a royal instruction, which for any thing that I know may be a good one: but let it be good or evil, or whether there is any such or not, it has been found in experience, that when the division of a town would make way for the election of a friend, this instruction { 206 } has been no impediment; and I need not go further than Concord and Newbury for two examples of this. Though I must go as far as the celebrated Berkshire for an instance of another member and favorite chosen and returned, as expressly against the instruction and law of the province, and knowingly suffered by the Governor to be sworn, without any exception in the Dedimus, and to vote for the Council, and finally left to the house, without any exception, caveat, message or hint to judge of their privilege, and vacate his seat. But to return to the instruction, is it a command to the governor to take upon himself to judge of the legality or illegality of the choice, returns or qualifications of the members of the house? No man will pretend this, or dare to throw such an infamous affront upon his Majesty or his Ministers, who perfectly know that even his Majesty himself has no right or authority whatever to judge in this matter. And 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, as really as for them to coin money, or issue commissions in the militia, would be an encroachment on the Royal prerogative. If Newbury had sent ten, and Boston forty members, has the common law, or any act of parliament, or any law of the province, or this his Majesty's instruction, made the governor the judge, that those towns have not a right by law to send so many? The only question is, who shall judge? Is it the purport of that instruction, that the governor should except the forty and the ten out of the Dedimus? Would it not be as much as the King would expect of the governor, if he should give the Dedimus in the usual form, that is, to swear all the members, and leave it to the house to judge who the members were? And if the governor really supposed, as Philanthrop says he did, that the house would be jealous of the honor of their own laws, why should he have taken that jealousy away from them? Why did he not leave it to them to vindicate their own cause? If he had known any facts in this case, of which the house was not apprized, it would have been friendly and constitutional in him to have hinted it privately to some member of the house, that he might have moved it there. But there was no pretence of this, the case of Newbury being as well known to the house as to the governor. Or if he must have inserted himself in the business publickly, he might have sent the necessary information to the house in a message, recommending it to their consideration, not giving his own opinion, for this would have been an infraction of their privilege; because they are the sole judges in the matter, and ought not to be under the in• { 207 } fluence even of a message from his E——y, expressing his opinion, in deciding so very delicate a point as elections and returns, a point on which all the peoples liberties depend. Five members chosen and returned by Boston would be an illegal election; but how should the Governor come by his knowledge, that Boston had chosen and returned five? how should the precepts and returns come into his hands? It is no part of his Excellency's duty to examine the returns which are made to the sheriff, and lodg'd in the secretary's office. There can be no objection to his looking over them to satisfy his curiosity; but to judge of them belongs wholly to another department. Suppose him to have inspected them, and found five returned for Boston, would not this be as manifestly against the spirit of the instruction, and the standing law of the province, as the case of Newbury? And what pretence would he have to judge of this illegal election, any more than of any other? Suppose, for instance, it was proved to his Excellency, that twenty members returned were chosen by corruption, that is, had purchased the votes of the electors by bribery; or let it be proved that any number of the members had taken Rhode-Island or New-Hampshire bills, were out-laws, or chosen by a few inhabitants of their towns without any legal meeting, these would be equally illegal elections, equally against the instruction, and the law of the land: but shall the governor judge of these things, and vacate all such seats, by refusing them their oaths? Let it be suggested that a member is an infant, an idiot, a woman in man's cloathing, a leper, a petit-maitre, an enemy to government, a friend to the governor's enemies, a turbulent destroyer of the public peace, an envious malicious pretender to patriotism, any one of these, or a thousand other pretences, if the Governor is once allowed to judge of the legality or illegality of elections and returns, or of the qualifications or dis-qualifications of members, may soon be made sufficient to exclude any or all whom the Governor dislikes.8 The supposition that Boston should send forty, and all the other towns ten, is possible; but it is not less improbable that the Governor, and all others in authority, should be suddenly seized with a delirium, negative every counsellor chosen, dissolve the house, call another, dissolve that, command all the militia to muster and march to the frontiers, and a thousand other raving facts; and all that can be said is, that when such cases shall happen, the Government will be dissolved, and individuals must scramble as well as they can for themselves, there being no resource in the positive constitution for such wild cases. But surely, a negative, a right of exception in the Dedimus, would be of no service to him in such a case. So that no { 208 } justification or excuse for the Governor's apprehensions or conduct, can be drawn from such supposed cases.
How the Governor's conduct in signing the bill for dividing Newbury came to be considered as so very friendly, and highly obliging, is not easily comprehended, unless every act of the Governor is to be considered in that light. If he signed the bill to oblige any particular friend, or in order that a friend's friend might get into the house, it was friendly and obliging no doubt to such friends: but if he signed it because he thought it for the general good, as I suppose he did, it was a part of his general duty, as governor, and no more obliging than any other act of equal importance. I suppose here that such conduct was not inconsistent with what he knew to be the intention of his instructions; for surely no man will call it friendly and obliging wilfully to break his instructions, for so small a benefit to the province as dividing a town. So that he can't be imagined to have run any risque in this case, any more than in any other instance of his duty.
It is asserted that the Governor had been misinformed concerning the custom of the house. How far this is true I know not. But had he been informed that they had a custom to let the Governor judge of their elections and returns! a custom to let him pick out whom he would to be sworn, and whom he would to send home! unless he had been informed of such a custom, I cannot see that any other misinformation can defend or even palliate his taking that part upon himself. But surely he had opportunity enough to have had the truest information. There were gentlemen eno' of both houses ready to acquaint him with the customs, nay the journals of the house would have informed him that the returns were all read over the first day before they proceeded to the choice of counsellors. And he ought, one would think, to have been very sure he was right, before he made so direct an onset on so fundamental a priviledge. Besides it has been, and is very credibly reported, and I believe it to be true, that he gave out, more than a week before that election, what he would do and did, and that some of his friends fearing the consequences, waited on him on purpose to diswade him from such an attempt, but without success. So that it was no sudden thought, nor inadvertency, nor rashness of passion—I report this as I have before some other things, from credible information, and real belief, without calling on witnesses by name, as such evidence is lately come in fashion, and is thought alone sufficient to support narratives and depositions sent to the boards at home, charging the blackest crimes on the country, and some of the most respectable characters in it. But admitting he was { 209 } misinformed of the custom, I can't see that this is of any weight at all in the dispute. Whether the house examined any returns at all the first day or not, he could have no pretence to interpose. If he thought the custom was to examine no returns till the second day, and that such a custom was wrong, and ought to be altered, he might for ought I know, unexceptionably have sent a message, recommending this matter to the consideration of the house, not dictating to them how they should decide, much less should he have decided himself without consulting them, much less should he have taken from them the opportunity of judging at all, as by excepting the gentlemen out of the Dedimus in fact he did.
Philanthrop makes it a problematical point, whether his E——y's apprehensions or the custom of the house be most consonant to reason and our constitution. I confess myself at a loss to know from his account what his E——y's apprehensions were. If he means that his E——y apprehended that the house ought to change their custom, and decide upon all elections and returns before they proceed to the choice of councellors, I agree with him that such a point is immaterial to the present dispute, but if he means that his E——y apprehended he had a right to except such members out of the Dedimus as he pleas'd, or any members at all, he begs the question, and assumes that it is problematical whether he is or is not sole judge of elections, has or has not the same cathartic negative to administer when he thinks proper to the house, as he has to the board, which according to all the authorities I have cited before, and according to common sense, is to make it problematical whether the Governor has or has not plenary possession of arbitrary power.
It is asserted by our writer, that the two gentlemen were sworn and voted or might have voted. As to their being sworn, there could not possibly any harm accrue from any gentleman's taking the oaths of allegiance, subscribing the declaration, &c. and if the committee had been pleased to swear the whole country on that occasion, no damage would have been done, and from whence the Governor's dread of administering the oaths of allegiance to those gentlemen could arise, I can't conceive; from scruples of conscience it could not be, because he has often taken those oaths himself. As to the gentlemen's voting, I believe Philanthrop is mistaken, because I have been strongly assured they did not, but that they stood by, till the elections were over, as it was expected by the other members that they should. However I do not affirm this—The gentlemen themselves can easily determine this matter.
{ 210 }
Philanthrop is often complaining of skulking, dark insinuations, &c. but I know of no man who deals in it so much as he. Witness among a thousand others, his base insinuations about the Senate and Gazette in his first piece, and what he says in his last about such a thing, being given out from a certain quarter, from what principle he will not say, a very dark unintelligible insinuation of no body knows what, against no body knows whom, which leaves every body to fix what he will on whom he will, and tends only to amuse and mislead.9 And nearly of the same character is a curious expression, somewhere in the piece, calling the exception of the two gentlemen out of the Dedimus, a Caveat to the House—which is about as sensible as it would be to cut off a man's legs and chain him fast to a tree, and then give him a caution, a Caveat, not to run away.
That the Governor did not succeed in his attempt is no proof that he did not make it. Our thanks are not due to him, but to the house, that this Dedimus was not received; all the members sworn by virtue of it, and itself lodged on file, as a precedent, to silence all envious and revengeful declaimers, both for himself and all his successors. It is equally true that King James did not succeed in his attempt, but gave it up. Yet all historians have recorded that attempt as a direct, and formidable attack on the freedom of elections, and as one proof that he aimed at demolishing the constitution, at stretching prerogative beyond its just bounds, and at abridging the constitutional rights and liberties of the nation. What should hinder but that a Governor's attempt should be recorded too? I doubt not a Bacon quibbling and canting his adulation to that Monarch in order to procure the place of Attorney General or Lord Chancellor, might celebrate his Majesty's friendly, modest, obliging behaviour in that affair: yet even the mighty genius of Bacon could never rescue his sordid soul from contempt for that very adulation, with any succeeding age.
[signed] WINTHROP
Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 16 Feb. 1767); partial Dft (Adams Papers), part of a 20-page cluster of MSS docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford. 1767”; this item docketed: “Rough draught. Boston Gazette 16 Feby. 1767.” For this letter the Dft includes merely part of the fourth paragraph, as noted below.
1. Quoted from David Hume, The History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688 (6 vols., Boston, 1854, 4:231–232). The Catalogue of JA's Library lists an edition for 1778 although this work was first published in 8 vols. in 1763.
2. This description of the Goodwin episode was taken almost verbatim from Hume (same, p. 233).
3. Same, p. 233–234.
4. Same, p. 234.
5. Tobias Smollet, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius { 211 } Caesar, to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, 16 vols., London, 1758–1765, 7:16 (Catalogue of JA's Library).
6. Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, Remarks on the History of England, London, [17—], p. 251–252.
7. Draft begins with this paragraph.
8. Draft ends here.
9. Philanthrop vaguely claimed that after the passage of the 1763 act reducing Newbury's representation, “it was given out, from a certain Quarter, from what principle, I will not say, that . . . Newbury might send two Representatives, notwithstanding the law of the province” (Boston Evening-Post, 26 Jan. 1767).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0068

Author: Sewall, Jonathan
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1767-03-11

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

From Jonathan Sewall

11 March 1767. Enclosed in a letter from JA to Hezekiah Niles (5 Feb. 1819, LbC, Adams Papers). Sewall's letter was “in answer to a letter I had written to him in which I [JA] had enclosed a copy of the notes I had taken of Mr. Otis's argument against writs of assistants.” MS not found. Niles neither printed nor returned the original letter of Sewall which JA sent to him. See L. H. Butterfield, “John Adams' Correspondence with Hezekiah Niles: Some Notes and a Query,” Md. Hist. Mag., 57:150–154 (June 1962). JA's letter to Sewall has not been found, nor can its date be conjectured, other than that it was probably written in 1767 about the time JA and Sewall were engaged in newspaper debate ([ante 9 Dec. 1766] – 16 Feb. 1767, above).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0069

Author: Adams, John
Author: Sui Juris
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1768-05-23

Sui Juris to the Boston Gazette


Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the Armies of the living God?

[signed] David.
Not many Years ago, were transmitted to the Public, thro' the Channel of the Boston-Gazette, a few desultory Essays, on the Spirit of the Canon and Feudal Law: in some of which were expressed Apprehensions of the future Mischiefs, that might be caused in America by the Efforts and Exertions of those expiring and detested systems.1 That those apprehensions were too well founded, Time has, already, sufficiently shewn: and we have now, perhaps, stronger Reasons to fear, a still further Increase of those Mischiefs, than we had then. It is therefore the opinion of many Persons, who wish well to the Religion, the Learning, the Liberty and Happiness of this injured and insulted Country, that a Reassumption of that inexhaustible Subject, would not be improper, at the present Juncture. And it is, without any further Apology, proposed, to continue a Series of Dissertations upon that and similar Subjects, for some Months, if not Years to come. { 212 } | view { 213 } It is claimed as an incontestible Right to pursue our own Plan, Method and Style: and, if in the Course of our Lucubrations, we should depart from the Rules, of established Logicians and Rhetoricians, if we should sometimes in Haste throw our Thoughts together in rude Heaps, if a few Blunders and Solecisms should escape us, or if we should now and then mis-spell and mis-point, we shall not think it worth our While to engage in any Contention, concerning such Matters, with the little Scribblers, and paltry Critics, whose Ambition never aspired, and whose Capacity never attained to greater Objects. Our Labours will be interrupted whenever the Paroxisms of the Gout or the Spleen, the Fits of Dulness or Lazyness, or the Avocations of Business or Amusement shall make an Interruption expedient. These Reservations have been thought proper to be made for our own Ease and Advantage. And we now take the Freedom to inform the Reader, that the Champion,2 who has lately, with so much Heroism challenged America, to contest with him the Right of Diocaesan Episcopacy, first roused us, from our long Lethargy, and determined us, once more to try our Fortune in the Field.
But to renounce Metaphor and speak soberly: The Appeal to the Public in favour of an American Episcopate, is so flagrant an Attempt to introduce the Canon Law, or at least some of the worst Fruits of it, into these Colonies, hitherto unstained with such Pollution, uninfected with such Poison, that every Friend of America ought to take the Alarm. Power, in any Form, and under any Limitations, when directed only by human Wisdom and Benevolence, is dangerous: but the most terrible of all Power, that can be entrusted to Man, is spiritual. Because our natural Apprehensions of a Deity, Providence and future State, are so strong, and our natural Disposition to Enthusiasm and Superstition, so prevalent, that an Order of Men entrusted with the sacred Rites of Religion, will always obtain an Ascendency over our Consciences: and will therefore be able to perswade us, (by us I mean the Body of the People) that to distinguish between the Cause of God and the Clergy, is Impiety; to speak or write freely of the Clergy, is Blasphemy; and to oppose the Exorbitancy of their Wealth and Power, is Sacriledge, and that any of these Crimes will expose us, to eternal Misery.
And whenever Conscience is on the Side of the Canon Law, all is lost. We become capable of believing any Thing that a Priest shall prescribe. We become capable of believing, even Dr. Chandler's fundamental Aphorisms, viz. that Christianity cannot exist without an uninterrupted Succession of Diocaesan Bishops, and that those who deny { 214 } the Succession to have been uninterrupted, must prove it to have been broken: which very curious and important Doctrines will be considered more at large hereafter.3 Mean Time, I am, and ever will be
[signed] SUI JURIS
MS not found. Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 23 May 1768). For attribution to JA, see below, note 1.
1. No draft of “Sui Juris” has survived, and JA is not known to have claimed the essay as his work, but there is substantial evidence that he was, indeed, its author. The opening lines of “Sui Juris” announce that it will extend the arguments advanced in JA's “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law” (see May–21 Oct. 1765, above). Furthermore, Andrew Eliot confided to Thomas Hollis in the autumn of 1768 that: “I have now authority to inform you that the Dissertation on the canon and feudal law, was written by John Adams. . . . He also wrote the piece signed Sui Juris; but though he seemed in that to promise more, he has not written any thing further” (MHS, Colls., 4th ser., 4 [1858]:434). For further discussion of JA's probable authorship of “Sui Juris,” see Roger B. Berry, “John Adams: Two Further Contributions to the Boston Gazette, 1766–1768,” NEQ, 31:97–99 [March 1958]).
2. Thomas Bradbury Chandler (1726–1790), an Anglican cleric in New Jersey, had published in Oct. 1767 An Appeal to the Public, in Behalf of the Church of England in America (Evans, No. 10578). This “Appeal” for the creation of an episcopate in the colonies evoked a bitter response from dissenters, and debate on the issue in the provincial press continued for several years. Leaders in the anti-episcopal campaign were William Livingston and his collaborators in the “American Whig” essays originally published in New York and eventually reprinted in newspapers throughout the colonies. JA's close friend and pastor at the Brattle Street Church, Samuel Cooper, corresponded with Livingston in the spring of 1768 concerning the need to mount a similar propaganda campaign in Boston (Livingston to Cooper, 26 March, and Cooper to Livingston, 18 April 1768, MHi:Livingston Papers). “Sui Juris” may have been prepared in response to a suggestion from Cooper. For a discussion of the response to Chandler's Appeal, see Carl Bridenbaugh, Mitre and Sceptre: Transatlantic Faiths, Ideas, Personalities, and Politics, 1689–1775, N.Y., 1962, chap. II.
3. No further contributions by “Sui Juris” have been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0070

Author: Adams, John
Author: Kent, Benjamin
Author: Young, Thomas
Author: Church, Benjamin
Author: Warren, Joseph
Author: Boston Sons of Liberty
Recipient: Wilkes, John
Date: 1768-06-06

Committee of the Boston Sons of Liberty to John Wilkes

[salute] Illustrious Patriot

The friends of Liberty, Wilkes, Peace and good order to the number of Forty five, assembled at the Whig Tavern Boston New England, take this first opportunity to congratulate your Country, the British Colonies and yourself, on your happy return to the land alone worthy such an Inhabitant: worthy! as they have lately manifested an incontestible proof of virtue, in the honorable and most important trust reposed in you by the County of Middlesex.1
{ 215 }
May you convince Great Britain and Ireland in Europe, the British Colonies, Islands and Plantations in America, that you are one of those incorruptibly honest men reserved by heaven to bless, and perhaps save a tottering Empire. That Majesty can never be secure but in the Arms of a brave, a virtuous, and united people. That nothing but a common interest, and absolute confidence in an impartial and general protection, can combine so many Millions of Men, born to make laws for themselves; conscious and invincibly tenacious of their Rights.
That the British Constitution still exists is our Glory; feeble and infirm as it is, we cannot, we will not despair of it. To a Wilkes much is already due for his strenuous efforts to preserve it. Those generous and inflexible principles which have rendered you so greatly eminent, support our claim to your esteem and assistance. To vindicate Americans is—not to desert yourself.
Permit us therefore much respected Sir, to express our confidence in your approved abilities and steady Patriotism. Your Country, the British Empire, and unborn millions plead an exertion, at this alarming Crisis. Your perseverance in the good old cause may still prevent the great System from dashing to pieces. 'Tis from your endeavors we hope for a Royal “Pascite, ut ante, boves”;2 and from our attachment to “peace and good order” we wait for a constitutional redress: being determined that the King of Great Britain shall have Subjects but not Slaves in these remote parts of his Dominions.
We humbly present you the Farmer. His sentiments are ours.
If we dare lisp a wish to be indulged with a line from you a direction to John Marston Esq. at the Whig Tavern Boston would assuredly reach the hands of Worthy Sir

[salute] Your most faithfull and obedt. humble Servants,3

[signed] Benjamin Kent
[signed] Tho Young
[signed] Benjamin Church junr.
[signed] John Adams
[signed] Joseph Warren
Committee of the Sons of Liberty John Adams in the Town of Boston
RC (BM:Add. MSS 30870, f. 45). Enclosure: John Dickinson, Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, probably the edition offered for sale by Edes & Gill in the Boston Gazette, 30 May 1768.
1. John Wilkes' cause had been espoused by American radicals when the British politician was charged with seditious libel for his part in publishing North Briton, No. 45, in 1763. Interest in his plight abated after he fled to the Continent to escape prosecution under this charge, but American enthusiasm for Wilkes revived in the late spring of 1768 when news of his return to England and his election to Parliament from Middlesex reached the colonies. The { 216 } Boston Gazette of 30 May had carried a detailed account of his reception and return to Commons, which predicted that Wilkes would be spared further legal action and be allowed to take his seat in Parliament; fourteen days later the Gazette's readers learned that Wilkes had, instead, been arrested and committed to King's Bench prison in April. For an analysis of his place in colonial political thought, see Pauline Maier, “John Wilkes and American Disillusionment with Britain,” WMQ, 3d ser., 20:373–395 (July 1963).
2. “Put your cows out to pasture as you did before” (that is, before your farm was taken; Virgil, Eclogues, 1. 46).
3. In his reply of 19 July to the Committee Wilkes expressed his satisfaction at finding that “the true spirit of Liberty [is] so generally diffus'd thro' the most remote parts of the British Monarchy.” He vowed that it would “be the study of my life ... to give you and all my fellow subjects the clearest proofs that I have at heart the wellfare and prosperity of every part of this great Monarchy” (BM:Add. MSS 30870, f. 46; printed in MHS, Procs., 47 [1913–1914]: 192–193). For the continuation of this correspondence, see 5 Oct. 1768 and 4 Nov. 1769, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0071

Author: Adams, John
Author: Boston Town Meeting
Recipient: Otis, James Jr.
Recipient: Cushing, Thomas
Recipient: Adams, Samuel
Recipient: Hancock, John
Recipient: Massachusetts General Court, Boston Representatives
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1768-06-17

Instructions of Boston to its Representatives in the General Court

[salute] To the Hon.james otis, andthomas cushing, Esq'rs; Mr.samuel adams, andjohn hancock, Esqr.;

[salute] gentlemen,1

After the repeal of the late American Stamp Act, we were happy in the pleasing prospect of a restoration of that tranquility and unanimity among ourselves, and that harmony and affection between our parent country and us, which had generally subsisted before that detestable Act. But with the utmost grief and concern, we find that we flatter'd ourselves too soon, and that the root of bitterness is yet alive.—The principle on which that Act was founded continues in full force, and a revenue is still demanded from America.
We have the mortification to observe one Act of Parliament after another passed for the express purpose of raising a revenue from us; to see our money continually collecting from us without our consent, by an authority in the constitution of which we have no share, and over which we have no kind of influence or controul; to see the little circulating cash that remained among us for the support of our trade, from time to time transmitted to a distant country, never to return, or what in our estimation is worse, if possible, appropriated to the maintenance of swarms of Officers and Pensioners in idleness and luxury, whose example has a tendency to corrupt our morals, and whose arbitrary dispositions will trample on our rights.
Under all these misfortunes and afflictions, however, it is our fixed resolution to maintain our loyalty and duty to our most gracious { 217 } Sovereign, a reverence and due subordination to the British Parliament as the supreme legislative in all cases of necessity, for the preservation of the whole empire, and our cordial and sincere affection for our parent country; and to use our utmost endeavours for the preservation of peace and order among ourselves: Waiting with anxious expectation, for a favorable answer to the petitions and sollicitations of this continent, for relief. At the same time, it is our unalterable resolution, at all times, to assert and vindicate our dear and invaluable rights and liberties, at the utmost hazard of our lives and fortunes; and we have a full and rational confidence that no designs formed against them will ever prosper.
That such designs have been formed and are still in being, we have reason to apprehend. A multitude of Place men and Pensioners, and an enormous train of Underlings and Dependants, all novel in this country, we have seen already: Their imperious tempers, their rash inconsiderate and weak behaviour, are well known.
In this situation of affairs, several armed vessels, and among the rest, his Majesty's ship of war the Romney, have appeared in our harbour; and the last, as we believe, by the express application of the Board of Commissioners, with design to overawe and terrify the inhabitants of this town into base compliances and unlimitted submission, has been anchored within a cable's length of the wharves.
But passing over other irregularities, we are assured, that the last alarming act of that ship, viz. the violent, and in our opinion illegal seizure of a vessel lying at a wharf, the cutting of her fasts and removing her with an armed force in hostile manner, under the protection of the King's ship, without any probable cause of seizure that we know of, or indeed any cause that has yet been made known;2 no libel or prosecution whatever having yet been instituted against her, was by the express order, or request in writing of the Board of Commissioners to the commander of that ship.
In addition to all this, we are continually alarmed with rumours and reports of new revenue Acts to be passed, new importations of Officers and Pensioners to suck the life-blood of the body politick, while it is streaming from the veins: fresh arrival of ships of war to be a still severer restraint upon our trade; and the arrival of a military force to dragoon us into passive obedience: orders and requisitions transmitted to New-York, Halifax and to England, for regiments and troops to preserve the public peace.
Under the distresses arising from this state of things, with the highest confidence in your integrity, abilities and fortitude, you will { 218 } exert yourselves, Gentlemen, on this occasion, that nothing be left undone that may conduce to our relief; and in particular we recommend it to your consideration and discretion, in the first place, to endeavour that impresses of all kinds may if possible be prevented. There is an act of parliament in being, which has never been repealed, for the encouragement of the trade to America. We mean by the 6th Ann. Chap. xxxvii. Sect. 9. it is enacted, “That no mariner, or other person who shall serve on board, or be retained to serve on board, any privateer, or trading ship or vessel that shall be employed in any part of America, nor any mariner, or other person, being on shore in any part thereof, shall be liable to be impressed, or taken away by any officer or officers of or belonging to any of her Majesty's ships of war, impowered by the lord high admiral, or any other person whatsoever, unless such mariner shall have before deserted from such ship of war belonging to her Majesty, at any time after the fourteenth day of February 1707, upon pain that any officer or officers so impressing or taken away, or causing to be impressed or taken away, any mariner or other person, contrary to the tenor and true meaning of this act, shall forfeit to the master, or owner or owners of any such ship or vessel, Twenty Pounds for every man he or they shall so impress or take, to be recovered with full costs of suit in any court within any part of her Majesty's dominions.” So that any impresses of any mariner, from any vessel whatever, appears to be in direct violation of an act of parliament. In the next place, 'tis our desire that you inquire and use your endeavors to promote a parliamentary enquiry for the authors and propagators of such alarming rumours and reports as we have mentioned before; and whether the Commissioners or any other persons whatever have really wrote or solicited for troops to be sent here from New-York, Halifax, England or elsewhere, and for what end; and that you forward, if you think it expedient, in the House of Representatives, resolutions, that every such person who shall solicit or promote the importation of troops at this time, is an enemy to this town and province, and a disturber of the peace and good order of both3
Then the Meeting was dissolved.
Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 20 June 1768).MS (MB:Boston Town Records, 5:102–105). There are no significant variations between the printed text and MS. For attribution to JA, see note 1, below.
1. Salutation omitted in MS. The town meeting had deliberated carefully on the form and spirit of its protest against the customs commissioners' seizure of John Hancock's sloop Liberty on 10 June. (For a description of the seizure of the Liberty and of JA's role as Hancock's attorney in ensuing legal action, { 219 } see JA, Legal Papers, 2:173–210.) On 14 June, the town meeting named Joseph Warren, Benjamin Church, and Samuel Adams “to prepare the form of a Vote, to be laid before the Town at the Adjournment; expressing their great dislike at the manner of proceedure in the Custom house Officers in lately carrying off a Vessel from Hancocks Wharff; and their sense of the ill consequences which must follow the methods made use of to introduce an armed force into this Town.” This committee made its report the following day “in the form of Resolves and after considerable debate thereon & the propriety of a Towns passing Resolves,” the meeting named a second committee, which included JA, “to prepare Instructions for our Representatives relative to those and other Matters.” The committee of 15 June was given the “form of Resolves” drawn up by its predecessor “for such use to be made of them as they may Judge proper” (Boston Record Commissioners, 16th Report, p. 255–257).
This committee appointment marked JA's first participation in the political affairs of the Town of Boston after he moved there in April 1768. Even before he established his home in the town, however, he had signed a petition with 53 others on 10 March 1767, urging the selectmen to appoint Nathanael Oliver master of the North Grammar School (A. S. Austrian et al. sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, N.Y., 4–5 April 1939). Adams' continuing interest in the schools is suggested by his serving with a number of others as visitor on 5 July 1769 and 7 July 1773 (Boston Record Commissioners, 23d Report, p. 21, 182). In 1770 he was appointed with six others to look into laws on breaking and entering and to recommend amendments, but no report of the committee's findings is apparently extant (same, 18th Report, p. 20). It was political issues affecting the town, however, in which Adams became most embroiled.
In his Autobiography, JA recalled his reluctance to become involved in local politics: “I was solicited to go to the Town Meetings and harrangue there. This I constantly refused. My Friend Dr. Warren the most frequently urged me to this: My Answer to him always was 'That way madness lies.'” Still, JA continued, “Although I had never attended a Meeting the Town was pleased to choose me upon their Committee to draw up Instructions to their Representatives, this Year 1768 and the next 1769. . . . The Committee always insisted on my preparing the Draught, which I did and the Instructions were adopted without Alteration by the Town” (Diary and Autobiography, 3:290–291). JA's claim to have drafted the town's instructions of 1768 as well as those of 1769 (for which, see 8 May 1769, below) is borne out by testimony given much earlier than that in the Autobiography. In an unsent letter to the Abbé de Mably, 17 Jan. 1783, JA supplied a list of his works published before that date; the 1768 instructions appear in this list, which is otherwise accurate (LbC, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel 108). There seems to be no basis for the claim by a biographer of Joseph Warren that Warren, chairman of the committee, was the author of the instructions and that only “the long quotation from a statute of Queen Anne likely was supplied by John Adams” (John Cary, Joseph Warren: Physician, Politician, Patriot, Urbana, Ill., 1961, p. 78n.).
The Instructions, which JA's committee submitted to the town meeting on 17 June and which were adopted unanimously that day, probably did not represent the literary style or philosophy of any individual. John Rowe, one of JA's colleagues on this committee, noted in his Diary that on 16 June he had “Spent the After noon with the Towns Committee to draw Instructions” and that the committee had conferred again on the morning of 17 June, only a few hours before their report was submitted (MHi:John Rowe Diary, p. 773–774). The Instructions doubtless reflected the suggestions of the committee as a whole, with JA assigned the responsibility of polishing and arranging these suggestions. Internal evidence shows, as well, that the committee drew heavily upon the “form of Resolves” read in the meeting on 15 June (see note 3, below).
{ 220 }
2. For the part played by the Romney and her crew in the seizure of the Liberty, see JA, Legal Papers, 2:175–176.
3. The concluding section of the Instructions was doubtless influenced by the wording of the resolves reported to the town meeting on 15 June. Thomas Hutchinson reported that those resolutions had included one declaring “that whoever had by writing or any other ways and means promoted or even wished that Troops might be sent here was a Tyrant in his heart a Traytor and open enemy to his Country” (Hutchinson to Richard Jackson, 16 June 1768, MHS, Procs., 55 [1922]:283–284).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0072

Author: Adams, John
Author: Kent, Benjamin
Author: Young, Thomas
Author: Church, Benjamin
Author: Warren, Joseph
Author: Boston Sons of Liberty
Recipient: Wilkes, John
Date: 1768-10-05

Committee of the Boston Sons of Liberty to John Wilkes

[salute] Sir

Your very obliging favor1 we receiv'd by Capt. Bruce the 18th ultimo. The members were immediately assembled and inexpressible was the satisfaction of our regale on the genuine sentiments of a worthy Briton.
Your health your friends and cause were the toasts of the evening. We congratulated ourselves on our well plac'd confidence, and presumed much on the exertions of such a Martyr to universal Liberty.
We feel with fraternal concern, that Europe in a ferment, America on the point of bursting into flames, more pressingly require the Patriot-senator, the wise and honest Counsellor, than the desolating conqueror. Your noble disdain of inadequate ministers and contemptible salary hunters has by no means impair'd our sense of the dignity of a Freeman, or the importance of defending his minutest privilege against the determined invasion of the most formidable power on earth. And did not a British affection and hopes of a speedy reform in British councils sooth and restrain a too well founded resentment; no one can divine what long e'er now had been the condition of the creatures of that administration which has fill'd Great Britain and the Colonies with high and universal discontent—Has almost unhinged their commercial and political connections—Has annihilated the constitutional legislature of this Province—Has turn'd our Parliament-house into a main guard—Issued orders to evacuate our Province Factory of its inhabitants to convert it into a Barrack for soldiers, after sufficient provision had been made elsewhere—And endeavour'd by pitiful art, and emissaries to effect what usurped and stretch'd authority dared not to pursue.2
Can Britons wish to see us abandon our lives and properties to such rapine and plunder? To become traitors to that Constitution which for { 221 } { 222 } ages has been the citadel of their own safety. To acknowledge fellow subjects for absolute sovereigns, that by our example they may be the more readily reduced to absolute slaves.
Is our reluctance to oppose Brother to Brother deemed a prospect of our submission? Or e contra is a mere presumption that indignation and despair must hurry us on to violent measures, ground sufficient to treat us with all the parade of a triumph over vanquish'd Rebels? Humiliating as this may seem, it is Sir, the case of a territory containing near four hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants, which has never hitherto produced a single Jacobite.
With ardent wishes for your speedy enlargement; elated expectations of sharing in your impartial concern for your Country, the spreading empire of your Sovereign wherever extended: We remain—Unshaken Hero Your steady friends and much obliged humble Servants,
[signed] Benj. Kent
[signed] Tho. Young
[signed] Benja Church Jr.
[signed] John Adams
[signed] Joseph Warren
Numerous Friends in the Colonies discovering a great desire to see your Letter to us, we presume to prefer their request for your leave to its publication.3
RC (BM:Add. MSS 30870, f. 75–76); addressed: “To John Wilkes Esqr.”; endorsed: “By Captain Scott: receiv'd Nov. 7. 1768. in the King's Bench Prison.” This letter, signed by JA and others, was probably drafted by Joseph Warren. On 13 April 1769, Warren wrote privately to Wilkes: “I had the Honor (by the Desire of a number of Gentlemen) of writing to you some time past in conjunction with four other Persons” (MHS, Procs., 47 [1913–1914]:200)
1. See 6 June 1768, note 3, above.
2. In the months after the Committee's previous letter to Wilkes, the political independence and opposition to Crown measures shown by the province had provoked stern countermeasures. On 1 July 1768, Gov. Bernard dissolved the General Court after the legislature refused to rescind its circular letter of 11 Feb. 1768 to the other American colonies. In September, citizens learned that four regiments of British troops were to be stationed in Boston. Quartering these troops quickly became a political issue, with the Council and Boston selectmen declining to make any provision for housing the troops until it was shown that the existing barracks at Castle William would be inadequate. Accordingly, when the first two regiments landed on 1 Oct., their commander attempted to install them in the Manufactory House, a facility owned by the province for the housing and employment of indigent citizens. When this failed, the Boston selectmen grudgingly consented to lodge some of the soldiers in Faneuil Hall for a few days. On 2 Oct., the Governor opened part of the Old Town House, meeting place of the General Court, to other members of the regiments (Hutchinson, Massa• { 223 } chusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 3:141–154; Boston Evening-Post, 26 Sept., 3 Oct. 1768; M-Ar:Exec. Council Records, 16:353–363).
3. In his reply to this request, Wilkes cautioned the Committee: “I submit to you, Gentlemen, the propriety of a publication of any letters which may pass between us. You are the true judges for what may respect the new world. Perhaps while I am doom'd to this prison, unfair advantages might be taken against me, which I should find it difficult to overcome. I leave, however, the whole to your mature consideration, with the truest assurance that in whatever way I can serve the generous cause of liberty, I will be active and zealous” (copy of letter of 30 March 1769, BM:Add. MSS 30870, f. 135–136; printed in MHS, Procs., 47 [1913–1914]: 197–198). For the decision of the Sons of Liberty on publication, see 4 Nov. 1769, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0073

Author: Adams, John
Author: Boston Town Meeting
Recipient: George III
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1769-04-04

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

Petition of the Boston Town Meeting to King George III

Boston, 4 April 1769. MS not found. Printed Boston Gazette, 24 July 1769. At the town meeting of 13 March, the selectmen reported the “steps” they had taken “for vindicating the Character of the Inhabitants” against the charges which had led to Boston's quasi-occupation by royal forces. The town then appointed a special committee to “consider what may be still necessary to be done for vindication of the Town.” James Otis, Samuel Adams, Thomas Cushing, Richard Dana, Joseph Warren, and JA were assigned this duty. The committee made its report on 4 April, presenting “the Draft of a Petition and Address to his Majesty.” The town accepted the draft unanimously and ordered that a copy be sent to Isaac Barré. (Boston Record Commissioners, 16th Report, p. 272–274; for a discussion of the selectmen's role in “vindicating” the town in early 1769, see Franklin, Papers, 16:43–45; the letter to Barré enclosing the petition is printed in Samuel Adams, Writings, 1:332–336.)
The petition reaffirmed Bostonians' devotion to the Crown and minimized the significance of the demonstrations against the customs commissioners in 1768. After describing their vain attempts to learn the nature of the charges which had persuaded the King to station troops in the town, the petitioners closed with the request that George III would “be graciously pleased to give Orders that the Town may be favor'd with Governor Bernard's Letters, the Memorials of the Commissioners of the Customs here, and other papers which must so deeply affect their most important Interests: That they may have the Justice of being heard, upon Notice by Council, upon any Matters of Charge that may have been bro't against them; and of laying before your Majesty, and the whole Nation what they may have to offer in their Vindication.” JA's contribution to the petition has not been ascertained.
The town meeting did not order publication of the petition at the time of its adoption. However, on 4 July the town accepted, and ordered to be printed, a resolution which described the petition to the King in great detail. Only after the publication of the 4 July resolve did the petition appear in the local press (Boston Gazette, 10 and 24 July 1769). Isaac Barré presented the petition to George III on 2 June, but no acknowledg• { 224 } ment of the appeal has been found (Barré to James Otis, 20 July 1769, Boston Record Commissioners, 16th Report, p. 298–299).
Printed (Boston Gazette), 24 July 1769.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0074

Author: Adams, John
Author: Boston Town Meeting
Recipient: Otis, James Jr.
Recipient: Cushing, Thomas
Recipient: Adams, Samuel
Recipient: Hancock, John
Recipient: Massachusetts General Court, Boston Representatives
Recipient: Boston Gazette (newspaper)
Date: 1769-05-08

Draft Instructions of Boston to its Representatives in the General Court

[salute] To the Honble. James Otis and Thomas Cushing Esqrs, Mr. Samuel Adams and John Hancock Esqr.

[salute] Gentlemen.

You have, once more received, the highest Testimony of the Confidence and Affection of your Constituents, which the Constitution has impowered them to exhibit; the Trust of representing them in the great and general Court or Assembly of this Province. This important Trust is committed to you, at a time when your Country demands the Exertion of all your Wisdom Fortitude and Virtue; and therefore it is presumed, a free Communication of our Sentiments, cannot but be agreable to you.
1 The first object of your Attention, is the Priviledges of that Assembly of which you are now chosen to be Members. The Debates there must be free: You will therefore exert yourselves to remove every Thing that may carry the least Appearance of an Attempt, to awe or intimidate. As the Assembly is called to Sett in the usual Place, common Decency, as well as the Honour, and Dignity of a free legislative will require a Removal of those Cannon, and Guards, as well as that clamorous Parade which has been daily around the Court House, Since the Arrival of his Majestys Troops, and even at Sometimes while the highest Court of Judicature has been Sitting there on the Tryal of capital Causes.1
2 When this Grievance shall be removed, and the Debates of the Assembly shall be free, it will be natural to enquire into all the Grievances we have Suffered from the military Power: Why they have been quartered in the Body of this Town, in Contradiction to the express Words, and as we conceive the manifest Intention of an Act of Parliament: Why the officers who have thus violated our Rights, have not been called to account, and dealt with as the Law required: Whether the Measure taken by the Governor, in appointing an extraordinary officer to provide Quarters for the Troops, was not an Evasion of the Act of Parliament made for the billetting and quartering his Majestys Troops in America (the professed Rule of their Conduct) and designed to elude the Clause of said Act purposely providing for, the { 225 } Convenience of American Subjects, And their Security against an Excess of military Power:2
3d. Why the repeated Offences and Violences committed by the Soldiery against the Peace and in open Defiance and Contempt of the civil Magistrate And the Law, have escaped Punishment in the Courts of Justice:
4th. And whether the Attorney General has not, in Some late Instances unduly <assumed, and exerted> exercised a Power of entering “Nolle prosequi,” upon Indictments, without the Concurrence of the Court, in Obstruction to the Course of Justice and to the great Encouragement of Violence and Oppression.3
5 And as the Quartering Troops <appears to be the grand Source of all these Evils,> here has provd occasion of many evils we do earnestly recommend to you, to use your utmost Endeavours for a Speedy Removal of them <, to Places where they may be really usefull and necessary.>
6 Should4 The Expence that has been incurred <in the Transportation of these Troops hither,> in providing Barracks for the troops and supplying them with Necessaries, <has in our opinion been purposely great. A Reimbursement may possibly> be required of the House of Representatives. <Should this be the Case,> We do, in the most solemn and express manner, enjoin <you, upon no Consideration whatever to pay the least Regard to so unreasonable> that you by no means comply with such5 a Requisition. If the general Court is a free assembly, no Power upon Earth has authority to compell it to pay this Money: <if it is not free,> Should it ever be deprived of its Freedom6 it shall never <with our Consent> be made an Engine <to raise this Money from us.> to drain us of <our Treasure> the little Money we have left.7
<7 Another Object of great <Consequence to this Province,> Importance8 and which requires the early Attention of the Assembly is a <daring> flagrant9 Attack upon our Constitution <of this Province> an Attempt to deprive it [us] of <the Blessings, derived from the Charter> not only of our Charter Liberties privileges and Immunities, but the rights of British subjects derivd to us from the Constitution and the rights of Men derived to us from the laws and Nature of God and Nature. Copys of10 A Number of Letters, have been lately published, here, authenticated by the Clerk of the Papers, to the Honble House of Commons, which contain <such Representations of and Reasonings, as it would not perhaps be prudent for us to characterise, in proper language.> Misrepresentations so gross as to render it needless on this occasion, to make any particular Remarks.11<The Drift and Scope> { 226 } The dark Design12 of the Writer is sufficiently <clear and> apparent, and considering his station <and that of the noble Personage to whom they were addressed,> as Representative of the first personage in the Empire and the rank of the Minister to whom he addressed himself13 and the Attention that has been given to them in Great Britain, we apprehend <them of very dangerous Tendency and Consequence> they have produced Effects dangerous and alarming to both Countrys, and have a direct Tendency to produce yet greater.14 It is therefore expected, that you employ <all your Influence> your utmost Endeavors and all the Influence you may have15 that the injurious Impressions, which may unhappily have been made by them may be removed, and that an effectual Antidote may be administered before the Poison, shall have wrought the Ruin of our Constitution.>16
8 It is unnecessary for Us at this Time, to repeat our well known17 Sentiments concerning the Revenue, which is continually, <collecting from> levyd upon18 Us, to our great Distress and for No other End than to support a great Number of19 very unnecessary Placemen and Pensioners. We have now only to add, that our Sentiments on this Subject are in no Respect changed, And that We expect you pursue with <unabated Zeal, and unalterable Resolution> firm Resolution and unremitted ardor every Measure that may tend to procure us Relief never yeilding <the least> your20 Consent to or Connivance, at <any> the least21 Encroachments on our Rights. Next to the Revenue itself, the late Extensions of the Jurisdiction of the Admiralty, are our greatest Grievance. The American Courts of Admiralty Seem to be forming by Degrees, into a System, that is to overturn our Constitution; and to deprive us entirely of our best Inheritance, the Law of the Land. It would be thought in England, a dangerous Innovation if the Tryal of any Matter upon Land, was given to the Admiral. It would be thought more threatning still, if the Power of Confiscation, over Ships and Cargoes for illicit Trade, was committed to that Court: But if the Forfeitures of Ships and Cargoes, large Penalties upon Masters, and such exorbitant Penalties as the Treble Value of Cargoes, upon every [Person co]ncerned22 in Landing uncustomed goods, were by Act of Parliament appointed to be tryed by the Admiral, the Nation would think their Liberties irrecoverably lost.23
This, however is the miserable Case of North America! In the 41.ss. of the Statute of the 4th. of G[eo]. 3. c. 15. We find that “all the Forfeitures and Penalties, inflicted by this, or any other Act of Parliament, relating to the Trade and Revenues of the British Colonies or Plantations in America, which shall be incurred there, may be prosecuted, { 227 } sued for and recovered in any Court of Admiralty, in the said Colonies”. Thus, these extraordinary Penalties and Forfeitures, are to be heard and tryed not by a Jury—not by the Law of the Land—but by the civil Law and a single Judge! Unlike the ancient Barons, who answered with one Voice “We will not that the Laws of England be changed, which of old have been used and approved,” the Barons of modern Times, seem to have answered, that they are willing, those Laws should be changed, with Regard to America, in the most tender Point, and fundamental Principle!
9 And this hardship is the more severe as we see in the same Page of the statute, and the section immediately preceding, “that all Penalties and Forfeitures, which shall be incurred in Great Britain, shall be prosecuted, sued for, and recovered, in any of his Majestys Courts of Record in Westminster, or in the Court of Exchequer in Scotland respectively.” Here is a Contrast that stares Us, in the Face! <an unjust> A partial Distinction that is made between the subject in Great Britain, and the subject in America! The Parliament in one section, guarding the People of the Realm, and securing to them, the Benefit of a Tryal by Jury and the Law of the Land, and by the next section depriving Americans of those important Rights. Is not this Distinction a Brand of Disgrace upon every American? a Degradation, below the Rank of an Englishman? Is it not, with respect to Us, a Repeal of the 29. Chapter of Magna Charta? “No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or outlawed or exiled, or any otherwise destroyed, nor will we pass upon him, nor condemn him, but lay lawful Judgment of his Peers, or the Law of the Land.” Englishmen are inviolably attached to the important Right expressed in this Clause24 which for many Centuries has been the noblest Monument, and firmest Bulwark of their Liberties. One Proof of this Attachment, given Us, by a great Sage of the Law, we think proper to mention, not for your Information, but as the best Expression of the Sense of your Constituents. “Against this ancient and fundamental Law, and in the Face thereof, says Lord Coke I find an Act of Parliament made, that as well Justices of Assize, as Justices of Peace, without any finding or Presentment of twelve Men, upon a bare Information for the King before them made, should have full Power and Authority, by their Discretions, to hear and try Men,” for Penalties and Forfeitures.”25 His Lordship, after mentioning the Repeal of this Statute, and the Fate of Empson and Dudley, who received the full Weight of the national Vengeance for acting under it, concludes with a Reflection which, if well considered, might { 228 } be sufficient to discourage such attacks upon fundamental Principles. “The ill success of this statute and the fearfull End of these two oppressors, should deter others from committing the like, and should admonish Parliaments, that instead of this ordinary and precious Tryal by the Law of the Land, they bring not in absolute and partial Tryals by Discretion.” Such are the Feelings and Reflections of an Englishman upon a statute, <very like> not unlike the statute now under Consideration, and upon Courts and Judges, <very like> not unlike26 the Courts and Judges of Admiralty, in America.27
The formidable Power of these Courts, and their distressing Course of Proceedings, have been Severely felt within the past Year, many of your fellow Citizens having been worn out with Attendance upon them, in Defence against Informations for extravagant and enormous Penalties. And we have the highest Reason to fear from past Experience that if no Relief is <granted> obtained for28 us, the Properties and Liberties, and the Morals too, of this unhappy Country, will be ruined, by these Courts, and the Persons employed to support them.
We therefore earnestly recommend to you, by every legal Measure to endeavor that the Power of these Courts may be confined to their proper Element, according to the ancient English Statutes, and that you petition and remonstrate against the late Extensions of their Jurisdiction: And we doubt not, the other Colonies and Provinces, who <begin to> Suffer, with us, under them, will chearfully harmonise with <you> this, in any justifiable Measures that may be taken for Redress.
10 We need not here take occasion to instruct you That while you in the most ample manner testify your loyalty to our gracious Sovereign you29 strenuously assert and maintain, the Right of the subject jointly or severally30 to Petition the King; or to declare it as our clear opinion, that the House of Representatives in any one Province, has an undeniable Right, whenever a just occasion shall offer, to communicate their Sentiments upon a common Concern, to the Assemblys of any or all the other Colonies and to unite with them in humble, dutifull and loyal Petitions for Redress of a general Grievance.
Dft (MB); mainly in the hand of JA; endorsed by William Cooper, town clerk: “Draft of Instructions.” Numerous additions and amendments in several unknown hands are noted below. Numerical subheadings entered in margins. Printed text in Boston Gazette, 15 May 1769. Minor variations between Dft and printed text are ignored.
The additions and changes disprove JA's claims that these instructions, { 229 } like the ones he drafted for the town in 1768, were accepted “without Alteration” (see 17 June 1768, note 1, above). Rather, the alterations confirm the town meeting records of 8 May which note that the draft report was carefully “considered and Voted Paragraph by Paragraph” before the meeting voted to adopt the modified instructions and to order their printing in the local press (Boston Record Commissioners, 16th Report, p. 285–289). A large portion of sections 8 and 9 in the draft instructions was adapted by JA from an argument he had prepared during the period Oct. 1768-March 1769 in the case of Sewall v. Hancock (see JA, Legal Papers, 2:199–202, for the text of this section of the draft argument).
1. “Even of Capital Causes” in the Boston Gazette.
2. When Gov. Bernard sought quarters for British regiments in Boston in Sept. 1768, the Council and the town selectmen contended that the town was under no obligation to provide for the troops until all available space in local barracks was filled. Bostonians maintained this interpretation of the Quartering Act's provisions throughout the pre-Revolutionary occupation (Hutchinson, Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 3:149–157).
3. For specific occasions on which Atty. Gen. Jonathan Sewall was accused of having entered pleas of nolle prosequi in cases involving soldiers who had harrassed townspeople, see Boston Evening-Post, 27 March and 19 June 1769.
4. “Should” in another hand.
5. “That . . . such” in the same hand as the previous addition.
6. “Should . . . Freedom” in a second unknown hand.
7. “To drain . . . left” in the second unknown hand.
8. “Importance” in a third unknown hand.
9. “Flagrant” in the third unknown hand.
10. “Not only . . . Copys of” in the third unknown hand.
11. This sentence in the third unknown hand.
12. Substitution made in the third unknown hand.
13. “As Representative . . . himself” in the third unknown hand.
14. “They have . . . yet greater” in the third unknown hand.
15. “Utmost Endeavors . . . have” in the third unknown hand.
16. Copies of Letters from Governor Bernard &c. to the Earl of Hillsborough, a pamphlet containing six letters to Hillsborough from Bernard and one from Gen. Gage, appeared in Boston in April. Copies of the letters had been sent to the Massachusetts Council by William Bollan, the former provincial agent who still acted as an agent for the Council. Very influential Bollan was able to gain access to the correspondence when it was laid before Commons in Jan. 1769 (T. R. Adams, American Independence, No. 68a–e; Hutchinson, Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 3:163).
Although paragraph “7” is canceled from the draft, it appeared in the Boston Gazette in this form:
“Another Object of great Importance, and which requires your earliest Attention, is a late flagrant and formal Attack upon the Constitution itself: An Attempt, not only to deprive us of the Liberties, Privileges and Immunities of our Charter, but the Rights of British Subjects. We have seen Copies of Letters published here, authenticated by the Clerk of the Papers to the Honorable House of Commons, the Contents of which must have awakened the Jealousy of the Country—the Design of the Writer is sufficiently apparent: And considering his Station, as Representative of the first Personage in the Empire, and the rank of the Minister to whom he addressed himself, we cannot wonder that Credit has been given to his Letters in Great-Britain, and that they have already produced Effects alarming to the Colonies, and dangerous to both Countries. It is therefore expected that you use the whole Influence you may have, that the injurious Impressions which they have unhappily made, may be removed, and that an effectual Antidote { 230 } may be administered, before the Poison shall have wrought the Ruin of the Constitution.”
17. “Well known” in the third unknown hand.
18. “Levyd upon” in the third unknown hand.
19. “A great Number of” in the third unknown hand.
20. “Your” in the third unknown hand.
21. “The least” in the third unknown hand.
22. Blotted in MS; obliterated material supplied from Boston Gazette text.
23. An act of Parliament of 1768 stipulated that colonial violators of trade or revenue acts were to be tried only in juryless vice-admiralty courts. Hitherto, such cases could be heard either in viceadmiralty courts or in local courts of record. For a summary of the expansion of vice-admiralty jurisdiction in such cases, see Gipson, Empire before the Revolution, 11:120–125. The two paragraphs which follow are based on JA's argument in Sewall v. Hancock. See descriptive note, above.
24. A phrase following “Law of the Land” has been deleted so completely as to be illegible. “Englishmen ... Clause” is added in the margin in an unidentified hand and keyed with an asterisk for insertion at this point.
25. Quotation marks supplied from Boston Gazette text. JA mentioned this opinion of Coke's on Empson and Dudley in his first Clarendon-to-Pym letter, 13 Jan. 1766, above.
26. The two substitutions of “not unlike” for “very like” in this passage made by the third unknown hand.
27. To this point, section “9” of the draft instructions is based upon JA's argument in Sewall v. Hancock.
28. “Obtained for” in the first unknown hand.
29. “That while ... you” in the first unknown hand.
30. “Jointly or severally” in the first unknown hand.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0075

Author: Adams, John
Author: Boston Town Meeting
Date: 1769-10-18

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

Boston Town Meeting Committee Report on Measures for the Vindication of the Town

Boston, 18 October 1769. MS (MB). Printed: Boston Record Commissioners, 16th Report, p. 299–300, 303–325. On 4 Oct., JA was named to a committee “to Consider what Measures are proper to be taken to vindicate the Character of the Town” from charges made by Gov. Bernard and others in letters to Lord Hillsborough (same, p. 297). The first part of the committee's report, submitted on 18 Oct., was a direct reply to those accusations as they had appeared in two pamphlets: Copies of Letters from Governor Bernard &c. (see Draft Instructions, 8 May 1769, note 16, above) and Letters to the Ministry from Governor Bernard, General Gage, and Commodore Hood (Boston, Sept. 1769; see T. R. Adams, American Independence, No. 69a–c). This section of the report, approved by the town and ordered to be printed that day, was published as An Appeal to the World; Or a Vindication of the Town of Boston (see same, No. 62a–d; Evans, No. 11133). An Appeal to the World has traditionally been credited to Samuel Adams (see Wells, Samuel Adams, 1:282–287, and Samuel Adams, Writings, 1:396–445). However, JA commented in 1819: “It is not at all improbable that Mr. [Samuel] Adams and Mr. [James] Otis together may have composed the 'Appeal to the world'” (letter to Alden Bradford, 12 March 1819, LbC, Adams Papers).
The second portion of the committee's report, less well known than An Appeal to the World, consisted of a set of resolutions adopted by the { 231 } town later that same afternoon. The first resolve condemned Bernard and the Commissioners of Customs for their “virulent Endeavors to traduce it [the town of Boston] even to his Majesty himself.” The second endorsed the House petition seeking Bernard's removal, and the third criticized the “unreasonable Prejudice” against Boston shown by Gage and Hood as well as the “want of Candor” Hillsborough betrayed in accepting their charges at face value without making an “impartial Enquiry.” The fourth, and most remarkable, of the resolutions called on the selectmen to bring charges of libel against the crown officials involved. JA's contribution to this section of the committee's report has not been ascertained.
MS (MB). Printed (Boston Record Commissioners, 16th Report, p. 299–300, 303–325).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0076

Author: Adams, John
Author: Cushing, Thomas
Author: Adams, Samuel
Author: Otis, James Jr.
Author: Warren, Joseph
Author: Dana, Richard
Author: Henshaw, Joshua
Author: Jackson, Joseph
Author: Kent, Benjamin
Author: Boston Town Meeting
Recipient: De Berdt, Dennys
Date: 1769-10-23

Boston Town Meeting Committee to Dennys De Berdt

[salute] Sir

In pursuance of the directions of the Town of Boston we have the honor to transmit you a Pamphlet containing some observations upon diverse letters and memorials wrote by Governor Bernard and others wherein the Town has been injuriously aspersed and its Inhabitants grosly misrepresented.2
Your unwearied endeavors to serve the interest of this Province and the American Colonies in general has been observed with pleasure and will ever be had in grateful remembrance by this people, and we are perswaded from your well known attachment to the cause of liberty that you will exert your self in behalf of this much injured Town and imp[rove]3 their vindication now sent you in such a manner as will best serve to set their Character in a true point of light—and that you will also employ your influence to obtain the speedy removal of all the American grieveances we at present labour under.
The inclosed Pamphlet will give you some idea what relief is expected by the People here, they will never think their grievances redressed till every Revenue Act is repealed, the Board of Commissioner dessolved and the Troops removed, and things restored to the state they were in before the late measures of Administration were taken. These things being accomplished we doubt not that the harmony which heretofore subsisted between Great Britain and the Colonies will be happily restored—an event ardently wished for by every friend to the British Empire.
{ 232 }

[salute] We are in strict truth Sir Your most obedient humble Servants

[signed] Thomas Cushing
[signed] Saml. Adams
[signed] John Adams
[signed] James Otis
[signed] Jos. Warren
[signed] Rid. Dana
[signed] Joshua Henshaw
[signed] Joseph Jackson
[signed] Benja. Kent
Committee of the Town of Boston
RC (MHi:Mass. Papers, Elwyn Gift); at foot of text: “(Copy)”; endorsed: “Thos. Cushing, Esqr. Boston Octr. 23d. Recd. Decr. 2d. Answered Decr. 5th.” Duplicate RC, without JA's signature, (in same collection); endorsed: “Cushing. 23d. octo. Received 29 Nov. from the Commite. of Merchans.” On the enclosure in these letters, see note 2, below.
1. Torn in MS; date supplied from duplicate RC.
2. On 18 Oct., the town meeting adopted this committee's draft report and ordered its publication as the pamphlet which became known as An Appeal to the World (see preceding document). The same committee was then directed to transmit copies of the pamphlet to De Berdt, the London agent for the House of Representatives, and to Isaac Barré, Thomas Pownall, Benjamin Franklin, William Bollan, and Barlow Trecothick (Boston Record Commissioners, 16th Report, p. 299). For the committee's letter to Franklin, see the following document.
3. Torn in MS; missing material supplied from duplicate RC.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0077

Author: Adams, John
Author: Boston Town Meeting
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1769-10-23

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

Boston Town Meeting Committee to Benjamin Franklin

Printed: Franklin, Papers, 16:222–224. For the circumstances of the committee's appointment and its correspondence with Franklin, see the preceding document.
Printed (Franklin, Papers, 16:222–224).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0078

Author: Adams, John
Author: Otis, James Jr.
Author: Adams, Samuel
Author: Hancock, John
Author: Dana, Richard
Author: Warren, Joseph
Author: Church, Benjamin
Author: Kent, Benjamin
Author: Young, Thomas
Author: Quincy, Josiah Jr.
Author: Boston Sons of Liberty
Recipient: Wilkes, John
Date: 1769-11-04

Committee of the Boston Sons of Liberty to John Wilkes

[salute] Sir

Many unforeseen engagements, and unavoidable accidents, furnish us with our only apology for not transmitting a seasonable answer to your favour of March last.1 We flatter ourselves you will be so kind as yet to accept of our most sincere thanks, for all your noble and generous expressions of regard for the Colonies. We yet too sensibly feel the loss of every right, liberty and privilege, that can distinguish a { 233 } Freeman from a Slave, not to sympathize in the most tender manner with you, in the conflicts you have been so long engaged in, and in the sufferings you now severely labor under, so far as we can judge, only for a firm and intrepid opposition to ministerial despotism. We easily perceive the causes and motives of that relentless and unremitted ardor and fury with which you are persecuted. It is not more for your own sake, than for the invincible resolution with which you have supported the cause of liberty, and of Mankind.
With us also the laws seem to lie prostrate at the foot of power. Our City is yet a Garrison filled with armed Men, as our harbour is with Cruizers, Cutters and other armed Vessells. A main guard is yet placed at the doors of our State house. The other side of the Exchange is turned into a guarded den of Revenue officers to plunder our trade, and drain the Country of its money, not only without our consent, but against repeated remonstrances.2 The Military are guilty of all kinds of licentiousness. The public streets are unsafe to walk in for either sex, by night or by day. Prosecutions, Civil and Criminal against the inhabitants, are pushed with great rancor and rigor; while those against the troops, and the revenue officers, and their confederates are frowned upon and embarrassed, by every possible means in the power of those who are inimical to the rights of the subject. Sometimes small fines are imposed that tend to encourage a repetition of enormities. When every thing else fails a Nole Pros.3 is entered, and that power is claimed here, as an uncontrolable prerogative of the Crown; and by the Attorney General exercised with as little ceremony, or modesty, as in the reigns of any of the Stuarts. Such, without exaggeration, is the present wretched state of the once happy and flourishing City of Boston. Such in a degree, is the state of all our trading towns, and such in effect, is the state of the whole Continent: This would be intolerable had England been really at the expence of settling and defending the ancient Colonies: For even that would not have deprived us of the rights of men, or the freedom of Citizens.
It may not be disagreeable to you to receive a short sketch, of our humble opinion, of the present situation of North America in some other respects. There has not been since the last War a Naval force stationed in St. Lawrence, nor in the Northern seas of America sufficient to cover a City from an attack of six sail of the Line. The forces are in a manner all drawn down to the coasts of the Ocean, in conjunction with an army of revenue Officers and a Fleet of small cruizers and cutters, to destroy your own commerce: And they are accordingly as greedy after their prey as if cruizing upon a foreign enemy. { 234 } { 235 } The Indian Nations on the great Rivers St. Lawrence and the Missisippi, which are well known to surround all the British Colonies, are left at liberty to intrigue as usual with the French and Spaniards and to cut the throats of our back inhabitants at pleasure. Some in power here and at home 'tis said have hinted this as done by design to enforce obedience to the revenue laws. Something of the kind has been thrown out in the publications on both sides the Atlantic. What foundation there may be for the conjectures that Canada will be given up for partial considerations or interest, or suffered to fall a sacrifice to a few ridiculous Acts for raising an American revenue, which will never defrey the charge of collecting we know not. This however may be depended on, that the French and Spaniards are strong in the West-Indias: four or five thousand regulars from Old Spain have actually repossessed his Spanish Majesty of Orleans in the Mississipi. And we all know that a strong squadron from Brest with Troops have a chance of a passage to Quebec, while a Fleet if ready may be beating out of the English Channell. Forewarn'd, Forearm'd! The French and Spaniards never will forget nor forgive the severe drubbing they received in the last War. And from all appearances, it is much to be apprehended, the parties to the family compact are meditating some great blow, and are as likely to strike in North America as in Corsica. Perhaps that very expedition was the rather formed against that hero Paoli,4 but to whet their swords, and discipline the French slaves for the further carnage of the Sons of liberty. Where so likely to begin as in North America? And however light some may make of the loss of Canada, there is reason to fear, should the French ever be suffered to repossess themselves of that Country, the event would soon prove fatal to Britain, if not to the whole British empire.5 We have not thought it best to publish your letters: You are at liberty to dispose of ours as you think fit.
That you may be soon fully restored to your liberty, your family, your friends, your Country, and to the world; and enjoy all imaginable prosperity, is the ardent wish and fervent prayer of the Friends of Liberty in Boston.
[signed] James Otis
[signed] Saml Adams
[signed] John Hancock
[signed] Rd Dana
[signed] Jos Warren
[signed] Benja Church Junr.
[signed] Benj. Kent
{ 236 }
[signed] John Adams
[signed] Tho Young
[signed] Josiah Quincy junr.
RC (BM:Add. MSS 30870, f. 222–224).
1. For Wilkes' letter of 30 March, see 5 Oct. 1768, note 3, above. This letter was delivered to the Boston Sons of Liberty in the first week of June, and the committee responsible for corresponding with Wilkes was enlarged by the addition of James Otis, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Richard Dana, and Josiah Quincy Jr. A formal answer to Wilkes was first postponed until the outcome of the General Court session was known (Thomas Young to Wilkes, 6 July 1769, MHS, Procs., 47 [1913–1914]: 202–203). The political situation fluctuated so drastically that summer, however, that successive drafts prepared by the committee did not have “the good fortune to obtain the finishing hand till a new face of affairs determined on alteration” (Young to Wilkes, 6 Sept., same, p. 209).
2. The Customs Commissioners, who had fled to Castle William after the riots following the seizure of John Hancock's sloop Liberty, returned to Boston in Nov. 1768 when the presence of the British regiments could insure their safety (Boston Evening-Post, 9 Jan. 1769). The Customs House was located a block from the State House on the corner of King Street and Exchange Place.
3. For complaints against Atty. Gen. Sewall's use of nolle prosequi pleas, see 8 May 1769, note 3, above.
4. Pascal Paoli (1725–1807), patriot leader of Corsica, had been forced to flee to England earlier in 1769 after his forces were defeated by the French. The island had been ceded to France by Genoa in 1768 (DNB).
5. In their attack on the revenue acts, presumably passed in part to help pay for the defense of the empire, the whigs often denied that the conquest of Canada was of any benefit to the colonies. Here, in an interesting reversal, they argue that neglect of the defense of Canada may destroy the empire.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0079

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1770-01-03 - 1774-07-26

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

Suffolk County Bar Book

Boston,3 January 1770 – 26 July 1774. MS book containing 138 numbered pages (MHi). Printed: MHS, Procs., 1st ser., 19 (1881–1882): 147–179. The first 16 pages (of which p. 13–14 are blank) contain entries in JA's hand for meetings of the Suffolk co. bar, 1770–1774. The remaining pages, carrying entries in various other hands, give the minutes of the bar from 21 July 1778 to 26 March 1805.
MS book containing 138 numbered pages (MHi). Printed (MHS, Procs., 1st ser., 19 (1881–1882): 147–179).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0080

Author: Adams, John
Author: Winthrop, Governor
Date: 1770-01

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

Governor Winthrop to the Inhabitants of New England

Boston, January? 1770. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:349. Apparently the fragment of an intended newspaper contribution; for JA's earlier use of this pseudonym, see Replies to Philanthrop, [ante 9 Dec. 1766]–16 Feb. 1767, above.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0001

Editorial Note

In the first week of June 1770, Adams accepted a seat in the Massachusetts House, a step which at the time he considered “a devotion of my family to ruin and myself to death” (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:294). The doubtful honor devolved upon him when James Bowdoin, chosen in May as a member of the House from Boston, was elected to the Provincial Council, vacating his seat in the lower chamber of the General Court. At a special town meeting on the morning of 6 June, Adams scored an easy victory over John Ruddock, a wealthy businessman with a strong following among “the Tradesmen and Mechanicks.” Adams made a brief acceptance speech to the town meeting at Faneuil Hall and set out to take his place in the House (same).
To assume his seat in the legislature, Adams was forced to journey across the Charles River to Cambridge, for the General Court had been moved out of Boston to Harvard College; its “removal” overshadowed every other issue in the first four months of Adams' service. (See Donald C. Lord and Robert M. Calhoon, “The Removal of the Massachusetts General Court from Boston, 1769–1772,” JAH, 55:735–755 [March 1969].) Gov. Francis Bernard had ordered the transfer in June 1769, acting on instructions from Secretary of State Hillsborough that he exert his “constitutional Authority” to summon the General Court outside Boston in order to rescue the legislature from the influence of the town's “licentious and unrestrained Mob” (Hillsborough to Bernard, 30 July 1768, MHi:Transcripts of Instructions to Governors of Mass., 1768–1775). After Bernard's return to England later that year, Lt. Gov. Thomas Hutchinson received somewhat ambiguous instructions to continue the General Court at Cambridge only if developments arose “of such a nature as to outweigh” two considerations that Hillsborough mentioned: the continuation of troops in Boston and the behavior of its citizens (Hillsborough to Hutchinson, 9 Dec. 1769, MHi:Transcripts of Instructions to Governors). In March 1770, Hutchinson called the General Court into session at Cambridge. “Only from absolute Necessity,” the legislators agreed to proceed to business during that brief session, and they refused to concede the right of the acting governor to change their meeting place (Mass., House Jour., 1769–1770, p. 101).
When a new House was chosen in the annual elections of May 1770, Hutchinson continued his policy. The House met in Cambridge on 31 May, and, although the representatives agreed to elect a Council, opposi• { 239 } { 240 } tion to their “removal” hardened. Before Adams took his seat on 6 June, the House had submitted a message challenging Hutchinson's right to remove the legislature, and the Lieutenant Governor replied with a message asserting his legal and constitutional right to hold the assembly where he wished. In a second exchange on 5 June, the House demanded to see the instructions under which Hutchinson acted; he refused, both because of the ambiguity of Hillsborough's instructions and because other instructions forbade him to make such communications to the General Court (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 15–16; Bailyn, Thomas Hutchinson, p. 172–173).
On the morning of 6 June, only a few hours before Adams joined the House, debate opened on the report of a committee charged with considering “what may be proper further to be done while the General Court is held out of the Town-House in Boston.” As soon as Adams took his oath that afternoon, the House resumed debate, and Adams cast his vote with the majority of 96 representatives who adopted the resolution that “it is by no Means expedient to proceed to Business” while the assembly was “thus constrained” to meet outside Boston (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 16–21). Adams' appointment to the committee charged with preparing an address to Hutchinson after the adoption of this resolution (see calendar entry for 7 June, below) was the first indication of the part he would play in this controversy between the House and the executive.
That drama continued throughout the summer. The first session of the House ended in stalemate, and the legislature was prorogued on 25 June, only to be recalled for a brief second session, 25 July-3 August (see calendar entry for 31 July, below). By 26 September, when the Lieutenant Governor recalled the Court for its third session, he had received more specific instructions. Hutchinson's decision to continue the General Court at Cambridge had been approved by his superiors, and he was directed to maintain that policy unless it “should be attended with any such inconvenience as may make it adviseable to hold it in some other place,” in which case he might “remove it to any other Town in the Province except Boston” (Hillsborough to Hutchinson, 6 July 1770, MHi:Transcripts of Instructions to Governors).
In the third session of the General Court for 1770–1771, the opposition continued the fight to maintain the House's refusal to do business outside Boston (see calendar entries for 28 Sept., 4 and 5 Oct., below). But in a vote taken during Adams' absence from Cambridge on 9 October, the House agreed to proceed to official duties “only from absolute necessity” (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 88–91). On 16 October on the motion of James Warren, the House gave leave to “Members who were absent at the Time [9 Oct.] when the Resolution pass'd to proceed to Business out of the Town-House in Boston ... to declare their Opinion thereon in the House.” Both Warren and John Adams took advantage of this opportunity to express their opposition to the change of stance in the House (same, p. 97–98).
{ 241 }
Even as Adams protested the House retreat on the issue of “removal,” he was named to committees which dealt with other conflicts between the General Court and the executive. The old issue of the presence of British troops in Boston was revived in the dispute over the command of Castle William (see calendar entry for 23 Oct., below). Hutchinson's refusal to disclose his instructions, and the style of enacting provincial laws also drew Adams' attention that session (see calendar entries for 4 and 5 Oct. and 6 Nov., below). Committee appointments arising from the failure of the nonimportation movement (see calendar entry for 16 Nov., below) and the appointment of a new agent in London (see calendar entry for 17 Dec., below) reflected broader aspects of the local conflicts.
The third session of the legislature ended on 20 November, and the General Court did not meet again until 3 April 1771. Adams was relatively inactive in this fourth session; his attendance was not recorded until 10 April, and his diary shows that he attended no meetings after 17 April, nine days before the session's close (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:6–9). In this session, the most important committee on which Adams served was undoubtedly that which drafted a bill for Hutchinson's salary as lieutenant governor (see second calendar entry for 10 April, below). This bill forced the newly commissioned governor to confirm suspicions that he expected support directly from the Crown, thus becoming financially independent of the legislature.
Adams' service on committees in the House for 1770–1771 is described below in a list of calendar entries for those committees for which there is some documentary record of their work. (Committees about whose recommendations the record gives no hint and those with ceremonial duties, such as the delivery of messages and votes, are not described; for a check list including many of these other appointments, see JA, Works, 2:233–236, note.) The calendar form has been used because the absence of draft versions of these reports prevents their attribution to Adams or to any of his colleagues.
Adams left no record of his work as a legislative draftsman in 1770–1771, although he did recall that “this was to me a fatiguing Session, for they put me upon all the Drudgery of managing all the disputes” (Diary and Autobiography, 3:295). In listing his published writings in 1783, he concluded with the remark that “these . . . are all that I recollect to have ever written in America, excepting in a public Character, as a Member of the Legislature of Massachusetts or of Congress, which it is unnecessary to mention here” (letter to the Abbé de Mably, 17 Jan. 1783, LbC, Adams Papers). “Unnecessary” as such a list may have seemed to Adams at the time, it would have been of more than passing interest to students of his career two centuries later.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0002

Author: Adams, John
Author: Adams, Samuel
Author: Hancock, John
Author: Warren, James
Author: Leonard, Daniel
Author: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Recipient: Hutchinson, Thomas
Recipient: Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony
Date: 1770-06-07

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Address to Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson Requesting the Return of the General Court to Boston

7 June 1770. MS (M-Ar), in an unidentified hand. Printed: Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 22. Prepared by a committee appointed 6 June composed of Samuel Adams, JA, { 242 } John Hancock, James Warren, and Daniel Leonard, and reported to the House “by Mr. Adams.”
After the House adopted its resolutions of 6 June by which the members refused to conduct business outside Boston, JA was named to this committee charged with preparing an address to Hutchinson, “praying that he would be pleased to remove the General Assembly to the Town House in Boston” (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 16–22). The committee's draft address, submitted 7 June, was approved by the House and delivered to Hutchinson by a committee of which JA was a member. The Address asserted that convening the General Court in Cambridge was “a very great Grievance” and concluded with a request that Hutchinson return the legislature to Boston because of the House's claim that “it is by no Means expedient” to conduct business out of that town “and as there are Matters now lying before the Assembly of very great Importance.”
MS (M-Ar), in an unidentified hand. Printed (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 22).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0003

Author: Adams, John
Author: Hawley, Joseph
Author: Adams, Samuel
Author: Pickering, John Jr.
Author: Leonard, Daniel
Author: Mitchell, Edward
Author: Sumner, Nathaniel
Author: Hobson, Humphrey
Author: Denny, Thomas
Author: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Date: 1770-06-12

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Committee Report on the Reasons for not Proceeding to Business

12 June 1770. MS not found. Printed: Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 25–32. Prepared by a committee appointed 8 June composed of Joseph Hawley, Samuel Adams, JA, John Pickering Jr., Daniel Leonard, Edward Mitchell, Nathaniel Sumner, Humphrey Hobson, and Thomas Denny (same, p. 24), and presented to the House by Joseph Hawley.
Upon receipt of the House Address of 7 June (see preceding calendar entry), Lt. Gov. Hutchinson replied with a message which justified the legality of removing the General Court to Cambridge and urged the need to proceed with the session's business (Mass., House Jour., 23–24). The committee listed above was named “to state the Reasons of this House for coming into a Resolution, That it is not expedient to proceed to the Business of the Session while the General Assembly is held out of the Town-House in Boston; and also for adhering to the same.”
On 12 June the House adopted the committee's report, which recommended publication of the House resolutions of 6 June along with “Reasons for adhering to said Resolutions” which the Committee had prepared. The “Reasons” waived “at present . . . any further Observations on the Legality” of holding legislative sessions out of Boston. Instead, the report conceded the validity of prerogative when used “to the public Good,” but attacked Hutchinson's policies as a misuse of power, unjustified by public need and contrary to the public welfare. The “Reasons” answered each historical and legal precedent Hutchinson had raised in his defense and closed with the claim that Hutchinson, not the General Court, must bear the blame for any inconveniences suffered as a result of the legislature's refusal to conduct business while sessions were held in Cambridge. The report was adopted with only three dissenting votes (same, p. 31–32).
Printed (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 25–32).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0004

Author: Adams, John
Author: Cushing, Thomas
Author: Hawley, Joseph
Author: Adams, Samuel
Author: Sheaffe, Edward
Author: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Recipient: Hutchinson, Thomas
Recipient: Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony
Date: 1770-06-15

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Address to Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson Seeking a Recess

15 June 1770. MS not found. Printed: Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 38. Prepared by a committee appointed and reporting the same day, composed of Thomas Cushing, Joseph Hawley, Samuel Adams, Edward Sheaffe, and JA.
{ 243 }
On 13 June the Representatives heard the Council's address to Hutchinson which reiterated the determination of the House to conduct no business in Cambridge (same, p. 32–36). Hutchinson's reply to the Council reaffirmed his position and was presented to the House on 15 June. The committee described above was then named to prepare a message to the Lieutenant Governor restating the lower chamber's decision “not to enter upon Business out of the Town of Boston” and adding the prayer that if Hutchinson was “determined not to remove the Assembly there, he would be pleased to give Leave to the Members to retire to their respective Homes” (same, p. 37). Upon the adoption of the report, JA was named to the committee which delivered the message to Hutchinson. It was not until 25 June, however, that Hutchinson recessed the intransigent legislators (same, p. 38, 47).
Printed (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 38).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0005

Author: Adams, John
Author: Cushing, Thomas
Author: Hancock, John
Author: Leonard, Daniel
Author: Adams, Samuel
Author: Denny, Thomas
Author: Gallison, John
Author: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Recipient: Hutchinson, Thomas
Recipient: Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony
Date: 1770-07-31

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Reply to a Speech of Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson

31 July 1770. MS, fair copy, in the hand of Samuel Adams (MB). Printed: Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 63–71. Prepared by a committee appointed 26 July, composed of Thomas Cushing, John Hancock, Daniel Leonard, Samuel Adams, JA, Thomas Denny, and John Gallison (same, p. 62).
The second session of the General Court began 25 July with a speech from Hutchinson to both houses. He pressed his arguments for maintaining the legislature in Cambridge and urged House and Council to reconsider their decision not to proceed to business until back in Boston (same, p. 58–61). The following day the House voted to adhere to the resolution of 6 June (see calendar entry for 7 June, above) and to refuse to conduct business in Cambridge. The committee described above was named to draft an answer to Hutchinson's speech and to notify him of the representatives' decision to stand by their earlier policy. Before acceptance, the report was recommitted, and when resubmitted it was debated paragraph by paragraph (Mass., House Jour., p. 62–63). On 3 August, despairing of any cooperation from the General Court, Hutchinson prorogued the legislature to 5 September (same, p. 78).
MS, fair copy, in the hand of Samuel Adams (MB). Printed (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 63–71).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0006

Author: Adams, John
Author: Cushing, Thomas
Author: Adams, Samuel
Author: Foster, Jedediah
Author: Denny, Thomas
Author: Hancock, John
Author: Godfrey, George
Author: Warren, James
Author: Hobson, Humphrey
Author: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Date: 1770-09-28

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Committee Report on Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson's Speech

28 September 1770. MS not found. Prepared by a committee appointed 27 September, composed of Thomas Cushing, Samuel Adams, Jedediah Foster, Thomas Denny, JA, John Hancock, George Godfrey, James Warren, and Humphrey Hobson Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 82.
The third session of the 1770–1771 General Court, continued by prorogations, met in Cambridge on 26 September. The following day Hutchinson delivered a speech to the Council and House meeting jointly in which he catalogued matters requiring the legislature's attention and urged proceeding “with all Diligence” (same, p. 80–82). On 28 September, Cushing “reported as their unanimous Opinion, That it is for the Interest of the Province, that this House still adhere to their former Resolution, viz. That it is by no Means expedient to proceed to the public Business” (same, p. 82). For House action on the report, see calendar entries for 4 and 65 October, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0007

Author: Adams, John
Author: Hancock, John
Author: Ingersoll, David Jr.
Author: Adams, Samuel
Author: Fuller, Samuel
Author: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Recipient: Hutchinson, Thomas
Recipient: Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony
Date: 1770-10-04

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Message to Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson on his Speech to the General Court

4 October 1770. MS not found. Printed: Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 86–87. Prepared by a committee appointed and reporting the same day composed of John Hancock, JA, David Ingersoll Jr., Samuel Adams, and Abraham Fuller.
On 4 October, the House first considered the committee report of 28 September (see preceding calendar entry) which called for a reaffirmation of the assembly's refusal to conduct business out of Boston. Instead of taking direct action on this recommendation, the House named the committee listed above to prepare a message to Hutchinson doing two things: seeking clarification of a section of his speech of 27 September, and demanding information concerning any recent instructions Hutchinson had received concerning the site of General Court sessions. Clarification was sought for Hutchinson's mention of “Affairs depending of a very interesting Nature, which had not then [during the June and July sessions of the General Court] come to our Knowledge, and which may be determined before we can have another Opportunity of acting upon them” if the legislature continued to refuse to conduct business. The committee's report was approved by the House and answered by Hutchinson the same day (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 80, 86–87; see following calendar entry).
Printed (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 86–87).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0008

Author: Adams, John
Author: Murray, John
Author: Gerrish, Joseph
Author: Prebble, Jedediah
Author: Adams, Samuel
Author: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Date: 1770-10-05

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Committee Report on Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson's Message

5 October 1770. MS not found. Prepared by a committee appointed and reporting 5 October, composed of John Murray, Joseph Gerrish, JA, Jedediah Prebble, and Samuel Adams. Murray reported the same day.
In his reply to the House Message of 4 October (see preceding calendar entry), Hutchinson claimed he was “not at Liberty” to communicate the order in council of 6 July to which he had referred obliquely in his speech at the opening of the session. He referred to the “entire Approbation” the Crown had given to his transfer of the legislature to Cambridge and asserted that he was now “restrained from removing it to Boston” (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 87). After Hutchinson's message was read to the House on 5 October, Murray reported the committee's “unanimous Opinion, That his Honor's said Message does not afford that Light which the House requested in their Message to him; and that it appears to them from his Honor's Message, that he was restrained by Instruction, from communicating the same to the House in a Parliamentary Manner” (same, p. 88).
JA was then named to a committee “to prepare an Address and Remonstrance accordingly,” but the Journal records no presentation of any such “Address” in that session; indeed, the need for such a protest was superseded by House action on 9 October (see Editorial Note, above).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0009

Author: Adams, John
Author: Danielson, Timothy
Author: Warren, James
Author: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Date: 1770-10-17

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Committee Report on Naming a Day of Prayer and Humiliation

17 October 1770. MS not found. Draft prepared by a committee appointed 16 October composed of JA, Timothy Danielson, and James Warren. The committee's report, submitted the following day, was recommitted and, at { 245 } the same time, JA was excused from the committee with Samuel Holten appointed in his place (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 101–102).
The original committee was instructed to prepare an Address to Lt. Gov. Hutchinson, “praying that he would be pleas'd to appoint a Day of solemn Prayer and Humiliation to be observ'd throughout this Province” (same, p. 98). There is no way of knowing how similar the committee's draft was to the address on this subject adopted by the House on 23 October (same, p. 110). For Hutchinson's discussion of the political implications of the House request, see Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 3:244.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0010

Author: Adams, John
Author: Adams, Samuel
Author: Warren, James
Author: Hancock, John
Author: Prescott, James
Author: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Recipient: Hutchinson, Thomas
Recipient: Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony
Date: 1770-10-23

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Message to Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson on the Command of Castle William

23 October 1770. MS not found. Printed: Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 111. Prepared by a committee appointed 17 October composed of Samuel Adams, JA, James Warren, John Hancock, and James Prescott (same, p. 101).
In his speech at the opening of the General Court's third session (27 Sept.), Hutchinson announced that provincial troops had been withdrawn from Castle William and, by order of the Crown, replaced by British regulars (same, p. 81). The House expressed indignation at the “very false Representations” that presumably had persuaded the King to take this step and demanded to know whether Hutchinson still commanded the post or whether Castle William had been transferred from civilian to military jurisdiction (same, p. 94–95).
When Hutchinson's reply to the House (17 Oct.) did not satisfy the representatives, they named the committee described above. The committee's report proposed a message demanding that Hutchinson “in an explicit Manner assure us, Whether you still hold the Command of his Majesty's Castle-William.” Hutchinson's reply is printed at p. 112–113.
Printed (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 111).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0011

Author: Adams, John
Author: Leonard, Daniel
Author: Ingersoll, David Jr.
Author: Adams, Samuel
Author: Hawley, Joseph
Author: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Recipient: Hutchinson, Thomas
Recipient: Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony
Date: 1770-11-06

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Message to Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson on the Style of Enacting Laws

6 November 1770. MS not found. Printed: Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 134–135. Prepared by a committee appointed 2 November composed of Daniel Leonard, Samuel Adams, JA, Joseph Hawley, and David Ingersoll Jr. (same, p. 128).
After voting to conduct business despite their removal to Cambridge, members of the House added the phrase “in general court assembled” to the usual form for the authority under which provincial statutes were enacted. The committee described above was appointed immediately after the House received Hutchinson's protest that the “Stile of enacting” new laws would force him to violate instructions of thirty years' standing which required the governor to allow only the form “by the Governor, Council and House of Representatives” (same, p. 128). The committee's report of 6 November declared that the additional phrase was “of Substance, and necessary,” but the House did not press the matter. As Hutchinson pointed out, the representatives “sent for their bills from the council, took out the exceptionable words, and omitted them in all the other bills passed in the session” (Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 3:226).
{ 246 }
JA himself referred to the matter as a “laboured controversy,” which he mentioned in passing in his Autobiography only as the inspiration for Governor Shirley's remark on “this brace of Adams's” who served in the House in 1770 (Diary and Autobiography, 2:54–56, 3:295). For a discussion of the usage of the controversial phrase in earlier provincial statutes, see Mass., Province Laws, 5:139–140.
Printed (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 134–135).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0012

Author: Adams, John
Author: Cushing, Thomas
Author: Hawley, Joseph
Author: Adams, Samuel
Author: Hancock, John
Author: Worthington, John
Author: Pickering, John Jr.
Author: Warren, James
Author: Whitcomb, John
Author: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Date: 1770-11-16

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Committee Report on the State of the Province

16 November 1770. MS not found. Printed: Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 164. Prepared by a committee appointed 16 October composed of Thomas Cushing, Samuel Adams, Joseph Hawley, JA, John Hancock, John Worthington, John Pickering Jr., James Warren, and John Whitcomb (same, p. 97).
In its report the committee dealt with the colony's economic problems, recently aggravated by the Boston merchants' vote to end the nonimportation of most British goods (for this vote of 12 Oct., see Massachusetts Gazette, 15 Oct.). The House adopted the committee's resolutions calling on members of that chamber to “use their utmost Endeavors, and enforce them [their fellow citizens] by their Example, to discourage Prodigality and Extravagance” and “to discourage the Use of Foreign Superfluities, and to promote our own Manufactures in the several Towns we represent.”
Pursuant to these resolutions, Thomas Cushing, John Hancock, William Heath, Samuel Adams, JA, Ebenezer Thayer, Samuel Bacheller, Samuel Howe, and Benjamin White were appointed “to prepare a Plan for the Encouragement of Arts, Agriculture, Manufactures and Commerce, and report at the next Session” (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 164). No plan for the encouragement of manufactures was introduced at the fourth session of the General Court (April 1771), but see JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:2, for an account of a meeting on 7 or 8 February 1771 of the committee charged with drawing up this plan.
Printed (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 164).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0013

Author: Adams, John
Author: Hawley, Joseph
Author: Worthington, John
Author: Hutchinson, Thomas
Author: Massachusetts, Lieutenant Governor of
Author: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Date: 1770-11-20

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An Act for the Limitation of Personal Actions

20 November 1770. MS, engrossed copy, signed by Hutchinson (M-Ar). Printed: Mass., Province Laws, 5:109–111. Prepared by a committee appointed 16 October composed of JA, John Worthington, and Joseph Hawley (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 98).
The need to regularize limitations on suits at law was one of the “important Matters” cited by Hutchinson in his plea to the House to resume business in June (same, p. 23). Legislation limiting such actions had been passed in earlier years, but had been “repeatedly suspended before it could have any operation” (Hutchinson to Board of Trade, 21 Dec. 1770, Mass., Province Laws, 5:143; a list of earlier statutes on limitations of actions is printed at p. 109). The committee was ordered to consider “all the Laws relating to the Limitation of Actions, reduce them to one Bill, and report.” In the absence of earlier draft versions it is impossible to assess the contributions made by the House committee.
MS, engrossed copy, signed by Hutchinson (M-Ar). Printed (Mass., Province Laws, 5:109–111).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0014

Author: Adams, John
Author: Cushing, Thomas
Author: Hawley, Joseph
Author: Adams, Samuel
Author: Hancock, John
Author: Worthington, John
Author: Pickering, John Jr.
Author: Warren, James
Author: Whitcomb, John
Author: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Recipient: Hutchinson, Thomas
Recipient: Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony
Date: 1770-11-20

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Message to Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson on the Command of Castle William

{ 247 }
MS not found. Printed: Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 171–172. Prepared by the committee on the state of the province, appointed 16 October (see calendar entry for 16 Nov., above).
After its exchange of messages with Hutchinson on the Castle William controversy in mid-October (see calendar entry for 1723 Oct., above), the House ordered the committee on the state of the province to take affidavits from Capt. John Phillips, former commander of the fort, and from Stephen Hall, former chaplain of the post (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 145). Hutchinson recalled that the House “gave him notice by a committee, that they should proceed to examine witnesses present at the transfer [of Castle William], and that he might be present at the examination, if he thought fit. This he did not think in character, but did not think proper to interrupt them” (Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 3:224).
The committee report based on these investigations was presented in the form of a message to Hutchinson. As adopted by the House on 20 November, the message remonstrated against the Lieutenant Governor's having, “merely in Obedience to Instructions,” surrendered command of Castle William, “a Power . . . which by the Charter is vested in [him] for the Safety of the People” and prayed that Hutchinson would “take effectual Measures, that the Power of garrisoning his Majesty's Castle-William, may be restored to the Governor of the Province to whom it by Charter it belongs.”
Printed (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 171–172).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0015

Author: Adams, John
Author: Cushing, Thomas
Author: Hall, Stephen
Author: Adams, Samuel
Author: Hancock, John
Author: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Date: 1770-12-17

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Committee of Correspondence to Benjamin Franklin

Boston, 17 December 1770. RC (MeHi). Printed: Franklin, Papers, 17:301–304. Prepared by a “Committee of Correspondence” appointed 7 November composed of Thomas Cushing, John Hancock, Stephen Hall, Samuel Adams, and JA. Although “Boston” was used in the date line, the House was still meeting in Cambridge.
This committee was “to communicate such Intelligence as may be necessary, to the Agent and others in Great-Britain; and also to the Speakers of the several Assemblies thro' the Continent, or to such Committee of Correspondence as they have, or may appoint” (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 139). The first letter sent to Franklin, the newly appointed agent in London for the House, is the only one of the committee's letters known to survive.
RC (MeHi). Printed (Franklin, Papers, 17:301–304).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0016

Author: Adams, John
Author: Batcheller, Samuel
Author: Noyes, John
Author: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Date: 1771-04-10

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Committee Report on the Petition of Gyles Merrill

10 April 1771. MS not found. Prepared by a committee appointed and reporting the same day, composed of JA, Samuel Batcheller, and John Noyes.
Gyles Merrill, pastor of the First Church of Plaistow, N.H. (formerly the Second Church of Haverhill, Mass.), sought the legislature's consent to an offer from the Haverhill parish to grant him his parsonage in fee simple. The committee's report, described as recommending “That a Bill be bro't in to enable the North Precinct in Haverhill, to grant the Premises described in the Petition . . . notwithstanding any former Vote or Votes of the Town or Proprietors of Haverhill,” was approved. Batcheller was { 248 } ordered to prepare the bill (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 201). For the bill adopted in response to the committee's recommendations, see Mass., Province Laws, 5:121, with Merrill's petition at p. 145–146.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0017

Author: Adams, John
Author: Hancock, John
Author: Gallison, John
Author: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Date: 1771-04-10

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A Bill for Granting Support to Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson

10 April 1771. MS (P.R.O.: Colonial Office, 5:760). Prepared by a committee appointed and reporting the same day, composed of John Hancock, JA, and John Gallison.
The committee listed above was to prepare a bill for a grant of £506 to Hutchinson for his services as lieutenant governor. A second committee, of which JA was not a member, was appointed to draft a bill for Hutchinson's support as governor, an appointment which he had announced to the General Court on the opening day of its fourth session, 3 April. Both bills were passed on 10 April, and JA served on the committees which delivered them to the Council that day (Mass., House Jour., 1770–1771, p. 200–202). Admitting that Parliament had made provision “for the Support of the Civil Government in the Colonies as His Majesty shall judge Necessary” (same, 252), Hutchinson delayed action on the engrossed bills and finally disallowed them (Hutchinson to Hillsborough, May 1771, MHi:Hutchinson Lb Transcripts, 27:273–276).
MS (P.R.O.: Colonial Office, 5:760).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0083

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Macaulay, Catharine Sawbridge
Date: 1770-08-09

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To Catharine Macaulay

Boston9 August 1770. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:360–361. For Mrs. Macaulay's reply, see 19 July 1771, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0084

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-08

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Draft of a Newspaper Communication

August? 1770. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:364–365.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0085

Author: Adams, John
Author: Cushing, Thomas
Author: Hancock, John
Author: Boylston, Thomas
Author: Adams, Samuel
Author: Warren, Joseph
Author: Dennie, William
Author: Boston Town Meeting
Date: 1770-09-29

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Boston Town Committee Report on a Society to Promote the Arts, Agriculture, Manufactures, and Commerce

Boston, 29 September 1770. MS not found. At the Boston Town Meeting of 20 Sept., JA was named to a committee including John Hancock, Thomas Cushing, Samuel Adams, Thomas Boylston, Joseph Warren, and William Dennie to consider the “Proposal of a number of Inhabitants for forming a Society in order to promote Arts, Agriculture, Manufactures and Commerce in this Province.” The town meeting records for 29 Sept. show that “the Committee . . . not being present their Report which had been lodged with the Town Clerk, was not read, but the consideration { 249 } thereof referred to the Adjournment” (Boston Record Commissioners, 18th Report, p. 37–38). No evidence of further consideration of the report has been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0086

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lowell, John
Date: 1770-12-15

To John Lowell?

[salute] Dr sir

Being generally Speaking a son of Liberty, notwithstanding the Cloud of Toryism that has lately, you know, passed over me,1 a Number of Gentlemen have retain[d] me, with you, in Defence of that great and inestimable Right, Liberty and Priviledge by Charter of digging Clams upon the Ipswich Clam Banks. The Proprietors of Ipswich have sued Varrill before a Justice &c.—Varrill2 will shew you the Copies. Will it not be best (if the Ptfs should enter) for [unknown amount of text missing][the Propri]etors will bring the next Action before the Superiour Court and have this great constitutional Question decided at last by the Kings Bench.—I wish you a pleasant and profitable Court and am with great Esteem your Brother3
[signed] John Adams
RC (NNPM). MS mutilated; only the upper portion of the sheet remains, with the opening sentences. The closing lines and signature are on the verso.
1. Presumably a reference to his unpopularity for defending the soldiers charged with the Boston Massacre.
2. No case involving “Varrill” is recorded in JA's docket book for 1770–71.
3. That is, cocounsel. John Lowell may be meant, for he served in this capacity in Patch v. Herrick, which involved litigation over the Ipswich clam bank (JA, Legal Papers, 2:4–9).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0087

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1771-04-22

Announcement of Changes of Address of John Adams' Law Office

John Adams,
Notifies the Removal of his Office to a Room in Queen-Street, in the House of Mr. John Gill, within a few Steps of the New Court-House, but on the opposite Side of the Street.1
Reprinted from (Boston Gazette, 22 April 1771).
1. The transfer of JA's law office was probably dictated by the Adams family's return to Braintree earlier this month. Before becoming Gill's tenant, JA had apparently maintained his office in the quarters “near the steps of the Town { 250 } house Stairs” mentioned in his account of the events of March 1770 (JA, Legal Papers, 1:lxv–lxvi). Gill, copublisher of the whig Boston Gazette, was a grateful former client, whom JA had successfully represented in 1768 and 1769 in the printer's suits against John Mein (same, p. 151–157). This Queen Street law office was used until Nov. 1772, when JA moved into Shrimpton Hunt's house, also on Queen Street, which he had purchased in August.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0088

Author: Macaulay, Catharine
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1771-07-19

From Catharine Macaulay

[salute] Sr

A very laborious attention to the finishing the fifth vol of my history of England with a severe fever of five months duration the consequence of that attention has hitherto deprived me of the opportunity of answering your very polite letter of August 9. 1770.1
Your observations of the history of England are highly favorable and flattering to the Author but you must give me leave to say that on the principle of having a right to treat your own performances with freedom you have not done common justice to the work entitled a Dissertation on the Common and the feudal laws.2
I am really very much concerned to hear that you labor under the heavy misfortune of a weak and infirm state of health. I simpathise with you in body and mind having rarely any alternative from either labor or pain.
A correspondence with so worthy and ingenious a person as your self Sr will ever be prised by me as part of the happiness of my life.
I wish to your numerous family continued health and prosperity and to you every other blessing which can ballance the unavoidable evils attending our human existence.

[salute] I am Sr with esteem regard and gratitude Your most Obed And most obliged humble Servt

[signed] Catharine Macaulay
1. JA's letter to Mrs. Macaulay is printed in JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:360–361, with a sketch of Mrs. Macaulay in a note at p. 361. The fifth volume of her History of England from the Accession of James I to that of the Brunswick line, London, 1763–1783, appeared in 1771 (DNB).
2. JA had opened his correspondence with Mrs. Macaulay when he learned of her favorable reaction to his “Dissertation.” Mrs. Macaulay's error in citing the title was entirely her own; the essays were never published under that name (see “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law,” May–21 October 1765, above).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0089

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Whipple, William
Date: 1772-01-27

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

To William Whipple

Boston, 27 January 1772. Printed: Letters by Washington . . . and Others ... to John Langdon, Philadelphia, 1880, p. 12. JA's reply to Whipple's letter of 16 Jan. on cases involving himself and “Mr. Cutt.” For this litigation, see JA, Legal Papers, 2:104 note.
Printed (Letters by Washington . . . and Others ... to John Langdon, Philadelphia, 1880, p. 12).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0090

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1772-02-09

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

Draft of a Newspaper Communication

9 February 1772. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:53–54

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0091

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1772-02-09

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

The Brace of Adamses

9 February 1772. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:54–56.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0092

Author: Whipple, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1772-02-13

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From William Whipple

Portsmouth, 13 February 1772. RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To John Adams Esqr. at Boston favoured P Mr. Cutts”; endorsed. Whipple gives directions for litigation in the admiralty cases involving himself and Cutt. See entry for 27 Jan., above.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0093

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1772-03-02 - 1772-05-18

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

Notes for an Oration at Braintree Concerning Government

Braintree, 2 March – 18 May 1772.. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:56–61.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0094

Author: Freeman, Nathaniel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1772-10-04

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

From Nathaniel Freeman

Sandwich, 4 October 1772. RC (MiU-C); addressed to John Adams in Boston; endorsed. Freeman notifies Adams that he is appealing a case to the Superior Court and urges Adams, who has been his attorney, not to “take up against me.” Adams' one-sentence reply that he is “ready to engage for him” is on the verso.
RC (MiU-C).

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0095

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Macaulay, Catharine Sawbridge
Date: 1772-12-31

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

To Catharine Macaulay

Boston31 December 1772. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:75–76.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0096-0001

Editorial Note

The issue addressed by John Adams and William Brattle in this exchange in the pages of the Boston Gazette was a narrow one: the degree to which English judges had historically been dependent upon the Crown and its ministers. But this question arose as part of a broader debate in contemporary Massachusetts politics: the provision for Bay Colony judges in the royal civil list. The General Court had registered strong protests in 1771 when it became known that the governor was to receive his salary from the Crown rather than from the provincial legislature (see Adams' Service in the House, 7 June 1770–16 April 1771, 2d calendar entry for 10 April 1771, above). Opposition to this extension of the civil list, however, was comparatively mild, for, as one historian has remarked, “it was at least logical that the King's servant be paid by the King” (Brown, Revolutionary Politics, p. 52). That moderation ended when Boston received reports in the fall of 1772 that superior court judges were to get crown salaries as well.
The Boston town meeting took the lead in investigating these reports and exploiting them as a political issue. After vain attempts to obtain clarification of the rumors from Governor Hutchinson, the town met on 2 November and named a committee of correspondence “to communicate { 253 } their Sentiment to other towns” (Boston Record Commissioners, 18th Report, p. 93; for an able summary of the exchanges between the town meeting and Hutchinson, Oct.–Nov. 1772, see Brown, Revolutionary Politics, p. 48–57; see also Editorial Note, The Constitutional Debate between Thomas Hutchinson and the Massachusetts House, 26 Jan. – 2 March 1773, below). The committee's work bore fruit in Boston's adoption of two reports on rights and an accompanying letter for other Massachusetts towns, all bound together as The Votes and Proceedings of the Town of Boston. This pamphlet soon brought action in Cambridge.
A number of freeholders petitioned the Cambridge selectmen for a town meeting at which the issue of crown salaries for the judges might be discussed. The warrant for the meeting on 14 December included an article responding to the petition. When the town met, Maj. Gen. William Brattle, widely regarded as a staunch defender of colonial liberties, was elected moderator.
At the meeting Brattle displayed a startling political about-face. A wealthy landowner who had dabbled in medicine, theology, and the law before winning recognition as a military administrator, Brattle emerged that day as a defender of crown measures. (For a sketch of Brattle, see Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 7:10–23.) More than forty years later, Adams described him as one who, before the Cambridge meeting of December 1772, “had acquired great popularity by his zeal, and I must say, by his indiscreet and indecorous ostentation of it, against the measures of the British government.” He ascribed Brattle's conversion to Hutchinson, and especially to Jonathan Sewall (to Jedediah Morse, 22 Dec. 1815, JA, Works, 10:194).
Although Adams' explanation of the General's behavior may well be oversimplified, there is no doubt that a conversion had taken place. Brattle used all his considerable authority and influence to discourage discussion of the judges' salaries at the Cambridge meeting. When the letter from the Boston town meeting was read, he objected to taking any action on the communication, for the article in the warrant had not specifically mentioned the letter from Boston.
Brattle's objections were not limited to technicalities. He argued that the town would be “too premature in acting upon this matter at present” and that the next packet from England would probably “give us more light in the affair.” As it was, he continued, “no man in the province could say whether the salaries granted to the judges were durante bene placito, or quamdiu bene se gesserint, as the judges of England have their salaries granted them.” Brattle told the meeting that he “supposed” the salaries were to be granted in the latter fashion, that is, during good behavior, and argued that this would make the judges “independent both upon the king and the people.” He was “very far from thinking there was any necessity of having quamdiu bene se gesserint in their commissions; for they have their commissions now by that tenure as truly as if said words were in,” He closed his arguments for accepting the new method which he sup• { 254 } posed would govern the judges' salaries by remarking “that by the charter and common law of England, there is no necessity of their having any commission at all; a nomination and appointment recorded is enough; nomination and appointment are the words of the charter, a commission for them not so much as mentioned in it” (Brattle to the Massachusetts Gazette, 16 Dec.; JA, Works, 3:516–517).
Brattle's harangue had little effect. The town appointed a committee of correspondence and adopted instructions to the Cambridge representative, Thomas Gardner, which described the judges' salaries as “so great a Grievance, especially when added to the many other Grievances we have been so long groaning under, as to be almost insupportable” (Boston Gazette, 21 Dec.).
Here the matter might have ended had not Brattle decided to live up to his promise to protest the illegality of any action on the Boston letter. Within days of the Cambridge meeting he carried the dispute to the press, summarizing his town meeting oration in a letter dated 26 December and published in the Massachusetts Gazette of 31 December. When his position was questioned in the Boston Gazette, Brattle replied in the Massachusetts Gazette on 7 January, offering to answer those who had leisure to dispute the line of argument he had laid down.
In his autobiographical writings, Adams offers two slightly different versions of why he decided to enter the dispute. In his Diary, he mentions Brattle's publication of 31 December as one of the topics of conversation for Adams' friends the next evening. Adams neglected his Diary for the next nine weeks, and on resuming on 4 March, he explained: “The two last Months have slided away. I have written a tedious Examination of Brattle's absurdities.” Adams described Brattle's pieces in the newspapers of 31 December and 7 January as “vain and frothy Harrangues and Scribblings,” which “would have had no Effect upon me, if I had not seen that his Ignorant Doctrines were taking Root in the Minds of the People” (Diary and Autobiography, 2:77–78). This explanation, which implies that Adams did not begin drafting his reply to Brattle until he had seen the Massachusetts Gazette of 7 January, seems unlikely since Adams' first essay appeared in the Boston Gazette on 11 January.
Adams had more personal reasons for accepting Brattle's challenge. During the Cambridge meeting, Adams recalled, Brattle had said the complete independence of the judges “I averr to be Law, and I will maintain it, against any Body, I will dispute it, with Mr. Otis, Mr. Adams, Mr. John Adams I mean, and Mr. Josiah Quincy. I would dispute with them, here in Town Meeting, nay, I will dispute it with them in the Newspapers” (same, 2:78).
In his Autobiography, Adams recalled that perhaps he would have said nothing publicly about Brattle's argument had Brattle not “the Week before . . . challenged me by name, to dispute the point with him” (same, 3:297). This version, which suggests that Adams accepted the challenge as soon as he saw Brattle's essay in the Massachusetts Gazette of 31 Decem• { 255 } ber, is more credible. Of course, Adams could have completed two or more of his essays before the first was printed in the Gazette; any more precise dating is impossible considering the complete lack of manuscript versions of Adams' essays and of any dates appended to the published letters. All of Adams' contributions printed below are taken from the Gazette and are given the dates on which they appeared in that paper.
Before he had answered Brattle to his own satisfaction, Adams produced seven learned essays. These appeared in weekly installments along with Brattle's only contribution to the debate he had courted so eagerly. Probably the General despaired of defending himself against Adams' “torrents of law, records and history.” Adams himself did not know whether Brattle's failure to write more rose “from Conviction, or from Policy, or Contempt” (same, 2:78). And although Adams dismissed his own effort as a “tedious Examination,” one suspects that he relished the “delightful work of quotation,” at times losing sight of his opponent in his enthusiasm for exhausting every legal consideration.
These essays, published without title in 1773, appear in Charles Francis Adams' edition of his grandfather's works under the title “On the Independence of the Judiciary” (JA, Works, 3:519–574). John Adams himself, however, referred to them consistently as being “On the Independence of the Judges” (to Cotton Tufts, 3 May 1789, MH:Schaffner Collection; Diary and Autobiography, 3:298). The present editors have chosen to revive Adams' title.
More accurately, Adams should have called his essays “On the Dependence of the Judges,” for he employed English history and legal treatises to demonstrate that the celebrated “independence” of the judiciary was a comparatively recent innovation, resting on limited statute law rather than on common law or time-honored tradition, as Brattle had claimed. Adams left his readers to draw their own conclusions about the dangers of such a system.
These lessons were all the more obvious to his audience since Adams' newspaper series coincided with a full-scale debate between the Governor and the House on constitutional issues involving the judiciary. In the weeks in which he penned the concluding numbers of his series, he was engaged as well, but not publicly, in drafting the central portions of the replies of the House to Governor Hutchinson on the broader issues raised by the prospect of crown salaries for the judges (see 26 Jan. – 2 March 1773, below). These newspaper pieces, to which Adams signed his name, are the first public papers since “Sui Juris” (23 May 1768, above) which he is known to have composed as an individual, rather than as a member of a public committee.
The moral of these essays, the need for a judiciary whose independence was guarded from changing public opinion and legislative whim, proved clearer to Adams than to his countrymen. Shortly after taking office as vice president, Adams suggested that his letters to Brattle be republished. Sixteen years after accepting the General's challenge, Adams { 256 } reflected ruefully, the essays “contain Information that is much wanted. The Constitutional learning on that head is very little known, excepting to those few who read those Letters in their Season. Younger