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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 2

Docno: ADMS-06-02-02-0055

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Tudor, William
Date: 1774-10-07

To William Tudor

[salute] Dr Sir

I have just Time to thank you for your Letters by Mr Revere, and all other of your Favours. The Task which lies upon me here is very arduous. You can form no Conception of it: and I can give you no Idea of it. The Assurances you give me, of the great Dependance of the People, upon the Result of the Deliberations of the Congress, increase my Anxiety. I fear the operations of the Continent will be too Slow, to afford immediate Relief to Boston. What Shall be done for that Town is the most difficult Question We have before Us. The Professions and real Disposition of the Gentlemen Seem to be the very best. But at this Distance from you We who come from you can scarcely form an Adequate Idea of your State—much less can Strangers, to whom Words and Descriptions can convey but very Imperfect Notions.
I have taken great Pains to inform the Gentlemen, and to know their Sentiments. The Proposal of Some among you of reassuming the old Charter, is not approved here, at all. The Proposal of Setting up a new Form of Government of our own, is less approved Still. The general Opinion Seems to be, as far as I can collect it, that the Courts of Justice Should go on, upon the old Plan, according to the Charter and Laws of the Province.1 The Govr cannot remove any of the Judges or Justices, according to the Charter without the Advice of his Council of fifteen, which they will never give, if for no other Reason, because they will never be asked. To this there are two objections, the first that the Inferiour Judges And the Justices, may refuse to Act. Whether they will or not, We at this Distance cannot determine. This if practicable would be the most agreeable to the Gentlemen here. The Other Objection is that this will not relieve Boston. This is certain, and there is no Gentleman here who can devise a Method for the Relief of that devoted Town. My Feelings for its Distresses, are exquisite. I lie down with it, in my Mind, I dream of it all night, and awake with its ghastly Spectre before my Eyes.
I wish that you and all the rest of our Friends had been more ex• { 188 } plicit in your private confidential Letters to Us, in pointing out what was thought of and what was desired by the People of Boston and the Massachusetts. The Expressions in all your Letters are a little enigmatical. We are left to guess at the Meaning. If it is a secret Hope of any, as I suspect it is, that the Congress will advise to offensive Measures, they will be mistaken. <We have> I have had opportunities enough both public and private, to learn with Certainty, the decisive Sentiments of the Delegates and others, upon this Point. They will not at this Session vote to raise Men or Money, or Arms or Ammunition. Their opinions are fixed against Hostilities and Ruptures, except they should become absolutely necessary, and this Necessity they do not yet See. They dread the Thoughts of an Action because, it would make a Wound which could never be healed. It would fix and establish a Rancour, which would descend to the latest Generations: It would render all Hopes of a Reconciliation with Great Britain desperate. It would light up the Flames of War, perhaps through the whole Continent, which might rage for twenty year, and End, in the Subduction of America, as likely as in her Liberation.
In a Letter, which has been received here, in several, indeed, the Thought is thrown out, of removing the Inhabitants out of Boston.2 This would be the grandest Movement, imaginable, if it is practicable. But how all their Effects can be removed—how 20,000 People can go out—where they can find Support, I knew not. It has always been my opinion, that it was best for every Man Woman and Child, who had an Inclination to go, and could find a Place, to leave the Town. I removed out myself upon this Principle—altho a different Sentiment prevailed generally at that Time.3
The Congress will this Day consider, the Case of Boston, and I will write you more particularly in the Evening.4
Octr. 9th. Mr. Revere will give you all the News. I have this Day been to a Romish Chappell. My Imagination is so full of holy Water, Crossings, Bowings, Kneelings and Genuflections, Images, Paintings, Crucifixs, Velvet, Gold, but above all, the Musick. I am amazed that Luther and Calvin, were ever able to break the Charm and dissolve the spell.5 Adieu,
[signed] John Adams
RC (MHi:Tudor Papers); addressed: “To Mr William Tudor Attorney at Law Boston”; docketed: “Oct. 7th. 1774.”
1. On 10 Oct. the congress resolved that the people of Massachusetts be advised to “submit to a suspension of the administration of Justice, where it cannot be procured in a legal and peaceable manner, under the rules of their present charter, and the laws of the colony founded thereon” (JCC, 1:59–60).
{ 189 }
2. See Adams' Service in the Congress, 5 Sept. –26 Oct. 1774, No. III, To General Gage, note 4, above.
3. JA moved his family from Boston to Braintree in June 1774.
4. The congress considered Boston's case from 6 to 11 Oct. (JCC, 1:55–62).
5. For a fuller account of JA's experience, see JA to AA, 9 Oct. 1774, Adams Family Correspondence, 1:166–167.

Docno: ADMS-06-02-02-0056

Author: Cranch, Richard
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1774-10-15

From Richard Cranch

I hear that a letter from one P——s, a clergyman in Connecticut,1 has been intercepted, and that an attested copy of it is now before our congress. The contents of it are very extraordinary—he informs the person to whom it is addressed, that he has received advice that several regiments more from England, and a number of men of war, are expected, and that when they arrive, hanging work will begin,—and that those only will be safe whose lintels and door posts shall be sprinkled. Our ministers in this province put up their ardent petitions in public for the direction and blessing of heaven on your congress.
MS not found. Reprinted from extract in (Niles, Principles and Acts), p. 323.
1. Rev. Samuel Peters (1735–1826), ordained Anglican minister serving his birthplace, Hebron, and the surrounding area until 1774, when his loyalist views so aroused local patriots that he was forced to flee to Boston. The letters mentioned by Cranch were written from Boston to relatives and friends. Intercepted, they were submitted to a committee of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress on 17 Oct. Cranch paraphrases one of the letters written by Peters to his mother on 28 Sept. (DAB; Mass. Provincial Congress, Jours., p. 21–22, note 1).

Docno: ADMS-06-02-02-0057

Author: Cooper, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1774-10-16

From Samuel Cooper

Having just been informed that Mr. Tudor is going to Philadelphia,1 I take this opportunity to thank you for the obliging favor of your letter of 29th September.2 The struggle, as you justly observe, between fleets and armies and commercial regulations, must be very unequal: We hope, however, the congress will carry this mode of defence as far as it will go, and endeavor to render it as early effectual as it can be, since the operation of it must necessarily be slow—were we at ease we would wait— but being first seized and griped by the merciless hand of power, we are “tortured even to madness,” and yet, perhaps, no people would give a greater example of patience and firmness, could the people be sure of the approbation and countenance of the continent; in consolidating themselves in the best manner they are { 190 } able, they should have, they say, fresh spirits to sustain the conflict. The report of an uncommon large quantity of British goods sent to New York and Philadelphia, naturally carries our thoughts to a non-consumption—Nothing could more thoroughly embarrass these selfish importers, and none ever deserved more such a punishment.
Our provincial congress is assembled; they adjourned from Concord to Cambridge. Among them and through the province the spirit is ardent. And I think the inhabitants of this town are distracted to remain in it with such formidable fortifications at its entrance. Besides the regiments expected from the southward and Canada, we have several companies from Newfoundland, of which we had no apprehension until they arrived.3 The tories depend that the administration will push their point with all the force that they can spare, and this I think we ought to expect and take into our account.
MS not found. Reprinted from extract in (Niles, Principles and Acts), p. 323–324.
1. See AA to William Tudor, 15 Oct. 1774, Adams Family Correspondence, 1:170–171, note 2.
2. Not found.
3. Apparently the troops came from Newfoundland without advance notice to Gage, for he wrote Lord Dartmouth on 17 Oct. that “Commodore Shuldham receiving Intelligence at Newfoundland of the extraordinary Commotions in this Country, sent the Rose Man of War immediately here, with two Companies of the 65th Regiment, stationed at St. Johns, desiring only that they might be replaced in the Spring” (Gage, Corr., 1:378–379).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.