A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
The Adams Papers Digital Edition is undergoing active maintenance while we work on improvements to the system. You may experience slow performance or the inability to access content. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We will endeavor to return to full capabilities as soon as possible.

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 3

Docno: ADMS-06-03-02-0072

Author: Tudor, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1775-08

From William Tudor

[salute] Dear Sir

You was inquiring the other Day into the Office of Judge Advocate. I will now acquaint you with some Particulars in that Department which will give you an Idea of that Officer's Duty in the Continental Army.
As Judge Advocate, I have his Excellency's (the Commander in chief) Orders, in writing, “to attend every General Court Martial, not only those of the Line but of each Brigade throughout the Army: and to see that there is a fair Copy of the intire Proceedings in each Case, made out to be reported to the General.” (One Reason for which, is, That as the General is to confirm, or reject the Determination of the { 128 } Court, he cannot form a competent Opinion of the Court's Judgement, without seeing the whole State of the Evidence &c.)
The Number of Offences made cognizable by a General Court Martial only; the very large Army here; the Extent of the Camp, in each Quarter of which my Duty requires my Attendance, renders my Office, arduous and difficult.2
I am oblig'd to issue Orders to the Adjutants of the Regiments, to see the Prisoners brought up and that the Witnesses attend—and indeed to put all Matters in such a Train that the Court may have Nothing else to do than to hear the Examination, which is all taken down in writing, and give a Judgement. In every Case where the Evidence is complicated, it is expected of me that I analyse the Evidence and state the Questions which are involv'd in it. But I will not trouble you with a tedious Detail. It is sufficient to acquaint you that I am oblig'd to act as Advocate, Register and Clerk. For the Stipend of 20 Dollars a Month. Without the least Assistance, and without a single Perquisite of Office.
In the British Army, General Courts Martial sit only in capital Cases, or when a commissioned officer is to be try'd. He is allow'd 10/ sterling a Day and draws Pay as Capt. besides. His Duty is easy—because the strict Discipline which prevails among regular Troops, render General Court Martial but rarely necessary. The Difference between the Ministerial Army and the American, is easily conceiv'd without drawing a Parralell. I will only observe the hon. Congress have granted near 2000 Commissions and that no Commissioned Officer can be try'd but by a General Ct. Martial. While two thirds of the Crimes of the Privates must come before the same Court for Trial.
Since my Appointment (14 July) I have attended twenty seven Trials, among which were two chief Colonels and Nine commissioned Officers. Every one of which has been minutely reported in Writing to the Commander in chief. And There are now a Col. and two commissioned Officers under an Arrest—who are to be try'd as soon as possible.3 Those of the Officers have been very lengthy. I am oblig'd to set, without a Minute's Absence from 8 to three—doing the whole Labour of the Trial—and as soon as the Court is adjourn'd, to employ the afternoon in copying the Proceedings of the Morning, that the General may have early Knowlege of the issue. And that the Order of Court may be timely put into the general Orders.
Every Day for a Month past a General Court Martial has set in one or other Part of the Camp. It is impossible for me to be in two Places { 129 } at once. A Court at Roxbury adjourn'd for six Days successively, because my Duty at Cambridge, forbid my leaving it. The Court cannot consist of less than 13 Members, and the Service is hurt—but it must frequently be the Case while the Judge Advocate is allow'd no Assistant.
I must beg, Sir, on your Return to Congress You would prevail on Our American Legislature, to reconsider the Stipend affix'd to this Office, and endeavour to have a Salary fix'd, more adequate to the Service. Should there be no Alteration made I shall be under the Necessity of asking Permission to resign an Employment the Duties of which, leave me without an Hour to call my own; and the Pay of which will not give me even a Maintenance. I am your most obt. Servt.
[signed] Wm. Tudor
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Honble. John Adams Esq. Braintree.”
1. Since Tudor wrote while JA was still in Braintree so far as he knew and since provision for pay and a clerk for Tudor was made at the opening session of the congress in Sept. 1775, a date of August seems reasonable for this letter. Moreover, examination of Gen. Washington's General Orders, which record officers tried by court martial, from 14 July, when Tudor was appointed, suggests that in terms of the number of officers Tudor mentions, he may have written this letter as early as mid-August (JCC, 3:257; Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 3:passim).
2. Some 25 of the 69 Articles of War adopted by the congress call for punishment of offenses through the means of a general court martial (JCC, 2:111–122).
3. This sentence was written in the margin and is inserted here, where the editors believe it was intended to go.

Docno: ADMS-06-03-02-0073

Author: Warren, Mercy Otis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1775-09-04

From Mercy Otis Warren

[salute] Sir

This afternoon came to Hand your Favour of August 26. May you ever have it in your power to expatiate this Largly on your own Happiness, but I would not have you Imagine when you in your sixteen hours Nap and Dreaming of the Feilds of Arcadia, and are Enraptured with the Happy Elisian and paridisaic scenes at Braintree that you are the only Happy Mortal among your Numerous Circle of Friends. I dare say had they the talent of Easey Discription they would Boast of a share of the Felicities of Life though few can pronounce themselves Compleatly happy Even for a day, either Amidst the Cares the tumults and Follies of the World or the still pleasures of Rural Life.
By your Freind Mr. Collins I thought It my Duty to Let you know I heard from Mrs Adams this day who has been a Little unwell since you left her but is much better.1 I shall Call on her in a day or two { 130 } and Endeavour to Return her kindness to me when in the same situation.
The person who Holds the first place in my heart your invariable Friend has been too unwell this day to take up the pen this Evening or you would have Received the superier pleasure of a Line from him Instead of this Interruption from me.
The ships which Arrived Last Fryday are from Halifax with a few petatoes and a Little wood. The people there are in Expectation of an Attack from a Body of troops which they hear are to be sent down under the Command of Preble and are preparing for Defence.2 If they suffer such terrors from the Name of a Worn out American Veteran what must be their Apprehensions from the Active Vigorous spirited Heros who are Riseing up from Every Corner of the united Colonies to oppose the Wicked system of politicks which has Long Governed a Corrupt Court.
But I ask parden for touching on War politicks or anything Relative therto, as I think you gave me a Hint in yours Not to Approach the Verge of anything so far beyond the Line of my sex.3
The Worthy bearer of this will inform you of all the Inteligence stiring. Tranqulity still Reigns in the Camp. We scarcly hear the Distant Roar of Cannen for 24 hours past.
By a person from Boston Last saterday we Learn they are Building a Floating Batery in town in order to Bombard Prospect Hill. What a Contemptable figure do the arms of Britain make. But I Have no time to write nor have you to Read observations either Natural Moral or political, so shall ajourn any thing of that kind till your Reverie of Compleat Happiness is a Little over and you Descend to touch again in the arts and sciences.

[salute] With Great Respect (after the affectionate Compliments of your Friend) I subscribe sir your unfeigned Friend and Humble servant,

[signed] Marcia
Swift of Boston is Really Dead.4
RC (Adams Papers); addressed by James Warren: “To the Honbl. John Adams Esqr. Member of Congress att Philadelphia per Favr. Mr. Collins”; readdressed: “Favd pr Sol. Southwick N. Port.” At Newport, Collins put this letter into other hands, perhaps because he feared capture by British vessels. Beneath the seal, he added a note to JA:
Having taken passage by water to N. York, thought best to forward this by Post. Thy Friend.
[signed] Step: Collins
NB We are wating for a fair wind. We sal'd once, got as far as Point Judah [Judith] and was oblig'd to put Back with a Head Wind.
{ 131 }
1. AA, TBA, and several other members of the household contracted dysentery soon after JA's departure for Philadelphia. The disease reached epidemic proportions, causing many deaths, including that of AA's mother, Elizabeth Quincy Smith, on 1 Oct. (Adams Family Correspondence, 1:276–280, 284–285, 287–2891:276, 278, 284, 285, 287, 288, 289).
2. No expedition under Jedediah Preble, who at 69 years of age had turned down general's commissions from the Provincial Congress and from the Continental Congress, was contemplated. The Americans were, however, planning an attack on Canada, with one force going up the Kennebec River and another proceeding from New York. The commanders were respectively Benedict Arnold and Philip Schuyler (French, First Year, 431–432).
3. Mrs. Warren misread JA's meaning. His own relaxed mood kept him from discussing serious matters like these. See his rejoinder in his letter to James Warren, 26 Sept. (below).
4. Samuel Swift, who had been caught in Boston at the outbreak of war and was by August confined to his house under surveillance, died on 30 Aug. (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 9:580–583).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.