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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 4

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0031

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Washington, George
Date: 1776-04-01

To George Washington

[salute] Dear Sir

The Bearer of this Letter Francis Dana Esqr. of Cambridge,1 is a Gentleman of Family, Fortune and Education, returned in the last Packett from London where he has been about a Year. He has ever maintained an excellent Character in his Country, and a warm Friendship for the American Cause. He returns to share with his Friends in their Dangers, and their Triumphs. I have done myself the Honour to give him this Letter, for the sake of introducing him to your Acquaintance, as he has frequently expressed to me a Desire to embrace the first opportunity of paying his Respects to a Character, So highly esteemed, and so justly admired throughout all Europe, as well as America. Mr. Dana will Satisfy you, that We have no Reason to expect Peace from Britain.
I congratulate you, sir, as well as all the Friends of Mankind on the Reduction of Boston, an Event which appeared to me of so great and decisive Importance, that the next Morning after the Arrival of the News, I did myself the Honour to move, for the Thanks of Congress to your Excellency and that a Medal of Gold should be struck, in Commemoration of it.2 Congress have been pleased to appoint me, with two other Gentlemen to prepare a Device. I should be very happy to have your Excellencys Sentiments concerning a proper one.3 I have the Honour to be, with very great Respect, sir, your most obedient and affectionate servant,
[signed] John Adams
RC (DLC: Washington Papers); addressed: “To his Excellency, George Washington Esqr Commander in Chief of the American Forces Boston favoured by Francis Dana Esq.”; docketed: “John Adams Esq 1st April 1776.”
{ 102 }
1. Dana (1743–1811) had gone to England in early 1775 in hope of finding some basis for accommodation by working through English supporters of the colonies, but he had become convinced that separation was the only course (DAB). Dana later accompanied JA on his second mission to Europe in 1779 as secretary of legation. For a long sketch of Dana and his relationship with the Adamses see Adams Family Correspondence, 1:362, note 1, and Diary and Autobiography, 2:403, note 1.
2. See JA's Service in the Congress, 9 Feb. – 27 Aug. 1776, No. IV (above) and notes there.
3. In his brief reply to this letter Washington promised to show Dana “every Civility in my power” and left the design of the medal to the committee (Washington to JA, 15 April, Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0032

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Palmer, Joseph
Date: 1776-04-02

To Joseph Palmer

[salute] Dear Sir

This will go by my worthy Brother Dana who, is returned, as he went a very good Whigg and much more abundantly.
I hope he will be appointed a Judge or Attorney General immediately, as he is extreamly well qualified for Either.1
Since my return to this Place, I have lived in tolerable good Humour with our old Friend, notwithstanding the rash Anger he expressed in certain Letters.2
I have had two Conversations between him and me concerning his seat upon a certain Bench. He has not said positively, but perhaps, if the Place should be left open till his Return, which probably will not be very long for a Visit at least, he may be induced to accept. For my own Part I wish he might. I have ever lived in Friendship with him, untill in the Month of August last he was pleased to quarrell with me, chiefly on Account of some Important Points of Rank, I suppose. But these Seem to be blown over.
The Evacuation of Boston is a great Event, and if wisely improved will be a decisive one. But We must fortify the Harbour. I must intreat you to let me know, with what Quantities of Powder you are likely to be Supplied and what Cannon you have, or can get, or what you want.
Perhaps We might obtain Some assistance from the Continent in fortifying that Harbour, if We knew what assistance you would want. Let us know and We will try.
The Tories, I think will never loose sight of that Town if they can possibly prevail on the Ministry to set on foot another Expedition against it, they will. They will pursue it with a Bitterness and Severity, inexpressible.
Fortify, Fortify, and never let them get in again.
{ 103 }
We continue Still between Hawk and Buzzard. Some People, yet expect Commissioners, to treat with Congress—and to offer a Chart blanc. All declare if they do not come impowered to treat with Us, and grant Us our Bill of Rights, in every Iota, they will hesitate no longer.
I wish I could enter into an unreserved Detail. But I dare not. I think We shall do pretty well. The Conventions are now about meeting every where, and We expect Assistance from them. In great Haste Adieu.
Pray let Us know how much Powder you have furnished to the Continental Army, from the Magazines of the Province, or of Town stocks. Because if We know how much, We would endeavour to have it reimbursed to you.3
We must get those Town Stocks replaced and the Colonial Magazine refurnished.
[signed] John Adams
RC (PPAmP: Feinstone Coll., on deposit); docketed in an unidentified hand: “Honble: J. Adams April 2d. 1776.”
1. On 30 May, Francis Dana was elected to the Massachusetts Council (Mass., House Jour., 1776–1777, 1st sess., p. 7).
2. On the bad feeling between Robert Treat Paine and JA, see the following letters of James Warren to JA: 20 Oct. 1775, note 5; 5 Nov. 1775; 3 Dec. 1775, notes 8 and 12 (all above). See also Paine to Joseph Palmer, 1 Jan. 1776 (above).
JA's belief that his relations with Paine were improving was expressed also to AA in a letter of 3 Dec. 1775 (Adams Family Correspondence, 1:332). But Paul H. Smith has suggested that the last three paragraphs of this letter may be a fragment of a missing letter, JA to AA of 6 April 1776 (see AA to JA, 16 March, descriptive note, same, 1:360). Smith's conjecture seems borne out by both physical and historical evidence, and we are grateful to him for making it (communication from Smith, American Revolution Bicentennial Office, Library of Congress, to the editors, 1976).
The three paragraphs in question are on a separate sheet of paper with different physical qualities from that used for the rest of the letter dated 3 Dec. Moreover, the mention in these paragraphs of the licensing of privateers and the opening of the ports, actions approved by the congress on 23 March and 6 April respectively (JCC, 4:229–232, 257–259), as well as the reference to the commissioners from England and improved relations with Paine, subjects for JA's comment in other letters he wrote in the spring of 1776, better fits a date of 6 April than 3 Dec.; but see the notes to the latter.
3. JA's urgings may have had an effect; see the General Court to the Massachusetts Delegates, 9 May (below).
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.