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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 4


Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0076

Author: Massachusetts General Court
Author: Otis, James Jr.
Author: Warren, James
Author: Morton, Perez
Author: Lowell, John
Recipient: Continental Congress, Massachusetts delegates
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: Hancock, John
Recipient: Adams, Samuel
Recipient: Paine, Robert Treat
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
DateRange: 1776-05-09 - 1776-05-10

The General Court to the Massachusetts Delegates

[salute] Gentlemen

Inclosed you have an Account of Powder1 supplyed the Army lately before Boston, by this Colony. We have not been able to procure the proper Vouchers for the delivery of the whole of it to the Army, but as it was delivered on the day of the Battle at Bunker Hill and at other times of Alarm and Confusion, we trust that neglect will be excused. The Account is not supposed to contain the whole of the Powder which has been delivered to the Army, as it came thro' various Channels. The greatest part herewith exhibited was borrowed from our Towns who are anxious to have it replaced, but we are constrained to say (tho with regret) that it is not in our Power to replace it, we not having at present in our Colonial Magazine so much as a single Barrel: 'tis true Salt petre is manufacturing in most of our Towns with good Success but we have only one of our Powder Mills yet at work the others we hope will be ready soon. In the mean time You Gentlemen are desired to sollicit the Honble. Congress in our behalf that the whole of the Powder exhibited in this Account may be refunded to us as soon as is practicable, or so much at the least as the Safety of the Continent will permit, which we most chearfully submit with our other public concerns, to the decision of that Honorable Assembly.
{ 181 }
Agreeable to the recommendation of Congress2 we have collected the Sum of £2016:9 in hard money £400 of which with the Bills amounting to the Sum of 12000 Dollars sent by Congress for the use of the Regiment going on the Canadian Service, were delivered to Colo. Elisha Porter Colo. of said Regiment the remaining £1616:9 is in the hands of our Treasurer and more is coming in. You Gentlemen will send us the directions of Congress with regard to the disposition of what hard money we have got and may be able to collect, and apply for Bills to be sent us to be exchanged there for.
We are sensible that the sum Collected is very small in proportion to the expence of the Canadian Expedition but hard money is so very scarce among us that we have not as yet been able to collect anymore. I am Gentlem your very Humble Servnt.
[signed] James Otis3
Read and ordered that the same be taken into a new Draught and signed by the President of the Council in the name of this Court and that he forward the same to the said Delegates.
Sent up for Concurrence.
[signed] J. Warren Spkr.
Read and concurred.
[signed] Perez Morton Dpy. Secy.4
A true Copy

[salute] Attest

[signed] John Lowell Dpy. Secy. PT
RC (PCC, No. 65); addressed: “To The Honble. John Hancock Esqr. & others the Delegates from the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay, at the American Congress Philadelphia Free”; docketed: “No. 11 Letter from Assembly of Masstts. Bay May 9. 1776” and “Assembly of Mass. Bay May 9: 1776”; notation: “the Carriages <Fire Arms Genl> Powder Ticonderoga Cannon.”
1. The account has not been found.
2. On 20 Jan. the congress had recommended that local governments collect all the specie they could for support of the expedition to Canada and report to the congress the amount collected (JCC, 4:73).
3. The complimentary close and signature are in the hand of James Otis; all the rest is in a clerk's hand.
4. Omitted here are the names of sixteen Council members listed by the clerk.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0077

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1776-05-12

To James Warren

[salute] My dear Friend

Yours of Ap. 30. was handed me yesterday. My Writing So seldom to you, proceeds from Necessity not Choice, I assure you. I can Sympathize with you in your ill Health, because I am always unwell my• { 182 } self. Frail as I am, at best, I am feebler in this Climate than at home. The Air here has no Spring—And My Mind is overborne with Burdens. Many Things are to be done here and many more to think upon by day and by night. Cares come from Boston, from Canada, from, twelve other Colonies, from innumerable Indian Tribes, from all Parts of Europe and the West Indies. Cares arise in this City, and in the most illustrious Assembly and Cares Spring from Colleagues. Cares enough! Dont you pity me. It would be some Comfort to be pitied—But I will scatter them all. Avaunt ye Daemons!
An Address to the Convention of Virginia,1 has been published here as an Antidote to the popular Poison, in “Thoughts on Government.” Read it, and see the Difference of sentiment. In New England, the “Thoughts on Government” will be disdained, because they are not popular enough. In the Southern Colonies, they will be despised and dissected, because too popular.
But my Friend, between you and me, there is one Point, that I cannot give up. You must establish your Judges Salaries—as well as Commissions—otherwise Justice will be a Proteus. Your Liberties, Lives and Fortunes will be the Sport of Winds.
I dont expect, nor indeed desire that it should be attempted to give the Governor a Negative, in our Colony. Make him President, with a casting Voice. Let the Militia Act remain as it is. But I hope you will make a Governor, or President in May. Congress have passed a Vote, with remarkable Unanimity for assuming Government in all the Colonies, which remains only for a Preamble.2 You will see it in a few days. It is the Fate of Men and things which do great good that they always do, great Evil too. Common sense by his crude, ignorant Notions of a Government by one Assembly, will do more Mischief, in dividing the Friends of Liberty, than all the Tory Writings together. He is a keen Writer, but very ignorant of the Science of Government. I see a Writer in one of your Papers, who proposes to make an Hotch Potch of the Council and House.3 If this is attempted, farewell.
Who will be your Governor, or President, Bowdoin or Winthrop, or Warren. Dont divide. Let the Choice be unanimous, I beg. If you divide you will Split the Province into Factions. For Gods Sake Caucass it, before Hand, and agree unanimously to push for the Same Man. Bowdoins splendid fortune, would be a great Advantage, at the Beginning. How are his Nerves and his Heart? If they will do, his Head and Fortune ought to decide in his favour.
The office of Governor of the Massachusetts Bay, Surrounded as it will be with Difficulties, Perplexities, and Dangers, of every Kind, { 183 } and on every side will require the clearest and coolest Head, and the firmest Steadyest Heart, the most immoveable Temper and the profoundest Judgment, which you can find any where in the Province. He ought to have a Fortune too, and extensive Connections. I hope that Mr. Bowdoins Health is such, that he will do—if not you must dispense with Fortune, and fix upon Winthrop I think. I know not where to go, for a better—unless the Major General for the old Colony,4 can be agreed on with equal Unanimity whom I should prefer to both of the other, provided an equal Number would agree to it—for I confess, my Rule should be to vote for the Man upon whom the Majority run that the Choice might be as unanimous and respectable as possible. I dread the Consequences of Electing Governors, and would avoid every Appearance of and Tendency towards Party and Division, as the greatest Evil.
I have sent down a Resignation of my Seat at the Board, because this is not a Time, if ever there was or can be one for Sinecures. Fill up every Place. They ought to be full. I believe I must resign the Office, which the Board have assigned me for the same Reason. But I shall think a little more about that and take Advice.5
RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “Mr J A Lettr May 1776 X.”
1. By Carter Braxton. See Thoughts on Government, ante 27 March–April, Editorial Note (above).
2. See JA's Service in the Congress, 9 Feb. – 27 Aug., No. V, note 1 (above).
3. He called for a single-house legislature: “To act separately is aping the two houses of parliament in the British constitution.” Moreover, he wanted no governor as such but one or more wise men chosen by the legislature for executive responsibilities. Borrowing, somewhat surprisingly, the pseudonym of a loyalist writer, he signed himself Massachusettensis (New-England Chronicle, 2 May).
4. James Warren, who was elected by the House second major general of the militia on 8 May but declined (Mass., House Jour., 1775–1776, 4th sess., p. 260). JA probably knew in advance that Warren was a likely choice.
5. On 17 May, James Sullivan wrote to urge JA, chief justice, to attend the Superior Court session in Essex co., ordered by the Council for the third Tuesday in June (Sullivan to JA, 17 May, Adams Papers).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/