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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 4

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0079

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1776-05-15

To James Warren

This Day the Congress has passed the most important Resolution, that ever was taken in America.1 It is, as nearly as I can repeat it, from Memory, in these Words.2
“Whereas his Britannic Majesty, in Conjunction with the Lords and Commons of Great Britain, has, by a late Act of Parliament, excluded the Inhabitants of these united Colonies from the Protection of his Crown and Whereas No Answer whatever has been given or is likely to be given to the humble Petitions of the Colonies for Redress of their Grievances and Reconciliation with Great Britain: but on the Contrary, the whole Force of the Kingdom, aided by foreign Mercenaries, is to be exerted for our Destruction
“And Whereas it is irreconcileable to Reason and good Conscience, for the People of these Colonies to take the oaths and affirmations, necessary for the Support of any Government under the Crown of Great Britain and it is necessary that the Exercise of every Kind of Authority under the Said Crown should be totally Suppressed, and all the Powers of Government under the Authority of the People of the Colonies, exerted for the Preservation of internal Peace, Virtue and good order, as well as to defend our Lives, Liberties, and Properties, from the hostile Invasions, and cruel Depredations of our Enemies.
Resolved that it be recommended to the several Assemblies and Conventions, to institute such Forms of Government as to them Shall appear necessary, to promote the Happiness of the People.”
This Preamble and Resolution, are ordered to be printed, and you will see them immediately in all the News Papers upon the Continent.
I Shall make no Comments, upon this important and decisive Resolution.
{ 187 }
There remains however a great deal of Work to be done besides the Defence of the Country. A Confederation, must be now pursued with all the Address, Assiduity, Prudence, Caution, and yet Fortitude and Perseverance, which those who think it necessary are possessed of. It is the most intricate, the most important, the most dangerous, and delicate Business of all. It will require Time. We must be patient.
Two or three days, We have Spent in Considering the state of the Massachusetts Bay. Congress have at last voted, that the Five Battallions now in that Province be recruited to their full Complements and that three Battallions more be forthwith raised.3 The Province has raised one, lately as I am informed. You will have nothing to do, but return the Names of the Field Officers to Congress and have continental Commissions for them. The other two Battallions may be raised in Mass. Bay Connecticutt and New Hampshire, in what Proportions is not determined. Congress have voted that a Major General and a Brigadier General be sent to Boston. Who they will be I know not. Gates and Mifflin I hope but cant promise.4
This Letter you may communicate if you think it necessary. I am, sir your affectionate Friend.
RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “Mr. J A. Lettr May 1776.”
1. JA and like-minded members had been pressing for months for the congress to authorize independent governments for the colonies. Such authorization would foreclose reconciliation and make independence from Great Britain a virtual certainty.
2. Aside from minor differences in word order and the omission of two or three words, JA gives the preamble verbatim—further evidence that he was its author (JCC, 4:357–358; see also JA's Service in the Congress, 9 Feb. – 27 Aug., No. V, above).
3. This resolution was passed on 14 May (JCC, 4:355).
4. On 17 May the Massachusetts delegation recommended to Gen. Washington the sending of these two generals to Boston. The letter is in JA's hand (PHi:Gratz Coll., erroneously dated 16 May).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0080

Author: Devens, Richard
Recipient: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-05-16 - 1776-05-20

From Richard Devens

[salute] Very Dr sir

Yesterday I was honoured with yours of April 29.1 It gives me much pleasure that any inteliganc I was capable of giving respecting Salt Petre was in any degree sattisfactory.
My last to you Was April 10.2 At that time we had taken into the Colony Store 7670 lb saltpetre. The next period for receiving it was the 23d. when we took in 4500 lb. The next time was the day before yesterday when we received 12310 which with 328 at different times Amounts in the whole to 24808 lb. The Gen Court have appointed a person to receive and pay for it at adover [Andover] Mill.3 I am not { 188 } able to Inform you what quantity has been Delivered there, but will as Soone as I can,4 as to the quality of it, it is in the General pure to the last degree. It is at least 10, or 12 p Cent purer than that Sent from Phila. to Watertown.
If I had it in my power I would Send a specimen of it, for a pressent to Great Britain.
The powder Mill at Andover is at work. I drew an order last week on Mr. Phillips there for 10 halfe Barrils in favour of Marblehead and I hear since they have received it.
I wish I could give you as agreeable an account of the Manufacture of salt Sulphure and lead, but the genious of the people of America is daily drawing out, and I trust nothing will be left unattempted till we are in every respect Independant of a State who appear to [be?] determined to destroy us.
As to Cannon, the man I Employed at Abbington in that business has by various accidents been unsuccessfull, and has cast but one 3 pounder. I have no doubt but he will Succeed.
Our Enimies left at Boston and Castle Island 250 pieces of Cannon great and small. I have taken the account of them, have view'd them over and over again, and am employing a Number of men in repairing and mounting some of them, and from the best Judgement I am capable of forming, more than halfe the Number will soone be fitt for service, and as it was the heaviest of them that are the least Injured, those that will be fit for service will Amount to 3/4 or 4/5s of the weight of the whole.
Our fortifycation work now goes on with great Vigour on Camp Hill, and at the Castle, we have a good Committee for fortifycation also an exelent Councill of War.
You will excuse me from being More particular. I am exceedingly Crowded with business in my department. Am most respectfully Yr. Humble sevt
[signed] Richd. Devens5
PS. please to inform the Honorable J. Hancock Esqr. that we have 77000 flints arrived at Dartmouth.
Pray the Honorable Mr. Gerry to forward the Tent Cloth he mentions in his letter. I have not been able to make one Tent for this Colony.
Since writing the Above 3 of our small Cruizers brought into the gut at point Shirley a Ship 34 days from Ireland.7 I had an oppertunity to cast my eye on the Inventory and she has on board 1500 Barrils of { 189 } powder and 1000 Stand of Arms. The rest of the Cargo Consists of intrenching Tools &c. in Such Abundance as tho they intended to Cut Cannals thro' America, and Station their Navy up in the Wilderness. As the prize Could not get up to Town this Tide all the Boats in Boston, Charlestown and Dorchester, were sent on board her to bring up the powder and arms, and part of the powder is Already in the Magazine in Boston.
The Men of War in Nantaskett could not get out to her Assistance the wind being Easterly.
The hand of Providence is Conspicuous.
I must now mention something that will in Some measure Allay the Joy of taking the Above Ship yesterday. In the afternoone Captain Mugford the Captain of the privatiter who tooke her;8 went down with his Vessell to point Shirley in Company with the privateer Lady Washington; and there Anchor'd; About 10'O Clock in the evening they Were Attacked by 13 Boats from the men of war in Nantaskett. They made a Gallant defence. Sunk 3 Boats and killed Number's, bothe the privateers are safe but here fell the brave Mugford. This account we have by the Leiutent who is come up by land.
1. Not found.
2. Not found.
3. Zebediah Abbot of Andover was one of a committee to receive and pay for saltpeter and took up his station near the powder mill of Samuel Phillips Jr. (Mass., House Jour., 1775–1776, 4th sess., p. 264, 276; Boston Gazette, 20 May).
4. On 6 June, Devens reported to JA that Andover had taken in more than 8,000 pounds. He also reported figures for Watertown, Stoughton, Newburyport, and the eastern ports of the province, for a grand total of 102,635 pounds, which included the earlier figures (Adams Papers, not printed).
5. Member of the House of Representatives and commissary-general for Massachusetts forces (Wroth and others, eds., Province in Rebellion, p. 2847–2848).
6. The seizure was made on Friday, 17 May (Boston Gazette, 20 May), but Devens wrote two days later, as is apparent from his postcript dated the 20th.
7. The Hope, captained by Alexander Lumsdale (Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 5:133).
8. James Mugford, commander of the schooner Franklin (same).
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.