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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 4


Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0012

Author: Smith, Isaac Sr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-02-29

From Isaac Smith Sr.

[salute] Mr. Adams

I wrote you One or two letters not knowing of your being coming home all that time.1 We have nothing Material in this quarter.2 By some people a few days since Out of Boston they seem to think they will move off soon, As the Transports seem to be in readiness to receive any thing On board, and that there are Apprizements on the Friends of goverments Estate but I apprehend itt differantly that is { 40 } that in case of any Attack upon them they may have everything ready to imbark, and that incase of the distructions of Estates in a day of reckoning they may be Accounted for, but att present dont see any end can be Answer'd by itt was such a thing ever to be put in Execution as itt would not put an end to the disputes. The Newbury Yankey Hero has taken Another White Haven Man.3 By a paper of the 16 Novr. has some things in itt which we have not had before which suppose you will have from the General. Is there any probability of a trade being open to foreighn ports. The brig of Mr. Gearey fited Out by our Goverment has met with such an imbaresment as am of Opinion wont be Allowed to return there being a dificulty in the Customs which iff referd to Madrid which I suspect is the case4 of course Our Minister will know of itt and put a stop to her coming itt being now more than three Months when Nothing else hinderd her.
We have two ships stationd here and Marblehead, Manley and One or two believe will sail to day iff can get by.

[salute] Our family are well and your hum. servant,

[signed] Isaac Smith
P.S. A few Nights Ago seven people belonging to One of the Above ships Tenders took the boat and got ashore att Manchester, there being but 10 more Aboad, she is gone up to Boston to get more hands.
1. That is, he wrote to Philadelphia, not knowing JA was in Massachusetts. See Smith's letters of 2 and 19 Jan. in Adams Family Correspondence, 1:339, 342. The Adams Papers Editorial Files list 59 letters exchanged between the two men from 29 Feb. 1776 to 20 June 1786. Since Smith was AA's uncle, his correspondence with JA has been printed in Series II, but space limitations and the large volume of correspondence for 1776 resulted in 9 letters for that year being held out for possible inclusion in JA, Papers. These letters will appear in this and succeeding volumes of the Papers when they meet the criteria for inclusion in Series III.
2. Terminal punctuation supplied.
3. The Yankee Hero, a Newburyport privateer, took a two-hundred-ton brig bound from White Haven Harbor, Nova Scotia, to Boston with supplies for the army there (Boston Gazette, 4 March).
4. Probably Elbridge Gerry's ship the Rockingham, which sailed in July 1775 for Spain under the auspices of Massachusetts to procure gunpowder, but which never returned to America. It was detained at St. Antonio, Spain (George Billias, Elbridge Gerry, N.Y., 1976, p. 125–126). Smith's concern may have been provoked by an account from Cadiz, taken from a London newspaper and printed in the Boston Gazette of 4 March, that two vessels carrying ammunition for America had been stopped at the request of the British consul. See also Smith to JA, 27 March, Adams Family Correspondence, 1:365.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0013

Author: Tudor, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-02-29

From William Tudor

[salute] Dr Sir

We have Nothing here sufficiently important to communicate, As it is hardly worthwhile to tell you that a Vessel was last Sunday taken by one of our Privateers loaded with coals and Potatoes; or that a Night or two ago we had one or more Deserters, from the Enemy. Preparations have been for some Time silently making for an important Manoevre, and from the Contents of General Orders for several Days back the Army are in hourly Expectations of being call'd to Action. The Season is certainly precious and I hope in God will be improved and that I shall be enabled within 10 Days to acquaint You with News as satisfactory as Interesting. I cannot think of the Destruction of my native Town without Pain, yet if it might serve for the General funeral Pile of the Paricides who infest it I could view the Conflagration without much Regret.
The Pamphlet called Common Sense is read with great Avidity. The Doctrine it holds up is calculated for the Climate of N. England and though some timid pidling Souls shrink at the Idea 99 in 100 wish for a Declaration of Independence from the Congress. This Peice has been attributed to You,1 some make Dr. Franklin the Author and others suppose it the Product of a Triumverate; be this as it may, the bold Conceptions of the Author who has convey'd them in the most energetic Language, at once astonish, convince and please Us.
I must beg Sir as a particular Favour that You would send me (as I suppose it will be printed) Dr. Smith's funeral Oration on Genl. Montgomery.2 I am with great Respect Yrs. &c.,
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honble. John Adams Esqr at Congress Philadelphia Free”; docketed: “Mr Tudor. 29 Feby. 1776.”
1. On the initial attribution of Common Sense to JA, see his letter to AA of 19 March (Adams Family Correspondence, 1:363). For JA's even more candid response, see his letter to William Tudor, 12 April (below).
2. An Oration in Memory of General Montgomery, and of the Officers and Soldiers, Who Fell with Him, December 31, 1775, before Quebec; Drawn Up (And Delivered February 19th, 1776) at the Desire of the Honorable Continental Congress. By William Smith, D.D. Provost of the College and Academy of Philadelphia, Phila., 1776 (Evans, No. 15084). The author had this speech printed after the congress refused either to have it printed or to give thanks for the effort. JA, who later called it “an insolent performance,” was a speaker against the motion made by William Livingston on 21 Feb. to give thanks, JA's chief reason being that Smith had “declared the Sentiments of the Congress to continue in a Dependency on G Britain which Doctrine this Congress cannot now approve” (JA to AA, 28 April, Adams Family Correspondence, 1:400–401; Richard Smith's Diary, 21 Feb., in Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:359).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0014

Author: Boudinot, Elisha
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-02

From Elisha Boudinot

[salute] Dear Sir

I must beg the Liberty of introducing to your acquaintance, Capt. Harry G. Livingston1 of New York. He is a young Gentleman who has not been sparing of his Time nor fortune in the publick Service. He is recommended by the provincial Congress of New York as a Lieut. Colonel. There are few young Gentlemen better qualified than he is, as he has been indefatigable in acquiring the military Art since the commencement of these Troubles, and has brought his Company of Fuzileers equal to any in the Regular Service. As the Livingston family almost to a man have been foremost in the American Cause, and must be made Objects of Ministerial Vengeance if ever we are reduced; I think it is no more than a Debt of Generosity to encourage their laudable expectations. I must therefore beg your Interest in getting the nomination of the New York Congress confirmed to him.
The first Time I have the pleasure of seeing you will apologize for this Freedom.

[salute] My Compliments to Mr. Saml. Adams and believe me to be with Respect Sir Your oblidged Hble. Sevt.,

[signed] Elisha Boudinot2
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To John Adams Esqr. Philadelphia favd. by Cap. Livingston”; docketed: “Mr. Boudinots Letter March 2d. 1776.”
1. Henry G. Livingston (1754–1817), son of Robert Gilbert Livingston, was nominated by the New York Provincial Congress on 28 Feb., together with seven others, for a lieutenant colonelcy in one of the four regiments (also called battalions) then being formed; but when the Continental Congress voted on 8 March, he was not chosen to be one of the four lieutenant colonels or for any other field-officer rank (Rev. George B. Kinkead, comp., “Gilbert Livingston and Some of His Descendants,” N.Y. Genealogical and Biographical Record, 84:8, 102–103 [Jan. and April 1953]; Force, Archives, 4th ser., 5:317; JCC, 4:190).
2. Elisha Boudinot (1749–1819) was a younger brother of Elias Boudinot, member of the Continental Congress from New Jersey, 1777–1778 and 1781–1783. Elisha was a Newark lawyer and an active whig, passing along important intelligence to the Continental Army from time to time and serving as his state's commissary of prisoners from 1778 (George Adams Boyd, Elias Boudinot, Patriot and Statesman, 1740–1821, Princeton, 1952, passim).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0015

Author: Frye, Joseph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-04

From Joseph Frye

[salute] Sir

Capt. Gordon Hutchins1 the bearer hereof, being a Man of Experience in Military Service, the late war with France, had a Company the last year in the Continental Army, and is very desireous of { 43 } entering the Same Service again. I therefore take leave to recommend Him to you for that Purpose, if there Should be any room for His admittance. If that Should be the Case, and your Honour Should please to afford Him your Countenance in the affair, I trust it will be of Service to the Cause we are Engaged in, and will be received as a favour By your Honrs: most obedient Humble Servt.
[signed] Joseph Frye
1. Until Dec. 1775 Gordon Hutchins had been a captain in the First New Hampshire Regiment and subsequently served as a lieutenant colonel in Baldwin's regiment of New Hampshire militia (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 312, 83).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0016

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Thomas, John
Date: 1776-03-07

To John Thomas

[salute] Dr sir

The Congress, have determined to send you to Canada. They have advanced you one Step, by making you a Major General, and have made an handsome Establishment for a Table.1
Your Friends the Delegates from your native Province were much embarrassed, between a Desire to have you promoted and placed in so honourable a Command, on the one Hand, and a Reluctance at loosing your Services at Roxbury or Cambridge on the other. But all agreed that you ought to be placed where you could do the most service, and Canada was thought by all to be very important and by some the most important Post in America.
You will have excellent Advice and Assistance in the Committee we are sending Dr. Franklin, Mr. Chase Mr. Carroll and his Relation.2
Mr. Walker, Mr. Price and Mr. Bondfield,3 will be in Canada too, as soon as you. General Wooster and Arnold will give you, the best Information. The Department to which you are destined has been in Great Confusion, and every Gentleman who has come from thence has given a different account.
General Schuyler, who is an honest Man and a good Patriot, has had a Politeness about him towards Canadian and British Prisoners, which has enabled them and their ministerial Friends to impose upon him in some Instances. This has occasioned some Altercation between him and Wooster. But Wooster has done that in Canada which Schuyler could not have done. He has kept up an Army there through the Winter.
Schuylers head Quarters will be at Albany, I suppose and he will be { 44 } of vast service, in procuring and forwarding Supplies, and in many other Ways in promoting the service, but his Health will not permit him to go into Canada.
I wish I could write you a Volume,—for to give you the Characters of Persons in Canada of whom we have heard, and some of whom We have seen, and to explain to you every Thing which has been opened here relative to that Province would fill one. But these Hints must suffice. Your huml. sert.,
[signed] John Adams
Let me beg of you to write me, if you can Spare the Time. It is of great Importance that the Delegates from New England should be truly informed, of the Course of Things in Canada.
RC (MHi:John Thomas Papers); addressed: “The Hon. John Thomas Esq. Major General in the Continental Army Roxbury”; docketed: “Letter J. Adams to J. Thomas March 7. 1776.”
1. Thomas, who on 4 March had led the successful assault on Dorchester Heights, was chosen on 6 March to replace Gen. Lee, the original choice to command in Canada. Lee had been appointed on 1 March to command the southern forces. Thomas arrived at Quebec on 1 May, found a hopeless situation, and almost immediately ordered a retreat, in the course of which he died of smallpox and was buried near Fort Chambly (DAB; JCC, 4:180–181, 186).
2. See JA to James Warren, 18 Feb. and notes (above).
3. Thomas Walker, James Price, and John Bondfield were Canadians who supported the American cause. See numerous references to them in Justin H. Smith, Our Struggle for the Fourteenth Colony, 2 vols., N.Y., 1907.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0017

Author: Warren, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-07

From James Warren

[salute] My Dear Sir

I have been very much Indisposed for the greater part of the Time since you left us. I have been at Home three weeks, and the whole time Confined to the House, and a fortnight of it unable either to read or write. My disorders have at last Terminated in a fit of the Gout. How much longer I am to be Confined by that I know not. The Consolations that are dealt out to me in the Bitterness of Pain, and Tedousness of Confinement at such A time as this are that it is the least of two Evils, that by this I have escaped a severe fever &c. It may be so, but the remedy bad as it is at any time is doubly Afflictive Just now. The Military Movements &c. make me Extreamly Impatient. This Account of my situation may satisfy you how it has come to pass that so many weeks should pass away without the Trouble of at least as many Letters from me. I two days ago had the pleasure of recieving yours of Feby. 18th. I think you have taken the best possible methods for the Security of Canada. Your policy is Exquisitely good, and if it { 45 } fails you will nevertheless have the satisfaction of haveing done everything that humane policy could dictate. I am glad you have taken these steps, but they dont satisfy me. I want to see more Capital ones adopted. I am Extreemly Anxious perhaps never more so at any Time. You know I never feared the Arms of Britain, but I always dreaded their Negotiations, Aided and Asisted as they will be by the silly Moderation and Timidity of some, by the prejudices and Interested views of others. Surely the honest, virtuous and sensible will have enough to do to Encounter the plausible suttlety of their Agents, supported by such Confederates, and what Adds to the Misfortune is that you are to have this Business on your hands at A time when you should be Attending to the Embassies from the several (at least) Tradeing powers in Europe, forming Alliances to support An Independance declared many months past,1 but so it is. May God in his Good Providence Carry us safely through this difficulty, and I shall think we have gained the Summit of the mountain. By the best Intelligence we have the Commissioners are appointed. They are to Consist of 39, 3 to each Colony, that they are Instructed not to treat with Congress.2 Can they with all their Negro policy3 be so stupid as to suppose that they will be able to avail themselves of the Advantage of geting different terms from different Colonies, and by that means, without any trouble but a Voyage from Britain destroy A Union so formidable to the Existence of that Nation.
Anxiety marks every Countenance. People cant Account for the hesitancy they Observe. While some Apprehend that you are startled at the measures Already taken, Others wonder why the principles and dictates of Common Sense4 have not the same Influence upon the Enlarged minds of their Superiours that they feel on their own, and none can see safety or happiness in a future Connection with B—— void as they are of true policy, Justice or humanity. All wish to see a Brisk foreign trade, that will both make us rich and safe.
I am in a poor situation to give you Intelligence. I have but a very Imperfect Account of the military Operations, the Bombardment, and Canonade of Boston begun on Saturday last, and our Army took possession of Dochester Hill on Monday or Tuesday Night without any difficulty, and have strongly Entrenched. What is to be next I know not. I presume you will have every perticular from head quarters. Whether Howe has a design to Evacuate Boston or not is to me very Uncertain but some Circumstances look like it. Where he will go if he does is equally Uncertain. Can Administration with all their stupidity view with Indifference the French Force in the West Indies, or { 46 } is that not true. If True it must be Important to them or us. No Prizes lately taken. A Ship of 300 Tons from Boston to N York, mounted with 10 Carriage Guns, 30 Men, some Coal, 7000 Cannon Ball and a few Other Articles lately run on Shore on the Back of the Cape.5 The Ship Bilged, and every thing on Board taken possession of and secured by our People. I can give you no perticular Account of the 3 Regiments for Canada from these Goverments but I dare say they are gone. Everything was favourable when I last heard. I want to hear from your Fleet, their destination, Success &c. I want to hear the Character, the Business &c. of the Baron d woedle [de Woedtke] knight of Malta who passed through this Town in his way to Congress with Letters to Dr. Franklin &c. I hope to hear soon from you and am Unfeignedly Your Friend. My regards to Mr. Gerry Mr. Adams and Coll. Hancock.
The House have Voted a [bou]nty of £6. to those that shall Inlist for 2 years into the two [Bat]talions to be raised here of £3. for 1 year and of 30/ to those who shall Inlist into any of the five Battalions left here.6 I have my doubts, and fears about this Measure. I fear that Bounties will rise faster than Money can depreciate or Goods rise. I fear the displeasure of Congress, that they will be disgusted. The Board have prudently stopped it for the present. I dont know but the result will be to write to you before it goes further.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Warren March 7. 1776.”
1. What specific act Warren refers to as a declaration of independence "many months past" is only conjecturable. Possibly he had in mind the permission given in Nov. 1775 to South Carolina and New Hampshire to establish governments of their own choosing. Or he may be writing in more general terms of the thinking of the congress on trade, of its establishment of an army, of its encouragement of naval action, and so forth. In several letters to JA, Warren shows himself to be a vigorous supporter of strong measures against Great Britain.
2. News of the Howe peace commission appeared in the Boston Gazette of 4 March and the New England Chronicle of 6 March, both apparently obtaining their information from a London dispatch dated 21 Nov. – 20 Dec. appearing in the Massachusetts Gazette of 29 Feb., the final issue of that paper. The newspaper accounts, however, mention only 36 commissioners. Instead of treating with the congress, the commissioners were to demand the dissolving of every such illegal body. The best recent discussion of the evolution of instructions to Lord Howe is in Ira D. Gruber, The Howe Brothers and the American Revolution, N.Y., 1972, chs. 2 and 3, with a good summary at p. 77.
3. Warren uses “Negro” here in a derogatory sense. The newspaper dispatch cited in the preceding note mentioned delegation of the king's pardoning power to the commissioners and was full of news of army units embarking for the colonies, as well as of the passage of the Prohibitory Act through the Parliament. Whig Americans wanted nothing to do with pardons, and the determination of Britain to use force meant colonists were viewed as criminals or slaves, not free men.
4. Thomas Paine's pamphlet.
5. The Friendship, commanded by Capt. { 47 } Holmes, went aground on 1 March (Capt. George Talbot to Vice Adm. Molyneaux Shuldham, 3 March, Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 4:147–148; Mass., House Jour., 1775–1776, 4th sess., p. 2, 4, which gives the date of grounding as 29 Feb.).
6. The Journal of the House makes no mention of the provisions listed by Warren. On 10 Feb., however, the House did vote a bounty of forty shillings for enlistees in a regiment headed for Canada (House Jour., 3d sess., p. 271).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0018

Author: Gates, Horatio
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-08

From Horatio Gates

[salute] Dear Sir

Monday Night Two Thousand men under the Command of Brigadier General Thomas took possession of Dorchester Heights;1 a vast Quantity of Materials being previously Collected, especially Chandiliers, and Fascines,2 our Troops were soon covered, and long before day, began to Break Ground to thicken their defences against The Enemys Cannon.
To Conceal our design, and divert the Enemys Attention, a very Heavy Service of Cannon, and Mortars, began to play upon the Town between ten, and Eleven, Saturday night, from our Three Fortified Batteries at Cobble Hill, Letchmere Point, and Lambs Dam;3 this was continued all that night, and the two Succeeding; The Enemy returned The Fire constantly, but allways ceased as we did in the Mornings. Our Shot must have made Great Havock amongst the Houses, as I am confident they Swept the Town,4 what Loss, otherwise suffer'd by the Enemy, we are Ignorant; as neither Townsman, nor Deserter, has yet come in to acquaint us! Monday morning at Sun rise, expecting The Enemy would attempt to Force our New Works upon the Heights, everything was prepared for their proper Reception; and a large Body of Troops were drawn up near Cambridge River, with Orders upon a Signal Given, to Embark on board the Flat Bottom'd Boats, and in Two Divisions push into Boston; but the Enemy disappointed us by remaining Sullen and Sulkey in Boston, suffering Our Works upon the Heights to be carried on without any other molestation, than now, and Then, a Feint Cannonade upon Dorchester Neck; and even this, ceased with the day; for neither side have since Fired a Shott at each other! By monday morning our Redoubts will be Finish'd, and Barracks for 600 Men; so all that Peninsula, may now be called Ours, as the Cannon on the Heights Commands the whole of it; The behaviour of The Enemy since Monday strongly indicates their intention of removing from Boston; as their Heavy Cannon, Powder, &c. has been seen, and heard, Transporting from Bunkers Hill, and the upper parts of The Town, to the Wharfs next the Shiping, for { 48 } { 49 } several days past; and this morning a Quantity of Beding is Observed pulling on board Transports at the Long Warf: before we are quite ready to advance our Batteries upon Dorchester Point, I suspect the Enemy will Embarque. A few days will shew if I am, or am not mistaken; I was disappointed in not receiving your High Mightiness's Act of Independency by the Last Post.5

The Middle way, the best, we sometimes call,

But 'tis in Politicks no way at all;6

Shew this immediately to my Worthy Friend T. Johnson,7 and remember I have begun to fullfill my Promise to you. I am Dear Sir with great esteem Your Affectionate Humble Servant,
[signed] Horatio Gates
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To John Adams Esq. Member of the Continental Congress at Philadelphia"; docketed: "Gen. Gates March 8 1776 answd. March 23d.”
1. For other accounts of the action on 4 March, see Joseph Ward to JA, 14 March, and John Sullivan to JA, 15 March (both below).
2. A chandelier was a wooden frame filled with fascines, or tightly bound bundles of brush or short pieces of wood, that served as a temporary wall during the construction of a battery (OED).
3. Lamb's Dam, a dike for keeping out the tide, was the site of the principal battery on the Roxbury lines commanding Boston Neck (Frothingham, Siege of Boston, p. 242; Winsor, Memorial History of Boston, 3:114).
4. According to a report of Col. Henry Knox, commander of artillery, Lamb's Dam battery fired eleven shells and eighty round shot into Boston on the night of 4 March, while the batteries on Lechmere's Point and Cobble Hill fired two shells and forty-six round shot and no shells and eighteen round shot respectively (Frothingham, Siege of Boston, p. 298, note 1).
5. Presumably Gates had expected the congress to declare for independence. News of the Prohibitory Act had arrived in the colonies by this date, and a number of members of the congress regarded the Act as a virtual declaration of separation (Merrill Jensen, The Founding of a Nation, N.Y., 1968, p. 654–655).
6. The source of these lines has not been identified.
7. Thomas Johnson (1732–1819), delegate to the congress from Maryland, who had served on committees with JA (DAB).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0019

Author: Warren, Mercy Otis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-10

From Mercy Otis Warren

[salute] Dear sir

As your time is so Much Devoted to the Service of the publick that you have Little Leasure for Letters of friendship or Amusement And Conscious of Incapacity to write anything that would be of the smallest utility to the Common Weal,1 I have been for sometime Ballancing in my Mind Whether I should again Interrupt your Important Moments, but on Reperusing yours of January 8th I find a query { 50 } unanswered. And though the asking my opinion in So Momentous a question as the Form of Government to be prefered by a people who have an opportunity to shake off the fetters both of Monarchie and Aristocratic Tyrany, Might be Designed to Ridicule the sex for paying any Attention to political Matters, yet I shall Venture to Give you a serious Reply.
And Notwithstanding the Love of Dress, Dancing, Equipage, Finery and Folly, Notwithstanding the Fondness for Fasshion, predominates So strongly in the Female Mind, I hope Never to see an American Monarchy, However Fashionable in Europe, or However it Might Coincide with the taste for Elegance And pleasure in the one sex, or Co opperate with the Interest, or passions of the Other.2
I have Long been an Admirer of A Republican form of Goverment, And was Convinced Even before I saw the Advantages Deliniated in so Clear and Concise A Manner by your Masterly pen, that if Established upon the Genuine principles of Equal Liberty, it was A Form productive of Many Excellent qualities, and Heroic Virtues in Human Nature, which often Lie Dormant for want of opportunity for Exertions, And the Heavenly Spark is smothered in the Corruption of Courts, or its Lustre obscurr'd in the Pompous Glare of Regal pageantry. It is an Observation of the Celebrated Bourge, "that Almost all political Establishments are the Creatures of Chance Rather than of Wisdom, and that There are few Instances of A people Forming for themselves a Constitution from the Foundation, that the Common Course has been to Blend with the New system of politics the Errors and Deficiencies that had Cript into the old."3 Therefore there is Scarcly any Example of Such a phenomenon as a perfect Common Wealth. But we will hope the present period will Leave one to posterity, and that the American Republic will Come as Near the standard of perfection as the state of Humanity will Admit, and that Listning to the Dictates of Common sense the Amphyctionic Body will not be Obliged to yeald to the Violence of party or to the Blindness of private, or provincial prejudices, and Leave the Work half Finished. Shall the Fabrick which they now have the power of Compleating with a Facility which may never again take place be Left tottering under Its own Weight, to be showered up and Cemented with the Blood of Succeding Generations.
But However we may Indulge the pleasing Reverie And Look Forward with Delight, on the well Compacted Goverment, and Happy Establishment of the Civil police of the unite'd Colonies, yet with you sir I have my fears, that American Virtue has not yet Reach'd { 51 } that sublime pitch which is Necessary to Bafle the arts of the Designing, and to Counteract the Weakness of the timid, as well as to Resist the pecuniary temtations And Ambitious Wishes which will arise in the Breasts of More Noble minded and Exalted Individuals, if not Carefully Gaurded.
But we shall soon have A test. And iff the union of the Colonies, and A Steady Opposition to the Disgraceful Idea of Foreign shackles still subsists, after Negotiating with Men picked for the purpose of Flattering, Terefying and Cajoleing the Colonists into Compliances which Their principles, Their Interest Their Honour, and Even Their strength forbids, I shall have hopes that America has more than one politician who has Abilities to Make the Characters of His people, to Extinguish the Vices and Follies He finds, and to Create the Virtues He sees wanting.
Many among us are Ready to Flatter themselves that an Accomodation with Britain is Easey and that we shall soon see the Return of Halcyon Days.
But I believe sir, you have Little Expectation that, the Commissioners from A Haughty, Venal and Luxurious Court Acting in the Name of A Despotic prince will submit to such Humiliating Terms as the safety, the Happiness, and the justice of America Demands.
I Agree to the Bargain you propose and I think sir you Cannot Retract, when A Lady has accepted your Conditions.
But I Must Ingeniously tell you, the pleasure you may Expect to Reap, will be very Inadequate, to the Advantage I promiss myself by the Compliance.
I Expect to be made Acquainted with the Genius, the taste, and Manners, not only of the Most Distinguished Characters in America, but of the Nobility of Britain. And perhaps before the Conflict is Ended, with some of those Dignifyed personages who have held the Regalia of Crowns And Scepters, and in the zenith of power are the Dancing puppets of other European Courts.4 While the sphere of Female Life is too Narrow to afford any Entertainment to the Wise and Learned, who are Called to Exhibit some of the most Capital scenes in the Drama. And who dare to tread the Theatre, when not only A World! are the Spectators, but the Stage so Conspicuous and the part so Interesting that all posterity will scrutinize their steps, and Future ages Censure or Applaud according to the Imbecility, the Vigour, or Magnanimity that Marks the Conduct of the phi[ladelphi]an actors.
The subject I have touched is so Difusive that I have been Im• { 52 } perceptably Lead to Detain you Longer than I designed, and after uttering Every wish for the Happiness of you and yours, that Friendship Can dictate, I will only add I should be Gratifyed with a Line if it was only an assurance of pardon for the Fredom and Length of this from
[signed] Marcia
RC (Adams Papers); Tr (MHi: Mercy Warren Letterbook), not in Mercy Warren's hand and made years later, contains a number of changes, some noted below.
1. In Tr the passage “And Conscious of Incapacity . . . to the Common Weal” is omitted.
2. In Tr the final sentence of this paragraph reads, “Nor, however it might coincide with the taste for elegance and pleasure in the one sex, or cooperate with the passions, the interest, or ambition of the other, shall I ever be an advocate for such a form, not even ‘to make you rich.’” A note at the bottom of the page comments, “Mr. Adams had observed in a letter ‘that monarchy would make him rich.’” Taken out of context, JA's remark lost the bantering tone he had intended. One cannot tell whether the effect was intentional and meant to reflect Mrs. Warren's hostility toward JA in later years.
3. Closing quotation marks have been supplied in accordance with the marks supplied by Mrs. Warren at the start of each line of the quotation. Probably taken from James Burgh, Political Disquisitions, 3 vols., London, 1774–1775, the quotation has not been precisely located.
4. At this point the Tr adds this sentence: “America must take her rank and send her Ambassadors abroad, and I expect you will be one of them.”

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0020

Author: Ward, Joseph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-14

From Joseph Ward

[salute] Sir

The 2 instant at night we began a cannonade and bombardment upon the Enemy, and continued it three nights successively; on the 4th at night we threw up works upon the heights on Dorchester Point. The next morning the Pirates in Boston and in the Harbour appeared to be in great agitation, and every day and night since have been preparing (according to our observations, and the information from Town) to leave Boston. During our fire upon them they returned it warmly with Shot and Shells, but thro' the good Providence of God, we lost but one Subaltern and four privates in this Camp, and one private only in Cambridge. Several were slightly wounded. A sally was generally expected from the Enemy when we took post on Dorchester Point, but there has been very little appearance of such a design. Since we are possessed of the heights which command the Town, it is generally apprehended the Pirates will go to New York or the Southern Colonies. May all the winds of Heaven oppose them. If the Enemy leave Boston, I trust measures will be immediately taken to prevent them from being able ever to come into the Harbour again.
{ 53 }
No important occurrences have taken place which you have not been acquainted with. The Army is ordered to be ready to march in case the Enemy should remove. Genl. Ward's health being so precarious he talks of resigning; if he should, what post will be assigned for me or whether any, I know not; if any thing either in the Civil or Military should offer, wherein I could serve my Country, I shall continue in the public Service.1
Our Privateers continue successful; and every appearance and the general state of things, affords, I think, an encouraging prospect; and if we persevere I cannot doubt but we shall soon see our Country in Freedom Peace and Safety.
I hope Common Sense will convince every doubting mind with regard to the propriety and necessity of forming a Government in America; it is a glorious performance, and I think I see strong marks of your pen in it.2 I am perswaded the war would not be long if those sentiments were adopted, and that America would soon be the admiration and glory of the World. I trust Heaven will direct to it, and for which I ardently wish.
Genl. Ward desires his Compliments to you and to your worthy Colleagues in Congress.

[salute] May the God of our Fathers direct all the Councils of America. I am Sir With great Respect Your most Obedient Humble Servant,

[signed] Joseph Ward
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Jo. Ward March 14. 1776.”
1. Gen. Artemas Ward did not leave the army until March 1777. Joseph Ward was appointed Commissary General of Musters on 10 April 1777 and served as such until 15 April 1780, when he was made Commissary General of Prisoners, a position that he held until the end of the war (DAB; Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 568).
2. For JA's comments on the attribution of Common Sense to him, see Thoughts on Government, ante 27 March–April, Editorial Note (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0021

Author: Sullivan, John
Recipient: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-03-15 - 1776-03-19

From John Sullivan

[salute] Dear Sir

Your very Acceptable Favour of the 7th Instant1 Came to hand this Day. You could not have Conferred a greater obligation on me than by giving yourself the Trouble to write me; but when you give me to understand that my Services are acceptable in Your Eyes and in the Eyes of the Congress in General I already Esteem myself fully rewarded for all my toils; and cannot but persevere in my Endeavours to Deserve the good opinion of the Congress and my Country.
{ 54 }
The Enemy after having been Severely handled by our Shot and Shells for a few nights found us in full possession of Dochester Heights. This Threw them into the utmost Consternation. They Endeavoured to Elevate their Cannons So as to Breach our works by Sinking the Hinder wheels of the Cannon into the Earth but after an unsucesful Fire of about two Hours, they grew weary of it and Desisted. They then ordered Lord Piercey2 with 3000 Troops on board the Transports and to proceed to the Castle from whence he was to Come and attack our works on the South while the Granadier and Light Infantry were to Land from Boston on the North Point of Dochester Called Nook Point and attack our Lines on the other Side: This was no more than we Expected and had therefore prepared Signals at Roxbury to notify us of the Enemys movement and upon their making an Attack at Dochester we were to Land in our Boats on the North of Boston And Carry the Town Sword in hand. I was appointed to Command the first Division, and General Green the Second. General Heath was to Remain in Cambridge with the Troops left here and the attack was to be made by 4000 we not having Boats to Carry more. Our Boats were prepared and men Paraded by them Ready to Embark and all Seemed to be in Longing Expectation for the Signal: but the Reknowned Lord Piercey Disappointed us for he Instead of his Prospect Glass took a Multiplying Glass3 and viewd our people from the Castle and made them fifty thousand when in fact we only Sent our four thousand. This prevented their attack and Deprived us the pleasure of Walking the Streets of Boston for that time. The Troops then thought of nothing but Quitting the Town and have been Ever Since preparing for their Departure.
Dear Sir I had not time on the 15 Inst. to finish my Letter and now beg Leave to give you Some further Intelligence viz. on Saturday Evening our People took possession of Nook Hill near Boston. They5 Continued a Cannonading all night without hurting a Man. In the morning they found the Approaches So near and being Suspicious that we were about taking possession of Noddles Island they Embarked Early on Sunday morning and fell Down to the Castle. We Saw the Ships under way about 8 in the morning and the River full of Boats with Armed Soldiers. This gave an Alarm as Some Suspected they were about to Land at Dochester but having a full view of them with a Glass from Plowed Hill I found they were going on board the Ships. I then took my Horse and Rode Down to Charlestown Neck where I had a Clear view of Bunkers Hill. I Saw the Sentrys Stand• { 55 } ing as usual with their Firelocks Shouldered but finding they never moved I Soon Suspected what Regiment they belonged to and upon taking a Clear view with my Glass found they were only Effigies Set there by the flying Enemy. This Convinced me that they were Actually fled for if they meant to Decoy us they would have taken away Every appearance of Men. By this time I was Joined by Colo. Mifflin who with my Brigade Major agreed to go up Sending two persons Round the works to Examine whether there was any of them in the Rear of the works while we went up in the front. I at the Same time Sent for a Strong party to follow us on to the Hill to assist us in Running away (if necessary). We found no persons there and bravely Took a fortress Defended by Lifeless Sentries. I then brought on the party to Secure what we had So bravely won and went Down to the other works where we found all Abandoned but the works not Injured in any part. We hailed the ferry Boat which came over and Informed us that they had abandoned the Town. We then gave Information to the General who ordered me with the Troops under my Command to take possession of Charlestown and General Putnam with 2000 men to take possession of the works in Boston and on Monday morning his Excellencey Make his Entry into Boston and Repaired to Mr. Hancocks House where we found his Furniture Left without Injury or Diminution. Indeed General Grant6 Sent for the man Left in Charge of the House and Desired him to Examine whether any of the Furniture was Damaged which he Said was not (Though I believe the Brave General had made free with Some Articles in the Cellar). Indeed the Buildings Except the old wooden ones have Suffered but very Little by the Rebel Army. We found about forty good Cannon, a fine 13 Inch mortar and great Quantity of Stores which they in their Hurry have Left for our use. They Spiked up the Cannon but we can Easily Clear them. I Shall this Day visit your House or rather mine and Inform you what State it is Left in and for your Sake and the Lady who gave it me as well as my own Shall see that no Injury is Done to it in future.7 Till I can have the pleasure of Seeing you and your family in full possession. I Expect to march for New York in two or three Days part of our Army having marched Some Days Since and the whole is to follow to prevent them getting possession of that Important Post.
I have Seen Common Sense and admire it <and wish that your Bretheren had a Sufficient share of it>. It Takes well with the Army and the People in General and I hope So Rational a Doctrine will be Established throughout the Continent as the only Doctrine which will { 56 } work out the Salvation of America. You ask me if we have any Colonels fit for Brigadiers and who they are. I will undertake to Recommend one Viz Colo. Stark8 who is an old veteran and has better pretensions than any other Colonel in the Army though by Down right Dint of Blunder he was Ranked below other Colonels in the Army when by the very Principles the Committee pretended to go upon he Should have been the first. This Recommendation I Submit to your wise Consideration. I beg you to make my most Respectful Compliments to Colo. Hancock, Mssrs Adams, Pain and Garey and believe me to be Dr Sir with much respect your most obedt. Servt.
[signed] Jno Sullivan
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Sullivans March 15 1776.”
1. Not found.
2. Maj. Gen. Lord Hugh Percy (1742–1817) of the 5th Regiment of Fusiliers (Worthington C. Ford, comp., British Officers Serving in the American Revolution, 1774–1784, Brooklyn, 1897; DNB).
3. That is, instead of a telescope, he used a magnifying glass (OED).
4. 19 March was a Tuesday, but his writing “June” is inexplicable.
5. That is, the British.
6. Maj. Gen. James Grant (1720–1806) of the 55th Regiment of Foot (Ford, British Officers; DNB).
7. Sullivan continues the banter regarding JA's house that he began in his letter to JA of 21 Dec. 1775 (above).
8. John Stark (1728–1822) of New Hampshire, a veteran of the French and Indian War, who, despite the recommendation of Sullivan and conspicuous service to the American cause, remained at the rank of colonel. His failure to win promotion caused him to resign his commission in March 1777. When Burgoyne invaded New York, the New Hampshire General Court made Stark a brigadier general. Stark's victory in the Battle of Bennington in Aug. 1777 won him the rank of brigadier general in the Continental Army (DAB).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0022

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1776-03-21

To James Warren

[salute] My dear sir

I have not received more than one Letter from you since I left you and that was a very Short one.1 I have written as often as I could.
If you get a sight of the New York and Philadelphia News Papers you will see what a mighty Question is before the Tribunal of the Public.2 The Decision is yet in suspence, but a Guess may be formed what it will be.
The Day before Yesterday the Committee of Observation of this City a virtuous brave and patriotic Body of Men 100 in Number voted with only one dissentient Voice, to petition their assembly now sitting, to repeal their deadly Instructions to their Delegates in Congress.3 This assembly, a few days ago upon a Petition from the Same Committee and some other Bodies, has voted seventeen additional { 57 } Members, in order to make the Representation of this Province more adequate.4
You will soon see, a sett of Resolutions, which will please you. The Continental Vessells the Provincial Vessells, and Letters of Marque and Privateers will be let loose upon British Trade.
I hope and believe it will not be long before, Trade will be open. Foreign Nations, all the World I hope will be invited to come here, and our People permitted to go to all the World except the Dominion of him, who is adjudged to be Nerone Neronior.5 I think the Utmost Encouragement must be given to Trade—and therefore We must lay no Duties at present upon Exports and Imports—nor attempt to confine our Trade to our own Bottoms, or our own seamen. This for the present.
We have so much Work to do, by sea and Land, and so few Hands to do it, that We shall not be under any Necessity nor will it be good Policy, I think, to attempt such Restrictions as yet.
The Act of Assembly here for seventeen additional Representatives, will give a finishing Blow to the Quaker Interest in this City—at least to its ascendency. It will strip it of all that unjust and unequal Power, which it formerly had over the Ballance of the Province. The Tories here, attribute this Maneuvre to your Friends to whom you are sometimes so partial. If the Charge is true the Posterity of Pensylvania will have cause to bless your Friends from Generation to Generation. You cant think how much I am flattered with it. As I have the Pleasure of a particular Acquaintance, and frequent friendly Conversations with Several Gentlemen of this city belonging to the Committee of Observations, I am inclined to hope, that a small Portion of this Merit, is due to me. But I would not be too vain and proud of it.
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “Mr J Adams Lettr Mar: 21. 1776.”
1. That of 31 Jan. (above).
2. In a broad sense the “mighty Question” was independence but more particularly it concerned the American response to the Prohibitory Act of 22 Dec. 1775, news of which began to appear in New York and Philadelphia papers in late February. A printed copy of the act was read to the congress on 27 Feb., although the Journal of that day makes no mention of it (Richard Smith's Diary, 27 Feb., in Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:366). Also arousing interest were the reception, or lack of it, that should be given to the commissioners coming from England and the efficacy of the doctrines of Common Sense.
The Prohibitory Act, which in effect declared Americans outlaws, drove some moderates like Robert Alexander into the extremists' camp; and JA saw the act as an “Act of Independency” (English Historical Documents, vol. 9, American Colonial Documents to 1776, ed. Merrill Jensen, N.Y., 1955, p. 853; JA to Horatio Gates, 23 March, below). Nonetheless, the forces opposed to independence still retained influence, and events moved slowly—too slowly for JA. { 58 } It took the congress three weeks to make its response. The Declaration on Armed Vessels authorized Americans to outfit ships and to seize as prizes any vessels owned by inhabitants of Great Britain, but its preamble still did not directly blame the King for acts Americans viewed as grievances (JCC, 4:229–232, esp. the note at p. 230–231; Gipson, Empire before the Revolution, 12:358; Merrill Jensen, The Founding of a Nation, N.Y., 1968, p. 659–660).
A number of newspaper essayists kept the issues before the public. In Philadelphia the debate between James Cannon as the radical “Cassandra” and Provost William Smith as the conservative “Cato” was joined by Thomas Paine as “The Forester.” (For the essays that appeared in March and April in the Pennsylvania Evening-Post, Pennsylvania Packet, and Pennsylvania Gazette, as well as in the papers of other towns such as New York and Boston, see Force, Archives, 4th ser., 5:passim; JA identified the three writers in a letter to AA of 28 April, Adams Family Correspondence, 1:400.) Although concerned in part with who would rule in Pennsylvania, the Assembly or a convention, the three men covered the whole range of issues facing Americans. “Cassandra,” who sharply opposed receiving the commissioners from England, and “The Forester” could hardly fail to affect public opinion in the highly charged atmosphere produced by the arrival of the Prohibitory Act, which, as JA pointed out more than once, gave Americans little choice about the need for independence.
3. For these instructions, see Samuel Chase to JA, 25 Nov. 1775 (above).
4. This bill was passed by the Assembly on 14 March, signed by the governor on 23 March, and printed in the Pennsylvania Gazette on 27 March. The seventeen additional members were to be apportioned among Philadelphia and eight frontier counties, where whig feeling ran high (Penna. Archives, 8th ser., 8:7446, 7456).
5. More Neronian than Nero.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0023

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gates, Horatio
Date: 1776-03-23

To Horatio Gates

[salute] Dear Sir

I had the Pleasure, a few days ago, of your Favour of 8th. Instant, for which I esteem myself under great obligations to you.
We rejoice here at the Prospect there is of your driving the Enemy from Boston. If you should Succeed in this I hope effectual Measures will be taken to fortify the Harbour, that the Navy may never enter it again. I think the Narrows may be So obstructed that large Ships will not be able to pass, and the Channell between Long Island and the Moon may be commanded by Batteries upon each of those Islands in such a manner that Boston may be Safe from Men of War. I hope my Countrymen will hesitate at no Expence to attain this End, if in order to accomplish it, they should be obliged to remove the rocky Mountains of my Town of Braintree into the Harbour.1
But I cannot yet clearly Satisfy myself that they will leave Boston. It will be a greater Disgrace to the British Arms than to be taken Prisoners in the Town in a Body. If they should abandon the Persons and Property of their dear Friends the Tories in Boston, will any other Tories in any other Part of the Continent ever trust to their Protection? It will be considered as such Impotence, or such Infidelity that { 59 } I am inclined to think, few Professors of Toryism would ever afterwards be found any where.
I agree with you, that in Politicks the Middle Way is none at all. If We finally fail in this great and glorious Contest, it will be by bewildering ourselves in groping after this middle Way. We have hither to conducted half a War, acted upon the Line of Defence &c. &c. But you will See by tomorrows Paper, that for the future We are likely to wage three Quarters of a War.2 The Continental ships of War, and Provincial ships of War, and Letters of Mark and Privateers are permitted to cruise upon British Property, whenever found on the ocean. This is not Independency you know, nothing like it.
If a Post or two more, should bring you unlimited Latitude of Trade to all Nations, and a polite Invitation to all Nations to trade with you, take care that you dont call it, or think it Independency. No such Matter. Independency is an Hobgoblin, of So frightful Mein, that it would throw a delicate Person into Fits to look it in the Face.
I know not whether you have seen the Act of Parliament call'd the restraining Act, or prohibitory Act, or piratical Act, or plundering Act, or Act of Independency, for by all these Titles is it call'd. I think the most apposite is the Act of Independency, for King Lords and Commons have united in Sundering this Country and that I think forever. It is a compleat Dismemberment of the British Empire. It throws thirteen Colonies out of the Royal Protection, levels all Distinctions and makes us independent in Spight of all our supplications and Entreaties.
It may be fortunate that the Act of Independency should come from the British Parliament, rather than the American Congress: But it is very odd that Americans should hesitate at accepting Such a Gift from them.
However, my dear Friend Gates, all our Misfortunes arise from a Single Source, the Reluctance of the Southern Colonies to Republican Government. The success of this War depends upon a Skillfull Steerage of the political Vessell. The Difficulty lies in forming Constitutions for particular Colonies, and a Continental Constitution for the whole, each Colony should establish its own Government, and then a League should be formed, between them all.3 This can be done only on popular Principles and Maxims which are so abhorrent to the Inclinations of the Barons of the south, and the Proprietary Interests in the Middle Colonies, as well as to that Avarice of Land, which has made upon this Continent so many Votaries to Mammon that I Sometimes dread the Consequences. However Patience, Fortitude { 60 } and Perseverance, with the Help of Time will get us over these obstructions.
Thirteen Colonies under such a Form of Government as that of Connecticutt, or one, not quite so popular leagued together in a faithfull Confederacy might bid Defyance to all the Potentates of Europe if united against them.
Pray continue to make me happy with your Favours, accept of my most cordial Wishes for your safety, Happiness and Honour, make my most respectfull Compliments to the General and the Ladies, and the whole Family, and believe me to be with great Respect your affectionate Friend and servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (NHi: Gates Papers).
1. JA's membership on a congressional committee to consider the fortifications of one or more American ports caused him several times to exhort those in Massachusetts to greater efforts and to propose plans for the effective fortification of Boston Harbor (JA's Service in the Congress, 9 Feb. – 27 Aug., No. IX, above).
2. The Declaration on Armed Vessels; see JA to James Warren, 21 March, note 2 (above).
3. Perhaps JA's comment here is an indication that he was working on what came to be called Thoughts on Government (ante 27 March–April, below).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0024

Author: Ward, Joseph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-23

From Joseph Ward

[salute] Sir

The 17th Instant the Pirates all abandoned their Works in Boston and Charlestown and went on board their Ships, and on the 20th they burnt and destroyed the works on Castle Island. They now lye in Nantasket Road waiting for a fair wind; we keep a vigilant eye over them lest they should make an attack on some unexpected quarter. The particulars with regard to the Seige, the Stores taken, &c. you will receive from better authority, therefore it is unnecessary for me to mention them. Our Troops behaved well, and I think the flight of the British Fleet and Army before the American Arms, must have a happy and very important effect upon the great Cause we engaged in, and greatly facilitate our future operations. I wish it may stimulate the Congress to form an American Government immediately. If, after all our exertions and successes, while Providence offers us Freedom and Independence, we should receive the gloven [cloven?] foot of George to rule here again what will posterity, what will the wise and virtuous through the World say of us? Will they not say, (and jusly) that we were fools who had an inestimable prize put into our hands but had no heart to improve it! Heaven seems now to offer us the glorious privilege, the bright preeminence above all other people, of { 61 } | view { 62 } | view { 63 } being the Guardians of the Rights of Mankind and the Patrons of the World. It is the fault of the United Colonies (a rare fault among men) they do not sufficiently know and feel their own strength and importance. Independence would have a great effect upon the Army, some now begin to fear that after all their fatigue and hazards in the Cause of Freedom, a compromise will take place whereby Britain may still exercise a power injurious to the Liberty Peace and Safety of America: Cut the Gordian knot, and the timid and wavering will have new feelings, trimming will be at an end, and the determined faithful friends of their Country will kindle with new ardour, and the United Colonies increase in strength and glory every hour.
Yesterday I saw your Brother, who informed that Mrs. Adams and your Children were well.
General Ward, on account of his declining health, has wrote his Resignation to the President of the Congress.1 I expect the greatest part of the Army will march for New York, or the Southern Colonies as soon as the Fleet is gone to Sea; and the Troops that remain here will be employed in fortifying the most advantageous Posts to defend the Town and harbour. I do not much expect the Enemy will make any attempts to regain possession of Boston, for I think they are sufficiently convinced that they cannot penetrate the Country in this part of America; 'tis probable they will try their fortune to the Southward and if they fail there the game will be up with them. We hear many accounts about Commissioners coming from Britain to treat with the Colonies separately, or with the Congress. Many fear we shall be duped by them, but I trust the congress is too wise to be awed by the splendor or deceived by the cunning of British Courtiers.
I know not of one discouraging circumstance attending either our civil or military affairs in this part of the Continent. I have lately heard with pleasure that the Farmer2 is become an advocate for Independence.

[salute] Wishing the Congress that Wisdom which is from above, I am Sir with much Respect Your most Humble Servant,

[signed] Joseph Ward
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Ward Mar 23. 1776.”
1. Although Gen. Ward resigned on 22 March, the congress did not accept his resignation until 23 April, after Ward had written again on 12 April requesting that he be relieved. As Washington saw it, Ward was of two minds about resigning, for some of Ward's officers did not wish to see him leave (PCC, No. 152, I; No. 159; JCC, 4:300; Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 4:453). Acceptance of his resignation did not relieve him of duty, however, and Washington continued sending him orders, for there was no { 64 } one to take Ward's place. On 21 Aug. the congress requested that he stay on, later giving him a special designation—“major general commanding in a separate department” (JCC, 5:694; 6:931). Ward was finally relieved when Gen. Heath took over his command in March 1777 (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 7:231; see also DAB and Charles Martyn, The Life of Artemas Ward, N.Y., 1921, p. 216–217, 223, 231, 240).
2. Ward may be referring to John Dickinson's assuming command of a force of Philadelphia Associators sent to strengthen the American Army at New York, an act which impressed even JA (JA to John Trumbull, [13] Feb., above; JA to AA, [13] Feb., Adams Family Correspondence, 1:346–347).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0025

Author: Trumbull, Jonathan
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: Wythe, George
Date: 1776-03-25

From Jonathan Trumbull

[salute] Gentlemen

Two accounts of loss by hostilities committed by the Ministerial Navy, which came to hand since my last, are enclosed.1
I do most sincerely congratulate you on General Washington's success—And on the shameful retreat of our Enemies from Boston—Which demand our humble admiration and praise of the supream Director of all Events, for His marvellous interposition for our help.
Tyranny and oppression have a natural tendency to move the Colonists, to a seporation from Great Britain. Nothing else could induce them to an Event so distant from their thoughts or designs. Burning and destroying our Towns, robbing our property, trampling on and profaning places dedicated to divine Worship and Service, and cruel treatment of the persons so unhappy as to fall into their hands, are injuries of the first magnitude. The prisoners in our custody meet generous entertainment. Is it not time the law of retalliation should take place? Every subtile art, as well as Arms are used against us. May God prevent their Operations, and turn their counsels to foolishness—preserve and increase the union of His American people, grant them Wisdom, and guide their public Councils.

[salute] I am, with great Esteem and Regard Gentlemen Your most obedient humble Servant.

[signed] Jonth; Trumbull
RC (PCC, No. 66, f. 91); subscribed: “The Honble. Jno. Adams and Geo. Wythe Esquires”; docketed in an unidentified hand: “Letter from Gov. Trumbull 25 March 1776 with two accots. of loss sustained by the hostilities committed by the ministerial navy.”
1. Trumbull wrote to JA and Wythe in their capacity as members of the congressional committee to receive reports on British depredations. There follow accounts and supporting affidavits, dated in March and Jan. 1776, respecting losses sustained through British seizure of the schooners James and Hannah.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0026-0001

Editorial Note

One of the most influential of Adams' Revolutionary writings was the pamphlet Thoughts on Government, Applicable to the Present State of the American Colonies. In a Letter from a Gentleman to His Friend, Philadelphia, 1776 (T. R. Adams, American Independence, No. 205a; Evans, No. 14639). Actually its influence began before it appeared in print, for it took earlier form as letters to two other friends who made use of it during the deliberations regarding a government for North Carolina. The genesis of the pamphlet is a confused story, the confusion arising from Adams' imperfect memory of events to which he did not attach great importance at the time.
Adams' earliest, and thus most nearly accurate, account of the composition of the Thoughts was given in a letter to James Warren of 20 April (below). William Hooper and John Penn, delegates to the congress from North Carolina, had each been urged to return home to take part in the drafting of a plan of government for that colony and bring with him ideas on the subject. They applied separately to Adams for suggestions. In his own words, Adams “concluded to borrow a little Time from his sleep and accordingly wrote with his own Hand, a Sketch, which he copied, giving the original to Mr. Hooper and the Copy to Mr. Penn.” When George Wythe of Virginia saw the sketch, he wanted one for himself. Adams obliged, as he said, by writing one out from memory. The same thing happened when Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant of New Jersey put in his request, although this time the author “enlarged and amplified a good deal.”
Taking the account to Warren literally, Adams produced four manuscripts, the first two of which would be as nearly identical as one could expect from a laborious copying of five or six pages, and the third would reveal differences because it was done from memory. The fourth, expanded as it was, would show the greatest difference from the others. Adams told Warren that he had made five copies although he specifies only four. It has been postulated that the fifth may have been the letter Adams wrote to Richard Henry Lee the preceding November, but the lapse of months would seem to make that unlikely (Adams to Lee, 15 Nov. 1775, above). Adams probably miscounted (John E. Selby, “Richard Henry Lee, John Adams, and the Virginia Constitution of 1776,” VMHB, 84:394–395, note 20 [Oct. 1976]).
{ 66 }
It is not surprising that when Richard Henry Lee also asked for a copy of Adams' latest composition, the hard-pressed author borrowed Wythe's, and Lee “put it under Types.” The pamphlet, then, probably reproduced the Wythe copy, though we cannot be certain, for the Wythe MS has not been found, nor, for that matter, has the Sergeant copy. As Adams wrote to Warren, it was a pity that Wythe's copy was used for the printer, for Sergeant's was “longer and more compleat, perhaps more correct.”
A comparison of the letters written to Hooper and Penn and the letter to Wythe as printed shows that Adams did not copy his initial effort, as he first claimed. Each proposal, though containing passages identical with one or both of the other versions, shows some difference in ordering of ideas and contains passages unique to it. Yet, given the nature of some of the verbatim passages, one can justifiably conclude that Adams had a set of notes or a rough draft, apparently no longer extant, on which he could draw in answering the separate requests for a plan of government. Although he declared the Sergeant version the most accurate and complete, even that in Adams' eyes was only a temporary expedient, for he was careful to note in all three extant versions of the Thoughts that the conditions of 1776 would change and that, as stress and danger eased, legislators might well want to alter several features of the original scheme. What those modifications might be are only hinted at, but the hints account for some of the differences from plan to plan. Most of these will be left to annotation, but a few general comments are appropriate here.
The letter to Penn is approximately two hundred words longer than that to Hooper, but the one to Wythe is perhaps one thousand words longer than that. The greater length of the third version is largely owing to the elaboration of some ideas and the introduction of topics not covered earlier: for example, the addition of a sixth and summary reason for the dangers of unicameralism, the discussion of the composition and command of the militia, the advisability of sumptuary laws, and the quorum for the Council when it acts as adviser to the governor.
Besides these additions there are other differences of substance. Thus, only the Hooper letter mentions an alternative to basing representation on numbers or geographic area—quantity of property. Although the Hooper letter is unique in this respect, the principle of basing representation on property was incorporated in 1779 in Adams' draft of the Massachusetts Constitution and was retained in the final version of 1780. The number of senators from specially designated districts was to be proportional to the taxes paid by the inhabitants of the district (The Report of a Constitution or Form of Government for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts . . . , Boston, 1779, p. 18; Constitution of 1780, ch. I, sect. II). Only the Wythe letter mentions the possibility of terms of office running three or seven years, or even for life, although Adams in all three letters makes plain his strong preference for annual elections. Here, as elsewhere, however, he would leave the decision to the people. The Wythe letter also enlarges somewhat the sphere of the congress. That it should provide for a post office is not surprising, but Adams' additional thought that the { 67 } unappropriated royal lands should come under congressional jurisdiction shows his awareness of the issue of ownership of western lands. Virginia was particularly concerned with this issue because of its vast claims north and west of the Ohio River which overlapped the claims of other colonies (see Madison, Papers, 2:72–77). Obviously there was some development of Adams' thought even in the space of a few days; in this light the disappearance of the Sergeant letter is especially regrettable.
A very rough estimate of the length of the final version of the Thoughts may be extrapolated from Adams' statement to both Abigail (JA to AA, 15 April, Adams Family Correspondence, 1:383) and Warren that he had used ten sheets of paper to produce the four copies. Whenever Adams used a full sheet for a letter, he folded it in half to make four pages; hence if one makes no allowance for unfilled pages, his copying effort produced forty pages of writing. Extant MS versions for Hooper and Penn use five and seven full pages respectively. The printed Wythe version must have taken about twelve pages, for a total of twenty-four pages for the three versions we know. This means that the Sergeant version was about sixteen pages in length.
Not only did Adams create confusion about whether two of his letters were merely copies of the original, but with the passage of time he insisted upon a different order of composition. In 1814 John Taylor of Caroline co., Virginia, John Penn's son-in-law, published An Inquiry into the Principles and Policy of the Government of the United States, in which appeared an undated letter by Adams on government. Extracts from this letter, according to Taylor, had been printed some years before in newspapers (An Inquiry . . . , repr. New Haven, 1950, p. 452–458). When Adams saw the letter he was convinced that Taylor had written a confused account of its nature and wrote him “an unvarnished explanation,” stating that in January 1776 he and Wythe had had an evening's conversation about government. After Adams had put his ideas into writing at Wythe's request, Lee had secured Adams' permission to have the piece published on condition that the author's name be suppressed. Some weeks later the delegates from North Carolina called on Adams, bearing a letter from their state legislature requesting his advice on a form of government, a request he fulfilled with a letter that was never published in whole or in part (JA to Taylor, 9 April 1814, MHi: Washburn Papers). The letter in Taylor's book, of course, was that to John Penn. Adams had forgotten that he had written to Penn and to Hooper, not to the North Carolina legislature. This second account of the genesis of Thoughts on Government, erroneously making Wythe's the earliest version, parallels one that Adams had entered in 1811 on the flyleaf of Norton Quincy's copy of the Thoughts ([Feb.–April], Adams Papers, and see JA, Works, 4:191). Several years later still, Adams described the letter printed by Taylor as “an imperfect copy” of the Wythe letter (JA to Hezekiah Niles, 28 April 1817, Niles Weekly Register, 12:161 [March–Sept. 1817]).
Close examination of several letters that Adams wrote in the spring of 1776 permits establishment of an approximate chronology for the letters { 68 } that led to the pamphlet. One can say at once that Adams did not have a conversation with Wythe in January 1776, since Adams did not return to Philadelphia until 8 February (JA to AA, 11 Feb., Adams Family Correspondence, 1:345). Furthermore, he apparently did not put down his ideas on government until after 19 March. On that day he answered Abigail's request for his opinion of Common Sense, which he had sent her from New York several weeks before. In noting that some people thought that he was the author, Adams remarks, “But altho I could not have written any Thing in so manly and striking a style, I flatter myself I should have made a more respectable Figure as an Architect, if I had undertaken such a Work. This Writer seems to have very inadequate Ideas of what is proper and necessary to be done, in order to form Constitutions for single Colonies, as well as a great Model of Union for the whole” (JA to AA, 19 March, italics supplied, same, 1:363).
The italicized clause indicates that Adams had not yet written his plan of government. Yet, on 27 March, Hooper and Penn left Philadelphia to attend the North Carolina convention, so that, given the account of events that Adams wrote to Warren on 20 April, Adams must have written out his scheme for Hooper and Penn before they left the city (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:lviii). That fact would date the earliest versions of the Thoughts between 19 and 27 March. The Wythe version may well have been composed soon after 27 March, for Wythe saw either the Hooper or the Penn version before the men left Philadelphia; the Sergeant version followed, completed at the latest by 15 April, when Adams told Abigail he had used up ten sheets of paper. We know that on 11 April, Sergeant requested that Adams send to him a “Copy of a Paper I spoke with You about the Evening before I left Town,” which was very likely one of the first three versions of Thoughts on Government (Sergeant to JA, 11 April, below).
Put into pamphlet form by John Dunlap of Philadelphia, Thoughts on Government was advertised for sale on 22 April in the Pennsylvania Packet. Some months later a reprint was made available in Boston by John Gill, who gave notice in his Continental Journal of 10 October that it would be published on the 12th. Gill may have sensed a market for Adams' work. In Massachusetts for some time there had been agitation for a constitution to replace the makeshift government under which the province was operating. What had begun as opposition in Berkshire and Hampshire counties to continuation of the charter became after 4 July more general, and the House of Representatives in September asked the towns if they wanted the General Court to draft a constitution (Robert J. Taylor, Massachusetts, Colony to Commonwealth: Documents on the Formation of Its Constitution, 1775–1780, Chapel Hill, 1961, p. 36, 41). Moreover, on 31 August the Rev. William Gordon had begun a series of letters to the Independent Chronicle in which he discussed the features that a constitution should contain. In his first letter he quoted from Thoughts on Government the arguments of Adams against unicameralism. His series of letters ran through September and into October and was continued in { 69 } the spring of 1777 (Independent Chronicle, 5, 12, 19, 26 Sept.; 3 Oct. 1776; 20, 27 March; 3, 10 April 1777). While Massachusetts towns in the fall of 1776 were voting overwhelmingly to give the General Court authority to draft a constitution, if one can judge by the returns preserved in the state archives, the first newspaper printing of Thoughts on Government, presumably taken from the Boston edition, appeared in the Newburyport Essex Journal of 1 November.
Similarly, local issues brought another printing of the Adams proposal. Writing as “Ludlow” in the Pennsylvania Journal, Benjamin Rush, who despised his state's constitution, quoted from the Adams pamphlet four of the reasons (nos. 1–3 and 6) why unicameralism was dangerous. “Whitlocke,” whose identity remains unknown, answered Rush in the Pennsylvania Gazette. He made the telling point that in the passage cited by Rush, Adams had inveighed not against vesting all legislative power in one body, but against centering all legislative, executive, and judicial power in a single assembly. Rush did leave out a key phrase in quoting Adams' sixth reason for opposing unicameralism: “execute all laws arbitrarily for their own interest” (Pennsylvania Journal, 28 May 1777; Pennsylvania Gazette, 4 June 1777; for an analysis of the debate over the Pennsylvania constitution see Robert L. Brunhouse, The Counter-Revolution in Pennsylvania, 1776–1790, Phila., 1942, p. 28–33, 240). The Gazette printed the text of Thoughts on Government to allow readers to see for themselves what Adams had said, but in doing so it omitted the last paragraph, which had requested suppression of the author's name.
In quoting, Rush became the first person publicly to assign authorship of the pamphlet to John Adams; moreover, he said Adams was addressing one of his friends in North Carolina, although the pamphlet makes no mention of that state and was, in fact, addressed to Wythe of Virginia. Somehow Rush had learned of one or both of the letters addressed to Hooper and Penn. (Rush's letters on the constitution were collected as Observations upon the Present Government of Pennsylvania in Four Letters to the People of Pennsylvania, Phila., 1777, the quotations from Adams being at p. 5–6.) When Adams learned how his proposal for government was being put to use in Pennsylvania, he was unhappy, for he did not want “to be impressed into the service of one Party.” However much he deplored unicameralism, he believed above all else that choice of governmental forms should be left to the people for decision (JA to AA, 4 June 1777, Adams Family Correspondence, 2:255; JA to Patrick Henry, 3 June 1776, below).
Thoughts on Government had influence apart from early reprintings. Its most obvious impact came in Virginia, where it called forth an ineffectual rebuttal: Carter Braxton's Address to the Convention of the Colony and Ancient Dominion of Virginia, (Phila., 1776), designed, Adams said, “as an Antidote to the popular Poison, in ‘Thoughts on Government’” (JA to James Warren, 12 May, below). Patrick Henry described it as “an Affront and Disgrace” to Virginia (to JA, 20 May, below). His ire was probably provoked by Braxton's too-great admiration for British forms and his attack { 70 } on republican government as based on the impossible ideal of disinterestedness and equality. Quoting from Adams, Braxton held that he had confused public and private virtue. Braxton called for a governor elected by the House of Representatives to serve during good behavior and a Council, or second branch of the legislature, to serve for life. The representatives of the people were to be elected every three years (Force, Archives, 4th ser., 6:748–754). Although Braxton's pamphlet was reprinted in Dixon and Hunter's Virginia Gazette of 8 and 15 June, it appeared too late and was too far from the spirit of men's thinking to carry any weight.
Julian P. Boyd has demonstrated that George Mason, chief architect of the Virginia Constitution of 1776, was influenced by both Thoughts on Government and Adams' letter to Richard Henry Lee (Jefferson, Papers, 1:334–335, 369, note 6). John Selby's study of Lee and the Virginia Constitution reproduces the long-unidentified handbill on government that Lee ordered made up and that is based on, but not identical in substance to, the letter from Adams of 15 November 1775. The evidence is clear that the printing of Lee's handbill preceded the publication of Thoughts on Government by a week or two; nonetheless, Adams' pamphlet was in the hands of a number of Virginians before they attended the state convention. Lee became an ardent advocate of the Adams plan insofar as it demonstrated that government could be established in a form Virginians were used to even though independence was to be declared. Selby makes the important point that some Virginians had feared such a declaration might lead to “internal disruption.” Adams' work eased their fears and made them the more ready to embrace many of its features (VMHB, 84:393–396).
In North Carolina, according to Elisha P. Douglass, Thoughts on Government was invoked by those who opposed a democratic faction that sought greater popular control in government, even to the extent of electing judges (Rebels and Democrats, Chapel Hill, 1955 [repr., Chicago, 1965], ch. 8). Douglass, unaware of the Hooper and Penn letters, confined his attention to the printed pamphlet, which arrived too late to exert much influence on the convention that met in April (same, p. 124–125). In fact, Hooper and Penn were put on the committee to prepare a constitution as soon as they arrived at the convention on 15 April (William L. Saunders, ed., The Colonial Records of North Carolina, 10 vols., Raleigh, 1886–1890, 10:516). Adams' letter to Hooper was copied into the executive letterbook, and Penn wrote to Adams that “We are endeavouring to form a Constitution as it is thought necessary to exert all the powers of Government, you may expect it will be a popular one” (Penn to Adams, 17 April, below). What Penn meant by “a popular one” apparently differed from what some North Carolinians meant, for a democratic group in the convention wanted a two-house legislature and a president and council functioning as the executive that would be directly elected by the people. Conservatives, according to Douglass, wanted the plan of Adams more closely followed (Rebels and Democrats, p. 120, 124, 125, note 30). As mentioned earlier, Adams had insisted that his specific pro• { 71 } posals were temporary and in his letter to Penn had suggested that in time people might prefer direct election of a governor by the people at large and of councilors by the freeholders. Thus, Adams was not so conservative as Douglass' analysis would imply. The outcome in North Carolina, however, was a more democratic government than men like Hooper and Penn desired (same, p. 129–135).
No study has yet been made of the precise impact of Thoughts on Government on constitution-making in New Jersey. Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant is credited with having written a draft before a committee of the provincial congress designated for the purpose could get started. The committee worked but two days to produce a constitution, and it was adopted on 2 July. John E. Pomfret has described it as following “the colonial model . . . throughout,” as not “a revolutionary document.” All officers, executive and judicial, were chosen by joint ballot of the two houses for terms that were brief, even for judges. The lack of judicial tenure and of a veto for the governor was an important departure from Adams' plan, but annual elections and bicameralism were significant parts of his scheme. Since familiar forms shaped Adams' thinking, the lack of revolutionary change would not necessarily rule out his influence (Pomfret, Colonial New Jersey, A History, N.Y., 1973, p. 261–264).
For the rest, there are but scattered hints that Thoughts on Government continued to be influential. Adams' recollection is that the pamphlet was useful in New York. In his Autobiography he remarks that John Jay and James Duane attended the New York Convention, “as I suppose for the Purpose of getting a Plan adopted conformable to my Ideas, in the Letter to Mr. Wythe.” When Duane returned to the congress and learned that Adams had seen New York's constitution (of 1777), he asked “if it was not agreeable to [Adams'] Ideas.” Adams responded that it was “by far the best Constitution that had yet been adopted” (Diary and Autobiography, 3:398).
In Massachusetts the pamphlet was pressed into service again in 1778. That year the state's voters overwhelmingly rejected a constitution that the General Court had drafted. Among the reasons given for the rejection, the best known are those supplied by a county convention held in Ipswich, which were published and are familiarly known as the Essex Result. It quoted from and paraphrased those sections of Thoughts on Government dealing with equality of representation, the dangers of unicameralism, and the tenure of judges, as well as giving heavy emphasis to the system of checks and balances (Taylor, ed., Massachusetts, Colony to Commonwealth, p. 73–89, but esp. p. 81, 82, and 85). Writing about 1800, Adams remarked that the Essex Result was “in general agreable to the Principles” of Thoughts on Government, but that no credit was given to its author because his name was not known at that time. He added somewhat petulantly, “The Essex Junto however, need not be so vain glorious as to arrogate to themselves the honor of being the Founders of the Massachusetts Constitution” [Feb.–April 1776], Adams Papers).
While the state constitutional convention was meeting in 1779 to draft { 72 } what would become the Constitution of 1780, John Gill reprinted Thoughts on Government in his Continental Journal of 23 September. It was preceded by a note, probably written by Adams, which identified the author of the pamphlet and said in part: “the Plan of Government was rather intended to familiarize to the people a way of making the transition from the old Governments to the new, and to set abler pens to work than as anything well digested. It was written in too great a storm, and by a person too much employed in business to be thoroughly considered.”
Additional reprintings in the 18th century are found in the Gazette of the United States for 29 September and 2 October 1790 and in the Universal Asylum and Columbian Magazine, 5:392–397 (Dec. 1790). Although the magazine gives no explanation for its reprinting, the reappearance of Thoughts on Government in the Gazette may have been timed to coincide with the final adoption of the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1790, which in turning to bicameralism and a single executive more nearly exemplified Adams' ideas than had the first constitution of the state (Brunhouse, Counter-Revolution in Pennsylvania, p. 226–227). At the same time the Gazette was serializing Discourses on Davila, also by the then Vice President, John Adams.
In commenting in 1776 and afterward upon his efforts to sketch a plan of government, Adams always stressed that he had done the job in a hurry, that his proposals were meant to be temporary, that what he had written was “a poor scrap,” even that the plan was meant for southern governments only, which he regarded as likely to favor less popular government than New England would. For example, he did not expect the people of Massachusetts to accept a governor with a veto power (JA to James Warren, 12 May, and to Francis Dana, 16 Aug., below). Yet what he wrote did not spring full-blown from his mind. For some months he had been thinking about the form independent governments should take. In his Autobiography he claimed to have discussed this subject with friends as early as the spring of 1775 (Diary and Autobiography, 3:351). Even if we set this claim aside as typical of his tendency in old age to push back in time his commitment to American independence, the evidence is incontestable that what he wrote down for Hooper and the others was an elaboration of earlier ideas. It has been mentioned that in 1775 Adams in a letter to Richard Henry Lee briefly sketched a plan of government that anticipates some of the ideas in Thoughts on Government, including bicameralism, a strong executive, and tenure during good behavior for the highest judges at least. Adams even suggested that when times were easier, the people might directly elect the governor and the upper branch of the legislature.
About a year before he wrote to Lee, Adams came into possession of an anonymous proposal to the Boston Committee of Correspondence which suggested annual elections, bicameralism, a strong executive, the election of governor and council by the house of representatives, and the appointment of officials other than treasurer, secretary, and captains of forts by joint action of the governor and legislature—all features, even though { 73 } crudely stated, of Thoughts on Government (JA, Papers, 2:178–185). These similarities are not surprising, for all the plans draw heavily upon institutional forms long familiar in Massachusetts. But the emphasis in them upon the balancing of the elements of government expressed Adams' deeply held conviction that freedom under government could be achieved in no other way. As far back as 1763 we find him extolling the power of checks and balances, even that of the voters' power to check the legislature: “We Electors have an important constitutional power placed in our hands: We have a check upon two branches of the legislature, as each branch has upon the other two; the power I mean of electing, at stated periods, one branch, which branch has the power of electing another” (same, 1:81). The emphasis on checks and balances was to remain central in Adams' thought, based as it was upon his conviction that men are easily corrupted by power.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0026-0002

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Hooper, William
Date: 1776-03-27

I. To William Hooper

[salute] Dear Sir

The Subject, on which you was pleased to request my Sentiments, is of infinite Importance to Mankind. Politicks is the Science of human Happiness—and the Felicity of Societies depends entirely on the Constitutions of Government under which they live. That <puerile> famous Couplet of a very great Poet,

“For Forms of Government let Fools contest

That's best administered, is best,”1

Shows him to have been less Attentive to the political and civil Part of History, than the poetical. He must have read and Studied for fanciful Images, not Social Institutions, because the Rectitude of Administration depends upon the Form; Some Species of Governments being always well administered, others never.
If you can determine, what Form of Government, will produce the greatest Quantity of human Happiness, you will at once decide which is the best, this being the only Criterion. If you determine what the Dignity of human Nature, and the Happiness of Mankind consists in, you will decide what it is that produces the greatest Quantity of Happiness. Divines, Moralists, Philosophers, and Men of Pleasure all agree that it consists in Virtue. If there is a Form of Government, therefore, whose Principle or Foundation, is Virtue, will not all those Kinds of Men acknowledge, it to be better calculated to promote the general Happiness, than another, the Principle of which is Fear, or even Honour.
I hold the Principle of Honour, Sacred—but am not ashamed to con• { 74 } fess myself So much of a Grecian, or Roman, if not of a Christian as to think the Principle of Virtue of higher Rank in the Scale of moral Excellence, than Honour. Indeed Honour is but a Part, a very Small Part of Virtue. As to Fear, it is so base and brutal a Passion, that it dont deserve the Name of a Principle, and I think no Gentleman of this Age and Country will think it a Foundation of Government proper for Americans.
The Spirit of the People, among whom I had my Birth and Education, which you know very well, was always republican, altho they never enjoyed a Constitution of Government conformable to that Spirit, as the whole of the Executive, with an enormous Prerogative, as well as two Branches of their Legislative, and the whole of their judicial Powers, were always in the Hands of the Crown. It was wholly owing to the Constitution of their Towns, which were Small Districts incorporated by an early Law, and vested with Powers to assemble frequently, deliberate, debate and act, upon many Affairs, together with the Establishment of Grammar Schools in every one of those Towns, that Such a Spirit was preserved, at all among the People.2
In my early Youth, the Works of Sidney, Harrington, Lock, Milton, Nedham, Neville, Burnet, Hoadley,3 were put into my Hands; and the miserable Situation of our Country, for fifteen Years past, has frequently reminded me of their Principles and Reasonings. They have convinced me that there is no good Government but what is Republican. The British Constitution itself is Republican, for I know of no better Definition of a Republic than this, that it is an Empire of Laws and not of Men:4 and therefore, as I look upon Republics to be the best of Governments So I think, that particular Form of Government, or in other Words, that particular Arrangement, and Combination of the Powers of Society, which is best calculated to Secure an exact and impartial Execution of the Laws, is the best Republic.
Of Republics there is an infinite Variety, because the Arrangements of the Powers of Society, are capable of innumerable Diversifications.
Now, sir, as good Government, is an Empire of Laws, the first Question, is, how shall your Laws be made?
In a Society, or Community consisting of any considerable Number of People, inhabiting any considerable Extent of Territory, it is impossible, that the whole Body should assemble, for the Purpose of making Laws. They would be too numerous. They could not afford the Time or Expence. The first step to be taken then, is to depute Power from the many to a few of the most wise and virtuous. But by what Rules Shall you choose your Representatives? Agree, upon { 75 } the Number of Persons, who shall have the Benefit of choosing one, or agree upon a District of Ground, the Inhabitants of which shall have that Priviledge, or agree upon the Quantity of Property, which shall be intituled to one. The principal Difficulty lies, and the greatest Care should be taken in constituting this Representative Assembly. It should be, in Miniature, an exact Portrait of the People at large. It should think, feel, reason, and act like them.5
That it may be the Interest of this Assembly, to do equal Right, and strict Justice upon all occasions, it must be an equal Representation of the People, or, in other Words, equal Interests among the People, Should have equal Interests in the Representative Body. No Art should be Spared to effect this, and to prevent, unfair, partial, and corrupt Elections: but Such Regulations are better made in Times of greater Tranquility than the present, and they will grow of themselves naturally when all the Powers of Society and Government, come to be in the Hands of the Peoples Friends. At present it will be wisest and Safest to go on in old established Methods to which the People are reconciled by Habit.
Having obtained a Representation of the People in one Assembly, the Question arises, whether it is wisest to leave all the Powers of Legislation in this single Body, or to make your Legislature more complex? I think a People cannot be long happy or free, whose Laws are made only by one Assembly: my Reasons for this opinion are these.
1. A Single Assembly is liable to all the Frailties, Vices and Follies of an Individual.—subject to fits of Humour, Caprice, Passion, Prejudice, hasty Results, and absurd Judgment, which ought to be corrected by some controuling Power.
2. A Single Assembly, is apt to be avaricious, and in time, would not Scruple to exempt itself from Burthens, which it would lay, without Feeling, upon its Constituents.
3. A Single Assembly is apt to grow ambitious, and vote itself perpetual. Witness the Case of Holland, whose Assembly first voted that they should hold their Seats Seven years, then for Life, and after some time they had the Modesty to determine, that when a Vacancy happened by Death or otherwise, they themselves would fill it up, without applying to the Constituents of the deceased Member.
4. An Assembly cannot exercise the executive Power, for Want of two essential Properties, Secrecy and Dispatch: now, if an executive Power is constituted distinct from the Legislature, and the Legislative consists of only one Assembly, there will naturally grow a Coldness, { 76 } —an opposition—and at length a downright civil War, between the Legislative and Executive.
5. Because a Representative Assembly is Still less qualified to exercise the judicial Power, being too numerous, and generally too little Skilled in those voluminous Collections of Laws, which are necessary to be thoroughly understood, and most carefully observed, in order to obtain a uniform, Steady and impartial Administration of Justice.
Therefore I lay it down as a Maxim that the judicial Power should be distinct both from the Legislative and Executive. Now if you have your Legislative in one Assembly, and Executive in another, and the judicial Power leans to either, it will naturally join with that, and overballance, overbear, and overturn the other.
The Legislature, therefore, should consist of more than one Assembly. Let the Representative Body then, elect by Ballot, from among themselves or their Constituents, a distinct Assembly to consist of the most experienced, accomplished, and virtuous Men, which for the Sake of Perspicuity we will call a Council. It may consist of any Number you please—Say Twenty or thirty.
When these two Bodies are thus constituted, an Inquiry will arise, is the Legislature compleat? I think not. There should be a third Branch which for the Sake of preserving old Style and Titles, you may call a Governor whom I would invest with a Negative upon the other Branches of the Legislature and also with the whole Executive Power, after divesting it of most of those Badges of Domination call'd Prerogatives. I know that giving the Executive Power a Negative upon the Legislative, is liable to Objections, but it seems to be attended with more Advantages than Dangers, especially if you make this Officer elective annually, and more especially if you establish a Rotation by which no Man shall be Governor for more than three years. Annually elective, he may be allowed a free and independent Exercise of his Judgment, because he will have So much Regard for the People, the Representatives, and Council that he would Seldom exercise this Right, except in Cases, the public Utility of which would be conspicuous, and Some such Cases would happen. However, if you like it better, give him only a casting Voice in Council.
In the present State of America, when by an Act of Parliament, We are put out of the Royal Protection,6 and it is become necessary to assume Government for immediate Security, the Governor should be chosen by joint Ballot of both Houses. In the Same manner a Lieut. Governor, Secretary, Treasurer, Comissary, and Attorney General, may be chosen.
{ 77 }
The Governor, by and with and not without the Advice and Consent of the Council should nominate and appoint all Judges, Justices, and all other Officers civil and military, who should have Commissions Signed by the Governor and under the Seal of the Colony. If you choose to have a Government more popular Still you may let all Officers be chosen by one House, concurred by the other and consented to by the Governor, Sheriffs should be chosen by the Freeholders of the Counties.
Indeed the whole of this Plan is callculated for the present Emergency. The Legislature thus constituted will have Power to make any Alterations from Time to Time, to Supply Defects which Experience may point out. It may indeed give the Election of the whole Government, annually to the People at large as in Connecticutt.
The Stability of Government, in all its Branches, the Morals of the People, and every Blessing of Society depends so much upon a true Interpretation of the Laws, and an impartial Administration of Justice, that the Judges Should always be Men of learning and Experience in the Laws, exemplary Morals, great Patience, Calmness, Coolness and Attention. Should not have their Minds distracted with complicated jarring Interests, or be Subservient to any Man or Body of Men, or more complaisant to one than another. To this End, they should hold Estates for Life in their Offices, and their Salaries Should be fixed by Law. By holding Estates for Life, I mean their Commissions Should be during good Behaviour.
Such a Constitution as this naturally and necessarily introduces universal Knowledge among the People, and inspires them, with a conscious Dignity, becoming Freemen; good Humour, good Manners and good Morals. Virtue, Honour, and Civility become fashionable. That Elevation of Sentiment, which is mechannichally introduced by such a Government, makes the common People bold, brave and enterprizing. That Ambition which is inspired by it into every Rank and order of Men, makes them industrious, sober and frugal. In such a Government, you will find some Elegance perhaps, but more Solidity. Some Politeness, but more Civility. Some Pleasure but more Business.
If you compare a Country where such a Government prevails with the Regions of Domination whether monarchical, or Aristocratical, you will think yourself in Arcadia or Elisium.
But must not all Commissions run in the Name of the King? No. Let them run thus “The Colony of North Carolina to A. B. Greeting,” and be tested by the Governor.
Must not all Writs run in the Name of the King? No. Let them run { 78 } thus “The Colony of North Carolina, to the sheriff of &c.”—“you are hereby commanded,” &c. and let them be tested by the Chief Justice.
Must not all Indictments conclude “Contra Pacem Domini Regis”? No. Let them conclude “against the Peace of the Colony of North Carolina, and the Dignity of the same” or “Majesty of the same” if you will.
We have heard much, my dear sir, of a Continental Constitution—for my own Part I see no Occasion, for any but a Congress. Let every Colony please itself without Controul in its own Constitution. Let a fair and equitable Representation of every Colony, appear in Congress, and let the Authority of that great Council be Sacredly confined to three Cases, War, Trade, and Disputes between Colony and Colony.
If the thirteen Colonies, were all possessed of such Forms of Government, and a Confederation for the above Purposes, was agreed on in Congress and ratified by the Assemblies, they would be unconquerable by all Europe.
I must rely on your Friendship, not to expose me to ridicule or Censure, unnecessarily, for these imperfect Hints.
RC (Nc-Ar: David L. Swain Papers); docketed on attached slip and in hand of Thomas Burke: “Jno. Adam's Thoughts on Government.” For the recovery of this MS, see Adams Family Correspondence, 1:384–385, note 3.
1. Pope, An Essay on Man, Epistle III, lines 303–304. These lines from Pope are not quoted in the letter to Penn (No. II, below).
2. The ideas in this paragraph are omitted from the other two letters.
3. For Marchamont Needham (1620–1678), Henry Neville (1620–1694), Gilbert Burnet (1643–1715), and Benjamin Hoadly (1676–1761), consult the DNB and Caroline Robbins, The Eighteenth-Century Commonwealthman, Cambridge, 1959, passim.
4. In the Novanglus Letters JA used the phrase “a government of laws and not of men” in referring to the British Constitution (Papers, 2:314). For a thoughtful essay on the meaning and origin of the phrase, which is traced back to James Harrington's Oceana, see L. H. Butterfield, “A Government of Laws and Not of Men,” Harvard Magazine, 77:19–20 (Nov. 1974).
5. A commonly held belief at this time and one used by Anti-Federalists later to criticize the makeup of the congress under the Constitution of the United States (Cecilia M. Kenyon, “Men of Little Faith,” WMQ, 3d ser., 12:10–13 [Jan. 1955]).
6. A reference to Parliamentary support for the King's speech of 26 Oct. 1775 declaring the colonies in rebellion (Parliamentary Hist., 18:695–697, 705–798).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0026-0003

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Penn, John
Date: 1776-03-27

II. To John Penn

[salute] Dear Sir

If I was possess'd of Abilities equal to the great Task you have imposed upon me, which is to sketch out the outlines of a Constitution for a Colony, I should think myself the happiest of Men in complying with your Desire: because as Politicks is the Art1 of Securing human { 79 } Happiness, and the Prosperity2 of Societies depends upon the Constitution of Government, under which they live; there cannot be a more agreable Employment to a benevolent Mind than the Study of the best, Kinds of Governments.
It has been the Will of Heaven, that We should be thrown into Existence at a Period, when the greatest Philosophers and Lawgivers of Antiquity would have wished to have lived: a Period, when a Coincidence of Circumstances, without Example, has afforded to thirteen Colonies at once an opportunity, of beginning Government anew from the Foundation and building as they choose. How few of the human Race, have ever had an opportunity of choosing a System of Government for themselves and their Children? How few have ever had any Thing more of Choice in Government, than in Climate? These Colonies have now their Election and it is much to be wish'd that it may not prove to be like a Prize in the Hands of a Man who has no Heart to improve it.3
In order to determine which is the best Form of Government, it is necessary to determine what is the End of Government? and I suppose that in this enlightened Age, there will be no dispute, in Speculation, that the Happiness of the People, the great End of Man, is the End of Government, and therefore, that Form of Government, which will produce the greatest Quantity of Happiness, is the best.
All Sober Enquirers after Truth, ancient and modern, Divines, Moralists and Philosophers have agreed that the Happiness of Mankind, as well as the real Dignity of human Nature, consists in Virtue. If there is a Form of Government then, whose Principle and Foundation is Virtue will not every wise Man acknowledge it more likely to promote the general Happiness than any other.
Fear, which is Said by Montesquieu and all other political Writers to be the Foundation of some Governments, is so sordid and brutal a Passion that it cannot properly be called a Principle, and will hardly be thought in America a proper Basis of Governments.
Honour, is a Principle which ought to be Sacred: But the Grecians and Romans pagan as well as Christian, will inform Us that Honour at most is but a Part of Virtue, and therefore a feebler Basis of Government.
A Man must be indifferent to Sneer and Ridicule, in Some Companies to mention the Names of Sidney, Harrington, Lock, Milton, Nedham, Neville, Burnet, Hoadley;4 for the Lines of John Milton on one of his Sonnetts, will bear an application, even in this Country, upon Some Occasions. { 80 }

“I did but teach the Age, to quit their Cloggs,

by the plain Rules of ancient Liberty,

When lo! a barbarous Noise surrounded me

Of Owls and Cuckoo's, Asses, Apes and Dogs.”5

These great Writers however, will convince any Man who has the Fortitude to read them, that all good Government is Republican: that the only valuable Part of the British Constitution is so;6 for the true Idea of a Republic, is “An Empire of Laws and not of Men”: and therefore as a Republic is the best of Governments so, that particular Combination of Power, which is best contrived for a faithfull Execution of the Laws, is the best of Republics.
There is a great Variety of Republics, because the Arrangements of the Powers of Society are capable of many Variations.
As a good Government is an Empire of Laws, the first Question is, how Shall the Laws be made?
In a Community consisting of large Numbers, inhabiting an extensive Country, it is not possible that the whole Should assemble, to make Laws. The most natural Substitute for an Assembly of the whole, is a Delegation of Power, from the Many, to a few of the most wise and virtuous. In the first Place then establish Rules for the Choice of Representatives: Agree upon the Number of Persons who shall have the Privilege of choosing one. As the Representative Assembly, should be an exact Portrait, in Miniature, of the People at large, as it should think, feel, reason and act like them great Care should be taken in the Formation of it, to prevent unfair, partial and corrupt Elections. That it may be the Interest of this Assembly to do equal Right, and Strict Justice upon all Occasions, it should be an equal Representation of their Constituents, or in other Words equal Interests among the People, Should have equal Interests in the Representative Body. That the Representatives may often mix with their Constituents, and frequently render to them an Account of their Stewardship, Elections ought to be frequent.

Like Bubbles on the sea of Matter borne

They rise, they break and to that sea return7

These Elections may be septennial or triennial, but for my own Part I think they ought to be annual, for there is not in all science a Maxim more infallible than this “Where Annual Elections End, there Slavery begins.”8
But all necessary Regulations for the Method of constituting this { 81 } Assembly, may be better made in Times of more Quiet than the present, and they will suggest themselves naturally, when the Powers of Government shall be in the Hands of the Peoples Friends. For the present it will be safest to go on in the usual Way.
But We have as yet Advanced only one Step in the Formation of a Government. Having obtained a Representative Assembly, what is to be done next? Shall We leave all the Powers of Government in this assembly?9 Shall they make and execute, and interpret Laws too? I answer no. A People cannot be long free, and never can be happy, whose Laws are made, executed and interpreted by one Assembly. My Reasons for this opinion are these.
1. A Single Assembly is liable to all the Vices, Follies, and Frailties of an Individual—subject to fits of Humour, Transports of Passion, Partialities of Prejudice: and from these and other Causes apt to make hasty Results and Absurd Judgments: all which Errors ought to be corrected, and Inconveniences guarded against by some Controuling Power.
2. A Single Assembly is apt to grow Avaricious, and in Time would not Scruple to exempt itself from Burdens, which it would lay upon its Constituents, without Sympathy.
3. A Single Assembly will become ambitious, and after Some Time will vote itself perpetual. This was found in the Case of the long Parliament: but more remarkably in the Case of Holland whose Assembly first voted that they should hold their Seats for seven Years, then for Life—and after some Time, that they would fill up Vacancies as they should happen without applying to their Constituents at all.
4. The Executive Power cannot be well managed by a Representative Assembly for Want of two essential Qualities, secrecy and Dispatch.10
5. Such an assembly is still less qualified to exercise the judicial Power because it is too numerous, too slow, and generally too little Skill'd in the Laws.
But shall the whole Legislative Power, be left in the Hands of such an Assembly? The three first, at least of the foregoing Reasons, will shew that the Legislative Power ought not to be wholly intrusted to one Assembly.
Let the Representative Body then elect, from among themselves or their Constituents, or both, a distinct Assembly, which We will call a Council. It may consist of any Number you please, Say twenty or thirty. To this Assembly should be given a free and independent { 82 } Exercise of its Judgment, upon all Acts of Legislation, that it may be able to check and correct the Errors, of the other.
But there ought to be a third Branch of the Legislature: and wherever the Executive Power of the State is placed, there the third Branch of the Legislature ought to be found.
Let the two Houses then, by joint Ballott, choose a Governor. Let him be chosen annually. Divest him, of most of those Badges of slavery called Prerogatives. And give him a Negative upon the Legislature. This I know is liable to some Objections—to obviate which you may make him in a Legislative Capacity only President of the Council. But if he is annually elective, you need not Scruple to give him a free and independent Exercise of his Judgment, for he will have So great an Affection for the People, the Representatives, and Council that he would Seldom exercise his Right, except in Cases, the public Utility of which would soon be manifest, and some such Cases would happen.
In the present Exigency of American Affairs, where by an Act of Parliament We are put out of all Royal Protection, and consequently discharged from all Obligations of Allegiance; and when it has become necessary to assume Governments for immediate Security, the Governor, Lieut. Governor, Secretary, Treasurer, Attorney General should be chosen by joint Ballot of both Houses.
The Governor, by and with and not without the Advice and Consent of Council, should appoint all Judges, Justices and all other Officers civil and military, who should have Commissions Signed by the Governor and under the Seal of the Colony.
Sherriffs should be chosen by the Freeholders of the Counties.
If you chose to have a Government more popular all Officers may be chosen by one House of Assembly subject to the Negative of the Other.11
The Stability of Government, in all its Branches, the Morals of the People and every other Blessing of Society, and social Institutions depend so much upon an able and impartial Administration of Justice, that the judicial Power should be Seperated from the Legislative and Executive, and independent upon both; the Judges should be Men of Experience in the Laws, of exemplary Morals, invincible Patience, unruffled Calmness, and indefatigable Application: their Minds should not be distracted with complicated jarring Interests—they should not be dependent on any Man or Body of Men—they should lean to none, be subservient to none, nor more complaisant to one than another. To this End they should hold Estates for Life in their Offices, or in other { 83 } Words their Commissions should be during good Behaviour, and their Salaries ascertained and established by Law. If accused of Misbehaviour, by the Representative Body, before the Governor and Council, and if found guilty after having an opportunity to make their Defence, they should be removed from their Offices and Subjected to such Punishment as their Offences deserve.12
A Rotation of Offices, in the Legislative and Executive Departments has many Advocates and, if practicable might have many good Effects. A Law may be made that no Man shall be Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary, Treasurer, Councillor, or Representative more than three Years at a Time, nor be again eligible untill after an Interval of three Years.
A Constitution like this, of which the foregoing is a very imperfect Plan naturally introduces generally Knowledge into the Community and inspires the People with a conscious Dignity, becoming Freemen. A general Desire of Reputation and Importance among their Neighbours, which cannot be obtained without, some Government of their Passions, some good Humour, good Manners and good Morals, takes Place in the Minds of Men, and naturally causes general Virtue and Civility. That Pride which is introduced by such a Government among the Common People makes them bold, brave and enterprizing. That Ambition which is introduced into every Rank makes them sober, industrious and frugal. You will find among them some Elegance, but more Solidity, a little Politeness but a great deal of Civility—some Pleasure, but much Business.
Let Commissions run thus “Colony of North Carolina to A. B. Greeting” &c. and be tested by the Governor.
Let Writs run “The Colony of &c. to the sheriff &c.” Let Endictments conclude “against the Peace of the Colony of North Carolina, and the Dignity of the same.” Or if you please against the Peace of the thirteen united Colonies.13
We have heard much of the Continental Constitution. I see no occasion for any But a Congress. Let that be made an equal and fair Representation of the Colonies, and let its Authority be confined to three Cases, War, Trade, and Controversies between Colony and Colony. If a Confederation was formed agreed on in Congress, and ratified by the Assemblies: These Colonies under such Terms of Government and such a Confederation would be unconquerable by all the Monarchies of Europe.
This Plan of a Government for a Colony you see is intended as a temporary Expedient under the present Pressure of Affairs. The Gov• { 84 } ernment once formed, and having settled its authority will have Leisure enough to make any Alteration that Ti[me and] Experience and more mature Deliberation may dictate. Particularly, a Plan may be devised perhaps and be thought expedient for giving the Choice of the Governor to the People at large, and of the Councillors to the Freeholders of the Counties. But be these Things as they may. Two Things are indispensibly to be attended to—one is some Regulations for securing forever an equitable Choice of Representatives—another is the Education of Youth, both in Literature and Morals.14
I wish, my dear sir, that I had Time to think of these Things more at Leisure, and to write more correctly. But you must take these Hints rough as they run. Your own Reflections assisted by the Patriots of North Carolina will improve upon every Part of them.
As you brought upon yourself the Trouble of r[eading] these rude Thoughts, you can blame, your Friend.
RC (MHi: Washburn Papers); docketed in an unknown hand: “To Hon. John Penn 1776”; in a different hand: “Jno Adams's Thoughts on Governt in 1776 in his own hand writing.” At several points the MS has small tears.
1. In the letter to Hooper, JA defined politics as “the Science of human Happiness” (No. I, above).
2. The letter to Hooper has “Felicity” for “Prosperity” (same).
3. The ideas in this paragraph are missing from the letter to Hooper and are enlarged and rephrased near the conclusion of the letter to Wythe (No. III, below).
4. These eight names are in identical order in each of the three letters, suggesting that JA may have worked from notes.
5. On the Detraction Which Followed upon My Writing Certain Treatises (second part, “On the Same”), lines 1–4. This quotation, which is not exact, and which is not in the Hooper letter, concludes the Wythe letter.
6. The letter to Hooper calls the British Constitution republican without qualification; the phrasing here is repeated in the Wythe letter.
7. Pope, An Essay on Man, Epistle III, lines 19–20. Lacking in the Hooper letter, this quotation appears much later in the text of the Wythe letter.
8. This quotation is not used in the Hooper letter, but is repeated in the Wythe letter. No source has been identified.
9. In the Hooper letter the phrase is “to leave all the Powers of Legislation in this single Body.” The Wythe letter is more explicit yet: “a question arises whether all the powers of government, legislative, executive, and judicial, shall be left in this body.” Had the Hooper version gone into print, there would perhaps have been less confusion in Pennsylvania over whether JA was rejecting unicameralism or just the concentrating of all governmental powers in a single body. See Editorial Note (above).
10. JA omits mention here of the conflict that will inevitably develop between the executive and a single-house legislature, which is mentioned in both the other letters.
11. In the Hooper version the governor in these circumstances would have had an equal role with the two houses of the legislature.
12. The Hooper letter omits any mention of the impeachment process for misbehaving judges.
13. Neither the Hooper nor the Wythe letter mentions indictments in the name of the thirteen colonies.
14. The emphasis on the necessary connection between equitable representation and the education of youth if free { 85 } | view { 86 } government is to flourish is more explicit here than in the letter to Hooper, where JA points out that town government and grammar schools made it possible for the people to overcome the obstacle of a government dominated by the king.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0026-0004

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04

III. Thoughts on Government

[salute] My dear Sir,

If I was equal to the task of forming a plan for the government of a colony, I should be flattered with your request, and very happy to comply with it; because as the divine science of politicks is the science of social happiness, and the blessings of society depend entirely on the constitutions of government, which are generally institutions that last for many generations, there can be no employment more agreeable to a benevolent mind, than a research after the best.

Pope flattered tyrants too much when he said,

“For forms of government let fools contest,

That which is best administered is best.”

Nothing can be more fallacious than this: But poets read history to collect flowers not fruits—they attend to fanciful images, not the effects of social institutions. Nothing is more certain from the history of nations, and the nature of man, than that some forms of government are better fitted for being well administered than others.
We ought to consider, what is the end of government, before we determine which is the best form. Upon this point all speculative politicians will agree, that the happiness of society is the end of government, as all Divines and moral Philosophers will agree that the happiness of the individual is the end of man. From this principle it will follow, that the form of government, which communicates ease, comfort, security, or in one word happiness to the greatest number of persons, and in the greatest degree, is the best.
All sober enquiries after truth, ancient and modern, Pagan and Christian, have declared that the happiness of man, as well as his dignity consists in virtue. Confucius, Zoroaster, Socrates, Mahomet, not to mention authorities really sacred, have agreed in this.
If there is a form of government then, whose principle and foundation is virtue, will not every sober man acknowledge it better calculated to promote the general happiness than any other form?
Fear is the foundation of most governments; but is so sordid and brutal a passion, and renders men, in whose breasts it predominates, { 87 } so stupid, and miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it.
Honor is truly sacred, but holds a lower rank in the scale of moral excellence than virtue. Indeed the former is but a part of the latter, and consequently has not equal pretensions to support a frame of government productive of human happiness.
The foundation of every government is some principle or passion in the minds of the people. The noblest principles and most generous affections in our nature then, have the fairest chance to support the noblest and most generous models of government.
A man must be indifferent to the sneers of modern Englishmen to mention in their company the names of Sidney, Harrington, Locke, Milton, Nedham, Neville, Burnet, and Hoadley. No small fortitude is necessary to confess that one has read them. The wretched condition of this country, however, for ten or fifteen years past, has frequently reminded me of their principles and reasonings. They will convince any candid mind, that there is no good government but what is Republican. That the only valuable part of the British constitution is so; because the very definition of a Republic, is “an Empire of Laws, and not of men.” That, as a Republic is the best of governments, so that particular arrangement of the powers of society, or in other words that form of government, which is best contrived to secure an impartial and exact execution of the laws, is the best of Republics.
Of Republics, there is an inexhaustable variety, because the possible combinations of the powers of society, are capable of innumerable variations.
As good government, is an empire of laws, how shall your laws be made? In a large society, inhabiting an extensive country, it is impossible that the whole should assemble, to make laws: The first necessary step then, is, to depute power from the many, to a few of the most wise and good. But by what rules shall you chuse your Representatives? Agree upon the number and qualifications of persons, who shall have the benefit of choosing, or annex this priviledge to the inhabitants of a certain extent of ground.
The principal difficulty lies, and the greatest care should be employed in constituting this Representative Assembly. It should be in miniature, an exact portrait of the people at large. It should think, feel, reason, and act like them. That it may be the interest of this Assembly to do strict justice at all times, it should be an equal representation, or in other words equal interest among the people should { 88 } have equal interest in it. Great care should be taken to effect this, and to prevent unfair, partial, and corrupt elections. Such regulations, however, may be better made in times of greater tranquility than the present, and they will spring up of themselves naturally, when all the powers of government come to be in the hands of the people's friends. At present it will be safest to proceed in all established modes to which the people have been familiarised by habit.
A representation of the people in one assembly being obtained, a question arises whether all the powers of government, legislative, executive, and judicial, shall be left in this body? I think a people cannot be long free, nor ever happy, whose government is in one Assembly. My reasons for this opinion are as follow.
1. A single Assembly is liable to all the vices, follies and frailties of an individual. Subject to fits of humour, starts of passion, flights of enthusiasm, partialities of prejudice, and consequently productive of hasty results and absurd judgments: And all these errors ought to be corrected and defects supplied by some controuling power.
2. A single Assembly is apt to be avaricious, and in time will not scruple to exempt itself from burthens which it will lay, without compunction, on its constituents.
3. A single Assembly is apt to grow ambitious, and after a time will not hesitate to vote itself perpetual. This was one fault of the long parliament, but more remarkably of Holland, whose Assembly first voted themselves from annual to septennial, then for life, and after a course of years, that all vacancies happening by death, or otherwise, should be filled by themselves, without any application to constituents at all.
4. A Representative Assembly, altho' extremely well qualified, and absolutely necessary as a branch of the legislature, is unfit to exercise the executive power, for want of two essential properties, secrecy and dispatch.
5. A Representative Assembly is still less qualified for the judicial power; because it is too numerous, too slow, and too little skilled in the laws.
6. Because a single Assembly, possessed of all the powers of government, would make arbitrary laws for their own interest, execute all laws arbitrarily for their own interest, and adjudge all controversies in their own favour.
But shall the whole power of legislation rest in one Assembly? Most of the foregoing reasons apply equally to prove that the legislative power ought to be more complex—to which we may add, that if { 89 } the legislative power is wholly in one Assembly, and the executive in another, or in a single person, these two powers will oppose and enervate upon each other, until the contest shall end in war, and the whole power, legislative and executive, be usurped by the strongest.
The judicial power, in such case, could not mediate, or hold the balance between the two contending powers, because the legislative would undermine it. And this shews the necessity too, of giving the executive power a negative upon the legislative, otherwise this will be continually encroaching upon that.
To avoid these dangers let a distant1 Assembly be constituted, as a mediator between the two extreme branches of the legislature, that which represents the people and that which is vested with the executive power.
Let the Representative Assembly then elect by ballot, from among themselves or their constituents, or both, a distinct Assembly, which for the sake of perspicuity we will call a Council. It may consist of any number you please, say twenty or thirty, and should have a free and independent exercise of its judgment, and consequently a negative voice in the legislature.
These two bodies thus constituted, and made integral parts of the legislature, let them unite, and by joint ballot choose a Governor, who, after being stripped of most of those badges of domination called prerogatives, should have a free and independent exercise of his judgment, and be made also an integral part of the legislature. This I know is liable to objections, and if you please you may make him only President of the Council, as in Connecticut: But as the Governor is to be invested with the executive power, with consent of Council, I think he ought to have a negative upon the legislative. If he is annually elective, as he ought to be, he will always have so much reverence and affection for the People, their Representatives and Councillors, that although you give him an independent exercise of his judgment, he will seldom use it in opposition to the two Houses, except in cases the public utility of which would be conspicuous, and some such cases would happen.
In the present exigency of American affairs, when by an act of Parliament we are put out of the royal protection, and consequently discharged from our allegiance; and it has become necessary to assume government for our immediate security, the Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, Secretary, Treasurer, Commissary, Attorney-General, should be chosen by joint Ballot, of both Houses. And these and all other elections, especially of Representatives, and Councillors, should { 90 } be annual, there not being in the whole circle of the sciences, a maxim more infallible than this, “Where annual elections end, there slavery begins.”
These great men, in this respect, should be, once a year

“Like bubbles on the sea of matter borne,

They rise, they break, and to that sea return.”

This will teach them the great political virtues of humility, patience, and moderation, without which every man in power becomes a ravenous beast of prey.
This mode of constituting the great offices of state will answer very well for the present, but if, by experiment, it should be found inconvenient, the legislature may at its leisure devise other methods of creating them, by elections of the people at large, as in Connecticut, or it may enlarge the term for which they shall be chosen to seven years, or three years, or for life, or make any other alterations which the society shall find productive of its ease, its safety, its freedom, or in one word, its happiness.
A rotation of all offices, as well as of Representatives and Councillors, has many advocates, and is contended for with many plausible arguments. It would be attended no doubt with many advantages, and if the society has a sufficient number of suitable characters to supply the great number of vacancies which would be made by such a rotation, I can see no objection to it. These persons may be allowed to serve for three years, and then excluded three years, or for any longer or shorter term.
Any seven or nine of the legislative Council may be made a Quorum, for doing business as a Privy Council, to advise the Governor in the exercise of the executive branch of power, and in all acts of state.
The Governor should have the command of the militia, and of all your armies. The power of pardons should be with the Governor and Council.
Judges, Justices and all other officers, civil and military, should be nominated and appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of Council, unless you choose to have a government more popular; if you do, all officers, civil and military, may be chosen by joint ballot of both Houses, or in order to preserve the independence and importance of each House, by ballot of one House, concurred by the other. Sheriffs should be chosen by the freeholders of counties—so should Registers of Deeds and Clerks of Counties.2
{ 91 }
All officers should have commissions, under the hand of the Governor and seal of the Colony.
The dignity and stability of government in all its branches, the morals of the people and every blessing of society, depends so much upon an upright and skillful administration of justice, that the judicial power ought to be distinct from both the legislative and executive, and independent upon both, that so it may be a check upon both, as both should be checks upon that. The Judges therefore should always be men of learning and experience in the laws, of exemplary morals, great patience, calmness, coolness and attention. Their minds should not be distracted with jarring interests; they should not be dependant upon any man or body of men. To these ends they should hold estates for life in their offices, or in other words their commissions should be during good behaviour, and their salaries ascertained and established by law. For misbehaviour the grand inquest of the Colony, the House of Representatives, should impeach them before the Governor and Council, where they should have time and opportunity to make their defence, but if convicted should be removed from their offices, and subjected to such other punishment as shall be thought proper.
A Militia Law requiring all men, or with very few exceptions, besides cases of conscience, to be provided with arms and ammunition, to be trained at certain seasons, and requiring counties, towns, or other small districts to be provided with public stocks of ammunition and entrenching utensils, and with some settled plans for transporting provisions after the militia, when marched to defend their country against sudden invasions, and requiring certain districts to be provided with field-pieces, companies of matrosses and perhaps some regiments of light horse, is always a wise institution, and in the present circumstances of our country indispensible.
Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that to a humane and generous mind, no expence for this purpose would be thought extravagant.3
The very mention of sumptuary laws will excite a smile. Whether our countrymen have wisdom and virtue enough to submit to them I know not. But the happiness of the people might be greatly promoted by them, and a revenue saved sufficient to carry on this war forever. Frugality is a great revenue, besides curing us of vanities, levities and fopperies which are real antidotes to all great, manly and warlike virtues.
{ 92 }
But must not all commissions run in the name of a king? No. Why may they not as well run thus, “The Colony of [] to A. B. greeting,” and be tested by the Governor?
Why may not writs, instead of running in the name of a King, run thus, “The Colony of [] to the Sheriff, &c.” and be tested by the Chief Justice.
Why may not indictments conclude, “against the peace of the Colony of [] and the dignity of the same?”
A Constitution, founded on these principles, introduces knowledge among the People, and inspires them with a conscious dignity, becoming Freemen. A general emulation takes place, which causes good humour, sociability, good manners, and good morals to be general. That elevation of sentiment, inspired by such a government, makes the common people brave and enterprizing. That ambition which is inspired by it makes them sober, industrious and frugal. You will find among them some elegance, perhaps, but more solidity; a little pleasure, but a great deal of business—some politeness, but more civility. If you compare such a country with the regions of domination, whether Monarchial or Aristocratical, you will fancy yourself in Arcadia or Elisium.
If the Colonies should assume governments separately, they should be left entirely to their own choice of the forms, and if a Continental Constitution should be formed, it should be a Congress, containing a fair and adequate Representation of the Colonies, and its authority should sacredly be confined to these cases, viz. war, trade, disputes between Colony and Colony, the Post-Office, and the unappropriated lands of the Crown, as they used to be called.
These Colonies, under such forms of government, and in such a union, would be unconquerable by all the Monarchies of Europe.
You and I, my dear Friend, have been sent into life, at a time when the greatest law-givers of antiquity would have wished to have lived. How few of the human race have ever enjoyed an opportunity of making an election of government more than of air, soil, or climate, for themselves or their children. When! Before the present epocha, had three millions of people full power and a fair opportunity to form and establish the wisest and happiest government that human wisdom can contrive? I hope you will avail yourself and your country of that extensive learning and indefatigable industry which you possess, to assist her in the formations of the happiest governments, and the best character of a great People. For myself, I must beg you to keep my name out of sight, for this feeble attempt, if it should be { 93 } known to be mine, would oblige me to apply to myself those lines of the immortal John Milton, in one of his sonnets,

“I did but teach the age to quit their cloggs

By the plain rules of ancient Liberty,

When lo! a barbarous noise surrounded me,

Of owls and cuckoos, asses, apes and dogs.”

MS not found. Reprinted from (Thoughts on Government, Boston, 1776, itself reprinted from the Philadelphia edition of 1776).
1. A printer's error for “distinct.”
2. In the Hooper and Penn versions there is no mention of registers and clerks.
3. In stressing education for the “lower class of people” and implying support of it at public expense, the plea for education here is more specific than that in the other two letters.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0027

Author: Baldwin, Jeduthun
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-28

From Jeduthun Baldwin

[salute] Sir

This acknowledges the favour of your Letter dated Feby 18th.1 which I received March 15th the Day that I Received orders to come to this place,2 I came in the 25th. have been round to the Several works that are begun. There will be in a fiew Days a large No. of formidable works Compleated, and men sufficient to defind them.
The great fateague I have had thro' the winter, and for about 3 weeks making preparation, and carrying on the Several works at Dotchester Point (by reason of Age and other inabilities of Col. Gridly who aforded but little assistance,) I was determined to leave the Service. But upon receiving your Letter, and the favourable Letter to Genl. Heath which were communicated to Genl. Washington, who Said, that he had wrote the Congress, that the pay allowed the Assistent Engineer was not equal to the service, and that he would write again, I was encouraged to come to this place, but however unequal to the Service my abilities may be, I am determined not to continue in it unless Some other provision is made for me.3 I am Sir your Most Obedient Humble Servant,
[signed] Jedun. Baldwin
Pray excuse hast.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To the Honble. John Adams Esqr. Member of the Congress Philadelphia”; docketed: “Coll Baldwin Mar 28, 1776.”
1. Not found.
2. For the orders that brought Baldwin to New York, see General Orders for 14 March (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 4:394–395).
3. For Baldwin's problems with his pay and rank, see his letter to JA of 21 Jan., notes 11 and 12 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0028

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1776-03-29

To James Warren

Since the joyfull News of the Reduction of Boston by the Forces of the united Colonies, my Mind has been constantly engaged with Plans and Schemes for the Fortification of the Islands and Channells in Boston Harbour.
I think that if Cannon and Ammunition, in the necessary Quantities can possibly be obtained, Fortifications ought to be erected upon Point Alderton, Lovells Island, Georges Island, Castle Island and Governers Island, Long Island and Moon Island, and Squantum, The Heights of Dorchester and Charlestown, and Noddles Island.
The Expence of the Quantities of Cannon necessary to Make this Harbour impregnable, will be very great, But this must not be regarded.
Cannot Vesseaux de Frize be placed in the Channell—cannot Hulks be Sunk—cannot Booms be laid across—nay cannot the Channell be filled up, or at least obstructed with Stone.1
Cannot Fire be employed as a Defence. I mean Fire Ships, and Fire Rafts—cannot Gallies or floating Batteries be used to advantage.
We Suppose that the Fleet and Army, under General How are gone to Hallifax with Design to go up the River of Saint Lawrence, as early as possible in the Spring. They may go up the River, early in May, if not the latter End of April.
We are taking Measures to give them such a Reception as they ought to have.
The Baron de Woedke, is gone to Canada, a Brigadier.
A Lady, at Braintree can furnish you with his Credentials which are very good. He is a great officer.
Pray appoint a Committee to look for sulphur in our Colony. And let me know what Progress Salt Petre makes.
RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); addressed: “To the Hon. James Warren Esqr Watertown Massachusetts Bay favoured by Francis Dana Esq.”; docketed: “Mr. J: Adams Lettr Mar: 29. 1776.”
1. This same day JA recommended very similar defense plans to Cotton Tufts. In that letter he defined “Vesseaux de Frize” as “large Frames of great Timber, loaded with stone and sunk. Great Timbers barbed with Iron, pointed and feathered, are placed in such a Posture as to intangle a Vessell, and shatter her, and sink her” (Adams Family Correspondence, 1:367). See also JA to Josiah Quincy, 6 Oct. 1775 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0029

Author: Warren, James
Recipient: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-03-30 - 1776-04-03

From James Warren

[salute] My Dear Sir

When I wrote you last1 I was at Plymouth sick, and Confined. I did not return to this place till three days ago. In my way Mrs. Warren and I lodged at Braintree, and had the pleasure of finding Mrs. Adams, and Family well. Here I find the world turned Topsy Turvy to such A degree that I can scarcely realize the present Appearances of things. The Enemies Army fled, and our own marching into Other Colonies. The last division of the British Fleet sailed on Wednesday last. I had a view of them without the Lighthouse from Pens Hill. About 60 or 70 sail they made a pretty appearance. What their destination is we are not Able to Ascertain. The general Opinion is that they are gone to Hallifax and some Circumstances seem to Confirm it, I presume before this you have had a full Account of their precipate Embarkation, their fright and their depredations &c. &c. Two or three Ships only with one of their Store Ships Ashore on Georges Island remain in the Harbour. 400 of our Men under the Command of Coll Tupper were to have gone last Evening on Petticks Island with some Artillery, to render their Station Uneasy, and perhaps destroy the Store Ship.2 I suppose the Storm may have prevented. What is to be the Next Movement of the British Fleet and Army I cant devise. There is no reasoning on their Conduct, and I must leave Abler heads than mine to Conjecture. The General proposes to leave only 4 or 5 Regiments here. This Number we think very small Considering that we have been first and principally marked for vengeance and destruction, and the possibility and even probability that the Attack may be renewed, as well as the necessity of fortifieing the Harbour of Boston but we must Submit.3 We have A Committee gone to view the Harbour of Boston and to report the best method of securing it. Whether that will be best done by Fortifications or by Obstructing the Channels or by both I cant say, but surely it ought to be done Effectually and speedily.
Who is to Command here I dont learn. General Ward perhaps if his Resignation (which I hear he has sent) dont prevent by being Accepted before a Subsequent Letter he is said to have wrote reaches you.4
Upon my Arrival here I Applyed to the General to know what he Expected from me as Paymaster on this occasion. His Answer was that he Expected I should go with the Army, but was Content if it was more Agreable to me that I should send some Body I could rely { 96 } on. I could not see the Necessity of this as there must be and undoubtedly is A Paymaster at York, but he thought it regular the Paymaster General should be with the Commander in Chief. As my Interest and Connections here are such as would render it very disagreable, and scarcely honourable for me to leave this Colony, for the Emoluments of that Office, I desired him to Accept my Resignation, but as I was Appointed by Congress he declined it. I am therefore Obliged to Employ Mr. William Winthrop to Accompany the Army to York. I can Confide in him as well as any Young Gentleman, but I dont Incline to trust such A risque in any hands. I shall therefore Inclose to Congress, or rather to the president A Resignation, which you will please to see, seal and deliver.5 If I am not to be Continued here, how the Troops that are left are to be paid and supported without A Paymaster I dont know. If a Committee could be Appointed this way to Examine my Accounts I should be glad. If not I suppose I must send to Philadelphia.
The Council have Appointed Coll Foster, and Sullivan Judges of the Superiour Court, but some of the Council make difficulties about the last and I cant tell how it will Issue.6 We have nothing material before the Court.
I Congratulate you on the Success of our Arms in No. Carolina.7 We hear Nothing from Quebec. As the seat of War is changing you will of Course have shorter Letters in future. All kinds of Intelligence I am now to Expect from you. When shall we hear that we are Independent, Where are the Commissioners, What is become of our Fleet &c. &c. Remember you have not wrote me A long time. My Compliments to All Friends. Adeu says Your Sincere Friend &c.
Yesterday Fessenden Arrived. I thank you for a Letter by him.8 It gives me fresh Spirits. Thank Mr. Gerry for his last.9 I will write him as soon as I can. I am now much hurried as the Army is in such Motion. I trust and believe there will be Abundant reason for many Generations yet to Come to Bless my particular Friends. We are forming under the Auspices and Great Influence of —— A Fee Bill that will drive every Man of Interest and Ability out of Office. I dread the Consequences of the Leveling Spirit Encouraged, and drove to such Lengths as it is.10
As to more General Matters people are as they should be. The Harvest is Mature, I cant describe the Sighing after Independence. It is Universal. Nothing remains of that Prudence Moderation, or { 97 } Timidity with which we have so long been plagued, and Embarrassd. <every Species> All are United in this question.
The Letter I mentioned above to your President, I have sent open to you not only that you might see it, but that you might do with it as you please. If you would Advise me yet to hold this place you will keep it in your own hands. I shall be perfectly satisfied with whatever you do with it, knowing that Friendship will direct your Conduct in this matter. I can hardly determine what to do myself, not haveing such Circumstances to Judge from as you have. I have forwarded your Letters &c to Mrs. Adams this day. No News since I wrote the A[bove] only that the Fleet have Steered Eastward and o[ne of the] Tory Sloops is ashore on Cape Cod with a large quantity of English Goods, and Black Jolly Allen and some other Tories.11 We have had a false Alarm from Newport. I Recollect Nothing else. This Indeed is not A day of Recollection with me not haveing time even to overlook this Scroll.
Your Ships I <believe> fear will when done wait for Men. It will take time to Inlist them.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honbl. John Adams Esqr. Member of Congress Philadelphia”; stamped: “FREE” above the address and “P*15” below; docketed: “Warren March 30. 1776 answ. Ap. 16.th.”
1. Warren to JA, 7 March (above).
2. Col. Benjamin Tupper, who had been active in harassing the British fleet as it prepared to depart (Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 4:434, 500, 611; Adams Family Correspondence, 1:379). The store ship was probably the Sukey, reported in the Boston Gazette of 1 April to be aground on Georges Island.
3. Washington made this proposal in a letter to the General Court on 21 March, but it did not believe the number of troops to be adequate and resolved on 25 March that the General be requested to leave behind six regiments. Washington did not change his mind; Col. Gridley was left with five regiments to secure the town and harbor of Boston (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 4:417, 522; Mass., House Jour., 1775–1776, 4th sess., p. 41–42). The General Court remained dissatisfied, and on 9 April the committee which had been appointed to prepare a plan for the fortification of the harbor reported that eight companies should be raised to form one regiment of approximately 720 men in order to provide adequate protection (House Jour., p. 39–40, 99–101).
4. See Joseph Ward to JA, 23 March, note 1 (above).
5. Warren's resignation was received by the congress on 18 April and was accepted the following day (JCC, 4:291, 296). For Warren's letter, see PCC, No. 78, XXIII.
6. Both Jedediah Foster and James Sullivan (1744–1808) were appointed and served on the court (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 11:397–398; DAB).
7. On 26 Feb. in the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge a force of 1,100 whigs defeated 1,400 Highlanders called out by Gov. Martin. The loyalists suffered 50 casualties, had 850 taken prisoner, and lost a sizable amount of gold and equipment. A major effect of the battle was to move North Carolina away from reconciliation toward independence (Hugh T. Lefler and William S. Powell, Colonial North Carolina, N.Y., 1973, p. 277–280).
8. That of 21 March (above).
9. Conceivably that of 26 March, { 98 } which asked Warren to try to persuade the General Court to declare itself for independence and send instructions to that effect to the Massachusetts delegates to the congress. The letter is printed in Austin, Gerry, 1:171–175.
10. A new table of fees for justices, clerks of court, sheriffs, and other such officers, but omitting mention of superior court justices, was passed on 2 May (Mass., Province Laws, 5:486–495). This revision of fee schedules downward had long been desired by those critical of court costs and responded to strong anti-lawyer sentiment in the province. The issue sharply divided reformers in the House from conservatives in the Council (Robert J. Taylor, Western Massachusetts in the Revolution, Providence, 1954, p. 31, 86; Stephen E. Patterson, Political Parties in Revolutionary Massachusetts, Madison, Wis., 1973, p. 136–139). The leveling spirit that Warren complained about also caused JA some anxiety, as is apparent from his reply to Warren of 16 April (below). Whose “Great Influence” was at work in this reform is conjectural. Since in his reply JA mentions Joseph Hawley as one with whom he disagrees on this reform, it may have been he.
11. Jolley Allen (1718?–1782) was a loyalist shopkeeper in Boston who left the town with the British. An incompetent master of the vessel chartered by Allen to take him to Halifax ran the ship aground off Cape Cod. Thus began a series of misfortunes chronicled in “An Account of Part of the Sufferings and Losses of Jolley Allen, a Native of London,” MHS, Procs., 1st ser., 16 (1878):67–99.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0030

Author: Hughes, Hugh
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-31

From Hugh Hughes

[salute] Sir

Your Favour by 'the reputed Author of Common Sense'1 I have not yet answered, as I was not then, nor for some Time afterward, quite clear how Matters would be carried on. But now, I confess our Affairs begin to wear a very different Aspect, as you will perceive by the inclos'd Return to General Thomson.2 Indeed our Citizens seem determin'd to work out their Salvation not only on Earth, but in Earth; for they labour indefatigably, and that with Cheerfulness and Spirit, becoming Men who are determin'd to be free. Their greatest Foible is Credulity, the Source of which I need not mention to you Sir. I wish the Conductors of them had always been as hearty in the Cause as the People, this City would have 'ere now vied with the most forward in the Cause of Liberty, but alas! the last Congress was scarcely a Remove above our late infamous Assembly, and the Present was not sufficiently purg'd.3 T[homa]s S[mi]th is undoubtedly an Adherent to Tryon, as well as his elder Brother, who is a true Son of Loyola, let his Pretentions be what they may.4 There are others who trim agreeable to his Liking &c. yet make a great Show of Patriotism, and at the same Time are counteracting every Thing worth contending for, I mean Indepency.
There has been a Pamphlet written and publish'd here against our { 99 } natural Rights and 'Common Sense.' It has met with its Demerit. Some of our sturdy Sons seiz'd between 1500 and 2000 of them at Sam. Loudon's, and consign'd them to the Flames.5 This has given great Umbrage to several of our pretended Friends, but they are forc'd to pocket the Affront. It is in Contemplation to take the Sense of the Town on Independency, which if carried would put it out of Mr. Livingston's Power to embarrass you as much as he has.6 However, in the Mean Time I should be glad to have a Line from you on that Subject, anonymously, to prevent Consequences.
I have mention'd it to some of our most zealous Friends, as an Expedient to clear their Country of the just Reproach it now is under; of having been the most backward in the American Cause, of any Part of the Continent, and it seem'd to have the desir'd Effect, they are only afraid of not carrying their Point. However, as the Troops are daily arriving, I am in Hopes their Fears will dissipate. For, the Appearance of so many brave Men inspires them with more liberal and manly Sentiments, And depresses their Opponents in the same Proportion. If ever I have the Pleasure of seeing you, I am determin'd to tell you how some behave in these Times. It is scarcely believable! General Heath arriv'd Yesterday with about 2500, at least, so many came away from Cambridge with him, tho' they did not all arrive till today. They look very well considering the Fatigue &c. of marching, and being crouded in Boats from N. London here.
The General is a Person of a fine Presence, and exceedingly candid and open; appears to be much of the Gentleman indeed, and very assiduous. He interrogated me very strictly last Evening, on the State of our Affairs, which he did not seem to approve of altogether, there not being a sufficient Guard kept up, nor no alarm Posts.7 Indeed it has scarcely been possible to regulate any Thing yet, for want of standing Troops; the Militia and Minutemen going and coming in such a Manner as to prevent Order taking Place. Lord Stirling and General Thomson both, have given all the Encouragement and Assistance in their Power to the Service, but before either could become acquainted with every Department, he was superceeded. And that, I expect, will be the Case with General Heath.8 I should have told you that the Rifflemen arriv'd a few Days before Gen. Heath, but that you know 'ere this, I imagine.
I have a Letter dated the first Instant before Quebec, that says it is resolv'd to Storm it at all Events. If so, may Success attend them.
Do let me hear from you, in the Way I hinted, in a Post or two, if possible, as it is an Affair I have greatly at Heart. How is my friend { 100 } Jay? Does his Faith increase? I believe he would do better, had he better Company from here.
If Disunion should take Place, which I hope it will not, there will be much to be done in an Instant, especially in this Quarter. I am determin'd to take my Chance in any single Colony that declares for Freedom, esteeming more glorious to die with the Brave, than murder my Time among Slaves. Of the same Opinion is that worthy Man, Mr. John Holt, and other select Friends.
With the greatest Regard and Respect, I have the Honour to be, Gentlemen,9 your most Obedient and very Humble Servant,
[signed] Hugh Hughes10
P.S. I felicitate you both on the Success of our Southern Arms.11 They seem as prosperous, as the Cause is just, almost.
NB. I inclose an Return for the President, with my best Regards.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed in an unidentified hand: “Hughes Mar. 31. 1776.” Enclosures not found.
1. JA's letter to Hughes has not been found. The meaning here is ambiguous, for the letter may have been so signed at a time when many attributed Common Sense to JA, or the letter may have been carried to New York by Paine, who did travel to that province on 19 Feb. (David Freeman Hawke, Paine, N.Y., 1974, p. 52; JA to Charles Lee, 19 Feb., above). It is not clear when JA learned for certain who the author of the pamphlet was.
2. Brig. Gen. William Thompson (1736–1781) of Pennsylvania, who had led the first body of riflemen to the siege of Boston, had been ordered to New York by the congress on 1 March (DAB; JCC, 4:181).
3. The Assembly, led by the DeLancey faction, gained notoriety by refusing to support the Continental Association and to name delegates, in early 1775, to the Second Continental Congress. The province was represented in it only because of the extralegal work of the Committee of Sixty, which after the Battle of Lexington and Concord formed a larger Committee of One Hundred and issued a call for the election of a provincial congress to sit in May 1775. When Gen. Lee arrived in New York in early 1776, however, he found that the provincial congress had ordered that British warships in the harbor be supplied with provisions and that certain loyalists be released whom the Continental Congress wanted confined (Merrill Jensen, The Founding of a Nation, N.Y., 1968, p. 532–533, 593–594, 656).
4. William Smith (1728–1793), lawyer, chief justice, historian, early whig, and later loyalist. His brother Thomas, also a lawyer, was to help William's wife look after his property when he went into exile in 1783 (DAB; Historical Memoirs of William Smith, 1778–1783, ed. William H. W. Sabine, repr., N.Y., 1971, p. xviii).
5. The Deceiver Unmasked; or, Loyalty and Interest United: In Answer to a Pamphlet Entitled Common Sense. By a Loyal American was written by Rev. Charles Inglis (1734–1816), Rector of New York's Trinity Church and, after he had fled America, the first Episcopal Bishop of Nova Scotia (DAB; T. R. Adams, American Independence, No. 219a). The printer was Samuel Loudon (1727–1813), a staunch patriot, who had begun publishing the New York Packet in Jan. 1776, but who saw nothing inconsistent with his political beliefs in publishing a loyalist tract when, in New York at least, the question of independence was still open. The Sons destroyed copies of Inglis' work on 19 March (DAB). Later in { 101 } 1776 two editions of the pamphlet, slightly moderated in tone, were printed and sold in Philadelphia by James Humphreys Jr. (American Independence, No. 219b, c).
6. Probably Philip Livingston (1716–1778), who in the Continental Congress was one of the moderates opposed to pressing for independence (DAB). See JA to William Heath, 15 April (below), where JA refers to “P. L.”
7. Heath reported to Washington on conditions in New York on 31 March (MHi:William Heath Papers).
8. The command in New York went from Lee to Lord Stirling, to Thompson, to Heath, and thence to Israel Putnam, who was to be displaced when Washington arrived (Johnston, Campaign around New York and Brooklyn, p. 58, 61).
9. Although the salutation is a simple “Sir,” Hughes may in his closing have been thinking of both the Adamses or of the Massachusetts delegation.
10. For Hugh Hughes, see The Intelligencer to JA, 16 Oct. 1775, note 1 (above).
11. See James Warren to JA, 30 March, note 7 (above).

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).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0033

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1776-04-03

To James Warren

[salute] Dear sir

As foreign Affairs become every day more interesting to Us no Pains should be spared to acquire a thorough Knowledge of them, and { 104 } as the inclosed Extract contains some observations which are new to me, I thought it might not be uninteresting to you.1
Howe has put 3000 Troops on board of Transports, which lie or at least lay last saturday at Staten Island. Whether this is a Feint, or a Serious Maneuvre, with Intention to go to the Eastern shore of Chessapeak Bay, as they give out I dont know, or whether they aim at this City. I rather Suspect they mean another Course, i.e. up Hudsons River but Time will discover.
For Gods sake and the Lands sake send along your Troops. They are wanted very much, I hope General Washington had informed you how much. Troops are now coming from North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland. If they come here We shall have a scuffle for this City. The Languor of New England surprizes me. If there had been half the Energy in those Governments that there was two years ago, Howe would now have been, in Another World or the most miserable Man in this.
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll).
1. Enclosure not found.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0034

Author: Continental Congress, Massachusetts delegates
Author: Adams, John
Author: Hancock, John
Author: Adams, Samuel
Author: Paine, Robert Treat
Author: Gerry, Elbridge
Author: Lowell, John
Recipient: Massachusetts Council
Date: 1776-04-03

The Massachusetts Delegates to the President of the Council

[salute] Sir

The Congress being Inform'd by a Letter from Genl. Washington, that two Thousand of the Continental Troops at Cambridge and Roxbury are deficient in Fire Arms, and that he has not been able to Purchase the Same from the Inhabitants or Obtain them from the Assemblies of the New England Colonies, have directed the General to make Returns to the Assemblies of the Numbers of men Inlisted from their Respective Colonies that are destitute of Arms, and to Dismiss from the service such of them as cannot be thus supplied.1
In Consequence of this, the Delegates from Massachusetts Bay think it their Duty to write to your Honour on the subject, and thro' you to Inform the Honl. Assembly, that for the better Regulating the army and Promoting the Means of Defence, the United Colonies are divided into Districts or Departments, and are to supply with Fire Arms the Continental Troops that shall be Rais'd by them Respectively and be in Want thereof.
The eastern District Consists of the NE Colonies, who during the { 105 } whole of this Conflict have discover'd the firmest Attachment to American Liberty and the warmest Zeal and Ardor in it's Defence. Should they at any Time fail in this or Neglect to supply their Quota's of Men and Arms they must in Consequence hereof be the greatest Sufferers, and may Infer on themselves the Censure of the rest of the Continent.
We are fully Sensible that the late Difficulties of Raising Men and Procuring Arms in the Eastern District are justly Chargeable on the Mode adopted for Establishing the Army at Cambridge, but We hope for a Different Regulation in future, and shall use our utmost Endeavours that in any New Levies of Men the General Assemblies may have the Direction of the same, subject to the Controul of Congress.
We think it necessary to Inform the Genl. Assembly that in some of the Colonies all Persons whatever are Prohibited from Purchasing or selling Fire Arms to be carried from the same. The safety of the Eastern district may Possibly require the like Precaution.
We rejoice at the Success Attending the Measures of Massa: Bay for promoting the Manufacturing of Military Stores and think that a steady perseverance in the same Plan is the wisest Mode that the Colonies can Adopt for a permanent Establishment of their Rights and Liberties; We therefore hope that diligent Enquiry will be made for all the Manufactories of Fire Arms in the Colony, Who from Want of Means or other Circumstances are unemploy'd in this Business, and that Publick Works will be Erected for them with suitable Encouragement to engage them in the Service.
We sincerely Congratulate the Honourable Assembly on the happy Recovery of Boston from our Enemies and are fully Assured that this Opportunity of fortifying the Harbour will be successfully Improv'd and thereby an Assylum secured for the Ships of War and other Navigation of the Continent. We presume that Genl. Washington will see the Necessity of such a Measure and order some of the Cannon brought from Ticonderoga to be Appropriated to this Purpose, but should it otherwise happen we think there can be no Objection to the Assembly's taking such of the Cannon and Carriages at Cambridge as they have supplied and deducting from their Accounts against the Continent the charge of any Part thereof which they may have made in said Accounts; more especially as New York is better supplied with Cannon than New England, and the Reason there is to Expect another Visit from the Enemy in that Quarter, Renders every Precaution and preparation Necessary to Receive them.
{ 106 }

[salute] We have the Honor to be sir with great Respect your most Obedt. and very Huml. Servants,

[signed] John Hancock
[signed] Samuel Adams
[signed] John Adams
[signed] Rob T Paine
[signed] Elbridge Gerry
Read and sent down.
[signed] John Lowell Dpy Secy PT
RC (M–Ar: 194, p. 320–322)
1. On 21 March the congress passed a resolve in response to Washington's continual complaints about the shortage of arms and the inability or refusal of the respective colonies to supply the need (JCC, 4:223). But this letter had a much broader purpose than merely conveying information. The delegates sought to spur the colony to new efforts in the American cause even though the British had left Boston and thus to dispel the “Languor of New England” that JA mentions in his letter to James Warren of 3 April (above). After the delegates' letter was read in the Council, it was referred to the House, which committed it to a three-man committee (Mass., House Jour., 1775–1776, 4th sess., p. 123). No further mention of it has been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0035

Author: Ward, Joseph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-03

From Joseph Ward

[salute] Sir

As the Ships of War now building in this and other Colonies for the Continental Service, will want Commanders, who will I conclude be appointed by Congress, I beg leave to mention to you a Capt. Fellows,1 late of Boston, who was bred to the Sea and is recommended as a very good Man for a Commander, and I have been desired to mention him to you. He appears to me to be a Man of activity and Spirit, a clear head and an enterprizing genius; he is about forty years old, has used the London trade, West Indies &c., been many years Master of a Ship and successful in his Business. Perhaps you may know him much better than I do. I have nothing in view but the public Service, and never will recommend a Man from any other motive.
General Ward is now stationed in Boston, the other Generals are all going Southward. The Regiments here are employed in fortifying the Town and Harbour.
If General Ward should have leave from the Congress to resign, my office will cease of course, and if there should be any Continental Service, to which I might be thought equal, I should be willing to engage in it. Since Genl. Ward has talk'd of resigning I have had the offer of a genteel Post in a marching Brigade; but I cannot leave Genl. Ward { 107 } without great difficulty so long as he continues in his present Command and in his ill state of health. As I engaged in the Service the first Day of the War, I wish (if Providence spares my Life and health) to see the last.
I have just been informed that the Congress have given leave to the American Ships of War to make prizes of all British Vessels.2 I take this to be a leading step to Independency, any thing short of which is trifling (in my humble opinion) and unworthy of America.
I beg leave to propose a Question for your deep consideration, viz, If the Americans unite in an independent Commonwealth, offer a free trade to all Nations, except Britain and her dependences, and make an American Law That no Person or Persons belonging to Britain or to her dependences shall be permitted to have any trade or intercourse with America, until Britain has made satisfaction for the injuries and losses sustained by this War—would she not be finally obliged to comply with this just requisition? I conceive that Britain cannot support her superiority over her natural Enemies, at Sea, without a large share of the American commerce, which she ever will have so long as a harmony subsists between the two Countries, if we are a separate State, and when Britain is convinced, (and time will do it) that her sovereignty and glory on the Seas greatly depends (if not her very being as a Kingdom) on a friendly intercourse with America, she will she must, comply with our righteous demands of separation.
As a Soldier, I ought to ask pardon for offering my rude sentiments on politicks to a Senator of America—but you will excuse me for turning my thoughts a few moments from the din of Arms to something more civil. I am Sir Your Obedient and most Humble Servant,
[signed] Joseph Ward
P.S. Five Regiments and one Company of the Train of Artillery are to remain here until further orders to fortify the Town and Harbour; all the other remaining Regiments and Companies are to march tomorrow. Genl. Ward is of the opinion that a larger force ought to have been left here, as so great a part of the Army was raised in this Colony. There are now of the Massachusetts men eleven Regiments, near a Regiment of the Train, besides Companies of Artificiers, &c. &c. on their march to assist the other Colonies, with the best Arms, Field pieces &c that have been collected from the several parts of this Colony since the commencement of the War—besides those that are gone to Canada. However I trust we shall be able, by the Smiles of Heaven upon our Arms, to defend our Colony with what is left; and if we should it will reflect honor upon the Massachusetts her { 108 } sending so formidable an Army to support the United Colonies—and stretching out a powerful Arm to defend her distant Brethren. It will make us respectable among our Sister Colonies, and through the World; and altho' some are very uneasy on account of so large a part of our force being sent out of the Colony, yet for the sake of the many and great advantages which may result from it, I am willy3 to risque defending the Colony with the force we have now.4
There are yet remaining in Nantasket Road two of the Enemy's Ships of War, and two or three Transports; we are meditating a plan for their removal.
[signed] JW
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Jo Ward's Apl 3. 1776 answd. Ap. 16. 1776.”
1. Capt. Gustavus Fellows (b. 1736), a Boston merchant and shipowner who did privateering during the Revolution (MHS, Procs., 2d ser., 20 [1906–1907]: 47; Allen, Mass. Privateers, p. 108, 185, 326, 327). The command of the two vessels being built in Massachusetts was offered to Capts. John Manley and Isaac Cazneau (JCC, 4:290).
2. For the act see JCC, 4:229–232.
3. An obsolete form (OED).
4. In his reply of 16 April JA asked whether Ward in his wish for independence would be satisfied with the opening of the ports and the licensing of privateers. If not, would “nothing do, but a positive declaration that we never will be reconciled upon any terms?” JA expressed his confidence that time would bring the colonies to a common understanding (to Ward, 16 April, DLC: Force Transcripts, Misc. Corr.).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0036

Author: Warren, Mercy Otis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-03

From Mercy Otis Warren

The sudden departure of the plunderers of Boston and the removal of the Continental troops from Cambridge occasions a temporary calm in the eastern region; but if the storm should again burst upon this quarter, I fear we shall be too destitute of skillful navigators, to oppose its fury with success: though we have still a few left among us whose tried courage and experience has set danger at defiance.
You Sir, have felt too much for the distresses of the Massachusetts, to wonder at the concern of any individual of a Colony, already wasted by fire, sword, pestilence, and rapine. The first scene has been opened here, but time alone must determine when the tragedy will end. The danger which threatens from foreign invaders, with an concurrence of circumstances, that prevents the energy of colonial operations, and renders internal peace, precarious are too many for my pen to enumerate, and too obvious to a gentleman of your judgment and sagacity to make it necessary.
May the great guardian of the universe, who stoops to survey the rise of Empire, and beholds from his lofty throne the squabbles of the { 109 } emmets of a day, inspire with vigour and unanimity the patriots of America. May he make the decision of the present contest, the establishment of virtue, liberty, and truth, fixed on too firm a basis to be undermined by future despots!
Do you think, Sir, sinse the spirits were hurled from the etherial regions, there was ever a more sudden reverse of hope and expectation, than that experienced by the miserable group—the unhappy wretches lately transported from Boston to Halifax? Surely they must “grin horribly, a ghastly smile,”1 if ever they recover from their first astonishment so far as to attempt to smile again.
Yet so pitiable is their condition, that it must excite the compassion of the hardest heart, more especially for their feeble connexions. Women, children, soldiers, sailors, governors, councellors, flatterers, statesmen, and pimps, huddled promiscuously, either into fishing boats, or Royal barks, which ever first offered the means of escape to the panic which struck multitudes.
It is not difficult to say how far they would compassionate us in a similar situation. We have had too many proofs of their inhumanity to be at any loss; but this is not our rule of action.
You may laugh if you please and those disposed to exalt in the triumph may even enjoy it, but I am not afraid to say I most sincerely pity them,—yet I may smile when I see some observations on the event, from Philadelphia, directed to
[signed] Mrs. Warren
Tr (MHi: Mercy Warren Letterbook). This Tr, in an unknown hand, was made years after the date of the original letter. Although this document was made almost certainly from a letter actually sent, it is probably not an accurate copy, if we can judge from other transcripts for which we do have originals (see Mercy Warren to JA, 12 Oct. 1775, 10 March 1776, descriptive notes, above).
1. Milton, Paradise Lost, Book II, line 846.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0037

Author: Winthrop, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-05

From John Winthrop

[salute] Dear Sir

I cannot omit so good an opportunity as now offers, of paying my respects to you. Nothing remarkable has occurred among us since the disgraceful flight of the British troops on the 17th ultimo. Tis generally believed they are bound to Halifax. General Washington set off yesterday. His conduct has met with universal approbation, and has gained him the highest applause.1 Saltpetre is made and making in great quantities, in this colony. One of our powder mills has been at work about a fortnight, and another is almost ready, and a third is this day ordered to be erected.2 We are now engaged in fortifying the { 110 } harbor of Boston, and taking care of the Tories that remain and their effects. But the principal topic of conversation is, the Commissioners who are expected from England with proposals for an accomodation. Tis supposed they will play off all the insidious arts that have been so successfully practised in England (I had like to have said, at home)3 but we trust those arts will be ineffectual here. We have intire confidence in the wisdom and firmness of the Congress. The fate of America is in their hands, and it cannot be in better hands. We have no doubt, but they will seize this opportunity of establishing the Liberties of America on a foundation that cannot be shaken. Is it possible to come to a reconciliation with people that have treated us with so much barbarity? Tis the wish of many, I believe most, of our people, that they would throw off that dependence which has been the source of all the evils we have suffered, and which, as long as it continues, must be productive of the same, [and] if possible of greater evils. If we must still be subject to a K's governors, vested with all the powers of nominating, negativing, &c. &c., and directed by Instructions, what can we expect but a repetition of the same scene? But it is needless for me to suggest any thing to a Gentleman who has so comprehensive a view of affairs and consequences.
My Son will have the honor to wait on you with this Letter. He has been employed by Col. Warren in his office, ever since he has been Pay Master General; but that buisness is now at an end, and the young man is out of employ. He would be glad to serve his country in any way that he is qualified for.4 If it should be thought necessary to keep an office here, for the payment of the 5 Regiments, which General Washington has left for the defence of Boston, and he could get employment in it, I believe Col. Warren would give him a good character. Or, if the Honble. Justices of the Superior Court should appoint my brother5 for their sole Clerk, I believe he would take my son as an assistent in the office. Or, if they should think it best to have two Clerks, as has been usually the case, I believe it would be very agreable to him to have my son appointed for [the other]. If you should approve of this, I should esteem [it a] great favor if you will use your influence accordingly. I suppose you have heard, that Col. Foster and Mr. Sullivan have been appointed on that Bench, and that they have accepted. No answer has yet been received from Mr. Read.
Be so good as to present my most respectful Compliments to the Gentlemen I have the honor to be acquainted with, particularly to Dr. Franklin, Col. Hancock and Mr. Secretary Adams, to whom I would write by my son, if I could possibly get time.
{ 111 }

[salute] I am with great esteem and respect, Dear sir, Your affectionate Friend and humble servt.

[signed] John Winthrop
Tis much desired, that a general Political Test, that shall pervade all America, may be established as soon as may be.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Honble. John Adams Esqr Philadelphia By Mr William Winthrop”; docketed: “Dr Winthrop Ap 5. 1776 and 12. May”; some mutilation; missing words supplied in brackets.
1. For his efforts Washington received the thanks of the province and the town of Boston at a public dinner on 28 March and a doctoral degree from Harvard on 3 April (Mass., House Jour., 1775–1776, 4th sess., p. 50–51, 65–66; Boston Gazette, 1, 8, 15 April; Freeman, Washington, 4:75–76).
2. Because “the Bounty already offered . . . proved insufficient,” a mill was ordered built at the expense of the province in the town of Sutton under the direction of Edward Putnam and Abijah Burbank (House Jour., p. 84–85).
3. England was no longer home to those as alienated as Winthrop.
4. William Winthrop (1753–1826) did not become a clerk of the superior court but was employed as an assistant treasurer of Harvard College by John Hancock, the Treasurer, to bring to Philadelphia the financial records of the college so that Hancock could put them in order, an effort that took a long time and aroused much controversy (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 17:460–463; 13:437–439).
5. Samuel Winthrop (1716–1779), who for a long time had been the clerk of the superior court under the Crown and was appointed to the same position by the reorganized court (Mayo, Winthrop Family, p. 193–196). For more on Winthrop's appointment as clerk and JA's approval of it, see JA to John Winthrop, 6 May; William Cushing to JA, 20 May; and JA to William Cushing, 9 June (all below).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0038

Author: Sergeant, Jonathan Dickinson
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-06

From Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant

[salute] Dear Sir

I arrived here last Evening in a very indifferent State of Health and shall return or not return according as I have Reason to believe I may be more useful here or there.1
So then! I am told You have a Report that Cato's Commissioners are coming at last, 46,000 strong.2 Mr. ——, I suppose, will tell us that he never expected the Commissioners to come without a strong Force to back them. O for the just Vengeance of Heaven on the Heads of those who have laboured so assiduously to fetter our Hands these six Months past! If we fall I must ascribe it to our fatal Mismanagement. We have backened3 the Zeal of our People, discouraged our warmest Friends, strengthened the Hands of our Enemies open and concealed, consumed our Time, wasted our Strength; but I hope we shall yet awake and at least not fall unrevenged.
How does this Report work with you? I hope it will rouze, not intimidate. We can if we are in Earnest cope with all this power and { 112 } { 113 } with the Assistance of Heaven may defeat them. If this is done I should hope, like the Defeat of the Spanish Armada, it will forever break the Force of our Enemies. I think You should neither exaggerate nor attempt to conceal such news if it be true or even probable; but let it work. If the People do not kindle at it, if they do not resolve now to exert themselves, they would do yet worse if it should come unexpectedly upon them. They should be solemnly appealed to, they should be called upon to make the last Effort of their Strength and I trust we may yet be delivered. I wish they had never been lulled into a Sort of Security from that State of Expectation of strong Attempts against us which they were in before the Talk of Commissioners.
You see I am rather in the Dumps; but You must ascribe part of it to my Disorder and part to a Reflection which has some Time haunted me, that there is a Tide in these Matters which I fear we have suffered to ebb.
I should be much obliged to You for one of your anonymous Epistles upon this Subject informing me whether You will have it in your power to secure me an Asylum in the Land of my Forefathers4 after the Rest of the Colonies shall have submitted; for I have strong Faith still in New England. Let me know too how it works in Philadelphia how in Congress &c. We have Resources if we have the Virtue to use them. The Crownlands, the Quit-rents, the Tories; but alas! Quos Deus vult perdere.5 Could not we bid as high for Hessians and Hanoverians in the Article of Lands and Estates as our Enemies? My Head achs and my Heart achs. I tremble for the Timidity of our Counsels. Adieu! You know my Hand and imitating your Caution will at least do no Harm.6
RC (Adams Papers;) addressed: “The Honble. John Adams Esqr. In Congress Philada. Free JDS”; docketed: “<Intelligencer>. Sergeant Apl 6. 1776.”
1. Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant (1746–1793), a leading New Jersey patriot, lawyer, and politician resident in Princeton, was at this time a member of the congress, but he resigned in June to work on a new state constitution. He returned to the congress in late 1776 and ultimately served as attorney general of Pennsylvania, his adopted state after his home in Princeton was burned (DAB; Edwin F. Halfield, “Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant,” PMHB, 2 [1878]:438–442).
2. On Cato, see JA to James Warren, 21 March, note 2 (above).
3. That is, retarded (OED).
4. Sergeant's ancestors came from Connecticut.
5. The full quotation is Quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat. That is, those whom God wishes to destroy He first deprives of their senses.
6. Apparently JA was unsure of the hand, for he crossed out in his docketing “Intelligencer,” who was probably Hugh Hughes, the author of two letters sent to JA and Samuel Adams from New York on 16 and 18 Oct. 1775 (see note 1 in that of the 16th; both above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0039

Author: Sergeant, Jonathan Dickinson
Recipient: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-04-11 - 1776-04-12

From Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant

[salute] Dear Sir

Your late worthy Governor Hutchinson used to mark some of his Letters confidential. You will give me Leave to use this Hint and at the same Time to take the Liberty of adding that, I believe, You know pretty well whom I can confide in, among our Acquaintances in Congress.
The Jersey-Delegates (will You believe it) are not in the sweetest Disposition with one another. Mr. D' Hart1 has gone home with an avowed Determination not to return without General Livingston2 and at the same Time has declared that he will offer himself as a Candidate for the Provincial Convention thinking that a more important post, in order that he may control the mad Fellows who now compose that Body.3 He has signified the dangerous Disposition of Mr. Smyth4 and another of his Colleagues; and all the great and the mighty ones in the Colony are preparing to make their last Stand against the principle of levelling which prevails in it. Mr. Smith's Health it seems will not admit of his Attendance,5 at least not very steadily. In the mean Time I have engaged to return whenever called upon by General Livingston and Mr. D'Hart; but rather believe they will not call upon me, tho I have wrote to them requesting it, in order that the Colony may not be unrepresented—tho I fear it will be misrepresented if we attend.6
Whether to return without them is a Matter of some Doubt with me, especially since I have been told that some very pious People are circulating a Rumour that I have left Congress in Disgust at the Doctrines of Independency which are there advanced. Whether I may not do more good at home considering all things I am at a Loss to determine. If my Colleagues should go into the provincial Convention I should be glad to meet them there; and I know the old Leven of Unrighteousness will strive hard to poison that Body by pushing in every Creature that can lisp against Independence, which in other Words, in my Opinion, is every Creature who would wish to give up the Quarrel. In Congress, if I am to be alone, it will avail little; if with my Colleagues less still. Here I can and will preach up the Necessity of a new Government.
From this State of the Case I should be much obliged by your Opinion. If You will let me have that and inclose the Copy of a Paper I spoke with You about the Evening before I left Town,7 by the Saturday's post I shall take it as a Favour. By Sunday I must determine one Way or the other if possible.
{ 115 }
You will be good enough to excuse this Trouble and deliver the inclosed packet with my Compliments to Mr. Hewes8 and beg him to forward it for a Friend of mine here and believe me to be, with great Respect and Esteem, Your Friend and most hble. Servt.,
[signed] Jona D Sergeant
P.S. I have been disappointed in the Conveyance by which I proposed to have forwarded this Letter and have therefore broke open the Packet to add this Postscript.
If I could receive your Answer by the Return of the post I should be glad, and that you would inform me how Matters go among You. Doctor Rush has sent me an Evening-post containing a Dialogue on Government said by him to have been wrote by an Author to whom he pays high Compliments.9 The Pennsylvania Assembly have resolved to stick by their Instructions he tells me.10 What do their Constituents think of them? The grand difficulty here is that People seem to expect Congress should take the first Step by declaring Independence, as they phrase it. One Cimon has endeavoured to have a piece printed in New York and Philadelphia, calculated to lead them into a Method of doing the Business;11 and I believe the People of some of our Eastern Counties will be likely to revolt against the old Government at the first Hint. But if a single Stroke will not do they must be repeated: and I wish People universally could have their Attention fixed to the Question of new and old Government instead of waiting for Deliverance from Congress. There is a Tide in Human things and I fear if we miss the present Occasion we may have it turn upon us. I declare boldly to People Congress will not declare Independence in Form; they are independent; every Act is that of Independence and all we have to do is to establish Order and Government in each Colony that we may support them in it. Could not this Idea be substituted in the place of Independence in the Controversy, which, as it is treated, is no determinate Object, brings nothing to an Issue. Meantime the Catos (Cato You know is the common name of a Negroo-Slave in Modern Times) will keep us in play talking about it and about it 'till the Spirit of the People will evaporate or those blessed Commissioners will have Time to play their pranks. God bless us! I wish Quebec was taken! What think You of all this?12 Adieu, Yours,
[signed] JDS.
RC (Adams Papers;) docketed: “Jon. D. Sergeants Lettr. Ap. 12. 1776 answered Ap. 15th.”
1. John DeHart (1729–1795), who resigned from the congress in the fall of 1775 but was reelected in Feb. 1776 (Biog. Dir. Cong.; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:l).
2. William Livingston (1723–1790) { 116 } was a brigadier general in the militia and later governor of the state. A wealthy liberal, he believed that power should be vested in people like himself (DAB; Biog. Dir. Cong.).
3. The New Jersey Second Provincial Congress, which met first on 31 Jan., called for a general election in May for a third congress and extended the franchise to those with £50 in either real or personal holdings if they had lived in the colony one year. Before, only freeholders with one hundred acres or householders with personal property worth £50 could vote (Donald L. Kemmerer, Path to Freedom: The Struggle for Self-Government in Colonial New Jersey, 1703–1776, Princeton, 1940, p. 341, 37).
4. Frederick Smyth (d. 1815), who, in charging a grand jury referred to the “imaginary tyranny” in England and the “real tyranny” at home, was chief justice under the royal government (Sabine, Loyalists, 2:319–320).
5. Richard Smith (1735–1803), member of the Continental Congress and diarist (DAB).
6. The Third Provincial Congress chose an entirely new slate of delegates to the Continental Congress: Richard Stockton, Abraham Clark, John Hart, Francis Hopkinson, and John Witherspoon. These were instructed on 22 June to support a vote for independence if it was necessary (Kemmerer, Path to Freedom, p. 346).
7. Undoubtedly a copy of JA's sketch for state government; see Thoughts on Government, ante 27 March–April, Editorial Note (above).
8. Joseph Hewes, delegate from North Carolina. The enclosure has not been identified.
9. The “Dialogue” was probably that appearing in the Pennsylvania Evening Post of 4 April, signed by “a friend to government by assembly.” In the form of a conversation between a townsman and a countryman, it warned the Assembly of the seriousness of not reflecting the will of the people, which it could best do by adopting the resolves of the Associators, that is, militia members. Their resolutions have not been identified.
10. For the instructions, see Samuel Chase to JA, 25 Nov. 1775, note 4 (above).
11. Cimon's “piece” appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet, Supplement, 15 April, and exhorted the people of New Jersey to take the final step to independence, for otherwise anarchy would engulf the colony. Cimon assured the wavering that New Jersey could count on the help of those colonies that had already dissolved their governments and thus were in fact independent.
12. No reply from JA has been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0040

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Palmer, Joseph
Date: 1776-04-12

To Joseph Palmer

We begin to make some little Figure here in the Naval Way. Captn. Barry was fitted out here a few days ago in a sixteen Gun Brig, and put to sea by the Roebuck Man of War which lies in Delaware River, and after he got without the Capes fell in with a Tender belonging to the Liverpool Man of War, and took her after an Engagement of two Glasses.1 She had 8 Cariage Guns and a Number of Swivells.2 One Thing remarkable is that four of her Guns are marked Liverpool, which shows that Guns are not very plenty with them otherwise the Liverpool would not have Spared any Part of hers.
I long to hear what Fortifications are preparing for Boston Harbour. I cant but Think that Row Gallies would be of excellent Use. They might dodge about behind the Islands in that Harbour and into shoal { 117 } Water, in such a Manner, that the Weight of their Metal, and the Certainty of their Shots, and the Place, between Wind and Water, at which They would be levell'd, would render them terrible to large ships. Fire, carried upon Rafts and in Small Vessels, I should think would be very troublesome to those Gentry. I cannot bear the Thought of their ever getting into Boston again, or into that Harbour. I would willingly contribute my share that indeed would be but little towards any Expence, nay I would willingly go and work myself upon the Fortifications if that was necessary.
Where will the Cloud burst next? Are they gone to Hallifax? Will they divide their Force? Can they do that with safety? Will they attempt Quebec? or will they come to N. York? or will they come to Philadelphia or go farther south, to Virginia, or one of the Carolinas? which I sometimes Suspect is more probable than any other Supposition, will they linger out the Summer in Hallifax, like Lord Loudoun3 and themselves, fighting Mock Battles and acting Grubstreet Plays. I should dread this, more than their whole Force applied to my Part of the Continent. I really think this would be the best Game they can play with such a Hand as they have for upon my word I am almost enough elated to boast that We have high, low and Jack in our Hands, and We must be bad Gamesters indeed if We loose the Game.
You and the rest of my Friends are so busy I presume in purifying Boston of small Pox and another Infection which is much more malignant I mean Toryism and I hope in fortifying the Harbour, that I have reconciled myself, to that State of Ignorance, in which I still remain of all the Particulars, discovered in Boston.
Am very desirous of knowing if I could, what Quantities of Salt Petre come in, and what Progress is made in the Manufacture of it, and of Cannon and Musquetts and especially the Powder Mills. Have you Persons who understand the Art of making Powder?
[signed] John Adams
RC (MeHi: Signers of the Declaration of Independence File).
1. That is, the time it took for two nautical, half-hour sand glasses to run through, or one hour (OED).
2. John Barry (1745–1803), a Philadelphia shipowner, was a naval commander during the Revolution and in the 1790s during the undeclared naval war with France. Commanding the brig Lexington, he set sail from Cape May on 31 March, eluding the Roebuck, which was patrolling the area and gave chase. On 7 April he met the Edward, commanded by Richard Boger, the first lieutenant of the Liverpool. The Edward, which the condemnation proceedings showed carried six three-pounder carriage guns and two swivels, was the first British warship taken in battle by a regularly commissioned American cruiser (DAB; Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 4:597, 702, 754–755, 773, 1334–1341). News of the victory reached the congress on 11 April (JCC, 4:270).
3. John Campbell, fourth Earl of { 118 } Loudoun (1705–1782), as commander in chief of British forces in North America during the French and Indian War, collected a large army in Halifax for an attack on Fort Louisbourg but then, apparently unable to act, remained where he was. He was replaced by Jeffrey Amherst (DNB).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0041

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Tudor, William
Date: 1776-04-12

To William Tudor

I wish you Joy, sir, of your new Abode. I hope you found, the Houses, Wharves &c. &c., in the Town of Boston which are hereafter to contribute to your Satisfaction in Life, in good order.
I Should be very happy to learn the Condition in which the Town appeared, the situation of the Buildings and the State and History of the Inhabitants, during the Seige, what Tories are left, and what is to be done with them. Very few Particulars have reached Philadelphia. I suppose my Friends have been so busily employed, that they could not Spare the Time to write. I commend them for devoting their whole Time to the Care of the Town and the Fortifications of the Harbour. But as soon as they can snatch a little Leisure, I hope they will write to me.
You talk about Common sense, and Say it has been attributed to me.1 But I am as innocent of it as a Babe.
The most atrocious literary sins, have been imputed to me these twelve Years.

“Poor harmless I! and can I choose but Smile

When every Coxcomb knows me by my Style.”2

I could not reach the Strength and Brevity of his style, nor his elegant Symplicity, nor his piercing Pathos. But I really think in other Respects, the Pamphlet would do no Honour even to me. The old Testament Reasoning against Monarchy would have never come from me. The Attempt to frame a Continental Constitution, is feeble indeed. It is poor, and despicable. Yet this is a very meritorious Production.
In Point of Argument there is nothing new. I believe every one that is in it, had been hackneyd in every Conversation public and private, before that Pamphlet was written.
You desire me to send you an oration, but I wont.3 I have too much Contempt and Indignation, at that insolent Performance to meddle with it.
The Ports are open you see, and Privateering is allowed. Is this Independency?
I wish you would let me know whether the Courts sit, and whether Business is done.
{ 119 }
I am Sure it is Time that a certain Name and style was discarded. Commissions, Writs, and Indictments should run in another Form.4
The Colony of &c. to the sheriff.
The Colony of [] to A. B.
against the Peace of the Colony of &c.
This must be the Style.
RC (MHi: Tudor Papers); docketed: “April 12th, 1776.”
1. See Tudor to JA, 29 Feb. (above).
2. Pope, Satires, Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, lines 281–282. JA has substituted “harmless” for “guiltless.”
3. Rev. William Smith's An Oration in Memory of General Montgomery (see Tudor to JA, 29 Feb., note 2, above).
4. JA had made this recommendation in Thoughts on Government, ante 27 March–April (above). On 13 April the House of Representatives gave a first reading to a bill to change the style of commissions, writs, and processes by eliminating the name of the king and substituting that of “the Government and People of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England,” a more radical departure than JA's use of the word “Colony.” The bill also dropped the practice of assigning dates according to the year of the sovereign's reign. The bill was passed on 1 May (Mass., House Jour., 1775–1776, 4th sess., p. 121, 229; Province Laws, 5:484–485). By removing these last vestiges of royal government, Massachusetts was virtually declaring its independence. See also JA to William Heath, 15 April (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0042

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Heath, William
Date: 1776-04-15

To William Heath

[salute] Dear sir

Altho I never had the Pleasure and the Honour of so intimate an Acquaintance with you as I wished yet I have a long Time, been sufficiently acquainted with your Character, to have the Utmost Confidence in your Patriotism and your Judgment of the true Interest of our Country.
The critical State of the Colonies, at this Time, is the Cause of my writing you, because Providence has now placed you in a situation where you have an opportunity of serving your Country in a civil and political Capacity no less essentially than in a military one.1
There is nothing of more indispensible Importance in the Conduct of this great Contention, than that New York should go Hand in Hand with the rest of the Colonies both in Politicks and War. The Number of the Tories the Weakness and Credulity of Some People, and the Treachery of others, have hitherto prevented that Colony from exerting herself in this mighty Struggle in Proportion to her Strength and Weight.
If you compare the Exertions of Connecticutt, with those of New York you will easily see the Importance of having all the Powers of Government in the Hands of the Friends of the People.
It is now perhaps the most critical Moment that America, ever saw. { 120 } There is a Tide in the affairs of Men, and Consequences of infinite Moment depend upon the Colonies, assuming Government at this Time.
So convenient an opportunity may never again present itself as the present, while a powerfull Army is there, sufficient to overawe any turbulent opposition, and prevent every danger of Convulsion.
To exercise a Government under a King, who has published such a Proclamation and signed such an Act of Parliament;2 to pray for his Salvation, temporal I mean—to take oaths of allegiance—to swear to keep his Secrets—to swear to try Issues between our sovereign Lord the King and a Criminal, at this Time, is such an Absurdity, such Immorality, such Irreligion that I am amazed it can be endured in any one Spot in America.3
Governments must be assumed or Anarchy reign, and God knows the Consequence.
I must beg of you therefore, to endeavour to convince the Citizens of New York and the Inhabitants of the Province as opportunity presents, of the Necessity of this Measure. Depend upon it, you cannot do your Country a more important, a more essential service.
I am well informed that Mr. William Smith, Mr. P. L. and I fear Coll. McDougal will retard and obstruct this Measure.4 I hope they will be perswaded to the Contrary, if they have not they may have herafter the pleasing Reflection that they destroyed their Country.
You must have seen the happy Fruits of this Measure in your own Province, so clearly, as to render it impertinent in me to point out the Benefits of it.
If Nine Months ago the Colonies had assumed Governments, they would have been infinitely better armed, trained, furnished with Ammunition, salt Petre, Powder Works—they would have been rid of the Plague of Toryism. &c.
I have Time only to hint, and that is enough to you, if you are at a Loss to know me, ask General Sullivan. I am your Friend and most obedient servant.
RC (MHi: William Heath Papers); erroneously docketed: “from Jno. Adams Esqr. april 25th. 1777.”
1. Although the tone of this letter suggests that JA believed Heath was in command, he had been superseded by Israel Putnam on 4 April (Force, Archives, 4th ser., 5:787, 815). JA may have been inspired to write, by the letter he received from Hugh Hughes of 31 March (above), which detailed conditions in New York and commented upon Gen. Heath's arrival.
2. That is, the proclamation of 23 Aug. 1775 calling for the suppression of rebellion and sedition and the Prohibitory Act of 22 Dec. 1775.
3. JA's eagerness to have New York replace the name of the king in writs { 121 } and otherwise cease referring to him is further evidence of his conviction that independence in fact, if not in name, could be achieved by indirect means.
4. The information about Smith and “P. L.” (Philip Livingston) may have come from Hughes' letter of 31 March. The source of JA's feelings about Alexander McDougall, a prominent whig, remains unidentified.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0043

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1776-04-16

To James Warren

[salute] Dear Sir

I agree with you, in yours of the 30 March, in opinion that five Regiments are too Small a Force to be left with you, considering the Necessity of fortifying the Harbour, and the Danger there is that the Enemy may renew their Designs upon our Province. Am happy to learn that you have Sent a Committee to view the Harbour of Boston and report the best Method of Securing it. When this Report is made I beg it may be transmitted to me. I wish you could transmit to me, a good Plan of the Harbour at the Same Time, for I want to convince this Congress, that that Harbour may be made as strong and impregnable as Gibralter, that they may be induced to contribute Somewhat to the Fortification of it. I have a great opinion of the Efficacy of Fire, both in Rafts And Ships, for the Defence of that Harbour, among the numerous Shoals and Narrows, and the Multitudes of Islands. Will not Row Gallies be very usefull? would not they dodge about among those Islands, and hide themselves at one Time and make themselves dangerous to a ship at another?
Batteries must not be omitted, upon the Heights on the Islands. Nor must We forget to obstruct the Channell. I am a miserable Engineer I believe, but I will not Scruple to expose my own Ignorance in this Usefull science for the Sake of throwing out any broken Hints for refreshing the Memories of others who know more. If I was to write a Letter to my little Tom, I should say, something to him about fortifying Boston Harbour.
Your Letter to the President,1 I have shown to My Friends Mr. Adams and Mr. Gerry. It has puzzled me a little what to do with it. But We are all of opinion upon the whole that it will be most for your Honour to deliver it: and indeed for your Interest, for there will be too much Risque in trusting this office to any one you can employ, at a Distance from you.
You inform me that the Council have appointed [] and [] Judges.2 What, sir, do you think must be my Feelings upon this occasion? I wish you would acquaint me whether Mr. Reed has accepted.3 And what the Court intends to do, about the Commissions and { 122 } Salaries of the Judges. Whether they are to lie at the Mercy, of Coll. Thompson, Coll. Bowers and Mr. Brown of Abington?4
This is a great Constitutional Point, in which, the Lives, Liberties, Estates and Reputations of the People are concerned, as well as the order and Firmness of Government in all its Branches and the Morals of the People besides. I may be suspected of sinister and interested Views in this, but I will give any Man a Pension out of my own private Fortune to take my Place. It is upon Principle, and from this Principle let Major Hawley think of it as he may, I cannot depart.
You will learn the Exploits of our Fleet, before you get this.5 They have behaved as all our Forces behave by sea and Land. Every day convinces us that our People are equal to every Service of War or Peace by sea or Land.
You Say the Sighh's for Independence are universal. You say too, what I can scarcely believe that Moderation and Timidity are at an End. How is this possible? Is Cunning at an End too—and Reserve—and hinting against a Measure that a Man dare not oppose directly or disapprove openly. Is trimming at an End too? and Duplicity? and Hypocricy? If they are I give you Joy sir of a group of Tyrants gone. But I have not yet Faith in all this. You deal in the Marvellous like a Traveller. As to the Sighs, what are they after? Independence? Have we not been independent these twelve Months, wanting Three days?6
Have you Seen the Privateering Resolves? Are not these Independence enough for my beloved Constituents? Have you seen the Resolves for opening our Ports to all Nations? Are these Independence enough? What more would you have? Why Methinks I hear you Say We want to compleat our Form and Plan of Government. Why dont you petition Congress then for Leave to establish such a Form as shall be most conducive to the Happiness of the People? But you Say Why dont the southern Colonies Seize upon the Government? That I cant answer. But by all We can learn, they are about it, every where. We Want a Confederation you will Say. True. This must be obtained. But we are united now they Say, and the Difference between Union and Confederation is only the same with that between an express and an implied Contract.
But We ought to form Alliances. With Whom? What Alliances? You dont mean to exchange British for French Tyranny. No, you dont mean to ask the Protection of French Armies. No. We had better depend upon our own. We only Want, commercial Treaties. Try the experiment without them. But France and England will part the { 123 } Continent between them. Perhaps so, But both will have good Luck to get it.
But you will say what is your own opinion of these Things. I answer I would not tell you all that I have Said, and written and done in this Business for a shilling, because Letters are now a days pimp'd after. Why dont your Honours of the General Court, if you are so unanimous in this, give positive Instructions to your own Delegates, to promote Independency? Dont blame your Delegates, untill they have disobeyed your Instructions in favour of Independency. The S. Colonies Say you are afraid.7
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.).)
1. Warren's resignation as paymaster of the Continental Army (see Warren to JA, 30 March, above).
2. Jedediah Foster and James Sullivan (same).
3. William Read declined his appointment (JA, Legal Papers, 1:cviii).
4. A reference to the fee bill pushed through on 2 May by reformers (see Warren to JA, 30 March, note 910, above). Samuel Thompson (1735–1798), a warm but presumably eccentric patriot from Brunswick, now in Maine; Jerathmiel Bowers (d. 1795?), a merchant from Swansea, who was thought to be sympathetic to the British; Woodbridge Browne (1714–1783), long-time town clerk of Abington—all three were members of the House of Representatives, where support for the fee bill was strong (Wroth and others, eds., Province in Rebellion, p. 2905, 2834–2835, 2838; George Augustus Wheeler and Henry Warren Wheeler, History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine, Boston, 1878, p. 811–816).
5. On 16 April the congress received news that Como. Esek Hopkins' fleet had arrived at New London on the 8th. Sailing in mid-February from Philadelphia, the fleet had descended on New Providence and captured Nassau, taking as booty 88 cannon, 15 brass mortars, and other stores. This venture was important to the American cause, for it helped to reveal the inadequacies of the British defenses in the western Atlantic and tested American sailors under fire (William M. Fowler Jr., Rebels under Sail: The American Navy during the Revolution, N.Y., 1976, p. 96–99; JCC, 4:285; PCC, No. 78, XI). News of Hopkins' exploits appeared in the Boston Gazette of 15 April.
6. A reference to the Battle of Lexington and Concord, fought on 19 April.
7. The final two sentences of the letter were written in the margin.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0044

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, Mercy Otis
Date: 1776-04-16

To Mercy Otis Warren

[salute] Madam

Not untill Yesterdays Post, did your agreable Favour of March the Tenth, come to my Hands. It gave me great Pleasure and altho in the distracted Kind of Life, I am obliged to lead, I cannot promise to deserve a Continuance of So excellent a Correspondence yet I am determined by Scribbling Something or other, be it what it may, to provoke it.1
The Ladies I think are the greatest Politicians, that I have the { 124 } Honour to be acquainted with, not only because they act upon the Sublimest of all the Principles of Policy, vizt. the Honesty is the best Policy but because they consider Questions more coolly than those who are heated with Party Zeal, and inflamed with the bitter Contentions of active, public Life.
I know of no Researches in any of the sciences more ingenious than those which have been made after the best Forms of Government nor can there be a more agreable Employment to a benevolent Heart. The Time is now approaching, when the Colonies, will find themselves under a Necessity, of engaging in Earnest in this great and indispensible Work. I have ever Thought it the most difficult and dangerous Part of the Business, Americans have to do, in this mighty Contest, to contrive some Method for the Colonies to glide insensibly, from under the old Government, into a peaceable and contented Submission to new ones. It is a long Time since this opinion was conceived, and it has never been out of my Mind. My constant Endeavour has been to convince, Gentlemen of the Necessity of turning their Thoughts to those subjects. At present, the sense of this Necessity seems to be general, and Measures are taking which must terminate in a compleat Revolution. There is a Danger of Convulsions. But I hope, not great ones.
The Form of Government, which you admire, when its Principles are pure, is admirable indeed. It is productive of every Thing, which is great and excellent among Men. But its Principles are as easily destroyed, as human Nature is corrupted. Such a Government is only to be supported by pure Religion, or Austere Morals. Public Virtue cannot exist in a Nation without private, and public Virtue is the only Foundation of Republics. There must be a possitive Passion for the public good, the public Interest, Honour, Power, and Glory, established in the Minds of the People, or there can be no Republican Government, nor any real Liberty. And this public Passion must be Superiour to all private Passions. Men must be ready, they must pride themselves, and be happy to sacrifice their private Pleasures, Passions, and Interests, nay their private Friendships and dearest Connections, when they Stand in Competition with the Rights of society.
Is there in the World a Nation, which deserves this Character. There have been several, but they are no more. Our dear Americans perhaps have as much of it as any Nation now existing, and New England perhaps has more than the rest of America. But I have seen all along my Life, Such Selfishness, and Littleness even in New England, that I sometimes tremble to think that, altho We are engaged in the best Cause that ever employed the Human Heart, yet the Prospect of { 125 } success is doubtfull not for Want of Power or of Wisdom, but of Virtue.
The Spirit of Commerce, Madam, which even insinuates itself into Families, and influences holy Matrimony, and thereby corrupts the Morals of Families as well as destroys their Happiness, it is much to be feared is incompatible with that purity of Heart, and Greatness of soul which is necessary for an happy Republic. This Same Spirit of Commerce is as rampant in New England as in any Part of the World. Trade is as well understood and as passionately loved there as any where. Even the Farmers, and Tradesmen are addicted to Commerce, and it is too true, that Property is generally the standard of Respect there as much as any where. While this is the Case, there is great Danger that a Republican Government, would be very factious and turbulent there. Divisions in Elections are much to be dreaded. Every Man must seriously set himself to root out his Passions, Prejudices and Attachments, and to get the better of his private Interest. The only reputable Principle and Doctrine must be that all Things must give Way to the public.
This is very grave and solemn Discourse to a Lady. True, and I thank God, that his Providence has made me Acquainted with two Ladies at least, who can bear it.
I think Madam, that the Union of the Colonies, will continue and be more firmly cemented, But We must move slowly. Patience, Patience, Patience! I am obliged to invoke thee every Morning of my Life, every Noon, and every Evening.
It is Surprising to me that any among you should flatter themselves with an Accommodation. Every Appearance is against it, to an Attentive observer. The Story of Commissioners is a Bubble. Their real Errand is an Insult. But popular Passions and Fancies will have their Course, you may as well reason down a Gale of Wind.
You expect, if a certain Bargain Should be complied with, to be made acquainted with noble and Royal Characters.2 But in this you will be disappointed. Your Correspondent, has neither Principles, nor Address, nor Abilities, for such Scenes, and others are as sensible of it, I assure you as he is. They must be Persons of more Complaisance and Ductility of Temper as well as better Accomplishments for such great Things.
He wishes for nothing less. He wishes for nothing more than to retire from all public stages, and public Characters, great and small, to his Farm and his Attorneys office. And to both these he must return.
{ 126 }
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed by Mrs. Warren: “April 16 1776 Government & Commerce"; docketed in two other hands: “Hon: Jno. Adams April 1776” and “J Adams Esqr April 1776.”
1. Despite JA's intention, he and Mercy Warren did not exchange letters again until the fall of 1778. On JA's part the reason was probably the heavy burden of responsibilities that he carried in the congress. Since he continued to write regularly to James Warren, Mercy may not have wanted to put him under greater obligation.
2. See Mercy Warren to JA, 10 March (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0045

Author: Smith, Isaac Sr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-16

From Isaac Smith Sr.

[salute] Mr. Adams

Yours of the 4t. Instant, I have received1 which I received by Via Watertown but As the post is most certain would not have you be affraid of writing that way On Account of the postage. I Observe what you say about liberty of going to foreign ports which, there has been no Obstruction As to going in ballast. You say trade, you expect, will be Open very soon. We have little or nothing in this province to send. There is a Cargo or two of fish sutable for the Spanish Market which iff not sent will perish On the proprieters hands,2 which iff taken can be no publick benifit to Britan, and a little Lumber besides. But iff a general liberty that Minute itt is Open more, than between the Colony's you had as goods send your Compliments to Lord North and let him know you have Undertaken to supply the fleets &c. in these parts, and the West India Islands and that he need not trouble himself to make but very little provision for them as am almost certain there wont be much need as to flour and bread. I am informd by Vessells lately from Martinico and that way that they had taken such quantity's of flour att Antigua, as they were sending itt to the french Islands. By the prisoners that run away from the N W both here and to the southward, all say they are all half allowance and was itt not for the Captures of flour and grain Vessells even acoming[?] here they would be in a worse condition and although I like trade yet to have itt Universal, except to G. B. &c. I think I should forego any Advantage, for 6 mo. to come, which as they have all there supplys to come a thousand leagues must make there supplys uncertain and consequently there scheems more Unlikely to be attended with success. Wheat, Rice, &c. is kept and not thrasht Out will receive no damage for a length of time and probably more like to fetch a prize 6 mo. hence than now as All the Markets in Europe are supplyd and flour Cheaper att any of the Markets than we have itt here. A Nother disadvantage will insue as to sailers to Man the ships that are building. I may be mistaken as { 127 } to my judgment, in those Matters and wish I may be As am sensible mine is but of little Consequence. There has been a fine Opening since the fleets went off iff itt could been so as that Admiral Hopkins' fleet could have been here to have stopt every thing going up and indeed to have taken the ship att Nantasket, as for some days there has been but One and now Only a brig and Schooner besides which Obstrucks a free passuage up to Boston. The Vessell from the Granards taken last week by three boats from Cohasset with near 400 hhd Rum &c. will supply those Towns with Toddy for sometime to come.3 Att least Computation she is worth six thousand pounds ster. Yesterday saild for London, same Masters that has been taken who Genl. Washington gave leave to go and with them some pedling scotch Traders and hope iff ever things comes to rights these may never anymore be Allowed to come here of those lower Class for to make themselves of importance they are always for Addressing and being Government's Men. I see One Mr. Erving is taken att N. Providence who was a scotch lad sent Over As Inspecter of Imports, and exports att Boston a few Years Ago,4 that thot there was nobody in Boston that was fit Company for him (indeed he was right in that) and that Nobody knew how to dress any thing fit for a Gentleman, (there he was right likely for they might be Unacquainted with what might sute One just pickt Out of the boggs of Scotland). You have heard of Bill Jackson's being taken.5 He received some Insult on the road which am sorry for and lamented by all, persons of any consequence. He is in Boston goal, but I dont learn he has behavd any way Ill att Boston dureing the seige. I hope you will Excuse, for troubling you with such an Epistle of no more Consequence and are Yr. &c.
1. Not found.
2. See Smith to JA, 22 March and 6 April, Adams Family Correspondence, 1:364, 372.
3. News of the capture of a snow bound for Boston from the West Indian island of Grenada appeared in the Boston Gazette of 15 April, which reported that the vessel contained, among other things, 354 puncheons of rum, 49 barrels of sugar, and 10 barrels of coffee.
4. Thomas Irving (“Alexander” Irving in Sabine, Loyalists, 1:566) was a councilor and receiver general of quitrents for South Carolina. He was captured, together with Montford Browne, Governor of New Providence, and James Bavage, the Governor's secretary, in Hopkins' raid on Nassau (Boston Gazette, 15 April; Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 4:710–711). In Jan. 1777 Irving was paroled to South Carolina (JCC, 7:9).
5. William Jackson, loyalist merchant, was tried in Boston for taking the property of patriots (see Smith to JA, Adams Family Correspondence, 1:373–374, and note 2).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0046

Author: Penn, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-17

From John Penn

[salute] Dear Sir

After a Tedious Journey, (occasion by bad roads and wet weather I arrived here in good health,) as I came through Virginia I found the inhabitants desirous to be Independant from Britain, however they were willing to submit their opinion on the subject to whatever the General Congress should determine. North Carolina by far exceeds them occasioned by the great fatigue trouble and danger the People here have undergone, for some time past; Gentlemen of the first fortunes in this Province have marched as common Soldiers and to encourage and give spirit to the men have footed it the whole time. Lord Cornwallis with seven Regiments are expected to visit us every day, Clinton is now in Cape Fear with Govr. Martin who has about 40 sail of Vessels armed and unarmed waiting his arrival.2 The Highlanders and Regulators are not to be trusted. Govr. Martin has coaxed a number of Slaves to leave their Masters in the lower parts. Everything base and wicked are practised by him; these things have totally changed the temper and disposition of the Inhabitants that are Friends to liberty. All regard or fondness for the King or the nation of Britain is gone, a total separation is what they want. Independance is the word most used. They ask if it is possible that any Colony after what has passed can wish for a Reconciliation, the Convention have tried to get the opinion the People at large, I am told that in many Counties there were not one dissenting voice.
Four new Battalions are directed to be raised which will make six in this Province. The officers are now recruiting, as it is absolutely necessary to have the men raised in a short time and this a bad season as many Persons have begun to make a Crop. They have agreed to give 40/ of bounty, we are badly of[f] for Musquets, I fear we shall be obliged to use Rifles,3 However the People think they can do anything, they are determined to die hard, I never saw men appear to have more spirit and to be more determined. Do Sir attend to the dangers that threaten us and afford this Colony all the assistance you can.4
We are endeavouring to form a Constitution as it is thought necessary to exert all the powers of Government, you may expect it will be a popular one. We have about 200 prisoners here all of them officers. I suspect we must trie to get some of our Sister Colonies to take them as we are obliged to have a strong guard. Please to give my Compliments to your Brother Delegates, also to the Gentlemen of Virga. I had not time to write to them. Colo. Lee and Mr. Wythe would not be { 129 } displeased at a sight of this. The bearer is waiting and can only ad that I am with great respect, Your mo: obt. Servt.,
[signed] John Penn
Mr. Long a Gentleman of great merit who has behaved uncommonly well is recommended to Congress to be appointed Quarter Master for this District.5 It would give great pleasure to here if he is imployed.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “John Adams Esq. a Delegate Philada.”; docketed: “John Penn Esq. Apl. 17. 1776 answd. Ap. 28. 1776.”
1. Halifax, N.C., where Penn had gone to attend the Fourth Provincial Congress. On 12 April, three days before Penn arrived, that body adopted the Halifax Resolves, instructing the delegates to the congress to vote for independence, thus making North Carolina the first state to take such action officially (Hugh T. Lefler and William S. Powell, Colonial North Carolina, N.Y., 1973, p. 280–281). Penn was named to the committee to draft a constitution for the state, a task he came prepared for since he had a copy of JA's ideas on government. A new constitution was not adopted, however, until December (same, p. 281–283; Thoughts on Government, ante 27 March–April, Editorial Note, and No. II, above).
2. The victory of the whig forces over the Highlanders and Regulators at Moore's Creek Bridge in February had foiled the plans of Cornwallis, Clinton, and Martin for the conquest of the colony so that it was free from military engagements until 1780 (Colonial North Carolina, p. 275–80).
3. The tactics of close-order maneuver and mass firing at short range made the musket the weapon of choice.
4. On 7 May the congress voted to take into the Continental Army a sixth battalion raised in North Carolina and to send needed supplies, including twelve field pieces, three tons of gunpowder, and medicine chests for the six battalions (JCC, 4:331–333).
5. Nicholas Long (d. 1819) was appointed by the congress (same, 4:332; Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 356).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0047

Author: Chase, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-18

From Samuel Chase

[salute] My Dear Sir

I left Saratoga last Tuesday and arrived at this place the same afternoon.1 I expected to find the Lake open but am disappointed.
General Thomas left this yesterday Morning, and intended to break his way. On this Day about 40 Batteaus went off with the same Intention, with about 500 Men. The Residue of the Troops here, about 300, and the Cannon, 4.32. 4.24. 4.18 and some 9 pounders, with 8 Ton of Powder go off in the Morning, and I expect to sett off some time tomorrow, or on the next Day. The Batteaus which went away to day, we just hear, are above 12 Miles. Colo. Sinclear's Regiment is at fort Edward,2 and are ordered here tomorrow. I am told above 100 of that Battalion have deserted. Ought not Desertion to be punished with above 39 Lashes? The Inhabitants buy their Arms. Pray declare some severe punishment for such infamous Conduct. On this Day arrived here, with their Interpreter Mr. Dean, The Delegates from the { 130 } seven Tribes of Indians in Canada, from the Congress of the Six Nations lately held at Onandago.3 I was introduced to and had the Honor to take them by the Hand. Their Warriors are to stay at Home till their Return and to wait the Result of their Councils. I believe they will wait on Us in Montreal for the purpose of professing Friendship and extorting presents, what are We to do without the Means? Mr. Dean says the Indian Congress have resolved to observe a strict Neutrality, and have appointed Deputies to attend our Indian Commissioners at Albany and they may be daily expected there. I have seen Mr. Deans Notes of the proceedings of the Onandago Congress. The Oneidas, Tuscoraras, the Deputies from Canada, and some other small Tribes appear to be our firm Friends, but the Senecas, Mohawks and the others seem to me to be very unfriendly, and I am satisfied are ready from Inclination to act against Us. I believe One Colo. Butler has been using his Influence with these people.4 They have agreed, i.e. the Six Nations, a majority of them, to apply to You for their Trade as usual, and to open the Path to them by Fort Stanwix, and from Quebec, and threaten if not granted. In Truth they have never been supplied from Quebec, or very triffling. I hope our Commissioners will be very civil, and give them good Words and some presents but very firm and resolute.
I beg to hear from you, and shall, with pleasure communicate to you any Thing which may be worthy of your Notice.
You will be pleased to make Me remembered with every Sentiment of Respect and Regard to our worthy president and his Lady, to my Friend Mr. Adams and Mr. Paine and Mr. Gery. Adieu Your Affectionate Friend and Obedient Servant,
[signed] Saml. Chase
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “John Adams Esquire Philadelphia”; docketed: “Mr. Chase Fort George April 18th. 1776.”
1. See JA to James Warren, 18 Feb. (above), and note 1 there.
2. Arthur St. Clair was colonel of the Second Pennsylvania Regiment at this time (William Henry Smith, ed., The Life and Public Services of Arthur St. Clair, 2 vols., Cincinnati, 1882, 1:15).
3. An excerpt from James Deane's journal describing the conference held at Onandaga from 28 March to 2 April is in Force, Archives, 4th ser., 5:1100–1104.
4. Col. John Butler was a British Indian agent (same, 5:818–819).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0048

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1776-04-20

To James Warren

Last Evening, a Letter was received, by a Friend of yours,1 from Mr. John Penn, one of the Delegates from North Carolina, lately returned home to attend the Convention of that Colony, in which he { 131 } informs, that he heard nothing praised in the Course of his Journey, but Common sense and Independence. That this was the Cry, throughout Virginia. That North Carolina, were making great Preparations for War, and were determined, to die poor and to die hard, if they must die, in Defence of their Liberties. That they had, repealed, or Should repeal their Instructions to their Delegates against Independence. That South Carolina had assumed a Government chosen a Council, and John Rutledge Esqr., President of that Council with all the Powers of a Governor, that they have appointed Judges and that Drayton is Chief Justice.2 “In short, sir, says this Letter, The Vehemence of the southern Colonies is such, as will require the Coolness of the Northern Colonies, to restrain them from running to Excess.”
Inclosed you have a little Pamphlet,3 the Rise and Progress of which you shall be told.
Mr. Hooper and Mr. Pen of North Carolina, received from their Friends in that Colony, very pressing Instances to return home and attend the Convention, and at the Same Time to bring with them every Hint they could collect, concerning Government.
Mr. Hooper, applied to a certain Gentleman, acquainted him with the Tenor of his Letters and requested that Gentleman to give him his sentiments upon the subject. Soon afterwards Mr. Pen applied to the Same Gentleman, and acquainted him with the Contents of his Letters, and requested the same Favour.
The Time was very Short. However the Gentleman thinking it an opportunity, providentially thrown in his Way, of communicating Some Hints upon a subject, which seems not to have been sufficiently considered in the southern Colonies, and so of turning the Thought of Gentlemen that Way, concluded to borrow a little Time from his sleep and accordingly wrote with his own Hand, a Sketch, which he copied, giving the original to Mr. Hooper and the Copy to Mr. Penn, which they carried with them to Carolina. Mr. Wythe getting a sight of it, desired a Copy which the Gentleman made out from his Memory as nearly as he could. Afterwards Mr. Serjeant of New Jersey, requested another, which the gentleman made out again from Memory, and in this he enlarged and amplified a good deal, and sent it to Princetown. After this Coll. Lee, requested the same Favour. But the Gentleman, having written amidst all his Engagements five Copies, or rather five sketches, for no one of them was a Copy of the other, which amounted to Ten Sheets of Paper, pretty full and in a fine Hand was quite weary of the office. To avoid the Trouble of writing any more he borrowed Mr. Wythes Copy and lent it to Coll. Lee, who has put { 132 } it under Types and thrown it into the Shape you see. It is a Pity it had not been Mr. Serjeants Copy for that is longer and more compleat, perhaps more correct. This is very incorrect, and not truly printed. The Design however is to mark out a Path, and putt Men upon thinking. I would not have this Matter communicated.
I think, by all the Intelligence We have that North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey will erect Governments, before the Month of June expires. And, if New York should do so too Pennsylvania, will not neglect it. At least I think so.
There is a particular, Circumstance relative to Maryland, which you will learn eer long, but am not at Liberty to mention at present, but will produce important Consequences in our favour, I think.4
But, after Governments shall be assumed, and a Confederation formed, We shall have a long, obstinate and bloody War to go through and all the Arts, and Intrigues of our Enemies as well as the Weakness and Credulity of our Friends to guard against.
A Mind as vast as the Ocean, or Atmosphere is necessary to penetrate and comprehend all the intricate and complicated Interests which compose the Machine of the Confederat Colonies. It requires all the Philosophy I am Master of and more than all, at Times to preserve that serenity of Mind and Steadiness of Heart, which is necessary to watch the Motives, of Friends and Enemies, of the Violent and the Timid, the Credulous and the dull, as well as the Wicked.
But if I can contribute ever so little towards preserving the Principles of Virtue and Freedom in the World, my Time and Life will be not ill spent.
A Man must have a wider Expansion of Genius than has fallen to my share to see to the End of these great Commotions. But, on such a full sea are We now afloat, that We must be content to trust, to Winds and Currents with the best Skill We have, under a kind Providence to land us in a Port of Peace, Liberty and Safety.
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.).
1. Probably Samuel Adams.
2. Responding to the advice given by the congress earlier, South Carolina on 26 March adopted a constitution which was meant to serve until reconciliation with Great Britain could be achieved, although some believed that reconciliation would never come. Rutledge and Henry Laurens, who was chosen vice president, were on the moderate side, but William Henry Drayton, despite his earlier defense of British authority, had become one of the extremists urging a complete break with Great Britain (David Duncan Wallace, The Life of Henry Laurens, N.Y., 1915, p. 221–223; John R. Alden, The South in the Revolution, 1763–1789, Baton Rouge, 1957, p. 183).
3. Thoughts on Government. For an evaluation of JA's account of the history of its writing, see Thoughts on Government, ante 27 March–April, Editorial Note (above).
{ 133 }
4. JA was probably referring to a congressional order to the Maryland Council of Safety for the arrest of Gov. Robert Eden, who had sent military information to Lord George Germain. Gen. Charles Lee had sent an intercepted letter addressed to Eden and a recommendation for his arrest to a Baltimore official, who had in turn forwarded the intercepted letter and Lee's recommendation to the congress on 14 April. Despite the congressional order, the Council of Safety was satisfied to receive assurances from Eden that he would not leave the province (Ronald Hoffman, A Spirit of Dissension: Economics, Politics, and the Revolution in Maryland, Baltimore, 1973, p. 157–159).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0049

Author: Baldwin, Jeduthun
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-20

From Jeduthun Baldwin

[salute] Sir

Soon after I came to this place I took the freedom to write you.1 I once more ask leave to inform you that this morning I am to set out for Quebeck. I leave this place so well fortified, that there is little to fear from the Enemys coming here, and good Batteries on Each side of the narrows, on Long Island, and on Straton Island, would, affectually secure this harbour, and River, as the distance acrosst the water from the places which the batteries are to be built, (or may be) is about ¾ Rods. The Forts on the Heights will not be more than one Mile and a Quarter a part, acrosst the water. I was down 2 Days agon and took the Distance. I suppose that works will be erected there, but dont know the determination of the General. When I received orders to go to Quebeck, Genl. Washington said that he would write again to the Congress with respect to my wages, that he was sencible that the pay I had received was not equal to the service,2 and that I was to be Chief Engineer at Quebeck, which I suppose will be submitted to the determination of the Honble. Congress. Your influence and intrest in this matter will Oblige your most Obedient Very Humble Servant,
[signed] Jeduthun Baldwin
1. Baldwin to JA, 28 March (above).
2. See Baldwin to JA, 21 Jan. (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0050

Author: Chase, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-21

From Samuel Chase

[salute] My Dear Sir

I left Fort George on last Fryday afternoon and arrived at this place yesday Evening. I have just seen a Gentleman, who left Quebec on the 6th Instant. General Worster arrived there on the 1st. On the 3rd. { 134 } We opened a four Gun Battery of 9 pounders on point Levy. Another was erecting on the Plains of Abraham, and a third on Passage []1 which would be finished in a few days. We on the 6th. had before Quebec, 2500, of which about 800 are in the Hospital (the far greater part of the small Pox) and about 1000 whose Enlistment expired the 15th. In the late Skirmish there were 7 Canadians killed, 4 wounded, 2 since dead, and 38 taken prisoners. The rest dispersed, and delivered up Carltons Letter which induced them to take up arms. We have here 800 Troops, and Sinclears Regiment will reach this on Tuesday. I am informed of Warrens Regiment,2 of green Mountain Boys there were only 90 fit for Duty.
I have been at Tionderago, and am satisfied it would not be proper to repair it. The Expence would be great. It is commanded on each Side, and would be releived with great Difficulty. The Schooner, Royal Savage, pierced for 16 Guns of 4, 6 and 9 pounders and another Schooner of 6–4 pounders taken at Saint Johns, are repairing, but they have no Guns. They would secure the Command of Lake Champlain against any force which could be brought there this Summer, if we should be so unfortunate as to lose the Possession of Canada. Pray have the Guns returned. They were sent to Cambridge.
If there is no Rule of Congress that no officer should sell to or supply their soldiers, it is high Time. The Expense of conveying their Bagage is very great. Pray attend to this. I believe there is a Resolve against Suttling.3 This is evaded.
I thus drop you a Line as any Intelligence or any Defect in our Regulation occurs without any Regard to Accuracy or precision. Remember Me to all my Friends. Your affectionate Obedt. Servant,
[signed] Saml Chase
1. A blank in the MS.
2. Gideon Warren (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 570).
3. Articles of War, LXVI (JCC, 2:122).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0051

Author: Tudor, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-21

From William Tudor

[salute] Dr Sir

I arriv'd in this City last Monday 15th. Instant. I left Boston with much Regret, not so much because I was coming to this unfriendly Town, as because I left that defenceless, or next to it. Nothing had been done towards securing the Harbour except building a Fort on Fort Hill.1 The 5 Regiments left there are neither of them full, and { 135 } the General Officer who commands the little Army is but little confided in.
Every Thing is extreme dear in this Town. One half the Inhabitants have gone into the Country, and few of the other half appear pleased with their military Visitants.
Barriers are thrown across most of the Streets that lead from the East and North Rivers. Fort George2 is repair'd and the Battery below is almost finished; when these Fortifications are Complete near Seventy Peices of Cannon may be mounted in them. Parties of Fatigue are daily employed in throwing up Works on Long Island, Staten Island and other Places where it is thought necessary for the Security of the City, and in a few Days (if we can have Cannon eno') I believe we may bid Defiance to an Attack.
The Public Papers contain every Thing new and Mr. Palfrey will give you the Circumstances of this City. I should be exceeding glad to hear from you and am Sir with great Respect Your most obt. Servt.,
[signed] Wm. Tudor
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honble. John Adams Esq Philadelphia Favor'd by Wm Palfrey Esq”; docketed: “Tudor, Ap. 21. 1776 ansd. Ap. 24.”
1. Fort Hill in Boston was one of the original great hills now leveled. The site is on the north side of Fort Point Channel in modern Boston (Shurtleff, Description of Boston, p. 162–163; Walter Muir Whitehill, Boston, A Topographical History, Cambridge, 1959, p. 4, 176).
2. At the tip of Manhattan Island, this fort had been built on the site of the old Fort Amsterdam, its position meant to command the two rivers. Below the fort on the water's edge a large battery had been laid out (Johnston, Campaign around New York and Brooklyn, p. 36, 55).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0052

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1776-04-22

To James Warren

The Management of so complicated and mighty a Machine, as the United Colonies, requires the Meekness of Moses, the Patience of Job and the Wisdom of Solomon, added to the Valour of Daniel.
They are advancing by slow but sure steps, to that mighty Revolution, which You and I have expected for Some Time. Forced Attempts to accellerate their Motions, would have been attended with Discontent and perhaps Convulsions.
The News from South Carolina, has aroused and animated all the Continent. It has Spread a visible Joy, and if North Carolina and Virginia should follow the Example, it will Spread through all the rest of the Colonies like Electric Fire.
{ 136 }
The Royal Proclamation, and the late Act of Parliament,1 have convinced the doubting and confirmed the timorous and wavering. The two Proprietary Colonies only, are still cool. But I hope a few Weeks will alter their Temper.
I think it is now the precise Point of Time for our Council and House of Representatives, either to proceed to make such Alterations in our Constitution as they may judge proper, or to Send a Petition to Philadelphia for the Consent of Congress to do it.2 It will be considered as fresh evidence of our Spirit and Vigour, and will give Life and Activity and Energy to all the other Colonies. Four Months ago, or indeed at any Time Since you assumed a Government, it might have been disagreable and perhaps dangerous. But it is quite otherwise now.
Another Thing, if you are so unanimous, in the Measure of Independency and wish for a Declaration of it, now is the proper Time for you to instruct your Delegates to that Effect. It would have been productive of Jealousies perhaps and Animosities, a few Months ago, but would have a contrary Tendency now. The Colonies are all at this Moment turning their Eyes, that Way. Vast Majorities in all the Colonies now see the Propriety and Necessity of taking the decisive Steps, and those who are averse to it are afraid to Say much against it. And therefore Such an Instruction at this Time would comfort and cheer the Spirits of your Friends, and would discourage and dishearten your Enemies.
Coll. Whipples Letters from New Hampshire,3 are nearly in the Same Strain with yours to me, vizt. that all are now united in the great Question. His Letters inform him that even of the Protesters there is now but one left, who is not zealous for Independency.
I lament the Loss of Governor Ward,4 exceedingly because he had many Correspondents in Rhode Island, whose Letters were of service to Us, an Advantage which is now entirely lost.
After all, my Friend, I do not att all Wonder, that so much Reluctance has been Shewn to the Measure of Independency. All great Changes, are irksome to the human Mind, especially those which are attended with great Dangers, and uncertain Effects. No Man living can foresee the Consequences of such a Measure. And therefore I think it ought not to have been undertaken, untill the Design of Providence, by a series of great Events had so plainly marked out the Necessity of it that he that runs might read.
We may feel Sanguine Confidence of our Strength: yet in a few years it may be put to the Tryal.
{ 137 }
We may please ourselves with the prospect of free and popular Governments. But there is great Danger, that those Governments will not make us happy. God grant they may. But I fear, that in every assembly, Members will obtain an Influence, by Noise not sense. By Meanness, not Greatness. By Ignorance not Learning. By contracted Hearts not large souls. I fear too, that it will be impossible to convince and perswade People to establish wise Regulations.
There is one Thing, my dear sir, that must be attempted and most Sacredly observed or We are all undone. There must be a Decency, and Respect, and Veneration introduced for Persons in Authority, of every Rank, or We are undone. In a popular Government, this is the only Way of Supporting order—and in our Circumstances, as our People have been so long without any Government att all, it is more necessary than, in any other. The United Provinces, were So sensible of this that they carried it to a burlesque Extream.
I hope your Election in May will be the most solemn, and joyfull that ever took Place in the Province. I hope every Body will attend.5 Clergy and Laity should go to Boston. Every Body should be gratefully pious and happy. It should be conducted with a solemnity that may make an Impression on the whole People.6
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “Mr J A Lettr Ap 1776.”
1. See JA to William Heath, 15 April, note 2 (above).
2. Massachusetts did not move to change the charter under which it was operating until the fall of 1776, although various towns called for changes (Robert J. Taylor, ed., Massachusetts, Colony to Commonwealth, Chapel Hill, 1961, p. 38–41).
3. William Whipple was one of the delegates to the congress from New Hampshire.
4. Samuel Ward, delegate from Rhode Island, died on 26 March (DAB).
5. The reference is to the election of councilors, the first for Massachusetts as an independent government, for the province had already done away with the king's name in legal documents.
6. The final three sentences of the letter were written in the margin.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0053

Author: Cooper, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-22

From Samuel Cooper

[salute] My dear Sir

I wrote last Thursday Morning by the Post to our Friend Mr. S. Adams—to which I refer you on some Things of a public Nature. After so many Weeks Possession of this Town you would be surpriz'd to see in what a defenceless State we still remain. The Business of Fortifying has lain between Genl. Ward and a Committee of the General Court: Between them both, little or nothing has yet been done. We have but 7 or 8 Guns mounted on Fort Hill. Nothing yet done on any Island in the Harbor. A British Ship of 40 or 50 { 138 } Guns with two or three small arm'd Vessells are in Possession of King Road and Nantasket.1 They take or drive away almost all supplies coming to us by Water; and (would you believe it!) with this inconsiderable Force the Harbor has been, and is now effectually block'd up. Two or three Ships of War have had it in their Pow'r ever since the Evacuation of the Town to come up and cannonade it. Ward complains that too small a Force, but 5 Regiments not full, were left him. The Court blame him for Inactivity, and He them. I was pleas'd to see your Letters and others from Gentlemen of the Congress mentioning the Importance of putting this Harbor into the best State of Defence. Pray write again and again to press this Matter. There is a Report here that Ward has desir'd to resign. I wish from my Heart He would do it. He is a good Man, a thoro N. England man, and dispos'd to do us ev'ry Service in his Power. But He certainly wants Decision and Activity. It is of absolute Necessity that some General Officer of the best Qualities be sent to this Department immediately. Pray let Green or some other be plac'd here. We are in the utmost Hazard, should the Enemy return, of loosing in this Quarter much more than we have gain'd, by the Departure of the British Forces. Had there been a Man here, at the Head of the Military who would have discern'd at once what was proper to be done; and stated it to the Court, we might have been in a good Posture of Defence Weeks ago.
It is reported here that a Vessell is arriv'd at Newbury from Hallifax, which brings an Account that the Fleet had arriv'd there—having suffer'd greatly from being crowded &c., that Provisions are short tho they daily expect a Supply, that the Military who first landed and were first accommodated had so taken up the Houses &c. that few or no accommodations were left for the Tories.
This town has been dreadfully plunder'd. The Damage to the Inhabitants is immense. Tho more is left than was imagin'd would have been considering how absolutely the Town was in their Power. Our taking Possession of the Heights of Dorchester fairly drove them away. I am well inform'd that as soon as Shuldham2 saw our Works there, He said to a Friend with Tears in his Eyes, we can no longer maintain our Station here.
Your Resolves for opening the Trade of America3 have been receiv'd here with great Pleasure; but it is almost universally wish'd you had at once made an open explicit Declaration that the Colonies would henceforth stand upon their own Government alone, as well as their own Defence. You have done what almost if not quite { 139 } amounts to it, why not then declare it in a publick solemn Act, setting forth in a clear and striking Manner the ample Reasons you have for such a Decision. This, they say here, would have great Effect upon the Colonies but especially on Forreigners. Their Merchants would more readily trust their Effects here, and their Governments have a clearer ground for protecting the Trade; as well as our own Merchants enter with greater Spirit into new Channels of Trade, which, if you do not mean speedily to recur to the old ones, are now become absolutely necessary for the Supply of the Continent. You have (say they) already gone too far to recede, or even to stop: Your only Safety is to press forward with the boldest Steps which will add to, rather than abate, the ardor of the People in the common Cause. There is no making up with Britain upon the old Footing: Only giving her Ground from your Conduct to suspect you intended this would give her fresh Spirits and induce her to continue the War, hoping for some Event in her Favor, or if that should not take Place, she might at last settle Matters upon the old Foundation: Should this be done, our Liberties would soon be ruin'd by Influence and Corruption, or our Battles fought over anew. The most likely Way to bring the War to a speedy and happy Issue is to take the last Step, not with an apparent Caution and Timidity, as if we distrusted ourselves, but with an air of Confidence and unshaken Resolution—at the same Time to run no unnecessary Risque, but immediately invite all the Aid that may be procur'd, upon the Footing that we are now a distinct State: and to treat with Britain, if we treat at all, as a State capable of Governing as well as defending itself; (we plainly mean to shew them the latter, and can we provoke them, or endanger ourselves more by avowing the former). This is apprehended here as the most likely way to produce a solid and lasting Settlement. Pray write me soon, and favor me with such Communications as may be trusted to a Friend, and I will endeavor to be punctual in the best Returns I can make. I am Sir, with much Esteem, and a warm Attachment, Your obedt. humbl. Servt.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Dr Cooper, Apr. 22. 1776.”
1. The large ship was the Renown, under the command of Francis Banks, whose chief duty was to warn off British ships carrying troops and supplies so that they would not fall into the hands of American privateers (French, First Year, p. 681–682).
2. Molyneux Shuldham, British admiral, who left with Howe's troops (same, p. 648–649, 681).
3. The resolution of 6 April, which permitted exports from the colonies to all parts of the world except those under the control of Great Britain and all imports except East India tea and other goods from areas under British rule (JCC, 4:257–259).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0054

Author: Smith, Isaac Sr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-22

From Isaac Smith Sr.

[salute] Mr. Adams

I wrote you, by last Weeks post,1 and am confirmd in my Opinion As to what I wrote you, with referance to a free trade with the Neutral Islands by the many Captures of the southern Vessells in the West Indies; two days since I saw a Master from Gaudelupe who left itt 24 days Ago and he heard of two Briggs two days before being taken One from Virginia or Maryland and the Other from Philadelphia with flour &c. loaded on the Continental Account and had the fleet and Armey not been supplyd, by the Captures taken even from to and from the Collinies they would have been in great want.
I am not alone in my Opinion but many of whose judgment I prefer to my Own and indeed almost every One of any knowledge of trade are of Opinion no way could have been thought of that could be more benificial to Our Enemies. I cant see why the Southern Collonies or rather Merchants, should be very fond of shiping flour—as the Premium of 30 to 40 per Ct, As the Markets are almost all Over the World can never pay the first Costs. I hope to here either of the repeal of your late resolves2 as to flour &c, or An Imbargo for some time to come. We have no late Advizes from any part of Europe. Two M[en of] Warr we suppose have Arrived from England att Nantasket since the grand fleet saild. One by some retaken people said to be in 27 days and One last week itt is supposed which proceeded the next day direct for Halifax. Part of the Georgia fleet we suppose saild the day before Yesterday for Halifax took a Wood Coaster coming from the Eastward (off the Isle Shoales). There is One or two Vessells expected from Bilbao but itt [is] but seldom we have anything from England that way.
Whenever you may have Occassion to hold up to all the World our grivences Again, I think there is One thing I have thought of which I think deserves Notice and that is the Unhamane Manner of forseing those they take of Our people to take up Armes and Oblidgeing them to fite Against there brethren—which I never heard was practised by any the most barbarous Nation. Iff ever there should be An Accomiation I have in my mind several things relative to trade which Ought to be Notist, As to Independancy—iff Matters could be settld to Our likeing would be preferable, As no Nation or even all together could make itt every way so Agreeable or Advantageous for imports and Exports on a proper footing. I just here 12 Marshfield people are { 141 } returned there from Halifax haveing nothing to live on there and have come to through themselves on the Mercy of the government.
Post being just going have not [nought] to Add and are Yr &c
1. That of 16 April (above).
2. That of 26 Oct. 1775 which, to encourage the importation of arms, ammunition, saltpeter, and sulfur, permitted the export of provisions and other produce except certain farm animals to the foreign West Indies (JCC, 3:308).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0055

Author: Gates, Horatio
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-23

From Horatio Gates

[salute] Dear Sir

Your Excellent Letter of the 23d: of March, and one by Mr. Dana, are now before me. How any Mortal can entertain an Idea that Liberty, and Safety, can be secured without Independency, I have no Conception; this half Faced policy, may amuse Timid Statesmen, Treacherous Whiggs, and the Tools of Designing Scotchmen; but not one Honest, Sensible, determin'd American can be deceived by it; go on to do every Act that ammounts to a Declaration; and then let those who doat upon Dependency dream on; Constitutional Dependency, is a Creature, that America, so Abounding in Monsters, cannot from Cape Horne to Newfoundland produce, so let them Hunt after the Animal, there is no Danger of its being found. We have a Grumbling of, somewhat brewing in Canada, and amongst the Indians, unfavourable to Our Cause. Your High Mightinesses have been somewhat Tardy in these Two Points, if you do not employ the Indians, the Enemy will; and a Neutrality they Abhor. I wonder they have been quiet so long. By good Management, I think they would have put you in Possession of Niagara before now, that, and D' Troit secured, you might sleep at ease with respect to the Indians, besides, it is every thing to get them fairly entered upon your Side. I should not be of this Opinion, if I thought their Neutrality could be preserved, but that I doubt exceedingly.
Four good Cambridge Regiments, One Company of Riffle Men, and one of Artificers saild Yesterday with a Fair Wind for Albany. Commanded by B. General Thompson. Two Companies of Artillery, with Two 13 Inch Mortars, and Fifteen Ton of Shells &c. went from Cambridge to Albany upwards of three Weeks ago. These will I hope get Speedily to Quebeck. G. Worster, was too inert to leave so long in Command at Montreal, but as he at Length March'd On, { 142 } perhaps they Cry aloud, not so much from what has happened, as from what may, all that can be done from hence to push our point there, will not be neglected.
We left Boston with a good Garrison, plenty of Money, and most Ample Powers, and Instructions to General Ward; Gridley also was station'd there, to Exert all his Talents in Fortifying the Harbour, but to my astonishment Parson Gordon writes these Words to Mr. Hazzard by Saturday nights Post “Tell G. Gates that the Spades and Pickaxes are resting here for want of use.” Why will you doat so upon these Dreaming Deacons. When he Offered to resign he should have been taken at his Word. I suspected what has happen'd, and told Austin,1 and the rest of the Select Men, General Ward must be kept awake; you must assist him in playing the General, your City is now Safe, and it is your own Faults if you do not put it out of the Power of The Enemy to hurt it; for heavens sake inspire your Countrymen with Gratitude to Providence, and tell them, their way to shew that, is to Secure their City, which it has pleased Heaven to put into their Hands.
I do not think Mr. Howe intends to return to Boston, nor do I immagine the Head of the Snake2 will be the Object of their Conquest this Campaign. Canada and New York are the Posts they ought to Endeavour to take, and it is a Rule with me, to conclude the Enemy will allways attempt to do that, which is most for their Interest.
Nevertheless Boston should be Secured, and if Five Regiments with the Militia of The Town, Two Companies of Artificers &c. cannot do that, when they have nothing Else to do, they, and all their Officers, deserve to be Condemn'd to Wear the petticoat.
Here we are surrounded by Crowds of Tories, and I wish our Army may be free of those Vermine, I hold a Cautious Eye, and as Shakespear says will try, to Delve a Yard below their Mines, and Blow them at the Moon;3 the New York, and Jersey Regiments, have Men, but Scarce any Arms; little Discipline, and less Subordination; but this, if the Enemy gives us time, must be rectifyed: By my Calculation General Howe will not be Able to leave Hallifax before the 10th, or Middle of May; if he is here by the first of June, it is as soon as I think he can Arrive; should he Divide his Army, and send a large Detachment to Quebeck, they must go directly to the Southward, and have the Gulf of Saint Lawrence well open before they can Steer for the River. A Five Years Acquaintance with Nova Scotia inform'd me that the Drift Ice, which lays in May, and the { 143 } beginning of June, off the East End of Cape Breton, must make the passage to Quebeck at that Season exceeding Tedious by the Coast of that Island. It will be Strange If with all this Time before Us, we cannot make these nutts too Hard to Crack; Our Works go on merrily here, and we have plenty of every thing, powder, and Small Arms alone excepted, the Former of those Articles not quite so deficient as I have known it at Cambridge; we left thirteen Tons at Boston, I suppose there may be near that Quantity here; but Canada must be Supplied from hence, therefore Cram this Magazine.
Our affairs seem to look well to the Southward, and Lee will arrive in Time to prevent any Intemperate measures taking place; young Troops, Flush'd with Victory, are apt to think themselves equal to anything. Our Business is to Defend the main Chance; to Attack only by Detail; and when a precious advantage Offers; Get Lord Cornwallis, and Clinton, once in a Fix'd Camp, and the Climate will do their Business.
My Respects to all Our Friends in The Congress. Mr. Bob Morris4 Owes me a Letter. Is he Afraid if he dies Independent he shall die worth 100,000£ less, than if he dies the Vassal of a British Minister: tell me what to think of him. Can't you throw out some tubb to these whales, that shall secure the possession not only of what they have, but Glut their Appetites with what they may Expect. Man is the Only Animal, that is Hungry with his belly full. Forever Yours,
[signed] Horatio Gates
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “G. Gates Ap 23. ansd 27. 1776.”
1. Samuel Austin, one of seven selectmen elected in March 1776 (Boston Record Commissioners, 18th Report, p. 227).
2. The snake cartoon of 1754 called “Join, or Die,” and attributed to Benjamin Franklin, was revived in the Revolutionary period. The snake's head, one of the several sections into which the body was cut, was labeled “New England” (Franklin, Papers, 5:xiv, 275).
3. Hamlet, Act III, scene iv.
4. Robert Morris, delegate from Pennsylvania and later financier of the Revolution (DAB).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0056

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Tudor, William
Date: 1776-04-24

To William Tudor

[salute] Dr sir

Your Favour by Mr. Palfrey,1 I received this Evening, and it was the more agreable because it resolved a Question I had often asked and never before could obtain an Answer, vizt. whether the Judge Advocate was come with the Army to N. York.
Am very Sorry to hear that Boston is in so defenceless a Condition. { 144 } That Harbour must be made impenetrable at all Events. I think our People will exert themselves. But I could have wished that more Troops had been left there at least for a Time.
It gives me Pleasure to learn that N. York is put in so good a Posture of Defence. But I wish I could hear that the Inhabitants, were better pleased with their military Visitants.
There is one Event, which I think would essentially alter the political Character and Conduct of those People, and that is the Institution of a new Government.
This Point must be accomplished, in that, and every other Colony. South Carolina, has nobly led the Way, and I hope, and from the best Intelligence believe, that North Carolina and Virginia will follow the Example, with equal Wisdom and Magnanimity. The Jerseys too have the Same Thing in Contemplation. This Province and Maryland will be the last. But not the least resolute when they do adopt the Measure.
I wish you would make this a Subject of Conversation as much as you can, both among the Gentlemen of the Army and the Citizens, and convince all, of the Expediency, Practicability and Necessity of this Measure. Believe me there is nothing upon which the Salvation of America more depends.
When this Step is taken, the new Legislatures, would exert themselves, with tenfold Alacrity in every warlike Preparation by Sea and Land. They would Study and labour to better Purpose, in manufacturing, Salt Petre, Powder, Arms, Cloathing and every Thing they want.
Besides it would cement the Whiggs and discourage the Tories.
It would introduce order in the Place of Confusion.
In short the Advantages are innumerable and the Disadvantages, none.
How is it possible for People to hear the Crier of a Court pronounce G—d save the King, and for Jurors to Swear well and truly to try an Issue between our Soverign Lord the King, and a Prisoner, or to keep his Majestys secrets, in these days I cant conceive. Dont the Clergy pray that he may vanquish and overcome all his Enemies, yet? Who do they mean by his Enemies? Your Army?
Have People no Consciences, or do they look upon all Oaths to be Custom house oaths?
You must not mention my Name. You know the Reason. It will do more good to come from yourself.
The New York Congress, has done very well, in their Resolutions { 145 } about Salt Petre and Powder,2 and their Council of safety I think have done very well.
The Friends of Liberty in that City and Colony have great Merit. They have struggled with many Embarrassments. They ought to be treated with great Respect. And indeed the Lukewarm, the moderate, the Timid, and even the Trimmers and Tories should be gained by gentle Treatment, where that will do.
I wish to know if Major Austin and Mr. Rice are at N. York—and also to know What Regiments are left in Boston. Who are the Colonells.
Write me by every Post;—dont omit one.
RC (MHi: Tudor Papers); docketed: “Apl. 24th. 1776.”
1. Tudor to JA, 21 April (above).
2. On 16 March the New York Provincial Congress authorized the payment of premiums for those who erected powder mills and manufactured firearms and saltpeter (Force, Archives, 4th ser., 5:390–392).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0057

Author: Kent, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-24

From Benjamin Kent

[salute] Bror: Adams

When I had the last pleasure of your company at Watertown I told you, I would write you when Our Attack upon the Kings Troops shou[ld] afford matter of Some importance. But alass their fears of their demerits, made em flee when no man pursued 'em, and may they eat the fruit of their doings and be fill'd with their own Devices. But to the Purpose.
What in the name of Common Sense, are you Gentlemen of the Continentall Congress about.
A few words and Spightfull, is my Maxim. I. E. what will be so call'd.1 St. Paul, tho sometimes a Little inclin'd to Toryism was a very sensible Gentleman. And he expressly damns the fearfull as well as the unbelieving. And tho I know all your Counsels are Overruled by the Wonderfull Councellor, And even our chicane (I allude the last pityfull address)2 nay our downright Blunders are and have been most happily Overruled for the good of our most righteous Cause; and I doubt not the same happy Government will Continue. But that Same Overruling Providence (at the kind Instance of Bror. Joseph Greenleaf Esq;)3 Orders that I should write even this I won't Say (tho you may) insignificant Letter.
It appears to me, from a hundred things which I have no need to mention to you, That it is as certain that the Colonies Will be { 146 } wholly divorced from that Accursed Kingdom calld Great Britain, as that there will be any eclipses of the Sun or Moon this year. Pray tell the fearfull of your Members if you have any such, and prove it to 'em that a Seperation first or last must be the Necessary Consequence of a hundred facts that have turned up already; then you will have nothing to do, but to Convince 'em that the present time to make a final declaration of Independence is the best. But as I know you must come to it, I think the Same of you, as I should think of a Sinner who I knew would repent of his Sins before he dies. So that I am perfectly resignd to whatever you great little gods shall do. For as much as the Lord reigns I will rejoyce. One Thing I must rely upon, that is that the Congress will tollerate all Religions both Natural and reveal'd and establish none. I have infallible proof that it is your duty, viz that The Lord of Lords and the GOD of good doth the same thing. Farewell. These for yr. Friend,
[signed] B:K.4
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “For the Honblr. John Adams Esq; at the Continental Congress Philadelphia”; docketed: “Kent Apr 24. [May] 1776.”
1. Period supplied.
2. The Olive Branch petition, rejected by the King.
3. Closing parenthesis supplied. Joseph Greenleaf (1720–1809) was a brother-in-law of Robert Treat Paine and active in this period in the town affairs of Boston, although he declined election to the Committee of Correspondence in 1776. For a sketch, see James Edward Greenleaf, comp., Genealogy of the Greenleaf Family, Boston, 1896, p. 77–78.
4. For identification of Kent, see JA, Papers, 2:171, note 2.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0058

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gates, Horatio
Date: 1776-04-27

To Horatio Gates

[salute] Dear Sir

Your Favour of the Twenty third, I received Yesterday, and it put me into a good Humour, the Benefit of which I feel to this Moment, and shall continue to experience a long Time.
Was you idle enough to read the Tales in the London Papers and Magazines, a few years ago concerning the Cock Lane Ghost, and the others concerning a Man of Six feet high who leaped into a Quart Bottle and corked himself up? Do you remember that a great Part of the Nation, perhaps a Majority, believed these marvellous stories to be true? If you recollect these Things, you will not wonder that the Tales of Commissioners to treat with Congress should have gained Credit with many in America, nor will you wonder that many pretend to believe them who do not.
I think with you, that it requires a Faith, which can remove Moun• { 147 } tains, to believe that Liberty and Safety, can ever hereafter be enjoyed by America, in any Subjection to the Government of Great Britain. Dependence and Subordination to Great Britain, always indeterminate and nonsensical Expressions, if they mean any Thing must now mean, perpetual Animosity, Discord Civil War, Encroachment and Usurpation on one side, and Discontent, Mutiny, Sedition, Riot and Resistance on the other. Unless it terminates in downright Submission—and that beyond all doubt would be followed with, Persecution and Imprisonment, scorn and Insult, Blocks, Halters, Gibbetts.
Your opinion of Indians, and the best Policy, on our Management of them, may be right for any Thing that I know: But as I know very little of them, I always leave the Measures relating to them to Gentlemen who know a great deal. It is said they are very expensive and troublesome Confederates in War, besides the Incivility and Inhumanity of employing Such Savages with their cruel, bloody dispositions, against any Enemy whatever.
Nevertheless, Such have been the Extravagances of British Barbarity in prosecuting the War against Us, that I think We need not be So delicate as to refuse the assistance of Indians, provided We cannot keep them neutral. I Should not hesitate a Moment in this Case.
That we have been a little tardy in providing for Canada is true—owing to innumerable Difficulties. However We have been roused at last, and I hope have done pretty well. If you think We have not, let me know it, and whatever you may think further necessary, if it is not done it shall not be my Fault.
I am grieved to find the least Intimation of Languor, among my Country[men] in fortifying Boston and its Harbour. I have not written a Letter since We received the News of your Success, in driving the Enemy from that Town without stuffing it with Exhortations, as well as Plans for the Fortification of that Harbour. Warren writes me,1 that they have sent a Commi[ttee] to fortify the Harbour so that I hope it will be done. G. Ward's Resignati[on] is accepted, but We must have a General Officer in Boston. I hope Gen. Washington will send one.
Your opinion of the Difficulties General How will meet with, in attempting to get up the St. Lawrence early, gives me great Comfort. God send him Wind and Ice enough.
Am Sorry to learn that there are So many Tories where you are. { 148 } They must be watched. But there is one Measure, which I think would lessen the Number of them. If the Provincial Congress and Committee of Safety could be convinced of the Propriety, Utility and Necessity of following the virtuous and glorious Example of South Carolina, in instituting a compleat Government in that Colony I think there would be a great Revolution of sentiment in the City and through the whole Province, and most of their Divisions and Distractions, removed. The Tories will have a pernicious Influence, and will be indefatigable in their Intrigues Insinuations and Cabals, in every Colony while any one of them, holds an office under a King. When “Thrones, Dominations Princedoms, Powers,” in the Language of Milton,2 are excluded from their Ideas of Government, Toryism will be disarmed of its Sting.
You ask me what you are to think of Robt. Morris? I will tell you what I think of him. I think he has a masterly Understanding, an open Temper and an honest Heart: and if he does not always vote for What you and I should think proper, it is because he thinks that a large Body of People remains, who are not yet of his Mind. He has vast designs in the mercantile Way. And no doubt pursues mercantile Ends, which are always gain; but he is an excellent Member of our Body.
Pray continue to write me, for a Letter from you Cures me of all Anxiety and ill Humour, for two or three Days, at least; and, besides that, leaves me better informed in many Things and confirmed in my good Resolutions, for my whole Life. Yours without Disguise,
[signed] John Adams
Here is a Major Wrixon here—a fine, sensible Fellow—a Field officer in Germany last War—a Man of Letters, sense and spirit—the best Principles. I wish you was a Major General and He Adjutant General, what say You to it?3
RC (NHi:Gates Papers).
1. Warren to JA, 30 March (above).
2. Paradise Lost, Book 5, line 601.
3. Elias Wrixon from England, whom Samuel Adams, as a member of a congressional committee for the purpose, recommended be appointed adjutant general in Canada at the rank of brigadier general. JA recalled years later that the appointment of Wrixon had been a serious source of controversy in the congress (Richard Smith's Diary, in Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:400, 407–408; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:382). Gates was promoted to major general on 16 May (JCC, 4:359).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0059

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Penn, John
Date: 1776-04-28

To John Penn

[salute] Dear Sir

This Morning I had the Pleasure of receiving yours of April 17th: for which I think myself much obliged to you.
The Account you give of the Temper and Sentiments of the People in Virginia and Carolina, and their general Inclination to those Measures which will be absolutely necessary for the Preservation of their Liberties is very encouraging.
I cannot Sufficiently admire the Spirit and Valour of the Gentlemen of North Carolina. May Heaven reward them for their Magnanimity, by establishing a free Constitution, for their Children. And I know of no greater Reward in this Life.
Cornwallis and Clinton will receive their Defects from your Climate, in due Time, if you only block them up.1 Boston was a better Place to live in, upon Salt Provisions without Vegetables, than Carolina or Virginia. Crush them however, at once, if you can.
The Baseness and Cruelty of your Enemies dont Surprise me. They are all alike, in general, at least, through the Continent abandoned to a reprobate Sense.
You tell me that all Fondness for the King and Nation is gone. This is the Effect of the late Act of Parliament every where.
In a letter from my own Colony I am told, that “the Jurors refuse to Serve, because the Writs are in the Kings Name” and in another, from the Speaker of the House in these Words “We are at present engaged in forming a Bill for disusing the Kings Name in all Acts, Commissions, and Law Processes.”2
You know Sir, that I have but a Single Vote, but you may always depend upon that, for affording your Colony all the Assistance, She can reasonably desire, according to your Request.
Rejoice to hear that you are forming a Constitution, but it is whispered here that, altho you are unanimous for instituting a Government, you are divided about the Form. For Gods sake teach one another Patience, and Forbearance. The Majority must govern in Committees and Assemblies. There is—there can be no other Rule. And when a Measure is carried, it becomes the Duty of the Minority, not only to acquiese, but heartily to join in promoting it.
I hope thatt all the Colonies will make the Judges independent—but Governers, should be chosen now and then—for their good as well as that of the People.
You say I may expect a popular Form of Government: But the { 150 } Degrees of Popularity in a Government are so various that I can form no probable Conjecture, what it will be from the Expression. It is much to be wished that the Elections of Representatives, in every Colony might be annual. Those of Councillors, Governors, and other great officers of state may be triennial or Septennial—But the Representatives ought to account for their Conduct, once a Year.
I have great Expectations from the Wisdom, Virtue, and Valour of North Carolina, and beg to be informed minutely of your Constitution as soon as it is formed.
Mr. Long3 may depend upon my Vote, from your and Mr. Hewes's4 Recommendation, if there is no just Objection in the Way which I am not aware of.
My respectfull Compliments to my Country man Mr. Hooper. Tell him, I am very sorry for his Misfortune.5 But in Such a Time as this, Losses, which at another would be vexatious, are Trifles, and rather animate a Man to his Duty, and indeed gratify his Pride. You know too well the Avocations and Interruptions We have here, to need any Apology for this scroll. Believe me to be with much Respect, sir your very humble servant,
[signed] John Adams
RC (MHi:Washburn Papers); docketed: “John Adams lettr.”
1. Gen. Henry Clinton had been sent to the south to mount an attack in cooperation with loyalists, but their defeat at Moore's Creek Bridge in February in a premature uprising ended any hope of campaigning in North Carolina. Clinton arrived in the Cape Fear River in March and began his wait for a fleet from England, whose troops were commanded by Gen. Lord Cornwallis, and with whom Clinton had to launch some sort of southern campaign. The English transports began to appear in mid-April. JA was well informed about the hardships that Clinton's troops suffered from the North Carolina climate and lack of food (William B. Willcox, Portrait of a General: Sir Henry Clinton in the War of Independence, N.Y., 1964, p. 76–78, 84, 86).
2. Letters to JA or to the Massachusetts delegation containing these quoted sentences have not been found.
3. See John Penn to JA, 17 April, note 5 (above).
4. See Joseph Hewes to Samuel Johnston, Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:448.
5. The nature of William Hooper's losses has not been determined by the editors, but he may have suffered as a result of the invasion by Gen. Clinton. Hooper was born in Boston.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0060

Author: Chase, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-28

From Samuel Chase

[salute] My Dear Sir

I left Ticonderoga last Wesdnesday and arrived at this Fort yesday afternoon. Our Troops were to come off the next Day, and twenty four Batteaus have already passed, and the Wind blows a fair and fresh Gale. I am afraid all our Efforts to take Quebec will prove { 151 } fruitless. We met on the Lake the Letter from General Arnold to General Schuyler.1 I hope you will attend to every Quarter of America, and not neglect Us, for I now esteem Myself a Canadian and not spend your precious Time in Debates about our Independancy. In my Judgment you have no alternative between Independancy and Slavery, and what American can hesitate in the Choice; but dont harrangue about it, act as if We were. Make every preperation for War, take all prudent Measures to procure Success to our Arms, and the Consequence is obvious. Get Money and Arms and as a fund immediately seize and appropriate all the Crown Lands. I am called on for my Letter. Therefore adieu. Remember me to all and write to your Friend and Servt.,
[signed] Saml. Chase
1. That of 20 April, which gave a rather depressing account of the Americans' position before Quebec (Force, Archives, 4th ser., 5:1098–1099).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0061

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Otis, Col. James
Date: 1776-04-29

To James Otis Sr.

[salute] Sir1

As the day of the general election draws nigh, I think it my duty to express my grateful acknowledgments to the honorable electors of the last year, for the honor they did me in choosing me into the council. My station in the continental Congress has made it impossible for me to attend my duty at the honorable board; and as the same cause must prevent my attendance during a great part of the ensuing year, and the dangers and distresses of the times will require the assistance of the whole number, I cannot think it becoming in me to deprive the colony of the advice of a counsellor, for the sake of keeping open a seat for me. I must therefore beg the favor of you, to make my resignation known to the two honorable Houses, and request them to choose another gentleman to that honorable seat, who will be able to discharge the duties of it.2

[salute] I am, with great respect to the two honorable Houses, Sir, your most obedient and very humble servant,

[signed] John Adams
MS not found; reprinted from (JA, Works, 9:374).
1. JA wrote to Otis as a senior member of the Council.
2. Although the reasons that JA gives seem sincere and sensible enough, he may have had another motive. In the congress in late April an effort to name John Langdon of New Hampshire a naval agent did not prevail because many objected that Langdon was a member of the congress (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:434–435). A Maryland delegate, acting on the instructions from his province, sought to deny to members offices of profit under the Continental Congress and the new governments already, or soon to be, established. { 152 } For JA's opinion of this maneuver, see JA to Samuel Chase, 14 June (below). No such resolution passed, but it has been argued that JA resigned his office out of sensitivity to the issue of plural officeholding (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:360–361 and discussion in the notes there). To James Warren, JA put it this way: “this is not a Time, if ever there was or can be one for Sinecures. Fill up every place. They ought to be full” (JA to Warren, 12 May, below). His inability to perform his duties seemed to weigh more heavily than the mere fact of holding more than one office; and although he thought he might have to resign his chief justiceship, he pointedly told Warren, “I shall think a little more about that and take Advice” (same). He did not resign until months later, probably hoping that he would be able to leave the congress and do the work he loved best.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0062

Author: Greenleaf, Joseph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-30

From Joseph Greenleaf

[salute] Sr

It gives me no pleasure to meddle with departments not my own. But necessity is laid upon me to inform you (for I suppose you are as yet uninform'd) That Doctr. Loyd,1 who stands charged with being an Associator, and an addressor to Gen. Gage, and who, perhaps tomorrow, will be under arrest in order to be examined and punished for said Crimes, That this same Dr. Loyd is imploy'd to put up several Chests of medicines for our army. Are not these very medicines by a resolve of our Legislative forfeited into the hands of the Colony?
Doctr. Spencer2 likewise who broke into the Store of John Leverett Esqr. in Boston and there took, stole, and from thence carried away a parcell of goods to a large amount is promoted, from being an under Surgeon in a regiment of the British barbarians to be chief Surgeon to the Gallant Capt. Manly. This is the current report in Boston, and I suppose it to be true. I must restrain my reflection on the Subject for fear of being indecent. I make no doubt but that you will make the best use of this information. I am Sr. your huml. Servt.,
[signed] Jos. Greenleaf
1. Dr. James Lloyd, Boston physician who served the British garrison and many of its officers, but who stayed on after their evacuation. He was one of the most successful Boston physicians (Henry R. Viets, A Brief History of Medicine in Massachusetts, Boston, 1930, P. 77–78, 94–95; portrait opposite p. 72).
2. Probably Dr. Arthur Spencer, who left with the British troops for Halifax and was captured, but who was judged by the Massachusetts Council not “inimical to the Country” and freed on promise not to aid the enemies of the United Colonies. Spencer later did serve the American cause actively (Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 4:1162; Mass. Soldiers and Sailors, 14:716).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0063-0001

Author: Warren, James
Recipient: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-04-30 - 1776-05-01

From James Warren

[salute] My Dear Sir

Were I as Ceremonious as I suppose the Ladies will be about their Tea visits, after the late Indulgence of Congress,1 I should hardly have taken up my pen at this time to disturb your repose, or Interrupt your Business. Are you Sensible how seldom you write to me or does it proceed from Choice or Necessity. My writeing at this Time is mearly to discharge A Duty of Friendship. I have scarcely A Single thing to say that you dont already know. No sort of Intelligence is stirring here. We are still drudgeing on att the General Court, much in the old way. Several Bills are gone and on their way through the Court. A Confession Bill, Fee Bill, A Bill to alter the stile from King &c. to a Government and People of M: Bay.2 Another for a Test,3 and some others of less Importance. The Attention of the Court has been fixd on fortifying the Harbour and Town of Boston. We have in the Begining of the Session Chose a Committee of Both Houses. All seem to be Agreed in the Importance of the measure, and to be very Zealous in pursueing it, but if you was told how little is yet Effected you would Certainly be Astonished.4 The Committee has from time to time represented to us that General Ward could spare no men to go on Noddle's Island &c. We have therefore ordered one Regiment of 728 men to be raised.5 This is not yet Compleated tho' we are about it, and some few have come in. We have some thoughts of another Regiment to fortify below, but if you send us a Spirited General to Succeed General Ward upon his Resignation, the Troops here may do it without. I hope therefore you will send us one that is Active and will dare to go into his works when Constructed, and fight upon Occasion. I don't Insist on his being A Native of this Colony. Rhode Island, or New Hampshire will suit me as well.
Fort Hill is however at last got into a tolerable posture of defence and the General has ordered some men to Assist some we hire by the day at the Castle, and works are going on pretty well at Dochester. No Hulks are yet sunk. The People of Boston seem much against it, and whether it will be done now or not I can't say.
We propose to rise this week. I hope we shall.6 I long to see my little Farm &c. I expect to hear from you before I leave this Town on the subject of my last Letter.7 Whoever is to Command the Army, or to pay them, I would call your Attention to the good Policy as well as Justice of haveing some little money beforehand. When the payment of the Militia that last reinforced the Army is Compleated there { 154 } will be little or Nothing left, and the Regiments here have been paid only for the Month of February, though the General Engaged to pay them monthly. This shortness of Money has very much Injured the service. The Manufacture of Salt Petre Continues to flourish Abundantly. Our Powder Makers find some difficulty in graining it.
Some arrivals of Powder and arms. A Vessel belonging to Newberry is into Kennebeck with 10 Tons powder, Ten Tons Sulphur, some Cannon &c.8 Mr. Gerry's Brigantine at Bilboa was there five weeks ago. The powder landed and safe. Her Business was betrayed by a villain who was second Mate. She was stoped by the Consul, and the Merchant Intends shiping the powder on Other Bottoms. My regards to all Friends, especially Mr. Adams and Gerry. I am Your Sincere Friend &c.
We looked for a declaration of Independence and Behold an Indulgence to drink Tea.
Since writeing the Inclosed I have received a Confirmation of the Vessels being in to Kennebeck, and Inclose an Extract of a Letter from the Master to Mr. Greenleaf,9 by which we may at least learn that they mean to Exert, all their power and malice this Summer.
I have just received yours of the 16 and 20th. of April with the Books, papers, &c. Inclosed. I am so sick this day as to be unable to say more than that I thank you.
This minute we are Advized that two Ships have Joined that one in Nantasket road, from them are landed A Number of Men on Georges Island, and who are fortifying it. From this I am Convinced they have not taken their leave of Boston. We have not men enough left here, and we must have a good officer to Command or men will signify Nothing. So many of ours [are?] gone into the Army that we find the Regiment we have ordered raizes slowly.
Mr. Read10 has resigned. I will write you more as soon as I can. Thank Mr. Adams for his Letter. Should have Answered it had I been Able.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honble. John Adams Esq Member of Congress Philadelphia”; docketed: “Warren. Apr 30. 1776 ans. 12 May”; “J. Warren April 30th 1776.”
1. The resolution of 13 April, which permitted use of confiscated tea after legal condemnation and disposal according to rules prescribed locally (JCC, 4:277–279).
2. For the fee bill and that to alter the language of commissions, see Warren to JA, 30 March, note 10, and JA to William Tudor, 12 April, note 4 (both above). The “Confession Bill,” passed 3 May, allowed a debtor to confess his debt before a single official, provided it did not exceed £20. Officials designated to accept recognizances from debtors were to be elected at annual town meetings, one for each town. The simplicity of the procedure freed the debtor of a multitude of costs which he incurred when his creditor brought him into a county court. In executing his acknowledgment of debt, the debtor stipulated a time when the debt would be paid; if he defaulted, collection could proceed at once in accordance with the laws of the province (Mass., Province Laws, 5:498–502).
3. In response to a resolution of the congress of 14 March calling for the disarming of disaffected persons, the General Court passed on 1 May an act requiring all males sixteen and over to make a formal declaration of support for the American cause. Those refusing were to be disarmed, disqualified for officeholding, and disfranchised (same, 5:479–484).
4. AA attributed delay to a “Western Member” of the House, i.e., Joseph Hawley (Adams Family Correspondence, 1:387 and note).
5. On 9 April (Mass., House Jour., 1775–1776, 4th sess., p. 99–101, 102).
6. The General Court ended its session on 10 May (same, p. 277).
7. That of 30 March (above).
8. The ship probably belonged to the trading firm of Jackson, Tracy & Tracy (William Gordon to JA, 1 May, below; Benjamin W. Labaree, Patriots and Partisans: The Merchants of Newburyport, 1764–1815, Cambridge, 1962, p. 218–219).
9. See accompanying enclosures.
10. See JA to James Warren, 16 April, note 3 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0063-0002

Author: Greenleaf, Benjamin
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1776-04-30

Enclosure: Benjamin Greenleaf to James Warren

[salute] Sr1

The Letter from which the Extract that accompanies this was taken, you may consider, as wrote by Capt Willson who lately arrivd from Bordeaux, in a Vessell belonging to Newbury-port. As he is a Gentleman of Reputation, it may be worth communicating to you.
A Vessell I am told is also arrivd at Newbury port from Bilboa which { 155 } brings Intelligence Nearly like this communicated by Cap Wilson—with this Addition that 10,000 are destind to Quebec 10 000 to New York and a like Number to assist Lord Dunmore—about 7000 are left according to this plan to be sent to Boston or whereever else they may be wanted. Your most Obedt Serv.
[signed] B Greenleaf
Extract of a Letter from a Master of a Vessell who lately arrived upon this Continent from France, which he left about the middle of March— “Upon my Arrival here, I was extremely glad to hear of the good Success of this Country against her unnatural Enemies, who are collecting all the Force possible to make Head against us. The Account at Bordeaux is that 20 thousand Hessians and Hanoverians2 are at Embden ready to embark on board English Ships to join 12 thousand English and sail immediately for America. This however you may depend upon, that about 40 Sail of Transports sail'd from Plymouth the 10th. of March for America, with about five thousand Soldiers on board—(they had been some months before as far to the Westward as Cape Finisterre, and all put back by Stress of Weather, and dispers'd in different ports—one run on Shore in Ireland and the Capt and almost all on board perished—) I suppose by this Time they are very near this Coast.”
The content of all or some notes that appeared on this page and the next in the printed volume has been moved to the end of the preceding document.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honble. John Adams Esq Member of Congress Philadelphia”; docketed: “Warren. Apr 30. 1776 ans. 12 May”; “J. Warren April 30th 1776.”
{ 156 }
1. Greenleaf's letter was addressed to James Warren “present” and apparently forwarded to JA along with the extract from Captain Willson's letter. It is docketed in JA's hand, “Mr. Jos. Greenleaf Ap 30. 1776.”
2. These figures are somewhat exaggerated. At this time the British hired 17,775 troops from Brunswick, Hesse-Kassel, and Waldeck. During the whole course of the Revolution a total of 29,875 German troops was employed (Christopher Ward, The War of the Revolution, 2 vols., N.Y., 1952, p. 208–209).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0064

Author: Winthrop, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04

From John Winthrop

[salute] Dear sir

I wrote you the 5th instant by my son William who was going to Philadelphia; but as he was to stay some time at New York, being employed by Col. Warren as Paymaster, I suppose you have not yet received that letter. In it I took the liberty to request your influence, that either my brother might be appointed sole Clerk of the Superior Court; or, if it should be thought best to have two, my son might be the other.
I am now to acknowlege the receit of your favor of March 10, said to come by Mr. Dana.1 That Gentleman has not yet come to Cambridge or Watertown, so that I have not had the pleasure of seeing him, which I am extremely desirous of. I hope his country will do justice to his merit, and I will do all in my power to serve him.
You must, before this, have heard the particulars of the reduction of Boston. On the 17 March, the fleet and army quitted the place with the utmost precipitation. They began their imbarkation about 3 in the morning, and were all on board before 9. I am informed by persons who were then in Boston, that this was owing to two circumstances. The first was, our taking possession about the 9 March of the hights in Dorchester which command the Town. The works were begun and completed in one night, with so much silence and secrecy, that they had not the least suspicion of it. When the dawning day discovered those works, they were struck with an amazing panic. What completed their terror was, that on the evening of the 15th. one of our barracks at Charlstown accidentally took fire and was burnt to the ground. It made a prodigious blaze, and they took it to be a signal for the country to come in. The next day the resolution was taken to leave the Town immediately; which was executed the following night. We have no doubt but that they are gone to Halifax. Several vessels belonging to the fleet have been taken, and all the prisoners agree in this.
{ 157 }
'Tis certainly of the utmost importance, that the harbor of Boston should be strongly fortified. Every body is convinced of it, and yet (strange to tell) a whole month has already slipp'd away, and nothing effectual been done. What is the occasion of this dilatoriness, I will not pretend to say; but I believe, if Genl. Washington had continued at the head of our army, something would have been done long before this time. There should be a person of spirit and vigor to carry on such operations; and our most active officers and best troops have been taken from us. They seem now, however, to be setting about it. The General Court has ordered a regiment to be raised for that purpose. 'Tis said, we have battering cannon eno' for Fort hill, Dorchester hill, Noddle's island and the Castle, and perhaps we may get some of those which Admiral Hopkins brought from New Providence. When these works are completed, I suppose they will think of fortifying other posts in the harbor. By that time, I hope, we shall have plenty of powder of our own manufacture. Saltpetre is made here in large quantities; but the encouragement for making sulphur, for which there is plenty of materials in the country, was so small, and to be continued for so short a term, that it has produced no effect. The Board some time ago sent a message to the house, earnestly recommending it to their consideration; but I don't know that any thing has been done upon it.2 I have been told, that casting cannon has been attempted at Providence, but without success. 'Tis said, the iron made of our bog-ore, and we have no other, is too hard and brittle to stand the shock of the explosion. But the mountain ore in the southern colonies is supposed to be very fit for the purpose. Our people are impatiently waiting for the Congress to declare off from G. B. If they should not do it pretty soon, I am not sure but this colony will do it for themselves. Pray, how would such a step be relished by the Congress? Would they approve of it? Or, would they think it too precipitate? Would it endanger the breaking the union of the colonies? These are very important questions, and I shall be extremely glad to know your sentiments upon them. We have a report here, that no commissioners are coming, after all. I hope it is true.

[salute] With my compliments to your worthy Compatriots, I am with great respect and esteem Your sincere Friend and humble Servt.,

P.S. I hope Common Sense is in as high estimation at the Southward as with us. Tis universally admired here. If the Congress should adopt the sentiments of it, it would give the greatest satisfaction to our people.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Dr Winthrop. April 1776 X.”
{ 158 }
1. Not found.
2. Mass., House Jour., 1775–1776, 4th sess., p. 16. The House received the Council's message on 16 March and appointed a committee of three to consider it, but the journal records no further action.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0065

Author: Bulloch, Archibald
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-01

From Archibald Bulloch

[salute] Dear Sir

As a Multiplicity of public Business prevents my revisiting Philadelphia, I have embraced an Opportunity by Major Walton1 of enquiring after your Welfare; and as he is capable of giving you the amplest Account of the State of this Province, I wou'd take the Liberty of introducing him to your Notice and Acquaintance. I make no Doubt but it will afford you the highest Pleasure to see one irresistible Spirit of Freedom, animating all the Inhabitants of this great Continent. The Ministry never conceived that the Infant Colony of Georgia wou'd so daringly oppose their iniquitous Measures, and notwithstanding the great Number amongst us, under the Influence of Government, that we shou'd so ardently and successfully follow the glorious Examples of our Northern Brethren. From the present Disposition of the People here, their Readiness to expose themselves on very Occasion, and their great Desire of preserving the Grand American Union, there is little Prospect of Success to the Attempts either of our secret or open Enemies. We are determined in all Things to look up to the Continental Congress: On their Wisdom and Prudence we rely; and tho' our local Situation exposes us to many Difficulties, and Dangers, yet we have, and shall continue to pursue at the Risque of our Lives that great Object of our Wishes, the free Enjoyment of our Liberties. The Continental Battalion granted this Province2 hath made a great Progress in recruiting, and will undoubtedly be very usefull in aiding and supporting the constitutional Authority of this Country. The News that the Ministerial Troops have evacuated Boston hath diffused a general Joy among the People. Such a series of Victory having attended the American Arms, emboldens us further to trust in Providence, that has so remarkably interposed in our behalf, and we cannot but entertain the most sanguine Hopes, of still preserving our most invaluable Liberties. Wishing you Health, and all Manner of Happiness I remain Dear Sir Your affectionate Friend & very hum: Servant
[signed] Arch: Bulloch3
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honble. John Adams Esqr. One of the Boston Delegates in the Continental Congress at Philadelphia Favd. by the Honble. Major Walton”; docketed: “Mr. President Bullock May 1. 1776 ans. July. 1.”
{ 159 }
1. George Walton had been elected as a Georgia delegate to the congress in February, but he apparently did not arrive in Philadelphia until late June (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:xliv).
2. Authorized by congress on 4 Nov. 1775 (JCC, 3:325).
3. Bulloch had served in the congress in the fall of 1775, but although he was reelected in Feb. 1776, he did not return in that year. In April he was elected president of Georgia under the preliminary government that the Provincial Congress decided to establish (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1: xliii; Allen D. Candler, ed., The Revolutionary Records of the State of Georgia, 3 vols., Atlanta, 1908, 1:274–277).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0066

Author: Gordon, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-01

From William Gordon

[salute] My Dear Sir

It is almost too late to congratulate you upon our regaining Boston; but I may give you joy of our not having as yet relost it. We ought by this time to have had the harbour fortified so strongly, that a fleet could not have ventured in to have insulted the town, without paying dear for it: but there has been strange not-doings. You will ask me, who is to blame? Should I answer without reserve, I would say the Assembly in not exerting themselves more vigorously for the defence of the capital. (Inter nos their capitals want to be informed and set right.) I would add General Ward for suffering matters of importance to be so disregarded and in sleeping so over them; I would further mention, the inhabitants in complaining, being uneasy, and yet not calling a town meeting and agreeing to turn out and work. In truth we have been for too long time past amazingly disordered; however as in other cases, every culprit pleads not guilty, and like old Adam shifts the blame from himself to another. We are however at last doing better. Was upon Dorchester hills yesterday, and met with two twelve pounders on each, carried there the latter end of last week, besides an howitzer on that next to the neck, which had been there for some considerable time. Fort hill goes on sure, and begins to make a respectable figure. Went from the hills to Dorchester Point where the Committee have been directing the erection of a fort. Was much pleased with it. The work is as neat and good as any of the regulars. Yesterday they were carting on the timber for the platforms which will be soon laid; and in a few days I apprehend the fort will be so far perfected as to be capable of defending the entrance of the harbour. Shirley's battery is to undergo an immediate repair. I flatter myself that by the latter end of the next week, if the enemy do not pop in upon us before, we shall be capable of setting them at defiance.
All the above is foreign to what has occasioned my putting pen to paper, and interrupting your labours for the publick. Tis of the greatest { 160 } { 161 } consequence that the continental currency be kept up. Tis however a fact that it is depreciating, and that milled dollars are reckoned several per cent better. The reason of this I suppose lies not in any want of confidence in the Congress; but the quantity that has been emitted by making it plenty has produced this effect. This depreciation will occasion an advance upon all articles and thereby add greatly to the expence of the war. Will it not therefore be expedient to borrow for the present year upon interest, to receive the bills in payment and then to make a fresh emission to the amount of what is paid in: hereby the circulating bills will be prevented increasing for the notes with interest will be hoarded up; or an emission of bills bearing interest, if that is thought best, will be subject to the same fate. The interest may be paid (or be made payable) a year hence, by that time the complexion of our affairs will be settled. Crown lands, unlocated, quit rents to the king, or his woods may be a collateral security. By the by before I for get it, there are many fine noble large masts in Kennebec river designed for the British navy, would the French King buy them tho' at a low price and fetch them away, it might answer a very good purpose, by proving a bone of contention. Your time is too precious to be needlessly spent in reading long letters of little consequence. I shall therefore not interrupt you longer, than to assure you of my best wishes for your prosperity both temporal and spiritual, to request a kind remembrance to those honourable gentlemen of the Congress with whom I have the happiness of being acquainted (our own delegates especially) and to declare myself an independent Whig as was my namesake.1
[signed] William Gordon
Understand that our Assembly are going to make the continental bills a legal tender, by an act of the general Court;2 should not other colonies do the like and the bills depreciate we shall as a Colony suffer greatly.
A number of the inhabitants have engaged to work two days in the week for six weeks in fortifying. I propose signing the paper to encourage by example.
Tracy's vessel is arrived at Kennebec immediately from Bourdeaux with 21,000 lb. of powder 12,000 lb. of sulphur and 16 pieces of large cannon.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honle. John Adams Esqr Philadelphia Free”; docketed: “Mr Gordon May 1. 1776 ansd. June 23d.”
1. Thomas Gordon, coauthor with John Trenchard of the essays collected under the title the Independent Whig (Caroline Robbins, The Eighteenth-Century Com• { 162 } monwealthman, Cambridge, 1959, p. 115).
2. The General Court had already acted on 13 April (Mass., Province Laws, 5:472–473).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0067

Author: Stearns, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-01

From William Stearns

[salute] Sir

The Necessity of the present address must be my apology for making it. I am engaged as Counsel for certain Heirs at Law to a Large real Estate, and to assist them in the settlement of it. A part of it indeed falls to them as heirs by Will. About this the Contest is settled. But there is one half of the real Estate which Said heirs think was wrested from them by a Deed made by their ancestor, or rather fraudulently obtained of him when in Extremis, in which Said Half is pretended to be conveyed to an utter Stranger. This Deed was Executed, as is Said, when the Supposed grantor was, if not insane, yet So weak and Low (being born down by old age and the pains resulting from a Disease which Soon proved fatal) that he was entirely <insensible> inattentive to the transaction. Now the Heirs are desirous of avoiding this Deed—and have applied to me for advice. I am but a Noviciate in the practice of the Law and therefore dare not be positive in deciding the case. And <I apply to> accordingly Should take it as a singular favor if you would give your Opinion of the Case agreable to the following Statement. The Deed expresses no Valuable consideration—neither Money Marriage, nor Service—<nor any> but only “for and in consideration of Love and good will”—and this to a Stranger. Nor is there any warranty and it does not appear that any Service can be averred, as there is no evidence, either written or parole, that the grantor ever pretended this was the ground of the gift. Now, Sir, the Question is, whether this deed is sufficient in Law to pass Land to this Stranger, who Claims under it, and to bar the Said heirs? Whether it can Operate as a Covenant to Stand Seized to Uses—or as a release—or as anything at all? If the english Books are to have Any authority in Colonial Courts in time to come, I should not much hesitate. I find but one Case which Seems to militate with my opinion; and that is in 2 Wilson,1 page 22 (If I mistake not) Simpson's Case. I have not as yet digested that Case and if I had, am not certain what force it has in application to the principal Case. If it is against us, it Seems not to Quadrate with numerous other determinations. But however this may be, I shall be under indispensible obligations to you, if you will give your opinion of the whole matter, as above represented, and whether it will be advisable to bring Ejectment, for the recovery of the lands in { 163 } Question and be so kind as to transmit your Sentiments in a letter as Soon as possible.
I am sensible that you are employ'd in matters of infinitely greater importance than this, but I conceive that you will not need to bestow more than half an hours attention to it. The calamities and distresses of this once happy Colony have been Such Since I entred on the Study of the Law, that I have been able to treasure up but little knowledge of the Theory and less of the Practice. And now there is little or no Encouragement to persevere. Our house of Representatives are truly patriotic as it Respects the Common Cause and it seems to be a token for good that they are So resolutely bent in opposition to British Tyranny and Barbarity. But at the Same time, I can't help thinking they discover too much parsimony in regard of the Support of the Learned professions. It seems to be a Darling point with many in the country, to depress literature. The Said professions are looked on with Jealous Eyes! And especially so is that of the Law, and therefore it seems to be determined that the fees of attorneys shall be cut down (omnibus consideratis) at least one half—so to discourage persons from entering into the profession. I have heard it reported that one Dr. J. T——r,2 a member of the Council, should say that the Ministers and the Lawyers had almost ruined the Colony. I remonstrate against these Sentiments. I enquire of Such Sticklery, if Such Sentiments had heretofore prevailed, where had been their Adams's, and their Hawleys and their other illustrious and Learned Patriots? Where had been those truly Jurisperiti, by whose wise Counsels (under Providence) America has hitherto been Saved from destruction?
The truth is this—I wish for your return. You have broke the Ice—you have opened a plain path for future Political marches. It now remains for you (being personally present with us) to regulate our Colonial internal Police. We want the Masters Hand! I was always taught to believe that “Wisdom and knowledge must be the Stability of our times.” But these none will endeavour to obtain when that endeavour inevitably has for its Concomitants Calamity and Distress! No one will betake himself to Study, when he finds that and Beggary necessarily connected. But you are infinitely better acquainted with these things, than my information can make you.
I hope we Shall be able to keep essentially free from Mistakes; and this I am morally certain, te juvante,3 we shall do.
With regard to the matter of Law before mentioned, I should be very glad to have your opinion as soon as possible, as my clients are between Hawk and Buzzard, not knowing how to proceed.
{ 164 }
By complying with this request you will very much oblige one who has spent all his patrimony in Literary pursuits and much more and has now (under the present aspects) no prospect of retrieving his fortune, and no Encouragement to continue his resolutions of Serving mankind in a public capacity unless you can direct him and give him Some ground of hope, and so encourage him to persevere. I write in perfect Confidence, and in full reliance on your Honor's Candor and Benevolence, and am with the greatest respect and Esteem, your Honors most obedient humble Servant.
[signed] William Stearns4
P.S. No public advantage will be taken of your private opinion as to the matter here requested. I would set the matter fair with regard to our honorable Council. A large Majority of them are averse to curtailing fees as above mentioned. But it is tho't the house will worry them out, or wait till after Election, when a more pliant Board are expected.
This, Sub rosâ!
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honble. John Adams, Esqr. att Congress Philadelphia Worcester Free Hartford Free Wm Ellery”; docketed: “Wm. Stearns May 1. 1776.”
1. Probably George Wilson, who brought out editions of several English law reporters (Charles C. Soule, The Lawyer's Reference Manual of Law Books and Citations, Boston, 1883, p. 296).
2. Dr. John Taylor, member of the Council from “the Territory lying between the River Sagadahock and Nova-Scotia” (Mass., House Jour., 1775–1776, 1st sess., p. 6).
3. With your help.
4. William Stearns (1749–1783) became a lawyer after trying the ministry and studying medicine. Admitted to the bar in 1776, he ultimately had a successful practice. He was an active whig and held several local offices. No evidence has been found that JA replied to his plea for help (Sibley–Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 17:436438; Addresses before the Members of the Bar, of Worcester County . . . with Appendix and List of Members of the Bar, Worcester, 1879, p. 246).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0068

Author: Gates, Horatio
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-04

From Horatio Gates

[salute] Dear Sir

Your Favour of the 27th: of April was put into my hands by Colonel Clinton,1 we had much conversation together upon the Critical and political State of this Country; He thinks with You, and I; and has besides a very Uncommon share of Knowledge, and penetration; I shall endeavour to Cultivate his Friendship, and Acquaintance.
The Six Regiments under General Sullivan, are Saild for Albany, with a Fair Wind, so by my Calculation, founded upon the best Authority, we shall have Ten Thousand Men near Quebeck, before { 165 } the Enemy can throw any Succour into the Town; consequently, Sensible, and Spirited Management, must put that important place in Our possession. General Worster upon his Arrival near Quebeck, thought proper to Slight and Neglect my Worthy Friend Arnold; who, having received a considerable Bruize in his Wounded Leg, by a Fall from his Horse, applied for leave to go to Montreal for recovery. This with a Eager haste was Granted by Worster, and This altogether convinces me that Worster is not the Man fit to Command there, or any where. How happy must every good Officer be to find himself Seconded by so Capable and Brave a Spirit as that possess'd by Arnold, but Men of little Merit, are ever Jealous of those who have a Great deal.
As we are moving the Regiments out of Quarters, into Camp, I have but a moment to write, and shall at present only Answer that part of your letter where you Mention Major Wrixon. I wish a Gentleman so High in Yours, and Col. Clintons Esteem, was provided for in the post you Mention. The regards I have for the Cause, would induce me to continue to hold my present Employment, rather than let it be possessed by a less experienced Officer. I do not mean by this to Arrogate anything to myself, but you know Our Army, though they have the Stamina of good Soldiers, are thin in Veterans. If the Congress think me deserving of the Honour you Mention, I shall Gratefully accept so distinguish'd a Mark of Their Favour, and I think, nay I am Satisfied from the Character you give him, and from my Own Inquirys Major Wrixons is the properest Man in America to be Adjutant General of The Army. I am Dear Sir Your most Obedient Humble Servant
[signed] Horatio Gates
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “G. Gates. May 4. 1776.”
1. Col. James Clinton, at this time commander of the 2d New York Regiment (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 161).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0069

Author: Smith, Isaac Sr.
Recipient: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-05-04 - 1776-05-08

From Isaac Smith Sr.

[salute] Mr. Adams

I suppose there were some dispatches went of[f] yesterday to your body respecting the late News of more Troops expected.
I did not think they would have been Able to have procured so many Troops. By some London papers which Cap. Lee1 saw on board the Vessell bound to N.F.Land, not a Transport but a Vessell that came Out with them, itt seems the Ministry have Agreed to pay the K. of Prussia his demand and the parlament have Voted to take those German Troops in pay. As to Our Cituation in this Province and { 166 } round Boston—On the Sea Coast particuarally are in a worse Condition much than they were before the battle of Lexington. Iff they ever come Again they never will come Boston way, but would devide, part Hingham Brantry &c. and the Other this way and I know of nothing to hinder their succeeding and am told all Our field Pieces are gone.
Itts a great pitty all the provisions said to be 15,000 Bls. should have been all carried into Boston, As they might as well laid where they were and carried by Water every day in the Week. Itt cant be judged prudent such a quantity should be there.
I'l give you a q[uota]tion of a letter I have from Lisbon of March the 12th. The present Unhappy [disputes?] with G. Britain has deprived me, of the pleasure of Writing you as heretofore. Would to Heaven for all Our sakes they were terminated by an equitable, lasting peace—but I am greatly Affraid this desireable Object is not as near att hand as many are Willing to flatter themselves. (What force, the Armaments that are to center with you from England may give to the proposals which itts said will be Offer'd to the Colonies I cannot pretend to say, but I am Apprehensive in the frame of mind you are for the most part in, you will exact greater Consessions than will be judged Equitable.

[salute] Excuse the half sheet as when I began thot itt might have been sufficient. And are Ys. &c.

P.S. We have two Vessells into Newbury Yesterday. One with a large quantity of Linnens &c. of Considerable Value. I will give you Another Quotation from Bilbao. Bilbao March 28. Letters from London by last Night post Mention that 17,300 were going to Boston and Canada.
The Duke of Richmond proposed to make an Humble Address to his Majesty to hasten a Reconciliation2 to which the Duke of Cumberland joyned and censerd much the Ministerial measures—but it was rejected and the plan was determined by his Majesty, with Lords Sandwich, Germain How and Admiral Montegue to Act Against America, and Admiral Montague sett Out immediately for Portsmouth in order to sail which [with] his fleet, and Admiral Howe was to follow him as soon as the Vessell was ready to receive him—so that we shudder att the Consequences but hope God will preserve you all.
Yesterday between MHead [Marblehead] and the light house was taken by Tucker in One of the Continental Vessells a brig from the { 167 } Western Islands with Wine. The other a brig which [carried?] about 500 bls. beef and pork butter bacon &c. 40 days from Ireland.3 The Master says there were about 100 sail loaded with provisions, 9 Transports att present cant [ . . . ] any way particular. He spoke with the ship Fame belonging to [ . . . ] bound to Europe—dismasted.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr Smith May 4 1776 ansd. May 29.” MS mutilated.
1. On his return from Bilboa to Newbury, Capt. John Lee hailed a vessel that just four days earlier had been with a fleet of sixty transports carrying 12,000 Hessian troops under the command of Adm. Lord Howe and headed to Boston (Boston Gazette, 6 May).
2. Richmond's address calling for the countermanding of orders to employ German troops and the suspension of hostilities with the American colonies was given on 5 March. Cumberland spoke briefly in support of the Duke (Parliamentary Hist., 18:1188–1191, 1201).
3. Samuel Tucker, master of the schooner Hancock. The prize with wine was from Fayal in the Azores (Allen, Mass. Privateers, p. 162; James Warren to JA, 8 May, below).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0070

Author: Sullivan, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-04

From John Sullivan

[salute] My Dear Sir

I had the pleasure of receiving your agreeable favour of the 15th ultimo.1 I Delayed answering it till I could give you information how matters were Like to go in this City. Soon after I received your Letter I Sent for Colo. Sears2 Mr. John Smith and Some others (which I knew to be Staunch) to Spend An Evening with me that I might Converse with them upon the Subject. I was Some what at a Loss to Introduce the Subject as I knew it would not do to Show your Letter or Even hint that I had received it but I Soon found an oportunity.
A Captain of my Guard came and Reported that the Committee of Safety had Sent Some persons to the Main Guard who had no Crime Lodged against them and Defered to know of me what to do with them. I immediately Sent to the Committee and they Sent a Sub Committee to wait on me. I asked them what was to be done with these persons and what Charge they had to Lay against them. They informed me that one was a Collector who had not Accounted for the money Collected and refused to Deliver up Some Lists in his possession and had abused their Congress. The others were in for Different Crimes. I told them that I could by no means Consent to have Free Citizens Subjected to Tryals by Court martial That they must try them by the proper Courts if Such there were and if not the offenders must run at Large till necessity oblidged them to Constitute the proper Courts. This opened the Door for me and I took advantage of it. The { 168 } Sub Committee thankd me for my Care over the Liberties of their fellow Citizens and owned the necessity of taking up Government. Sears Smith &c. were Strongly of that opinion and all went home perfectly Satisfied and without Suspecting that the Conversation was any thing more than Accidental.
The next Day General Green and I were ordered to the Goal to See Some prisoners of war. There I found Some persons in for Robbery and one for Murder. As I found that I had good Success in the beginning I Determined to keep on and frequently Took occasion to mention the great Difficulties which must attend their present State That it would be Tyranical to Execute those persons without a Tryal. To Try and Execute them by process in the name of a King with whom we were at war would be absurd and if neither of those methods were taken they must whether Guilty or not Suffer perpetual imprisonment. I found the argument took Effect and Even Toreys themselves Acknowledged it was best to take up Government till a Reconciliation Should take place. This Doctrine pleased me well for I knew if Government was once assumed upon whatever motives They would find the Rubicon was passed and that they could never Return to their Ancient forms. I then by advice of my privy council Drew up a piece purporting a petition to the Committee of Safety to request Leave from the Continental Congress to take up Government.
This piece I Inclose3 you and though badly wrote Steers So Directly between Whiggism and Toryism that no persons can tell whether it was Drawn by a Whig or a Torey. My privy Councill Informed me that it had the Desired Effect. The Whigs were fond of it because if it took Effect their point was Carried and no retreat would Ever take place. The Toreys were fond of it because it Seemed to hold up the xxxxx Reconciliation they were Seeking. After being well informed of my Success I thought it time to Sound our Colonel.4 I sent for him to Dine with me and afterward invited him to Spend an Evening. We conversed freely upon the matter of taking up Government. He owned the necessity and Said it would be carried into Execution at all Events at the meeting of their Convention. He informed me that almost Every person began to see the Necessity of it and That the instructions then Drawing up for their Delegates mentioned nothing about Effecting a Reconciliation but to protect and Defend America. When I found him in the True way to happiness I Dismissed him and attacked others. To Toreys I painted the Evils attending their present State and to Whigs I held up the advantages of Seizing the precious moment. I soon found my party Increase with Surprizing Rapidity but { 169 } in the midst of my Career I was ordered to Quebeck. My Brigade has gone and I am this moment going to Embark. May heaven Long preserve you my Dear friend to assist and Counsel your Countrymen and among them beg you'd Ever be mindful of Dr Sir your Sincere friend and obedt. Servt.,
[signed] J S
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Sullivan. May 4. 1776 an. June. 23.”
1. Not found.
2. Isaac Sears (1730–1786), active Son of Liberty and popular leader, who was once rescued from British arrest by enthusiastic supporters. Late in 1775 he led a raid against New York loyalists, imprisoning some and destroying the press of James Rivington (DAB).
3. Enclosure not found.
4. Sears.Alexander McDougall.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0071

Author: Tudor, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-04

From William Tudor

[salute] Dr Sir

I was much oblig'd by the little Essay you sent me and more so by the Letter which accompanied it.1 The Plan proposed is an exceeding good System for the Government of the young and as yet uncorrupted States of America, and approaches so near the Form of the N. England late Constitutions, stript of their Inconveniences and monarchical Appendages, that I think it must be approved and soon adopted there at least. I hope a Number of these Books are sent to the Northward. I wish a hundred thousand of them were dispersed throughout the Continent. The Chair of Government is abdicated in almost every Colony upon the Continent; long Experience of British Politicks has convinc'd Us that a Reconciliation with Britain would be ruinous if not impracticable; a Degree of Confusion has prevail'd in every Province for Want of a Regular and an establish'd Government, and our Exertions against the powerful Enemy who has attack'd Us have consequently been less ardent than otherwise they would; Toryism in some Places, dares yet shew it's Head for Want of establish'd, settled Government to define the Criminality of it and punish it's Professors and Abettors as Traitors against the State. Ten thousand other Reasons might be adduced to show the Necessity and the Wisdom of immediately establishing a new Institution of Government. There are very few Whiggs who do not admit the Cogency of the Arguments for Independency, but the Timidity of the Men of large Property stops the Declaration of it. I hope Massachusetts will no longer procrastinate what sound Policy dictates to be done immediately; and that the May Election will not stop till three Branches of the Legislature are chosen and a Government completely formed. Pray Sir be at Boston this Month, You are greatly wanted there.
{ 170 }
It is certainly a Matter of much Importance at first to have the Chief Magistrate, or in Other Words the Governor a Man of great Respectability in Point of Fortune as well as Abilities and Virtue; in a Year or two the former may be dispensed with. I know of no Man who would be so universally approved for this high Office as Mr. Bowdoin. Though had he a little more Health and a little more Courage, he would do better.
The next Hour after I received your Book I lent it to a Gentleman of the Committee of []2 I have not had it yet returned. I must therefore take another opportunity of offering you my Sentiments on it. The Friends of Liberty in this City are Friends indeed. I never met with warmer advocates for the Freedom and Independency of America than I have found some here.
Major Austin is with his Regiment in Boston. Mr. Rice is gone with his Regiment to Quebec. I shook Hands with him at embarking, and he express'd much Satisfaction at being ordered to a Place, where he could best serve his Country. Rice is much belov'd by the Regiment in General; and is indeed a very clever Fellow.
The Regiments left at Boston are the 6th. Col. Whitcomb, the 14th. Col. Glover, the 16th. Col. Sargent, the 18th. Col. Phinney and the 27th. Col. Hutchinson—with one Company of Artillery under Capt. Burbeck. Lt. Col. Burbeck also remains.3 Your most obt. Servt,
[signed] Wm. Tudor
The Regiments gone to Quebec under B. Genl. Thompson are Col. Poor's, Patterson's, Greaton's and Bond's.4
Those under B.G. Sullivan are Stark's and Reed's5 with 4 Southern Battalions.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honble. John Adams Esq Philadelphia”; docketed: “Tudor May 4. 1776.”
1. Thoughts on Government was apparently sent along with JA's letter to Tudor of 24 April (above), although JA did not mention that he was sending it.
2. Blank in the MS.
3. Cols. Asa Whitcomb, John Glover, Paul Dudley Sargent, Edmund Phinney, and Israel Hutchinson, Capt. Edward Burbeck, and Lt. Col. William Burbeck (Heitman, Register Continental Army, passim). For opinion on several of these officers and those mentioned below, see Samuel Holden Parsons to JA, 15 Aug. (below).
4. William Thompson; Enoch Poor, commander of the 8th Continental Infantry; John Paterson, 15th Continental Infantry; John Greaton, 24th Continental Infantry; William Bond, 25th Continental Infantry (same).
5. John Stark, 5th Continental Infantry; James Reed, 2d Continental Infantry; Anthony Wavne, 4th Pennsylvania Battalion; William Irvine, 6th Pennsylvania Battalion; William Winds, 1st New Jersey Regiment; Elias Dayton, 3d New Jersey Regiment (same; Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 5:2).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0072

Author: Ward, Joseph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-05

From Joseph Ward

[salute] Sir

I have the honour of your Favour of the sixteenth of April.1 You observe, Sir, very justly, that every motive of self preservation, of honor, profit, and glory, call upon us to fortify this Harbour so as to be impregnable; and I hope we shall hear and obey. There has been a great clamour among many people against the Troops here because they did not go on faster with the Works, but you may be assured it has been without reason. The duty for Officers and Men has been made as severe as ever was known in our Army, and in many respects much more so; every Man off duty has been ordered upon fatigue in the several Works; Officers were directed to turn out their waiters, Cooks for the Companies, and all others who were not under necessity to tarry in the Barracks; and since we received intelligence of a British fleet being on their passage for Boston (which you will be informed of before this reaches you) the General directed all the Officers to turn out with their men upon fatigue, which they have chearfully complyed with, in order to have the fortifications compleated as soon as possible. The Army marched from this Colony for New York in such haste, that what Stores and implemants for War which were not carried away were left in great confusion, and in many respects we found things in as chaotic a state as when we first began an Encampment at Cambridge. Beside, our first time was employed in demolishing the Enemy's lines, and building a Fort on Charlestown Point, which appeared to me but lefthanded generalship; however it was directed by Southern Geniuses, whom I highly esteem; the wisest Men sometimes mistake.2 This short account of difficulties which we have had to encounter I mention that you and your honourable Colleagues may have a just idea of things in your own Colony; but shall say no more upon the score of difficulties, as this does not become a Soldier, and besides I hate the tone of Complaint.
Now for the bright side. We have almost compleated a strong well built Fort upon Fort Hill, and have a good number of heavy Cannon in it well furnished for immediate action; a Fort on Charlestown Point nearly finished, with Cannon; and a very good Fort on Castle Point with some heavy Cannon to rake the Pirates if they attempt to come by the Castle into the Harbour; a detachment of the Army is at work in repairing the Batteries at the Castle; and another detachment is at work on Noddles Island building a Fort on Camp Hill. Every wheel is set in motion that we can move to advantage, that if the Enemy pay { 172 } us a visit we may be able to give them a proper reception; and notwithstanding the dismal accounts you may hear from timid Souls, I trust that (let Hessians, Hanoverians, or whoever may come against us) “throughGodwe shall do valiantly and tread down our Enemies.3 It becomes us to prepare for the worst that can happen, as far as is in our power, but all fear ought to be a stranger to our breasts, except the noble fear of God ourKing.
You, Sir, are pleased to ask what will satisfy me with regard to the Government of America. I trust I shall ever have reason to be satisfied with what the Wisdom of the Congress may determine; the resolves for privateering and opening the Ports, are noble advances, but I humbly apprehend that nothing but a compleat American Government, as independent of all other Nations, as any Nation in Europe, will insure us “Liberty Peace and Safety;” and that the surest way to protract the war is to delay our declaration of total independence upon Britain. Can free born Americans think of a dependence upon any Nation, much less that Nation whose Rulers are Sons of Belial, and are pursuing us with an infernal rage. I receive great pleasure from believing it is the Will of Heaven that we shall never hereafter be dependent upon the corrupt and wicked powers of Britain, and that our Country will be a Land of Freedom where the oppressed may flee to and be happy; where learning and Science may flourish and true religion and virtue shine with all their native glory!
I would not forget to make my grateful acknowledgments to you, for your generous disposition to serve me. General Ward has leave from Congress to resign, which he intends to do immediately upon the appointment of a General Officer to take the command here, and he expects one will arrive very soon.

[salute] General Ward desires his Compliments may be made to you and his best wishes for your usefulness and happiness. I am Sir Your most Obedient Humble Servant,

[signed] Joseph Ward
P.S. As I often write in haste and with freedom if ever you suffer my Letters to be seen by others, you will erase what is not fit for their inspection.

[salute] P.S. Sir

As I expect General Ward will leave the Army in a very few days, unless some unexpected appointment should take place, I must leave it also. As I have served in the Army from the first day of the war to this hour without the intermission of a day, if my services have not recommended me to my country it would be vain to represent them { 173 } upon paper. It is extremely difficult for a person to say any thing with a good grace in favour of himself, or to mention an Office with propriety (if it is above his present station) which he would like to serve in, and nothing but your generosity and candor in desiring to have a hint of what I might have an inclination for could justify my mentioning any Office. I have never risen a step higher in the military Scale from the Battle at Lexington to the present time, (only had the office and duty of Secretary added to my other Office, without pay) but I was perfectly satisfied, thinking that in such a station, I could do more service to my Country than in almost any other; for by standing near the centre of motion I saw every movement and could touch many springs of action. By reason of some Providential circumstances which took place on the memorable ninteenth of April, it was proposed to me at first forming the Army to take a particular command, but for the reasons before mentioned I apprehended that duty required me to continue in the sphere where I first began to act, that I could there promote the general interest much more than if I had the command of and was confined to a single Regiment, and that no station, under the command of a Brigade, would give me an opportunity of doing equal service to the common Cause; therefore I always did prefer my station to any military command under what I have mentioned. If such Offices should always be filled with superior Men (which I trust will be the case) I shall have the noble satisfaction, with the Spartan, to “rejoice that my Country produces so many better Men than myself.”
Should any thing offer either in the civil or military, wherein I could have an opportunity of doing eminent service to my Country (however inferior the title of Office in the common estimation) I would chearfully engage, sensible that

"Honour and Shame from no condition rise,

"Act well your part, there all the honor lies.4

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Honourable John Adams Esqr. Member of the Continental Congress Philadelphia Free”; stamped: “FREE N: YORK MAY*13”; docketed: “Major Ward May 5. 1776.”
1. Not found.
2. Ward's reference to “Southern Geniuses” remains somewhat obscure. On 23 March, Gen. Washington ordered Col. Henry Knox to build a battery at Charlestown Point, the execution of the work to be under the immediate direction of Lt. Col. David Mason. Both were Massachusetts men. Overall direction of fortifications in Boston was entrusted to Col. Richard Gridley, also from Massachusetts (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 4:421, 468; Heitman, Register Continental Army, passim). It may be that Ward knew something about those advising Wash• { 174 } ington, although the General made it clear that the legislature's wishes were to be followed also.
3. Psalms, 60:12.
4. Pope, Essay on Man, Epistle IV, line 193.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0073

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Winthrop, John
Date: 1776-05-06

To John Winthrop

[salute] Dear Sir

Your Letter by your son I have not received,1 but I hope to have that Pleasure soon together with that of waiting upon him here.
Your Brothers Right to the Office you mention cannot be questioned, but whether the Court will appoint two, and who they will be I can form no Conjecture, having never had any Conversation with any Gentleman upon that Subject. An Application was indeed made to me, in Favour of Mr. Henshaw2 when I was at Watertown, but I could give no opinion concerning it. Whether I shall have any Voice in the Appointment3 I know not, I rather think I shall not, because it must soon be made I suppose, and I shall not be soon in the Colony. But if I Should your son, sir, will be more likely than any one I know of at present to have it. But in such Cases every Candidate has A Right to have his Pretentions examined and impartially weighed, and therefore it would be improper for me to make any Promisses.
It gives me Pleasure to learn that our People are at last in Earnest to fortify the Harbour. Believe me, my dear sir, it is of the last Importance. I am very far, from being certain that the Armament, at Hallifax, with a large Reinforcement will not return to Boston. Nothing will prevent it, but the vigorous Exertion of our Government to render the Town inaccessible. There is not in the World, an Harbour, better fitted by Nature to be rendered impregnable by Fortifications than that is. I wish I was with you that I might be able to satisfy myself. Is there no such thing as getting upon Lovells Island, or Georges Island, and driving away the Men of War, which lie in Nantaskett Road. Can nothing be done at Hull or Point Allerton? I am afraid you are as destitute of active and capable Engineers as in Spirited Commanding Officers.
As to the Cannon taken by Hopkins, I fear that none of them can be Spared you. The Continent have so many demands for Cannon, for their Ships, and a Variety of service by sea and Land that I am afraid We shall not be able to obtain any of them. Congress have given our Colony all that belonged to it, and the King.
Am extreamly disappointed in the Experiments at Providence. I hope it is not certain and settled that We have not ore, in the Northern Colonies, which is fit for the Manufacture of Cannon.
{ 175 }
You rejoice me, very much by acquainting me, that there is Plenty of Materials for making Sulphur, in the Country. Wish to be informed in greater Detail, what these Materials are, where and when they were found, and whether the Art of sublimating it, is understood, among our People. There is a sulphur ore, in New Jersey, and We hear of it, in other Places. We have a Committee for salt Petre, sulphur, Powder, Cannon, Musquetts &c. but I dont hear So much from it as I wish.
Our People, you Say are impatiently waiting for the Congress to declare off from Great Britain. What my own Sentiments, are upon this Question, is not material. But others ask to what Purpose should We declare off? Our Privateers are at Liberty, our Trade is open, the Colonies are Sliding into New Governments, a Confederation may be formed but why should We declare We never will be reconciled to Great Britain, again, upon any Terms whatsoever.
You ask how it would be relished by the Congress, if our Colony Should declare off. I am happy to hear that our Colony is disusing a certain Name in all Commissions, Acts, and Law Proscesses and I should like very well, if they would choose a Governor, or at least ask leave of Congress to do it. But I cannot advise them to make any public Declarations, Seperate from our Sister Colonies. The Union, is our Defence, and that must be most tenderly cherished. If our Colony has an Inclination to instruct their Delegates in Congress, no reasonable objection can be made to this. They may if they think proper, instruct their servants, never to vote for any Subjection to Parliament in any Case whatsoever never to vote for submitting to any Crown officer, Whether Governor, Mandamus Councillor, secretary, Judge of Admiralty, Commissioner or Custom House officer &c. &c. if this is their sentiment—or never to vote for acknowledging any Allegiance, or subjection to the Crown of Great Britain, or King of Great Britain. But if they do all this I hope you will allow us to make Peace as an independent State.
It is my opinion, sir, that We shall have but little Difference of Sentiment among the Colonies upon these great Questions in a few Weeks. I am with great Respect, &c.
RC (MHi:JA—John Winthrop Corr.).
1. Winthrop to JA, 5 April (above).
2. Joseph Henshaw (1727–1794) of Leicester and later Shrewsbury, a colonel in the Massachusetts militia (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 12:268–271).
3. Samuel Winthrop was appointed clerk (James Sullivan to JA, 17 May, Adams Papers, not printed).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0074

Author: Warren, James
Recipient: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-05-08 - 1776-05-09

From James Warren

[salute] My Dear Sir

Since my last1 we have the formidable Accounts of the Exertion of the powers and Malice of Britain which I suppose have reached you by this time or will tomorrow. It is reported here that the Fleet and Army are arrived at Hallifax and are determined to Attack this Colony again. This is Confirmed by some deserters from the Ship below who say that they have heard the Officers talk of their Expectations of the Fleet here. All serves only to Confirm me in the Sentiment I have ever had that they would return here. Could it ever be supposed that any good policy would ever Operate so strongly as revenge and the National pride or rather the pride of the Ministry, Army &c. Would the loss of 10,000 Men be of any Consequence Compared with a Chance of repairing the disgrace suffered here. If I am right and they come again we are Certainly in A miserable situation to receive them, our Men and army gone to the Southward, and our Militia yet in A broken state. We should certainly have more of the Continental Forces here and an Officer of Spirit to Command them, or they will signify nothing. We are going on pretty well with the Fortifications of Boston. The works at the Castle, Dorchester, Noddles Island &c. are in good forwardness and will soon be able to make A defence. We have ordered Hulks to be sunk, Fire Ships to be prepared, and two row Gallies to be built. We do all we can with little or no assistance from the Continent. Is not Boston and this Colony of as much Consequence as New York. Upon my word I think they are and at least as much Exposed. You must not be Surprized if after all our warning and Care you should hear some of the most Considerable Towns are destroyed, and the Country ravaged before we shall be able to stop them. The Continental Army have got our Tents, our arms, our Men our Ammunition, and Cannon. We are in A worse Situation than 12 Months ago, but I will say no more on this subject, only that we have ordered Another Regiment to be raised of which Marshal2 has the Command, and a regiment Consisting of 7 Companies of Artillery to be Commanded by T: Crafts, as Lt. Colonel and Trott as Major. I wish things had been more Agreable to you with regard to certain appointments in a Certain Court but they are going from bad to worse. So barren is our poor Country that they have been Obliged to appoint the most unsuitable Man in the world.3 He had no suspicion of it before hand. He reasonably supposed that many Blockheads might be hit on before it came to his turn. He had therefore no opportunity to prevent it. He { 177 } is therefore Embarrassed beyond measure. He fears your displeasure. He is puzzled with the Solicitations of Friends or those who would get clear of this matter, but his Conscience tells him he will by Accepting Injure his Country, and Expose himself. He must therefore decline and you must excuse his Conduct upon these principles.
Nothing is yet done about the Tenure of Commissions &c. You must therefore be at the Mercy of [] &c. But the Major4 says things shall soon be set right. I thank you for the Pamphlet. I like it very well in general. I am not certain I should agree with the Author in three Branches of Legislature. I am at present Inclined to think two properly formed may do as well.
I last saturday Evening received from the President your resolve Accepting my resignation. This may be ranked among the Minutiae, but it seems to me a little hurried and huddled no determination what is to be done with the money in my hands. I have 40,000 dollars here which are wanted but I have no Authority to act till somebody supplies this place. Surely it must be supplied. I am glad to see the Spirit in the Southern Governments. I am afraid they will all get the start of Congress in declarations of Independence. We are certainly Unanimously ripe here for the grand Revolution. I have tryed to get Instructions for you, but have been so sick for 3 weeks past as not to be fit for Executeing any thing, and the Major thinks we had better have the Instructions of our Towns for that, and the purpose of Assumeing Government. We rise to day or Tomorrow, and are to have a full Representation. As the Law stood 30 Freeholders and Inhabitants were to send one, and 120 2 Members. Being threatned to be overun from the Frontiers the County of Essex stirred themselves and sent A Petition well supported for A more equal representation. This produced a new Act by which every 220 may send 3, 320–4, and so on so we are to have A House full.5
I have Just received yours of the 22d. The weather is so Bad that I keep House this Afternoon. I sent it to the Major to read. I hope something yet will be done. I Improve your Letters to do A great deal of good. I have spoke for a Copy of the report you mention and Engaged A plan of the harbour of Boston.6 If I am not disappointed you will find them Inclosed.7
Your Letters hold up to view many Important matters, and never fail to please me. I am Intirely of your Sentiments with regard to the Advantages of some measures, and disadvantages of Others, but Time will only permit me to Inform you that the only News we have is that Capt. Tucker in the Schooner Manly used to Command yesterday { 178 } took two Brigantines one from Ireland with Provisions and goods, and the Other from Fial [Fayal] with wine, and got them safe into Lyn. One of them he took close by the Light House while the Man of War fired at him. While I am writeing there is a fireing of Cannon below. What that is I know not. Perhaps I may give you more news in the morning. I am with regard to all Friends perticularly Mr. Adams and Mr. Gerry, Yours sincerely,
Nothing new this morning. Mrs. W8 desires her Compliments and Thanks for the excellent Letter she received sometime ago.9
[I am] not fond of English or French Tyranny, tho' [ . . . ] if I must have one, I should prefer the last. I dont want a French Army here, but I want to have one Employed against Britain, and I doubt whether that will ever be done till you make A more Explicit declaration of Independence than is in your privateering Resolves, or those for Opening the Ports. You will never be thought in Earnest, and fully determined yourselves, and to be depended on by others till you go further.
Mr. Bowdoin has carried away some days ago the Resolve and plan and has disappointed you by not returning it.
1. That of 30 April (above).
2. Col. Thomas Marshall (Mass., House Jour., 1775–1776, 4th sess., p. 221).
3. On 25 April, Warren was appointed to the Superior Court as a substitute for one of those who had declined (Records of the States, Microfilm, Mass. E.1, Reel No. 9, Unit 2, p. 122; William Cushing to JA, 20 May, below).
4. Joseph Hawley.
5. Mass., Province Laws, 5:502–503.
6. See JA to James Warren, 16 April (above).
7. See postscript.
8. Warren crossed out heavily all but the initial of his name.
9. That of 16 April (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0075

Author: Sullivan, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-09

From James Sullivan

[salute] Dear Sir

To intrude on one who in the greatest Political Tempest is Tyed to the helm of the Mighty Vessel of Empire, wrecked and tossed by the Whirling blasts of Despotism, must give disagreeable Sensations to one (if there is such) of less Sensibility than myself—but as the greatest Events are Swiftly impelling each other upon us, and each moment in the present being worth an age in any other Time I dare not oppose the voilent propensity which urges me to address you.
Taking it for granted that Such is the celerity of the American World to independence, and so obvious are the decrees of Heaven for that Grand Event, that the Sluggish motions of the irresolute, and { 179 } the weak and Scandalous Effort of the Tyrant are alike unable to prevent it—the important question is, what shall be done by this Colony? shall we urge you to an acceleration of the Wheels of Fate and Force you to Transalate us into an independant State immediately? or shall we only assure you, that we are ripe for the Measure and are in danger of being rotten before the proprietary Governments are ripe. There are many among us who dread the changes as good men do their Natural dissolution—perfectly pleased with the Idea of an hereafter “but stand Trembling on the brink and fear to launch away”—but none are there who do not heartily engage to Support the measure if the Congress Should persue it.
A bill is passed by this Court for a more equal Representation, I sent it to Mr. Gerry who will Shew it to you. This unweildy Assembly will undoubtedly settle a Constitution and provide a less Numerous Assembly than themselves.
We are daily altering our old unmeaning form of Government, as you may learn by the Stile Bill1 an history of which I sent Mr. Gerry—and I hope we shall attend to it when the defence of our Country calls not our attention another way untill it is made a Base of Liberty—and not a Path to Vassalage and Lawless Domination. Some are for writing to the Congress for leave to assume a new form of Government, but my Mind is otherwise. I have not the least Idea of disolving the old and Making an intire new Form of Government. I think it would be attended with the greatest Anarchy as it would leave the people for a Time without any Government—and to be free on the Subject I have many doubts whether the Congress has or ought to have power to regulate the internal Police of any Government—their business being in my opinion only to regulate matters between Government and Government which particular Assemblys are incompetent to. I am therefore for attending to this matter ourselves and for altering our Constitution peice by peice in a manner the least alarming to our Sister Colonies, untill we shall reduce it to true Republican principles.
But dear Sir I am obliged to tell you, that public Virtue is almost Swallowed up in a desire of possessing paper Currency—and parsimony in the Modest and Charming dress of Frugality together with Covetiousness in the shining Robes of private Justice, does us much injury. The Solemnity of a Senate has left us—and such a Levelling Spirit prevails even in men called the first among the Mighty, that I fear we shall finally be obliged to call in a military force to do that which Civil Government was orginally designed for.
The Idea that the Representatives are the Servants of the People, { 180 } that they Create the Council, who are the Creators of all Civil Executive officers, never ought to be lost,2 but the Idea that he who is Set up by the whole people is greater than any individual is equally important and I am sorry to say that the Latter is lean pinched and Scarcely allowed an Existence among us.
Here are the quicksands which I dread and wish that you would in your Letters to those who have the honour and happiness of your Correspondence deal largely on this Subject and endeavour to Pilot us over these Shoals. I am Sir with great Respect and Sincerity yr. Friend and Hble. Servt,
[signed] Ja Sullivan
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Hon. John Adams A member of the Continental Congress at Philadelphia”; docketed: “Hon. James Sullivan May 9 & 17. 1776 ansd. May 26. 1776.”
1. See JA to William Tudor, 12 April, note 4 (above).
2. In Berkshire co. some of the towns objected to the naming of justices of the peace by the Council (Robert J. Taylor, Western Massachusetts in the Revolution, Providence, 1954, p. 81–83).

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).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0078

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Winthrop, John
Date: 1776-05-12

To John Winthrop

[salute] Dear sir

I am favoured with yours by your son,1 who has arrived here in good Health. I wish he may be provided for in one of the Ways you mention, because I esteem him deserving of it.
The Question of Independence is so vast a Field that I have not Time to enter it, and go any Way in it. Many previous steps are necessary. The Colonies should all assume the Powers of Government in { 184 } all its Branches first. They should confederate with each other, and define the Powers of Congress next. They should then, endeavour to form an Alliance with some foreign State. When this is done, a public Declaration might be made.2 Such a Declaration may be necessary, in order to obtain a foreign Alliance—and it should be made for that End. But Some are fearfull of making it public, if they should agree to make it.
A Recommendation has pass'd to all the Colonies to institute Governments, which will be published in a few days. A Confederation will soon be thought of—Instructions against Independence and Confederation are all repealed, excepting Pensylvania and theirs will be soon. The Colonies, are about assuming Governments, and most Gentlemen are now sensible of the Necessity of Confederation.
It is a great Satisfaction to my own Mind that it was not my fault, that all these Things were not done Eleven Months ago.3 If My Country had not suffered so severely by the Neglect, I should enjoy a Tryumph, when I see Gentlemen every day converted to those sentiments and Measures which I supported ten Months ago with all my poor Endeavours and they opposed with all their great Abilities. But so it is. Mr. Dickinson himself is now an Advocate for Colony Governments, and Continental Confederation.
I was pleased to learn by your Letter that our Colony abounded with Materials for making Sulphur. Should be happy to know where and what they are and how it is manufactured. Our Province must bring this and every Thing else to perfection.
I want to know the Reason that our Courts of Justice, have not proceeded. I fear there is a disagreable Spirit among the People, but cannot learn any particulars. I heard it hinted that the Justices had been interrupted by Force in Taunton, Hampshire and Berkshire.4 Hope it is not true. If it is should be glad to know the Complaints.
RC (MHi:JA—John Winthrop Corr.); docketed: “Mr Adams.”
1. John Winthrop to JA, 5 April (above).
2. JA's suggested order of events is of some interest. His desire for a confederation and an alliance before a formal declaration does not fit the pattern of the “radicals” program as described by Merrill Jensen. He held that when independence was inevitable, radicals “became less and less interested” in confederation, that it was conservatives who wanted confederation and an alliance before a declaration of independence (The Articles of Confederation, Madison, 1940, repr. Madison, 1963, p. 111–114). But compare JA to AA, 17 May, Adams Family Correspondence, 1:410, and JA to Patrick Henry, 3 June (below).
3. If JA is taken at his word, the Battle of Lexington and Concord altered his views on independence as expressed in the Novanglus letters. If we rely on extant correspondence in the summer and fall of 1775, he did not make such clear-cut choices as are here implied.
{ 185 } { 186 }
4. The county courts were prevented from sitting in Berkshire in February and in Hampshire in March (Force, Archives, 4th ser., 5:1275–1276; James Russell Trumbull, History of Northampton, Massachusetts, from Its Settlement in 1654, 2 vols., Northampton, 1898–1902, 2:389–390). On the court closing in Taunton, see John Winthrop to JA, 1 June (below). In Hampshire the commissions of the judges, which had not yet eliminated the king's name, were objected to; the chief complaint in Berkshire was the naming of judges and justices by the Council instead of having them elected by the people (Robert J. Taylor, ed., Massachusetts, Colony to Commonwealth, Chapel Hill, 1961, p. 17–19, 23).

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.
Therefore
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).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0081

Author: Knox, Henry
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-16

From Henry Knox

[salute] Sir

I did myself the honor to address you sometime ago and soon after it I sat out upon a Journey to New York Ticonderoga &c: whilst I was upon my Journey your kind Letter1 came to Cambridge but by some mischance it was not till lately I had the pleasure to receive it. I blush { 190 } at what you must have thought of my negligence. I am much oblig'd to you for the favorable opinion you are pleas'd to conceive of me and wish my conduct may be such as may cherish it. The information you wish to receive I shall endevor to communicate according to my poor abilities.
The officers of the army are very difficient in Books upon the military art which does not arise from their disinclination to read but the impossibility of procuring the Books in America; something has been done to remedy this at Philadelphia and I hope they will not stop short. There are a variety of Books translated into English which would be of great Service but none more so than the great Marechal Saxe2 “who stalks a God in war.” Tis he who has done more towards reducing war to fix'd principles than perhaps any other man of the age. Indeed his Reflections on the propagation of the human Species are odd and whimsical, as they without hesitation put to death all the fine feelings of the human heart.
Mullers Artillery and Hollidays principles of Gunnery Monsr. Clariac [Clairac] Mullers and Pleydells field fortification are Books so necessary for a people struggling for Liberty and Empire, that they well merit the attention of even your respectable assembly of patriots.3 They are too expensive for a private undertaking. There are other Books some translated and others in French which tho' they are more Scientific will be in some future period essentially necessary. Vauban Coehorn, Blondell, Count Pagan, and Belidor treating on fortification and military mathematics in all their Branches.4 Mr. Muller an Englishman has compil'd principally from the above, two Books, which if printed would be of vast service, his Elements of Fortification and his Practical Fortification. The Cause in which we are engag'd is of such infinite moment to America that no cost or pains can be too great to make the Conclusion happy.
Such opportunities as the present do not often turn up in the course of human events. The future happiness or misery of a great proportion of the human race is at Stake—and if we make a wrong choice ourselves and our posterity must be wretched. Wrong choice! There can be but one Choice consistent with the Character of a people possessing the least degree of reason. And that is to Seperate—to seperate from that people who from a total dissolution of virtue among them must be our enemies—An Event which I de[v]outly pray may soon take place; and let it be as soon as it may. I hope we shall like the romans when Hannibal was thundring at the Gates of Rome carry the War into the enemies Count[ry]. I know many people would laugh at the { 191 } proposition but whoever Considers of the total blindness of the present ministry; and the unprepar'd situation In which they will be if the intended armament comes here—their veterans in America—their regular militia Coxcombs—their peasantry unarm'd. In this Situation of affairs, admiral Hopkins with three or four frigates might I think plunder and burn Liverpool a place where they seldom or ever have Ships of war—a retalion for Charlestown Falmouth and Norfolk. A successful expedition of this Kind would give strength and energy to any ambassadors of America which might be at foreign Courts—perhaps this might be chimerical. I know Monsieur Thurót with 2 or 3 frigates landed At Carorickfergus in Ireland in War time,5 when the whole British fleet almost was cruizing for him and the whole coast alarm'd and it was a mere accident he was met by Cap. Eliot. If so when prepar'd something might be done now by an enemy they affect to despise and they unprepar'd.
We are going on rapidly in fortifying this place and in a few days I think we shall be able to give any troops a proper reception. I wish Boston was as well fortified not that it appears probable the enemy will attempt it again—but it would give a greater confidence knowing it to be secure. I am afraid sir you will repent the Invitation you gave me to correspond with you and under the influence of that fear I shall wait for one short line to dispel it. In the Interim I am Dear Sir with the greatest Respect and affection Your very Hble. Servant,
[signed] Knox
Be pleas'd Sir to present my most respectful Compliments to your worthy and patriotic Colleagues.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Honorable Jno Adams Esqr Philadelphia”; docketed: “Knox May 16, 1776.” A small piece cut from MS.
1. That of 11 Nov. 1775, in answer to Knox to JA of 26 Oct. 1775 (both above).
2. See JA to William Tudor, 12 Oct. 1775, note 5 (above).
3. Francis Holliday, An Easy Introduction to Practical Gunnery or the Art of Engineering, London, 1756, 1774. For Muller's works and his translation of Clairac and Pleydell's work, see reference in note 2.see JA to William Tudor, 12 Oct. 1775, note 5 (above).
4. Vauban was considered the foremost authority on fortifications. Knox may have had in mind Le Directeur Général des fortifications, La Haye, 1685, 1689, or The New Method of Fortification, as Practised by . . . Vauban, transl. A. Swall, London, 1693. Menno, Baron Van Coehoorn, called the Dutch Vauban (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale), wrote in Dutch on fortification. Knox may have known two translations: The New Method of Fortification, transl. Thomas Savery, London, 1705; Nouvelle fortification, tant pour un terrain bas et humide, que sec et élevé, representée en trois manières, La Haye, 1706, 1711, 1741. François Blondel, Nouvelle manière de fortifier les places, La Haye, 1684, 1711. Blaise François, Count Pagan, Les Fortifications du Comte de Pagan, Paris, 1645, 1669. For Belidor, see reference in note 2.see JA to William Tudor, 12 Oct. 1775, note 5 (above).
5. Capt. François Thurot captured Carrickfergus on 20 Feb. 1760 (Gipson, Empire before the Revolution, 8:26).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0082

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1776-05-18

To James Warren

[salute] My dear Sir

Yours of 8 May received this Morning, and am as I ever have been much of your Opinion that The Enemy would return to the Massachusetts if possible. They will probably land at Hingham or Braintree, or somewhere to the Northward of Boston, not make a direct Attempt upon Boston itself, the next Time. I hope no Pains, no Labour or expence will be neglected to fortify the Harbour of Boston however. Your Militia you say is in a broken State, but dont explain what you mean. I was in hopes that the late Militia Law had put them in a good Condition.1 You must depend upon them chiefly. We have been labouring here to procure you Some assistance, and have obtained a Vote, that the 5 Battallions now with you be filled up, and three Additional ones raised, two in Mass, one in Connecticutt.2 A Major General and Brigadier, are to go to Boston. You must not hesitate at any Thing for your own Defence. New York and Canada, will take an infinite Expence. We did our best, but could procure no more at present. If an Impression should be made on you, the Continent will interpose, but they never will believe it untill it takes Place.
This Day has brought us the Dismals from Canada. Defeated most ignominiously. Where shall We lay the blame?3 America duped and bubbled with the Phantom of Commissioners, has been fast asleep and left that important Post undefended, unsupported. The Ministry have caught the Colonies, as I have often caught a Horse, by holding out an empty Hat, as if it was full of Corn, or as many a Sportsman has shot Woodcocks, by making an old Horse Stalk before him, and hide him from the Sight of the Bird. Nothing has ever put my Patience to the Tryal so much as to see Knaves imposing upon Fools, by Such Artifices. I wash my Hands of this Guilt, I have reasoned, I have ridiculed, I have fretted, and declaimed, against this fatal Delusion, from the Beginning. But a Torrent is not to be impeded by Reasoning nor a Storm allayed by Ridicule. In my situation, altho I have not and will not be restrained from a Freedom of Speech yet a Decorum must be observed, and ever has been by me. But I have often wished that all America knew, as much as I do of the Springs of Action and the Motions of the Machine. I do not think it prudent nor Safe to write freely upon these Subjects even to my most faithfull Friends.
Providence has hitherto preserved Us, and I firmly believe will continue to do so. But it gives me inexpressible Grief that by our own Folly, and Wickedness, We should deserve it so very ill as We do.
{ 193 }
What shall We Say of this Scandalous Flight from Quebec? It seems to be fated that New England Officers, should not Support a Character. Wooster is the object now of Contempt, and Detestation,4 of those who ought to be the Contempt and Detestation of all America for their indefatigable Obstruction to every Measure which has been meditated, for the Support of our Power in Canada. Our Province must find Some Way of Making better Officers, and of engaging abler Men, in her Councils as well as her Arms or I know not what will be the Consequence, instead of which she Seems to me to be contriving Means to drive every Man of real Abilities out of her service.
I hope you will not decline the Appointment you mention however. Nothing would make me so happy as your Acceptance of that Place. I am extreamly unhappy to hear of your ill Health, hope that will mend. There is certainly no Man in the Province who would be so agreable to me. I cant bear the Thought of your refusing.
Rejoice to hear that my Friends Crafts and Trott are in the service. Will it do to promote my Pupil Austin? His Genius is equal to any Thing. Would not promotion, mend him of his Faults. Can nothing be done for Ward, Aid de Camp and Secretary to General Ward? He is an honest, faithfull daring Man, I think, and Sensible enough. He really deserves Promotion.
Is it possible to get in Boston silver and Gold for the service in Canada? Our Affairs have been ruin'd there for Want of it, and can never be retrieved without it. Pray let me know if any sum can be had in our Province.5
I shall inclose you a News Paper, which when you have read send along to Braintree.
I am and have been these twelve Months, fully of your Opinion that We have nothing to depend upon for our Preservation from Destruction, but the kind Assistance of Heaven to our own Union and vigorous Exertions. I was ripe therefore for as explicit Declarations as Language could express Twelve Months ago. But the Colonies separately have neglected their Duty, as much as the Congress, and We cannot march faster than our Constituents will follow us. We dont always go quick enough to keep out of their Way.
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “Mr J A Letters May 1776.”
1. Passed 22 Jan. (Mass., Province Laws, 5:445–454).
2. The resolution for additional battalions was passed on 16 May (JCC, 4:360).
3. See JA to Samuel Cooper?, 9 June (below).
4. The congress voted to recall Gen. Wooster to headquarters on 6 June (JCC, 5:421). Commissioners Samuel { 194 } Chase and Charles Carroll had advised his recall, calling him “unfit, totally unfit, to command your Army, and conduct the war” (to the President of Congress, 27 May, Force, Archives, 4th ser., 6:589–591).
5. See the General Court to the Massachusetts Delegates, 9 May (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0083

Author: Lee, Richard
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-18

From Richard Lee

[salute] Sr.

Inclosed you have a printed Resolve1 which passed our Convention to the infinite joy of our people. The Resolve for Independency has not that peremtory and decided Air I could wish. Perhaps the proviso which reserves to this Colony the power of forming its own Government may be questionable as to its fitness. Would not a Uniform plan of Government prepared for America by the Congress and approved by the Colonies be a surer foundation of Unceasing Harmony to the whole.2 However such as they are the exultation here was extreme. The british flag on the Capitol was immediately Struck and the Continental3 hoisted in its room. The troops were drawn out and we had a discharge of Artillery and small arms.4
If Hopkins Fleet were in Chesepeke Bay Dunmores Fleet might be taken.

[salute] My Compliments to Mr. S. Adams and Mr. Payne. I am Sr. yr. Respectful Hble. servt.

[signed] Richard Lee5
1. Virginia's resolve of 15 May instructed its delegates to propose that the congress “declare the United Colonies free and independent states,” and the convention further resolved that a committee be named to set forth a declaration of rights and draft a plan of government for the colony (Jefferson, Papers, 1:290–291).
2. Period and following capital letter supplied.
3. The Continental or Grand Union flag carried for its canton the union of the two crosses of St. George and St. Andrew which the British had adopted and across the red field were sewn white strips to make thirteen red and white stripes. This flag was first flown with Washington's permission on 1 Jan. 1776 in Cambridge and at Prospect Hill, now in Somerville, outside Boston (Frank Earle Schermerhorn, American and French Flags of the Revolution, 1775–1783, Phila., 1948, p. 16–17, illustrated in plate 1).
4. The phrasing of this first paragraph is almost identical to that in a letter from Thomas Ludwell Lee to Richard Henry Lee of the same date (John H. Hazelton, The Declaration of Independence, Its History, N.Y., 1906, p. 401–402).
5. Richard Lee (1726–1795), squire of Lee Hall, was a cousin of Richard Henry Lee (Cazenove Gardner Lee Jr., Lee Chronicle, N.Y., 1957, p. 349).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0084

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1776-05-20

To James Warren

[salute] My dear Sir

Every Post and every Day rolls in upon Us Independance like a Torrent. The Delegates from Georgia, made their Appearance, this Day in Congress, with unlimited Powers,1 and these Gentlemen themselves are very firm. South Carolina, has erected her Government and given her Delegates ample Powers,2 and they are firm enough. North Carolina, have given theirs full Powers after repealing an Instruction given last August against Confederation and Independence.3 This Days Post, has brought a Multitude of Letters from Virginia, all of which breath the same Spirit. They agree they shall institute a Government. All are agreed in this they say.
Here are four Colonies to the Southward who are perfectly agreed now with the four to the Northward. Five in the Middle are not yet quite So ripe. But they are very near it. I expect that New York, will come to a fresh Election of Delegates in the Course of this Week, give them full Powers, and determine to institute a Government.4
The Convention of New Jersey, is about Meeting, and will assume a Government.
Pensylvania, Assembly meets this Day, and it is said will repeal their Instruction to their Delegates5 which has made them So excedingly obnoxious to America in General, and their own Constituents in particular.
We have had an entertaining Maneuvre, this Morning in the State House Yard. The Committee of the City, Summoned a Meeting at Nine O Clock in the State House Yard, to consider of the Resolve of Congress of the fifteenth instant. The Weather was very rainy, and the Meeting was in the Open Air, like the Comitia of the Romans. A Stage was erected, extempore for the Moderator, and the few orators to ascend. Coll. Roberdeau was the Moderator. Coll. McKean, Coll. Cadwallader and Coll. Matlack the principal orators.6 It was The very first Town Meeting, I ever saw in Philadelphia and it was conducted with great order, Decency and Propriety.
The first Step taken was this: the Moderator produced the Resolve of Congress of the 15th instant, and read it with a loud Stentorean Voice that might be heard a Quarter of a Mile “Whereas his Britannic Majesty &c.” As soon as this was read, the Multitude, Several Thousands, some say, tho So wett rended the Welkin with three Cheers, Hatts flying as usual &c.
Then a Number of Resolutions were produced and moved and de• { 196 } termined, with great Unanimity. Those Resolutions I will send you, as Soon as published.7 The Drift of the whole was that the Assembly was not a Body properly constituted, authorized and qualified to carry the Resolve for instituting a new Government into Execution and therefore that a Convention should be call'd—and at last they voted to support and defend the Measure of a Convention, at the Utmost Hazard, and at all Events &c.
The Delaware Government, generally is of the Same Opinion with the best Americans, very orthodox in their Faith and very exemplary in their Practice. Maryland remains to be mentioned. That is so excentric a Colony—some times so hot—sometimes so cold—now so high then so low—that I know not what to say about it or to expect from it.8 I have often wished it could exchange Places with Hallifax. When they get agoing I expect some wild extravagant Flight or other from it. To be sure they must go beyond every body else, when they begin to go.
Thus I have rambled through the Continent, and you will perceive by this state of it, that We cant be very remote from the most decisive Measures and the most critical Events.
What do you think must be my sensations, when I see the Congress now daily passing Resolutions, which I most earnestly pressed for against Wind and Tide, Twelve Months ago?—and which I have not omitted to labour for, a Month together from that Time to this? What do you think must be my Reflections when I see, the Farmer himself, now confessing the Falsehood of all his Prophecies, and the Truth of mine, and confessing himself, now for instituting Governments, forming a Continental Constitution, making Alliances, with foreigners, opening Ports and all that and confessing that the Defence of the Colonies—and Preparations for defence have been neglected, in Consequence of fond delusive hopes and deceitfull Expectations?
I assure you this is no Gratification of my Vanity. The gloomy Prospect of Carnage and Devastation that now presents itself in every Part of the Continent and which has been in the most express and decisive nay dogmatical Terms foretold by me a thousand Times is too affecting to give me Pleasure. It moves my keenest Indignation—yet I dare not hint at these Things for I hate to give Pain to Gentlemen whom I believe sufficiently punished by their own Reflections.
RC (MHi: Warren–Adams Coll.); docketed: “May 1776.”
1. The printed records of Georgia do not contain a copy of the instructions given to its delegates to the congress, but a contemporary account is more explicit than JA: “the Convention of Georgia have authorized their Delegates in Congress to concur in any scheme which may be proposed for the benefit { 197 } of the United Colonies, even to a total separation from Great Britain” (Force, Archives, 4th ser., 6:903).
2. On South Carolina, see JA to James Warren, 20 April, note 2 (above).
3. On North Carolina, see John Penn to JA, 17 April, note 1 (above).
4. New York did not elect new delegates in 1776 (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1 and 2: passim).
5. The instructions of Pennsylvania had ordered its delegates to oppose any measure that contemplated separation from Great Britain. Meeting on 20 May, but ignoring the popular protest that it was incompetent to create a new government for the province, the Assembly continued to function, but did not act upon the instructions until 14 June. Then the Assembly merely repealed its former directive; it did not instruct the delegates to vote for independence (John H. Hazelton, The Declaration of Independence, Its History, N.Y., 1906, p. 64–67, 187–190; the instructions are in Force, Archives, 4th ser., 6:755).
6. Daniel Roberdeau (1727–1795), merchant and patriot, was a member of the Committee of Safety and instrumental in allying the radicals of the city with voters in the back country who were angry with conservative eastern leadership. Thomas McKean (1734–1817), long active in Delaware politics, became a leader in the movement for independence and a state government for Pennsylvania, although he came to oppose its very democratic constitution. John Cadwalader (1742–1786) was a member of the Committee of Safety and a colonel of a Philadelphia battalion. Timothy Matlack (d. 1829), an assistant to the secretary of the congress, Charles Thomson, and colonel of a battalion of Associators, helped to draft the Pennsylvania constitution of 1776 (all in DAB).
7. [Proceedings of a Public Meeting in Favor of Independence], 20 May 1776, Broadside, Phila., 1776 (Evans, No. 15015).
8. JA may have had in mind the instructions issued by the Maryland Convention on 11 Jan. to its congressional delegation. The Convention wanted grievances redressed and reconciliation, but it intended to continue military action in cooperation with other colonies. It insisted that its delegates not be bound by a majority vote for independence, confederation, or foreign alliances. Maryland's delegates had to refer such matters to the Convention for its consideration. Only if a majority of Maryland's delegates believed that separation was “absolutely necessary for the preservation” of American liberties could they vote for independence without reference to the Convention. The last instruction urged that a resolution be adopted by the congress that no one sitting in that body could hold a military command in the regular forces or an office of profit in any government “assumed since the present controversy with Great Britain began, or which shall hereafter be assumed” (Force, Archives, 4th ser., 4:653–654). It should be noted that “assumed” modifies “government” not “office of profit.” This instruction to Maryland's delegates introduced a wholly new concept, which JA regarded as aimed at him and any others who sought independence and who held office under new governments. The contention of a Maryland spokesman was that such officeholders were interested parties and would favor independence. See JA's account in Diary and Autobiography, 3:360–363; JA to James Otis Sr., 29 April, note 2 (above); and JA to Samuel Chase, 14 June (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0085

Author: Cooper, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-20

From Samuel Cooper

[salute] My dear Sir

By the last Post I received your's of May 6th.1 and am not troubled at your Acceptance of the Resignation of G. W.2 He is, indeed, a cool prudent Man, and accepted the Post of Danger for his Country at a { 198 } critical Time, when others seem'd to decline it. He is a through New England Man in his Principles and Inclinations, but not made for an high Command in the Field. I cannot wholly excuse any whose Stations requir'd them to be alert as possible in so important a Time as the Evacuation of Boston. W. had one of the 4 Regiments station'd at Marblehead and Beverly which could not be call'd off. The small Pox, Torie Effects, and other necessary Occasions requir'd many Guards. General Washington left Orders for the Works of the British Troops to be demolish'd at Charlestown and other Places—Charlestown Point and Noddles Island to be immediately fortify'd—tho many wish'd we had begun lower down the Harbor. The General Court occupied in many Affairs were too dilatory in this. The Town of Boston was unguided—the most of the Selectmen out of Town—It's Inhabitants of chief Spirit not return'd. Those that remain'd during the Siege wore the Marks of Men that had been under the Yoke, and requir'd Time to recover Spirit and Vigor. I mention these Things as some Excuse. Had there been any one leading Person, to have immediately discern'd, and stated to the Court what was necessary, they were ready to grant Supplies. The Pause was dangerous and dishonorable. I felt it, and wrote to my Friends. Our Colony, will however, I believe support it's Character—Aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus.3
I have the Pleasure now to inform you that besides what is done at Charlestown Point, we have a good Fortress and Cannon mounted at Fort Hill: another almost compleated on Noddles' Island—another at Dorchester Point finely executed. These Works are allow'd by the best Judges, to be superior to any Thing of the Kind done by the British Engineers here. The General Court have voted two Marching Regiments, and one of Artillery, which are filling up as fast as can be expected considering the busy Season of the Year, and how many Men we have already furnish'd for the general Service. They have also made Provision for Row Gallies, Fire Ships and Rafts. Their Committee for fortifying has large Powers, Lincoln is Chairman. I have the same Idea of Col. Quincy's Knowledg [of] the Harbour that you express, and of the best Method to secure it. I have press'd that he might be consulted. He has been; and Lincoln assur'd me he had his Opinion in Writing which would be attended to. We want however, very greatly a Military Commander of Capacity and Spirit. Cannot you spare us Green, Sullivan, or one like them?
I congratulate you upon the Capture of one of the most Important Prizes taken this War4—a Storeship with 1500 hundred Barrels of Powder, 1000 Carbines—Carriages, entrenching Tools &c. The Ship { 199 } was 270 Tons: and taken by our Countryman Muckford, in a Continental Cruizer of 4 Guns, 50 Tons, and 20 Men. The Ship had four guns and 17 Men. A bold and noble Action. Poor Muckford has not liv'd to enjoy his Prize. Going out last Evening thro Pulling Point Gut, and coming to Anchor there, in Company with a little Vessell of 30 Tons, and 3 Carriage Guns, they were attack'd about 9 O'Clock by twenty Boats from the Men of War in Nantasket. The Boats were beat off by our brave men who killed and wounded a Number of the Enemy, but Muckford exerting himself heroically, fell; and was the only Person we lost. I am afraid the Post will set off before this can be given him, must therefore conclude. Your's most affectionately,
[signed] S.SSC5
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Dr Cooper May 20. 1776.”
1. Not found.
2. Gen. Artemas Ward.
3. Even good Homer sometimes nods.
4. For another account see Richard Devens to JA, 16 May (above).
5. Apparently scrawled in an attempt to conceal his identity.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0086

Author: Cushing, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-20

From William Cushing

[salute] Dear Sir

Amidst the trouble of our times, I have pleasure in the thought of your being on the bench and appointed to the head of it, a place I have heretofore had a Secret imagination you were destined to, which proves in event, not an enthusiastical Chimera. Reed, Paine and Sargeant it seems, have declined: and Foster, Sullivan and Warren are appointed in their room. Col. Warren has not yet accepted, but I suppose, intends it.1 The Council incline we should go upon Action, though I should been glad, did the necessity of public affairs permit, to have had you with us, to exercise your office. We have appointed good Mr. Winthrop Clerk and purpose beginning on the Eastern Circuit, if the Alarms of war do not forbid. I can tell the G—— Jury the nullity of acts of Parliament, but must leave you to prove it effectually, by the more powerful arguments of the Jus gladii divinum;2 a power not peculiar to K——s and M——s. If we should establish the System and rules of the Common Law in the Courts, and inculcate the doctrine of Submission to the higher Powers, the powers that be, you will hereafter, be precluded from finding fault, by your absence. Although on account of the weighty and important affairs to this Continent to be agitated in Congress which require your attendance, I must, however reluctantly, acquiesce in your detention.
A rumor has been spread here, a day or two past, of a british rein• { 200 } forcement arriving at Quebec and obliging our army to raise the Siege; which I am loth to believe at present. It seems to my poor understanding in politics, that our army ought to have had a large reinforcement, while the Lakes were passable on the Ice; and that we have depended too much on the impracticability of navigation up the river in the Spring. Where is our grand Fleet? Why is Lord Dunmore permitted to Set foot on american ground?3 But I must beg pardon, believing every thing has been done, as far and maturely as practicable, and leave these mighty matters to you, wiser heads; trusting in the Supreme Ruler, for prosperity to your councils and Success to American freedom. I have some Conception of the difficulty of defending every part of so extended a Continent. Next Monday we are to have a Town meeting here, to know our minds on the grand Subject of Independance, and I believe, we shall be pretty unanimous; as Common Sense has been somewhat prevalent among us, of late. I have long wanted an interview with you. Be so kind as to favor me with a Line—a ray or two of illumination from head quarters. Your Friend and most humble Servt.
[signed] Wm Cushing
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Judge Cushing May 28. 1776 ansd. June 9.” Despite the erroneous docketing, JA, in answering on 9 June, acknowledged Cooper'sCushing's letter of 20 May (see below).
1. In a letter to the Council dated 3 June, Warren declined his appointment largely because he lacked the legal training that he believed the position required. The Council accepted his refusal on 14 June (Records of the States, Microfilm, Mass. E.1, 1775–1777, Reel No. 9, Unit 3, p. 25). Warren's refusal may have also been encouraged by his wife (Adams Family Correspondence, 1:405; 2:16).
2. The divine law of the sword, a term used literally here, but in lawyer's parlance it meant supreme jurisdiction, the power of punishing for crime.
3. From a base in Norfolk, Lord Dunmore had made a number of attacks along the Elizabeth River, but after the middle of Dec. 1775, he had to abandon his base and rely solely on his fleet, which sent raiding parties ashore from time to time in 1776 (Benjamin Quarles, “Lord Dunmore as Liberator,” WMQ, 3d ser., 15:497–498, 503–504 [Oct. 1958]).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0087

Author: Henry, Patrick
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-20

From Patrick Henry

[salute] My dear Sir

Your Favor1 with the pamphlet came safe to hand. I am Exceedingly obliged to you for it, and I'm not without Hopes it may produce Good here, where there is among most of our opulent Familys, a strong Byass to Aristocrasy. I tell my Friends you are the Author. Upon that Supposition I have two Reasons for liking the Book. The Sentiments are precisely the same I have long since taken up, and they come { 201 } recomended by you. Go on my dear Friend to assail the strong Holds of Tyranny. And in whatever Form Oppression may be found, may those Talents and that Firmness which have atcheived so much for America, be pointed against it.
Before this reaches you the Resolution for finally separating from Britain will be handed to Congress by Coll. Nelson. I put up with it in the present Form, for the Sake of Unanimity. 'Tis not quite so pointed as I could wish. Excuse me for telling you of what I think of immense Importance. 'Tis to anticipate the Enemy at the French Court. The half of our Continent offered to France, may induce her to aid our Destruction, which she certainly has the Power to accomplish. I know the free Trade with all the States would be more beneficial to her, than any territorial possessions she might acquire. But pressed, allured, as she will be, but above all, ignorant of the great Things we mean to offer, may we not loose her? The Consequence is dreadfull. Excuse me again. The Confederacy. That must precede an open Declaration of Independency and foreign Alliances. Would it not be sufficient to confine it for the present to the Objects of Offensive and Defensive Nature, and a Guaranty of the respective Colonial Rights? If a minute Arrangement of Things is attempted, such as equal Representation &c. &c., you may split and divide, certainly will delay the French Alliance which with me is everything. The great Force in San. Domingo Martinique &c. is under the Guidance of some person in high office. Will not the Mississippi lead your Ambassadors thither mo[st] safely?
Our Convention is now employed in the great Work of forming a Constitution. My most esteem'd republican Form has many and powerfull Enemys. A silly Thing published in Philadelphia by a native of Virginia has just made its appearance here, strongly recommended 'tis said by one of our delegates now with you, B[raxton]. His Reasonings upon and Distinction between private and public Virtue are weak shallow evasive, and the whole performance an Affront and Disgrace to this Country and by one Expression I suspect his Whiggism.2 Our Session will be very long. During which I cannot count upon one Coadjutor of Talents equal to the Task. Would to God you and your Sam Adams were here. It shall be my incessant study to so form our portrait of Government that a Kindred with New England may be discern'd in it. And if all your Excellencys cannot be preserved, yet I hope to retain so much of the Likeness, that posterity shall pronounce us descended from the same stock. I shall think perfection is obtain'd if we have your Approbation. I'm forced to conclude But first let me { 202 } beg to be presented to my ever esteem'd S. Adams my Dear sir may God preserve you and give you every good Thing.
[signed] P. Henry Jr.
Will you and S.A. now and then write me.3
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To John Adams Esqr. of the Congress at Philadelphia”; docketed: “Coll Henry. May 20. 1776 ansd. June 3.” MS slightly mutilated where the seal was removed.
1. JA's letter to Henry has not been found.
2. On Carter Braxton, see Thoughts on Government, ante 27 March–April, Editorial Note (above).
3. Written on the address page.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0088

Author: Hichborn, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-20

From Benjamin Hichborn

[salute] Dear Sir

I have felt a degree of Criminality in my long Silence,1 which has given me many uneasy Reflections; and yet I should have suffered more from writing.
I don't know whether my Conduct will admit of an apology; and if it should not, I should even in that Case be less unhappy than I must have been if had given no occasion to make one.
Believe me Sir, it is not from a want of Friendship, affection or esteem, that I have not wrote you quires of paper—to be Suspected of a Crime, is sufficient to destroy my happiness—but I had rather submit to all the disagreeable Circumstances of such a Situation, than to run the risque of being thought meanly to cover my want of public Virtue, under the finesse of a Courtier.
I must confess, the Candour and Generosity I have met with, both from yourself and Mrs. Adams, might render these Observations and the feelings that gave rise to them, unnecessary: did you act merely in a private Capacity they would have that Effect; but shou'd your tenderness or partiality for me, expose you to the Smallest Censure or prove the Means of breaking a single thread of your Influence, I shou'd never forgive myself.
I don't know when I shou'd have been able to muster Resolution enough to write you, were it not for a Stimulus in favour of my Friend Josiah Russell.
He has shared largely in the Misfortunes of the times, and tho' few men are less able, no one has been more active and servicable in fortifying the Towns and it certainly looks as if favours were distributed with an unequal Hand, when we see the High Sheriff of the County2 monopolizing all the public Sales, while he is cheerfully ex• { 203 } pending the last shilling of his fortune in the public Service without knowing how to provide for his Family tomorrow. I write this at the Instance of a Number of Gentlemen, and altogether unbeknown to Mr. Russell: and I dare say, that a Majority of the town wou'd be as much gratified in any Provision for him, as any individual in it. He wou'd accept of any department that wou'd afford him a living, but that of a Factor or Auctioner, he seems more peculiarly adapted for. It is imagined, Marshals will be appointed to all the Courts of Admiralty. I am not able to form a Judgment of the Advantages of such a Department, but presume they must be but trifling. I cou'd, with justice, dwell long upon Mr. Russell's merit, (which I believe is better known Since you left the town than before) but shall only say, if you can serve him in the way I have hinted at or any other, I will pawn my honor for his, that he will discharge his trust with fidelity, and thro' him, you will peculiarly oblige me, among many others of your Friends.
Our public Affairs wear a much better appearance at present than they have done, since our return to the town. The Harbour is now well fortified, and will soon be impregnable. The ancient Spirit seems to be reviving here, and I hope we shall Soon convince the World, that Boston is not asleep. Much may be said in Apology for our apparent Supiness—the Small pox has not as yet, altogether left us, it is exceeding dear living and not a stroke of Business to be done, and many Persons who wou'd return to the town, under all these disadvantages have not a Chair left them to sit in—but partiality itself will not suffer one to pass uncensured, that Indolence (to say the least of it) which has permitted a few and some times not more than one paultry Ship to maintain the uninterrupted possession of the Enterence into our harbour. I have made it my business to stir in this Matter and if there had been above one traveling Carriage in the Colony, we should have routed them before this. However something will be done soon I hope to purpose, but this is certain they in whose department it is to controul such movements will never be able to atone to this Country for the advantages we have lost by their inactivity. They tell us of regular advances! I am by all means for that when the Circumstances will admit it, but I pray Heaven, that the nervous enterprising Spirit of Americans, may never be clog'd or counteracted by the too often, fatal parade of regular movements. The Gentlemen of the Town are about forming themselves into an independant Corps, and as the Inhabitants encrease, I dare say we shall put ourselves under the best military Regulations. All orders of Men appear [to] be much dissatis• { 204 } fied with Genl: Ward and not much better with Heath, who is said to be appointed in his room.3
The principal political topic of Conversation is Independance, and I think the People almost una voce, are wishing for it's immediate Declaration. We are often checked by real or fictitious accounts from the Southward, of a contrary disposition in a large Majority of the People there. Some opinions say the Continental Congress will, others that they will not make such a Declaration, without consulting their Constituents. Can't we be relieved from this uncertainty? I suppose you have heard of the late Act of our General Court, for a more equal Representation. We are to send members in proportion to our Numbers. This will give us an enormous Body at the next Session, and produce some refinements in the System. I hope we shall not be without your advice at this important Crisis, and for my Country's Sake I must beg you woud make it as diffusive as possible. We have many Salutary hints handed to us as from you, and you cannot easily conceive their Influence. Pray give some of your Friends (and I hope I shall be so happy as to hold rank among the Number) your thoughts upon the political System you wish to see adopted. We seem to be baren of genious, Learning and Enterprise. If you have not Cicero's athletic Constitution, I am sure you possess his Zeal for the honor and safety of the state, and like him I dare say you will continue to afford us all the assistance of your Council while employed in the public Service abroad. I am much concerned for your health and am sorry we are under the necessity of making so many demands upon your assiduous attention to our public Concerns. Heaven, and a grateful Country, be your Reward! This is Monday morning and Post just sett off. I must however mention that Capt. Muckford who last Friday took the Ship load with Miletary Stores was attacked by 7 armed boats. They were all beat off with great loss on the Enemy's Side and of Capt. Muckford on our's. You will hear from me again soon. Yr sincer Friend
[signed] B Hichborn
1. Hichborn last began a letter to JA on 25 Nov. 1775 (above), which he concluded on 10 Dec. He was then still apologizing for his role in allowing JA's letter to James Warren of 24 July 1775 to be intercepted by the British.
2. William Greenleaf (1725–1803), Sheriff of Suffolk co. from 1775 to 1780 (James Edward Greenleaf, Genealogy of the Greenleaf Family, Boston, 1896, p. 90–91).
3. A false rumor. Gen. Ward was to continue in command at Boston for many months despite his repeatedly expressed desire to be relieved. On 21 Aug. 1776 the congress finally requested that Ward continue if his health permitted. He was relieved on 20 March 1777 by Gen. Heath (Charles Martyn, The Life of Artemas Ward, N.Y., 1921, p. 231, 240).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0089

Author: Parsons, Samuel Holden
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-20

From Samuel Holden Parsons

[salute] Sir

Our former Acquaintance contracted in early Life, and under Circumstances which Experience Shews is hardly to be effaced by Length of Time or local Distance is Sufficient Apology for calling your Attention a Moment from the Important Considerations now before you, on which the Fate of this our rising Empire depends, to the inccorect Suggestions of a Friend, on Matters he conceives of Some weight in well ordering the Army on whose Exertions the Happiness and Security of our Country may in a Measure depend.
I hear and approve the Order of Congress, that Rank Shall not be considerd to intitle any Person to Advancment:1 but that it shall have no Place in the Deliberations on this Subject will certainly take from every Man of Spirit the greatest Possible Motive for his utmost Exertions. A Man of equal Spirit and Ability as a Partisan, or Equal to any Command may be kept in the Duties of the Camp and never furnished with any posible Way to distinguish himself So as to be Noticed; Another no Way his Superior is orderd to Active Duty in which he shews himself a brave and prudent Man: if in this Case the latter is Advanced when lower in Rank the Former will undoubtedly think himself injurd especially if his Character has been that of a good Soldier and brave Officer. An Instance of this kind may happen in my own Regiment: my Lt. Colonel is the first in Rank in the Continental Army and my Major the first of his Rank;2 they have both served last War as Officers and obtaind the Character of good Officers both in the Camp and in the Field of Battle: Lt. Col. Tyler was in the whole of the Battle in 1755, in the Battle in 1758 at Ticonderoga at the Taking of Cataroque, Montreal &c. and in 1764 was at the Reduction of Detroit &c. and never faild to return with an Excellent Character of a brave Officer and a wise, prudent Man. Since we have been in the Continental Service he has never been orderd on any Command by which he could so distinguish himself as to become noticed by the World in general, or in other Words, has never had a Chance to get his Name in a Newspaper, but those with whom he has served know him to be an Officer excelled by few if any and who will do Honor to a higher Station: this also is the Case of my Major. As there are Vacancies where, if the Rule of Seigniority takes place, they are certainly intitled to preferment, this I know in these Instances will give Satisfaction to those who are to be commanded better than any other Rule. Another Instance in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay { 206 } (perhaps the Gentleman is known to you) Lt. Col. Shephard3 as brave and good a Man as can command a Regiment and in as high Estimation, he is next in Rank, I think, to Col. Tyler, his Colonel (viz Learned)4 has resigned. To supercede him by any other Rule will loose from the Service [one] of the best of Men and bravest of Soldiers. Another Thing I will mention; The Term we are engaged for is long enough to put a Man of Business out of all his Business, and a young Man is spending the prime of his Life in a noble Cause, and at an unseasonable Time of Life is to prepare for Business. We cannot make War a Profession but must look back and some Time, with anxious Sollicitude to our Numerous Families, who soon must be in most unhappy Circumstances; ought there not to be some Provision for Continuing the Pay of Officers in whole or in Part when Peace is established; we Should then reduce our Living to some System consistant with our Pay, we Now have not Time. Another Tho't and I have done for the present; will it not be of great Importance to raise a new Army Very soon engaged for a longer Time or during the War. Shall some good Encouragement be given to animate the Soldier with Prospects of present Advantage. I have no doubt it may be filled soon, but to delay till toward the fall when they begin to look toward Home will involve Us in greater Expence and more Trouble than was found the last Winter which by this Time every One is Satisfied was more than a Bounty of 10 Dollars a Man. I am Sr. with Respect and Esteem yr. hl. Servt.
[signed] Sam. H. Parsons5
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Coll Parsons May 20. 1776 ansd. May 26.”
1. On 10 May the congress resolved to “retain the power of promoting the officers in the continental service according to their merit; and that no promotion or succession shall take place upon any vacancy without the authority of a continental Commission” (JCC, 4:342)
2. John Tyler and Samuel Prentiss, 10th Continental Infantry (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 21).
3. William Shepard, 3d Continental Infantry (same, p. 20).
4. Ebenezer Learned (same). Learned resigned his colonel's commission in May, but returned to the army as a brigadier general in April 1777 (DAB).
5. JA had written to Parsons on 5 Dec. 1760, urging a regular correspondence since they were both young lawyers and might share information about significant cases tried in the Massachusetts and Connecticut courts. Judging by Parsons' opening words, the correspondence was kept up for a time, although no record of it has been found. At the time of this writing, Parsons was colonel of the 10th Continental Infantry (JA, Papers, 1:46–47; Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 428).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0090

Author: Sergeant, Jonathan Dickinson
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-20

From Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant

[salute] Dear Sir

I wrote You soon after I arrived here a Letter1 which I hope You received; but which you have not yet acknowledged.
The many studied Embarrassments thrown in the Way of the Canada-Expedition have at last in a great Measure answered the Purpose for which I fear they were all along intended.
Ever since I have seen the Inside of the Congress I have trembled. Nothing short of a radical Change in the Councils of our Middle Colonies can, I am persuaded, by any Means save us. I preach this Doctrine continually; but I cannot make so many Proselytes as Parson Whitefield. With us the old Demagogues I fear are against us. Next Week is our Election. I wish I may obtain a seat in the Convention; but am not over sanguine in my Hopes: tho I believe I could easily accomplish it by going out of my present County into the one I came from.2 However am in Hopes they will chuse good Men there.
After the Election I expect to pay You a Visit for a short Time; but am determined that I will not continue to attend along with my present Colleagues any longer than I cannot avoid. At present several little Circumstances will form an Excuse for my being absent.
This Campaign I suppose will be a most awful one. I could yet abide the prospect of it if we were possessed of more Unanimity and Vigour. I wish People knew their Men better and the Steps they are taking; but alas! I fear they are betrayed with out knowing it.
I should be highly pleased and think myself greatly honoured by a Line from You on the present posture of Affairs. If they do not mend I will try to get a Commission in the Army that I may get knocked on the Head betimes. This I think would be more eligible than to live to be a Spectator of our Country reduced to Submission.
I intended when I begun only to ask the Favour of a Line from You; but when I am writing to a Person I can speak openly to I can hardly forebear the Reflections I have made. Have only to add that Doctor Witherspoon will be the Bearer of this and You may send an Answer safely by him. I am Your sincere Friend and humble Servant
[signed] Jona D Sergeant
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “The honble John Adams Esqr. Congress Philadelphia per Favour of Dr. Witherspoon”; docketed: “Mr Sergeant May 20 ansd. 22d 1776.”
1. Actually Sergeant wrote twice (6 and 11 April, above), but he probably refers to his later letter, in which he requested a copy of Thoughts on Government, which he had seen only in MS form.
{ 208 }
2. He was elected from Middlesex co., which embraced Princeton, where his home was. Sergeant was born in Newark (Minutes of the Provincial Congress and the Council of Safety of the State of New Jersey, Trenton, 1879, p. 445; Leonard Lundin, Cockpit of the Revolution: The War for Independence in New Jersey, Princeton, 1940, map facing p. 6; DAB).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0091

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Sullivan, James
Date: 1776-05-26

To James Sullivan

[salute] Dear Sir

Your Favours of May 9th. and 17th.1 are now before me; and I consider them as the Commencement of a Correspondence, which will not only give me Pleasure, but may be of Service to the public, as, in my present Station I Stand in need of the best Intelligence, and the Advice of every Gentleman of Abilities and public Principles, in the Colony which has seen fit to place me here.
Our worthy Friend, Mr. Gerry has put into my Hand, a Letter from you, of the Sixth of May, in which you consider the Principles of Representation and Legislation, and give us Hints of Some Alterations, which you Seem to think necessary, in the Qualification of Voters.2
I wish, Sir, I could possibly find Time, to accompany you, in your Investigation of the Principles upon which a Representative assembly Stands and ought to Stand, and in your Examination whether the Practice of our Colony, has been conformable to those Principles. But alass! Sir, my Time is So incessantly engrossed by the Business before me that I cannot Spare enough, to go through So large a Field: and as to Books, it is not easy to obtain them here, nor could I find a Moment to look into them, if I had them.
It is certain in Theory, that the only moral Foundation of Government is the Consent of the People. But to what an Extent Shall We carry this Principle? Shall We Say, that every Individual of the Community, old and young, male and female, as well as rich and poor, must consent, expressly to every Act of Legislation? No, you will Say. This is impossible. How then does the Right arise in the Majority to govern the Minority, against their Will? Whence arises the Right of the Men to govern Women, without their Consent? Whence the Right of the old to bind the Young, without theirs.
But let us first Suppose, that the whole Community of every Age, Rank, Sex, and Condition, has a Right to vote. This Community, is assembled—a Motion is made and carried by a Majority of one Voice. The Minority will not agree to this. Whence arises the Right of the Majority to govern, and the Obligation of the Minority to obey? from { 209 } | view { 210 } Necessity, you will Say, because there can be no other Rule. But why exclude Women?3 You will Say, because their Delicacy renders them unfit for Practice and Experience, in the great Business of Life, and the hardy Enterprizes of War, as well as the arduous Cares of State. Besides, their attention is So much engaged with the necessary Nurture of their Children, that Nature has made them fittest for domestic Cares. And Children have not Judgment or Will of their own. True. But will not these Reasons apply to others? Is it not equally true, that Men in general in every Society, who are wholly destitute of Property, are also too little acquainted with public Affairs to form a Right Judgment, and too dependent upon other Men to have a Will of their own? If this is a Fact, if you give to every Man, who has no Property, a Vote, will you not make a fine encouraging Provision for Corruption by your fundamental Law? Such is the Frailty of the human Heart, that very few Men, who have no Property, have any Judgment of their own. They talk and vote as they are directed by Some Man of Property, who has attached their Minds to his Interest.
Upon my Word, sir, I have long thought an Army, a Piece of Clock Work and to be governed only by Principles and Maxims, as fixed as any in Mechanicks, and by all that I have read in the History of Mankind, and in Authors, who have Speculated upon Society and Government, I am much inclined to think, a Government must manage a Society in the Same manner; and that this is Machinery too.
Harrington has Shewn that Power always follows Property. This I believe to be as infallible a Maxim, in Politicks, as, that Action and Re-action are equal, is in Mechanicks. Nay I believe We may advance one Step farther and affirm that the Ballance of Power in a Society, accompanies the Ballance of Property in Land. The only possible Way then of preserving the Ballance of Power on the side of equal Liberty and public Virtue, is to make the Acquisition of Land easy to every Member of Society: to make a Division of the Land into Small Quantities, So that the Multitude may be possessed of landed Estates. If the Multitude is possessed of the Ballance of real Estate, the Multitude will have the Ballance of Power, and in that Case the Multitude will take Care of the Liberty, Virtue, and Interest of the Multitude in all Acts of Government.
I believe these Principles have been felt, if not understood in the Massachusetts Bay, from the Beginning: And therefore I Should think that Wisdom and Policy would dictate in these Times, to be very cautious of making Alterations. Our people have never been very rigid in Scrutinizing into the Qualifications of Voters, and I presume they { 211 } will not now begin to be so. But I would not advise them to make any alteration in the Laws, at present, respecting the Qualifications of Voters.
Your Idea, that those Laws, which affect the Lives and personal Liberty of all, or which inflict corporal Punishment, affect those, who are not qualified to vote, as well as those who are, is just. But, So they do Women, as well as Men, Children as well as Adults. What Reason Should there be, for excluding a Man of Twenty years, Eleven Months and twenty-seven days old, from a Vote when you admit one, who is twenty one? The Reason is, you must fix upon Some Period in Life, when the Understanding and Will of Men in general is fit to be trusted by the Public. Will not the Same Reason justify the State in fixing upon Some certain Quantity of Property, as a Qualification.
The Same Reasoning, which will induce you to admit all Men, who have no Property, to vote, with those who have, for those Laws, which affect the Person will prove that you ought to admit Women and Children: for generally Speaking, Women and Children, have as good Judgment, and as independent Minds as those Men who are wholly destitute of Property: these last being to all Intents and Purposes as much dependent upon others, who will please to feed, cloath, and employ them, as Women are upon their Husbands, or Children on their Parents.
As to your Idea, of proportioning the Votes of Men in Money Matters, to the Property they hold, it is utterly impracticable. There is no possible Way of Ascertaining, at any one Time, how much every Man in a Community, is worth; and if there was, So fluctuating is Trade and Property, that this State of it, would change in half an Hour. The Property of the whole Community, is Shifting every Hour, and no Record can be kept of the Changes.
Society can be governed only by general Rules. Government cannot accommodate itself to every particular Case, as it happens, nor to the Circumstances of particular Persons. It must establish general, comprehensive Regulations for Cases and Persons. The only Question is, which general Rule, will accommodate most Cases and most Persons.
Depend upon it, sir, it is dangerous to open So fruitfull a Source of Controversy and Altercation, as would be opened by attempting to alter the Qualifications of Voters. There will be no End of it. New Claims will arise. Women will demand a Vote. Lads from 12 to 21 will think their Rights not enough attended to, and every Man, who has not a Farthing, will demand an equal Voice with any other in all Acts of { 212 } State. It tends to confound and destroy all Distinctions, and prostrate all Ranks, to one common Levell. I am &c.
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent by Post June 1. 1776.” This is the first entry in JA's Letterbooks (Lb/JA/1, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 89). For information about the Adams Letterbooks and JA's motives for beginning them, see Adams Family Correspondence, 1:xxviii–xxix; 2:3. Several letters suggest that, in this first Letterbook at least, JA wrote out his letter initially in the Letterbook and then copied it out for sending; thus, LbC's are sometimes Dft's rather than true copies. For example, see JA to Benjamin Hichborn, 29 May, to Samuel Cooper, 30 May, and to John Winthrop, 23 June (all below).
1. Sullivan's letter of the 17th is in the Adams Papers, but is not being printed in these volumes.
2. The pertinent part of Sullivan's letter to Gerry follows:
“Since I wrote last my Mind has been exercised much on the Subject of Civil Government; a new assembly is at hand in which there will be the most full and equal representation that this Colony ever saw. This Assembly will undoubtedly suppose it to be their duty to provide for a future less unweildly and more equal representation than themselves. And how this can be done is the question. In order to do it must we not lay aside our old patched and unmeaning form of Government? The Scars and blotches of the feudal Sistem, the Foot steps of Vassalage, and the paths to lawless Domination compose so great a part of it, that no friend to his Country can wish to See it ever put in exercise again.
“Laws and Government are founded on the Consent of the people, and that consent should by each member of Society be given in proportion to his Right. Every member of Society has a Right to give his Consent to the Laws of the Community or he owes no Obedience to them. This proposition will never be denied by him who has the least acquaintance with true republican principles. And yet a very great number of the people of this Colony have at all times been bound by Laws to which they never were in a Capacity to Consent not having estate worth 40/ per annum &c. But yet by Fiction of Law every Man is supposed to consent. Why a man is supposed to consent to the acts of a Society of which in this respect he is absolutely an Excommunicate, none but a Lawyer well dabled in the feudal Sistem can tell. These fictions and Legal Suppositions (founded in utter illegalty) are only other Names for blinders, and Shackles. The Language of them is, that men are unable to account for the principles of their own Actions, and therefore give them a name which alters not their Nature but induces the people to let their inquiries cease.
“Government is founded on the Authority of the people, and by them only is Supported and is as the writer of Common Sense observes, not founded so much in human Nature, as in the depravity of it. Men in a State of innocence would want Society for their mutual assistance, but the depravity of mens Minds demand Government for their defence.
“Government has two Ends in veiw—first to Enact Laws compelling men to do their duty to each other, and Secondly to Support Judicatories to see these Laws Executed. The Laws when made, affect the Subject in two ways. First personally—and Secondly pecuniarily. In either way each Subject is alike Interested. For where there is a personal or Corporal punishment provided, all Subjects are equally concerned—the persons of the Beggar, and the Prince being equally dear to themselves respectively—saving the distinction necessary to be made for some Stupid Souls, void of those delicacies and compunctions so ornamental to human Nature. And let me add that in Times like the present, such minds are as often found on the throne as on the Dunghill. Those Laws which Govern and controul the Liberty, will, and Affections of the Subject, are alike Interesting to all. And So are those Laws which provide Mulcts and pe• { 213 } cuniary punishments—for in all cases where a fine is exacted, Magna Charta which is generally founded on Natural Law ought to be attended to. And that directs that each man shall be amerced with a Salvo Sibi contenemento [saving to himself that which is necessary for his support]—they are to be punished according to their circumstances—the money not being taken to enrich the public Coffers, but that the pain of parting with property might deter them and others from Like Offenses in future. Again as the Laws of the State if well chosen and wholesome have the greatest tendency to correct the morals of the people and habituate their minds to Virtue each one however indigent he may be is materially interested in them.
“Thus Sir the poor and rich are alike interested in that important part of Government called Legislation, but in the Supporting the Executive parts of Civil Government by Grants and Supplies of money, men are interested in proportion to their Estates. And it is absurd for a man who has but 40/ per annum Estate to have as much weight and importance as he who has forty pounds while he who has 39/ only has no Share in the matter.
“Some how or other there must be a plan laid for those Grants to be made by an adequate Representation of property, while the Legislation is done by the Authority of every person out of wardship that is bound thereby”. (MHi: Gerry photostats)
3. Although Sullivan did not mention women, JA perhaps felt called upon to say something about their position since AA had more than once brought the subject up in letters to her husband. As the time for independence grew closer, she thought men ought to relinquish their power over women. For her plea to “Remember the Ladies” she received a witty reply from JA that refused to take her convictions seriously (Adams Family Correspondence, 1:370, 382, 402).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0092

Author: Greene, Nathanael
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-26

From Nathanael Greene

[salute] Sir

The peculiar situation of American affairs renders it necessary to adopt every measure that will engage people in the service. The danger and hardships that those are subject to who engage in the service, more than those who do not, is obvious to every body which has the least Acquaintance with service, tis that which makes it so difficult to recruit. The large force that is coming against America will make it necessary to Augment our forces. If I am to form a Judgment of the success of Recruiting from what is past, the time is too short to raise the Troops and be in readiness to meet the Enemy and as every Argument has been made use off upon the present plan of recruiting to engage people in the service there must be some new motives added to quicken the motions of the recruiting parties.
From the Approaching danger recruiting will grow more and more difficult. If the Congress was to fix a certain support upon every Officer and Soldier that got maim'd in the service or upon the families of those that were kild it would have as happy an influence towards engageing people in the service and inspire those engagd with as much courage as any measure that can be fixt upon. I think it is { 214 } nothing more than common Justice neither. It puts those in and out of Army upon a more equal footing than at present. I have not time to add any thing more. Major Frazier now waiting—for this. The desperate game you have got to play and the uncertainty of War may render every measure that will increase the Force and strength of the American Army worthy consideration. When I have more leisure I will presume so much upon your good nature as to write you upon some other matters. Believe me to be with great respect yours
[signed] Nathanael Greene
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To John Adams Esquire Member of the Continental Congress Philadelphia”; docketed: “Gen. Greene May 26. 1776 answd. May 26.”
1. In his letter to JA of 2 June (below), Greene refers to his own letter of the 24th and to JA's answer of the 26th. Since JA's letter has not been found, the editors cannot determine whether Greene erred or whether there was a Greene letter of the 24th as well.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0093

Author: Kent, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-26

From Benjamin Kent

[salute] Dr: Sr:

I have written upon Politics, to your Names Sake, upon the grand affair of a Declaration of Independence, and I suppose he will show it to our Continentall Representatives I mean our Representatives of Massachusetts bay If desir'd, for tho I thro the kindness of Providence Sustain no Sort of publick Caracter; yet I concern my self very much in Affairs which Concern the publick. I remember I promised you I would write you when the Continental Arms Should work a Change to give me something to write upon, But the Lord has sent a pannick upon Our Enemies, and by that means, and not the force of our Arms, I am now a resident in Boston. But what I this day hear of the Doings of the Continental Congress induceth me earnestly to ask you if you have releasd that double damnable fellow Ben: Church Junr:, which I am very unwilling to believe, and if so how it came to pass.1 Pope says whatever is is right but there is you know such a thing as right wrong. Hang well and pay well, is a fundamental principle in all good Government, but the releasing him, seems quite Contrary. But if it is so, I wish he would come to Boston. I would affront him in hopes he would offer me Such treatment that I might beat his brains out or cut his Throat and I might escape the Gallows. I assure you I write under great discomposure of Mind on that Account, because I have been so Credibly inform'd you have releas'd him, that I believe it. Pray give me some relief, or you will never receive from me { 215 } a better Letter, and this is of no other Importance than to ease my own Stomach, and to let you know you are beloved by yr. Bror.
[signed] Benj. Kent
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “For The Honble: John Adams Esq; of the Continental Congress Philadelphia By Mr. Bant"; docketed: “Mr Kent. May 26. 1776.”
1. In response to a petition from Church and members of his family, the congress on 14 May remanded him to Massachusetts for a trial and requested that until the trial the Council allow him to be free on parole on condition that he not leave the province or correspond with the enemy (JCC, 4:352). See also William Tudor to JA, 28 Oct. 1775, note 7 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0094

Author: Cooper, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-27

From Samuel Cooper

I find by your Letter of 16th. Instant1 that you had no Expectation of the disagreable News from Canada. Our Accounts from thence are not very perfect. According to these, A Reinforcement for Quebec came up the River before the City on 6th. of this Month. Our Army suddenly retir'd, leaving good Part at least, of Cannon Baggage, and their sick. They had determin'd it is said, in a Council of War, before they saw the Reinforcement, (sent most probably by Howe) to raise the Seige, having many sick, but a few hundred effective Men, and but few days Provision. Our Succors to that Army it seems have proceeded slowly: The Season and the Climate must have occasion'd great Difficulties. Arnold's Firmness and Perseverance in what He had to encounter are astonishing. No one here blames the Retreat; it is suppos'd absolutely unavoidable. I hope our Army there will soon collect together, and make an effectual Stand: Ev'ry Thing must be done to keep the Enemy from Possession of that Country. It seems likely to become the chief Seat of War; and what now appears against us, may in the End turn out in our Favor.
I wrote Mr. S. A. about a Fortnight past, What our House had done respecting Independence. They afterwards reconsider'd their Vote and threw it into the Form you have no doubt seen.2 I knew not of this Alteration when I wrote.
The Repulse given by our two little Vessells of War to the Men of War's Boats here, grows more important the more Circumstances are known. It was a most gallant Action, and a great Proportion of the Assailants must have been wounded, drown'd, and slain.
I imagin'd the Account of Saltpetre made here would appear almost incredible to you. You may rely, I think, that there is no Fraud— { 216 } good Part is superior in Quality to much that is imported. I made particular Inquiry some Days ago, and 14 Tons had then been taken into the Province Store, and the Bounty paid. Has any Colony exceeded this?
You have, doubtless, been made acquainted with the Steps leading to the Enlargement of our House of Representatives. Boston sends 12, Salem 6, N[ewbury] Port 5, &c. A Gentleman gave me this Moment a List I enclose you.3
The Resolve of Congress you sent me is highly important and greatly acceptable here.4 It is impossible long to defer Confederation. And the Difficulties may be less, and sooner surmounted than is imagin'd. May Heaven still conduct your Councils. With much Esteem and Affection. Your obedt. hum. Servt.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed in CFA's hand: "from Dr. Cooper."
1. Not found.
2. On 9 May the House passed the following resolution: “That it be, and hereby is recommended to each Town in this Colony, who shall send a Member or Members to the next General Assembly, fully to possess him or them with their Sentiments relative to a Declaration of Independency of the United Colonies on Great-Britain, to be made by Congress, and to instruct them what Conduct they would have them observe with Regard to the next General Assembly's instructing the Delegates of this Colony on that Subject.” When the Council nonconcurred on the following day, the House passed a substitute: “Resolved, As the Opinion of this House that the Inhabitants of each Town in this Colony, ought in full Meeting warned for that Purpose, to advise the Person or Persons who shall be chosen to Represent them in the next General Court, whether that if the honorable Congress should, for the Safety of the said Colonies, declare them Independent of the Kingdom of Great-Britain, they the said Inhabitants will solemnly engage with their Lives and Fortunes to Support the Congress in the Measure” (Mass., House Jour., 1775–1776, 4th sess., p. 269, 274, 276). The revised resolution appeared in the Boston Gazette on 13 May. Obviously the second resolve left the initiative wholly to the congress.
Despite publication of the House resolution, some members arrived at the next General Court without their towns' having expressed their sentiments on independence. When this failure became known to the new House, it ordered that copies of the resolution be distributed in handbills and that those towns which had not complied with it call special meetings to ascertain the sentiments of their inhabitants (same, 1776–1777, 1st sess., p. 21).
3. Enclosure not found, but the list was printed in the Boston Gazette on 3 June.
4. Almost certainly the resolution of 15 May calling upon the colonies to form independent governments.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0095

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Hichborn, Benjamin
Date: 1776-05-29

To Benjamin Hichborn

[salute] Dear sir

Your agreable Favour of 20th. May, was handed me Yesterday and it gave me much Pleasure on various Accounts—one particularly as it gave me Evidence of your Existence, which for some Time past you { 217 } have Suffered to remain problematical. I have long expected Letters from you, but yet, I cannot find fault, because I believe I am much in your Debt. However, if you had considered the situation I am in, Surrounded with Demands for all and more than all my Time, you would not have waited for regular Payments from me.
Am Sorry to see you complain of suspicions—I hoped they were forgotten.1 Indeed I think, that upon your Return they ought to have vanished. I have none, nor am I, in the least degree afraid of censure on your Account nor of loosing a thread of Influence. Fortified in Innocence a Man should set groundless Censures at Defyance: and as to Influence the more a Man has of it, at least of such as mine, if I have any, the more unfortunate he is. If by Influence is understood the Power of doing Good to the public, or of serving Men of Merit this Influence is devoutly to be wished by every benevolent Mind: but very little of this kind of Influence has ever fallen to my share.
I wish I had enough of it, to serve the Interest of your Friend Russell whom I have ever esteemed as a Man of Honour, and Spirit a Man of Business as well as an agreable Companion: But I fear it is not in my Power to give him any Assistance. (The Agents, who have the Sales you mention, were appointed, by the marine Committee which was chosen in my absence, when I was at Watertown.2 Mr. Hancock was appointed, for our Colony, and I suppose the Agents have been recommended by him. But as it lay in a Department which I had no Right nor Duty to interfere in, I have never inquired, or known any thing of it. The Marshalls to the Court of Admiralty, will be recommended probably by the Judges. I know nothing of those Matters and indeed I dont see that I can with Propriety intermeddle in those Matters. I have however Shewn your Letter to Some of my Colleagues, and will shew it to others, Mr. Hancock particularly.) If any opportunity should present of serving Mr. Russell, I shall gladly embrace it.
I am much pleased with your Spirited Project of driving away the Wretches from the Harbour, and never shall be happy till I hear it is done, and the very Entrance fortifyed impregnably. I cant bear that an unfriendly Flagg or Mast Should be in Sight of Bacon Hill.
You are checked by Accounts from the southward of a Disposition in a great Majority, to counteract Independence. Read the Proceedings of Georgia South and North Carolina, and Virginia, and then judge. The Middle Colonies have never tasted the bitter Cup. They have never Smarted—and are therefore a little cooler—but you will see that the Colonies are united indissolubly. Maryland have passed a few ex• { 218 } centric Resolves but these are only Flashes, which will soon expire. The Proprietary Governments, are not only incumbered with a large Body of Quakers, but are embarrassed by a proprietary Interest. Both together clogg their operations a little: but these cloggs are falling off, as you will Soon see.
I dread the Spirit of Innovation which I fear will appear in our new and numerous Representative Body. It is much to be desired that their attention may at present be more fixed upon the defence of the Province and military operations, than upon opening Sources of endless Altercation. Unanimity in this Time of Calamity and Danger, is of great Importance. You ask my sentiments of the political System to be adopted. My opinion I am very certain will not be followed. We have able Men in the Colony, but I am much afraid they will not be heard. I hope a Governor, and Lieutenant Governor will be chosen: and that they will be respectable for their Fortune, as well as Abilities and Integrity if such can be found. The Judges I hope will be made independent both for the Duration and Emoluments of Office. There is nothing of more importance than this: but yet there is nothing less likely to be done.
How the Representatives will be Settled I cannot guess. But I really hope they will not attempt any material Alteration in the Qualification of Voters. This will open a Door for endless disputes, and I am much afraid for numberless Corruptions.
I wish, I could be at Home, at this important Period. But you will remember that all the other Colonies have Constitutions to frame—and what is of infinitely great Delicacy, Intricacy, and Importance, the Continent has a Constitution to form. If I could be of some little Use at home, I may be of more here at present.
You kindly and politely express a Concern for my Health, and if you have any Regard for me it is not without Reason. I have been here four Months, during which Time I have never once been on Horse back, and have found but little Time to walk. Such uninterrupted Attention to Cares and Perplexities of various Kinds, is enough to destroy a more Robust Body than mine. But I cannot excuse myself from these Duties, and I must march forward untill it comes to my Turn to fall. Indeed if a few Things were more fully accomplished, I should think it my duty to ask Leave of my Constituents to return home to my Garden.
The Moment I can see every Colony in Possession and actual Exercise of all the Powers of Government, and a Confederation well settled for all the Colonies under a Congress with Powers clearly de• { 219 } fined and limited; and Sufficient Preparation and Provision made for Defence against the Force which is coming against Us; that Moment I shall return to my family; from which I have been too long divorced. But whether my Constitution will hold out so long, must be left to him that made it, to whose Wisdom and Goodness I chearfully Submit.
N.B. The Petition from the independent Corps, in Boston gave me, great Pleasure and is much to their Honour. I did my Endeavour to get the Prayer granted, but it is at last left to the General.3
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “sent.”
1. Because Hichborn had been thought by some insufficiently devoted to the American cause, he had asked JA, as a sign of faith, to permit him to carry the letters that were subsequently intercepted by the British.
2. Opposite this sentence in the margin JA wrote, “a Mistake not copied.” He probably omitted from the letter actually sent the mistake he referred to.
3. The men of the independent corps had petitioned for arms seized by the Franklin. Gen. Washington, citing the general shortage of weapons, recommended that the request not be granted (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 5:96; Richard Devens to JA, 16 May, above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0096

Author: Hughes, Hugh
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-29

From Hugh Hughes

[salute] Sir

I have the Pleasure to acquaint you that our Citizens had a Meeting on Monday Evening last, when it was agreed, without a dissenting Voice, to instruct our Convention on that most important of all sublunary Affairs, in order that Application may be made to your Honble. House.1 What will our Traitors, with you, say to this virtuous Stand? One of them, I know, will endeavour to turn it to ridicule, as he does every Thing he cant confute.2 The other I suppose, will say his Constituents, the Tories, did not choose him for any such Purpose, which, is not far from the Truth; as they chose him solely for the Purpose of embarrassing the Congress and betraying it's most essential Interests.3 Mr. J4 is here and will be of great Service at this Time. I have had a very agreeable Conference with him I assure you. I hope we shall conquer Monarchy and Aristocracy here, and that my Countrymen, with you, will do the same there. The Prejudices of Mankind are really astonishing to a Freethinker.
I am in the Service, such as it is, but dont yet know whether it will keep Soul and Body together.

[salute] I am, with the greatest Regard Sir your very Huble. Servt.

[signed] H Hughes
N.B. This will be communicated to your worthy Colleague and Relation I expect, for whom I have the same Regard as yourself Sir.
{ 220 }
1. The meeting held on 27 May apparently resulted in the appeal of the mechanics to the New York Provincial Congress on 29 May that delegates to the Continental Congress be instructed to work for independence. In rejecting this request on 4 June, the Provincial Congress noted that the committee of mechanics had no standing, that authority was vested in the Provincial Congress and committees. The “enlarged view” of the Continental Congress made it best suited to decide measures affecting the general welfare. Instruction of New York's delegates should await a request from the national body for action by New York (Force, Archives, 4th ser., 6:614–615; Roger Champagne, “New York Politics and Independence,” New-York Historical Society Quarterly, 46:297–298 [July 1962]).
2. Probably Philip Livingston. See JA to William Heath, 15 April (above).
3. Possibly James Duane, who was “close in sentiment to Tories” (Roger Champagne, “New York's Radicals and the Coming of Independence,” JAH, 51:28 [June 1964]).
4. John Jay.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0097

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Cooper, Samuel
Date: 1776-05-30

To Samuel Cooper

[salute] My dear sir

Yours of the 20th. was handed me by the last Post. I congratulate you upon the first modern Election, on the last Wednesday in May of Councellors as at the first. I could not avoid indulging myself Yesterday, in Imagination with my Friends in Boston, upon an Occasion So joyfull. I presume you must have had a very solemn and ceremonious Election, and wish that no Interruption may ever hereafter take Place, like that of the last year.
You have given me great Pleasure by your Account of the Spirit and Activity of our People, their Skill and success in fortifying the Town and Harbour: But there are several Things Still wanting, in my Judgment. I never shall be happy, untill every unfriendly Flagg is driven out of sight, and the Light House Island Georges and Lovells Islands, and the East End of Long Island are secured. Fire Ships and Rafts, will be of no service without Something to cover and protect them from the Boats of the Men of War. Gallies are the best Engines in the World for this Purpose. Coll. Quincy, has the best Idea of these Gallies, of any Man I know. I believe he has a perfect Idea of the Turkish, and Venetian Gallies. Some of these are large as British Men of War, but some are Small. (I sincerely wish, that at this Time he was a Member of one or the other House, because his Knowledge and Zeal, would be usefull.1 This however is none of my Concern. But his Knowledge in naval, and marine Affairs is not exceeded by any Man I know.) Gallies might be built, and armed with { 221 } heavy Cannon 36 or 42 Pounders, which would drive away, a Ship of almost any Size, Number of Guns or Weight of Metal. The dexterity of our People in Sea Matters must produce great Things, if it had any Person to guide it, and stimulate it. A Kind of dodging Indian Fight might be maintained, among the Islands in our Harbour, between such Gallies and the Men of War.
Whether you have any Person, Sufficiently acquainted with the Composition of those Combustibles, which are usually put into Fire Ships and Rafts I dont know. If you have not, it would be worth while to send some one here to inquire and learn. At least let me know it, and altho I have a demand upon me for an Hour, when I have a Minute to Spare, yet I will be at the Pains, tho I neglect other Things of informing myself as well as I can here, and send you what I learn.
We are making the best Provision We can, for the Defence of America. I believe We shall make Provision for 70,000 Men in the three Departments the Northern, including Canada—the middle—and the Southern. The Die is cast. We must all be Soldiers, and fight pro Aris et Focis.2 I hope there is not a Gentleman in the Massachusetts Bay, not even in the Town of Boston, who thinks himself too good to take his Firelock and his Spade. Such imminent Dangers level all Distinctions. You must before now, have seen Some important Resolutions of this Congress, as well as of Separate Colonies—before many Weeks you will see more.

[salute] Remember me with every sentiment of Friendship and Respect to all who deserve well of their Country. These are all my Friends, and I have, and will have no other. I am &c.

P.S. Gallies to be used merely in Boston Harbour, the less they are the better,3 provided they are large and Strong enough to sustain the Weight of the Gun and the Shock of the Explosion. The Gallies first built in Delaware River, were too large to be handy and too small, to live and work in a Sea. We are building two of a different Construction. They are to carry two large Guns in the Stern and two in front and five or six 3 Pounders on each side, besides swivells. They are built to put to sea, live and fight in a swell or Storm. They are narrow but almost 100 feet long.
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “sent.”
1. In the margin opposite this sentence and the next, JA wrote “not sent.” The passage in parentheses was probably omitted in the RC.
2. For God and country.
3. Comma supplied.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0098

Author: Winthrop, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-06-01

From John Winthrop

[salute] Dear Sir

I wrote you last week1 acknowledging the receit of your favor of May 6. Since that, have had the pleasure of another, of May 12, by my Son—am greatly obliged to you for the favorable opinion you are pleased to express of him. I cannot but regret, however, that so large a proportion of the paper was left blank.
I have often wondered, that so much difficulty should be raised about declaring independence, when we have actually got the thing itself. Who or what are we afraid of? Are we afraid of provoking G.B. which is now actually carrying on open war against us, and bending her whole force to subjugate or exterminate us? But I have had such an implicit Faith in the wisdom of Congress, that I could not doubt but they had sufficient reasons for their conduct. I now perceive you were in these sentiments long ago. But they are very opposite to the inveterate prejudices and long established systems of many others. It must be a work of time to eradicate these prejudices. And perhaps it may be best to accomplish this great affair by slow and almost imperceptible steps, and not per saltum,2 by one violent exertion. The late Resolve of May 15. comes very near it.
For what relates to sulphur &c. I have nothing to add to what I wrote in my last—only that saltpetre has been made here in very large quantities. Yesterday, being the last day in which the bounty of 7/ per lb. was allowed, I was surprised to see what a number of horses, loaded with that precious commodity, was crouding round the Commissary's Store in Watertown; and on the road from Watertown to Concord, I met a great many others, and one or two waggons. The whole quantity I have not yet learned. The bounty is now reduced to 5/, till the 1st of October.
I wonder you have not heard more about our Courts of Justice. I have purposely omitted many things in my Letters, from a persuasion that you had full information of them, either from private Letters, or the public News papers which I suppose you constantly receive. There have been no Courts held in Hampshire or Berkshire—no Justices of the pleas yet appointed for Hampshire. In Taunton, the Justices were opposed by force, and hindered from going into the Court house, by 30 or 40 men with large sticks in their hands, and some blows were given. The Justices then assembled in the tavern. Three or four of the Ringleaders, it is said, were soon after elected by the people as military officers (one of the blessed fruits of our new militia { 223 } { 224 } system).3 The principal grounds of complaint, so far as I can learn, are these. 1. That the fees and Court charges are extravagantly high. 2. That the Commissions run in the name of the K. 3. That some persons have been put in Commission who are obnoxious to the people. To remove the 1st complaint, a new Fee-bill has past, which has reduced most fees considerably.4 What is called a confession bill has also past, similar to the Connecticut practice.5 For the 2d, the Style of Commissions, Law-processes &c. is altered by an Act, and instead of G.III. it is to be, The Government and people of the Massachusetts Bay.6 A like Act has passed in Rhode Island. As to the 3d, no officers have as yet been displaced—so, that grievance remains. Whether the alterations made will allay these heats, time must discover. Some suspect, these are only ostensible reasons, and that the true ground of the opposition, at least with many, is an unwillingness to submit to law, and pay their debts.7 But such has been the spirit raised among the people; that it was tho't advisable to adjourn, by Resolves, the Courts in most of the Counties. The Courts of Sessions have sat in Essex and Middlesex, but in no other County that I know of. I suppose they will set in Suffolk next Term. The Superior Court will meet, for the first time, at Ipswich on the 3d Tuesday of June, and so procede on the eastern circuit. I should hope, their presence in the several Counties, especially if the weight and influence of the Chief Justice could be added, would have a very happy effect. But important as his presence here would be, it is of so much greater importance at Philadelphia, that it ought not to be wished for at this time.
When these commotions will subside, it is impossible to say. There is such a spirit of inno[va]tion gone forth, as I am afraid will throw us into confusion. It seems as if every thing was to be altered. Scarce a News paper but teems with new projects. This week produced three. 1. for County Assemblies. 2. For a Registry of Deeds in each town. 3. For the Probate of Wills &c. to be made in each town by a Committee to be annually chosen for that purpose at the March meetings. The Representative of one Town in Suffolk (I do not know which) has received instructions to this purpose. I humbly conceive, this is not a proper time to make so many alterations, when our All is at Stake. Tis like repairing a house that is on fire. First put out the fire, and then repair the house. Tis likely, however, these points will be agitated, and perhaps carried this Session.
The Election was held at Watertown. A list of the new Council is inclosed.8 With great esteem and respect I am &c.
{ 225 }
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Dr. Winthrop. June 1. 1776 ansd. June 23d.”
1. 23 May, Adams Papers, not printed.
2. By a leap.
3. Under the charter the royal governor appointed militia officers, but the new militia law called for officers at the company level to be elected by the troops (Mass., Province Laws, 5:447).
4. See James Warren to JA, 30 March, note 10 (above).
5. See James Warren to JA, 30 April, note 2 (above).
6. See JA to William Tudor, 12 April, note 4 (above).
7. Winthrop overlooked the complaint of the Berkshire Constitutionalists, who were supported for a time by people in Hampshire co., that the state lacked a proper constitution.
8. Not found. The results of the election were printed in the Boston Gazette, 3 June.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0099

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Knox, Henry
Date: 1776-06-02

To Henry Knox

[salute] Dear sir

Your esteemed Favour of the 16 of May, came to my Hand a few Days ago.
You have laid me under obligations, by your ingenious Observations upon those Books, upon military Science, which are necessary, to be procured, in the present Circumstances of this Country. I have been a long Time convinced of the Utility of publishing american Editions of those Writers, and that it is an object of sufficient Importance, to induce the public to be at the Expence of it. But greater objects press in such Numbers, upon those who think for the public, as Lord Drummond1 expressed it that this has been hitherto neglected. I could wish that the Public would be at the Expence not only of new Editions of these Authors, but of establishing Academies, for the Education of young Gentlemen in every Branch of the military Art: because I am fully of your sentiment, that We ought to lay Foundations, and begin Institutions, in the present Circumstances of this Country, for promoting every Art, Manufacture and Science which is necessary for the Support of an independent State. We must for the future Stand upon our own Leggs or fall. The Alienation of Affection, between the two Countries, is at length, so great, that if the Morals of the British Nation and their political Principles were made purer than they are, it would be scarcely possible to accomplish a cordial ReUnion with them.
The Votes of the Congress and the Proceedings of the Colonies seperately must before this Time have convinced you, that this is the sense of America, with infinitely greater Unanimity, than could have been credited by many People a few Months ago. Those few Persons { 226 } indeed, who have attended closely to the Proceedings of the several Colonies, for a Number of Years past, and reflected deeply upon the Causes of this mighty Contest, have foreseen, that Such an Unanimity would take Place, as soon as a Seperation should become necessary. These are not at all surprised while many others really are and some affect to be astonished at the Phenominon.
The Policy of Rome, in carrying their Arms to Carthage, while Hannibal was at the Gates of their Capital, was wise and justified by the Event, and would deserve Imitation if We could march into the Country of our Enemies. But possessed as they are of the Dominion of the Sea, it is not easy for Us to reach them. Yet it is possible that a bold attempt might succeed. But We have not yet sufficient Confidence in our own Power or skill, to encourage Enterprizes of the daring, hardy Kind. Such often prosper and are always glorious. But shall I give offence if I Say, that our Arms, have kept an even Pace with our Councils? that both have been rather slow and irresolute? Have either our officers or Men, by sea or Land, as yet discovered that exalted Courage, and mature Judgment, both of which are necessary for great and Splendid Actions? Our Forces have done very well, considering their poor Appointments and our Infancy. But I may Say to you that I wish I could see less Attention to Trifles, and more to the great Essentials of the service, both in the civil and military Departments.
I am no Prophet, if We are not compelled by Necessity, before the War is over, to become more Men of Business and less Men of Pleasure. I have formed great Expectations from a Number of Gentlemen of Genius, Sentiment, and Education, of the younger sort, whom I know to be in the Army, and wish that Additions might be made to the Number. We have had Some Examples of Magnanimity and Bravery, it is true, which would have done Honour to any Age or Country. But those have been accompanied with a Want of Skill and Experience, which intitles the Hero to Compassion, at the Same Time that he has our Admiration. For my own Part I never think of Warren or Montgomery, without lamenting at the same Time that I admire, lamenting that Inexperience to which, perhaps they both owed their Glory.
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “sent.”
1. James “Lord” Drummond had sought to bring about reconciliation between Great Britain and the colonies, but it was not clear, nor is it now, to what extent he had official backing in Britain. He became well known first for his letter of 5 Feb. 1776 to the British general James Robertson, in which occurs { 227 } the phrase “those gentlemen whose province it now is to think for the publick.” A good summary of Drummond's activities is in William B. Willcox, Portrait of a General, N.Y., 1964, p. 71–76. Drummond's letter is in Force, Archives, 4th ser., 4:943–944.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0100

Author: Greene, Nathanael
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-06-02

From Nathanael Greene

[salute] Sir

I have just receivd your favor of the 26th of May in answer to mine of the 24th.1 You must not expect me to be a very exact correspondent, my circumstances will not always admit of it. When I have opportunity I will write you with freedom if any information I can give you should be of service I shall be amply paid. I know your time is too precious to be spent in Answering Letters; but a line from you at all times will be very acceptable, with such intelligence as you are at Liberty to give.
By your Letter I have the happiness to find you agree with me in sentiment for the establishing a support for those that gets disabled in the Army or militia; but I am sorry to find at the same time, that you are very doubtful of it takeing affect: I could wish the Congress to think seriously of the matter, both with respect to the Justice and utillity of the measure. Is it not inhuman to suffer those that have fought nobly in the cause to be reduced to the necessity of geting a support by common Charity. Does this not millitate2 with the free and independant principles which we are indeavoring to support? Is it not equitable that the State who receives the benefit should be at the expence? The Community collectively considerd pays nothing more for the establishing a support, than if they do not, for those that get disabled must be supported by the Continent in general or the Provinces in particular. If the Continent establishes no support; by the fee of War some Colonies might be grieviously burthened. I cannot see upon what principle any Colony can encourage the Inhabitants to engage in the Army when the state that employs them refuses a support to the unfortunate. I think it would be right, and just for every Government to furnish their equal proportion of the Troops or contribute to the support of those that are sent by other Colonies.
Can there be any thing more humiliateing than this consideration to those that are in the Army, or to those that have a mind to come in it than this? If I meet with a misfortune I shall be reduced to the necessity of beging my Bread. Is not this degradeing and distressing a part of the human species that deserves a better fate. On the { 228 } other hand if there was a support establish't what confidence would it give to those engag'd, what encouragement to those that are not. Good Policy points out the measure, Humanity calls for it, and Justice claims it at your Hands.
I apprehend the dispute to be but in its infancy; nothing should be neglected to encourage People to engage, who render those easy contented and happy that are engag'd. Good covering is an Object of the first consideration. I know of nothing that is more discourageing than the want of it, it renders the Troops very uncomfortable and generally unhealthy. A few Troops well accomodated, healthy and spirited will do more service to the state that employs them than a much larger number that are sickly dispirited and discontented. This is the unhappy state of the Army at this time ariseing from the badness of the Tents. His Excellency has order'd every thing to be done to remedy the Evil that is in his power; but before the remedy can take place, the health of the Troops will receive a severe wound.
From the nature of the dispute and the manner of furnishing the state with Troops too much care cannot be taken of those that engage, other wise some particular Goverments more publick spirited than others may be depopulated.
Good Officers is the very Soul of an Army, the Activity and Zeal of the Troops entirely depends upon the degree of Animation given them by their Officers. I think it was Sir William Pitts maxim, to pay well and hang well to have a good Army. The Field Officers in general and the Colonels of Regiments in particular think themselves grieviously burthened upon the present establishment; few if any of that Rank that are worth retaining in service will continue, if any dependance is to be made upon the discontent that appears. They say and I believe with too much truth, that their pay and provision will not defray their expences. Another great grievance they complain on is they are oblige to act as factors for the Regiment. Subject to many loses, without any extraordinary allowance for their trouble, drawing from the Continental Store by wholesale and delivering out to the Troops by Retail. This business has been attended with much perplexity and accompanyed with very great losses where the Colonels have not been good Accomptants. This is no part of the duty of a Colonel of a Regiment; and the mode in which the business has been conducted, too much of their time has been engrossed in that employment for the good of the service. There should be an Agent for Each Regiment to provide the Troops with cloathing on the easiest terms allowed to draw money for that purpose Ocasionally, to be stopt { 229 } out of the pay Abstract. Those Agents could provide seasonably,3 fetch their goods from a distance and prevent those local impositions that arises upon every remove of the Army.
The dispute begins to be reduced to a National principle, and the longer it continues the more that Idea will prevail. People engagd in the service in the early part of the dispute without any consideration of pay reward, few if any thought of its continuance; but its duration will reduce all that have not independant Fortunes to attend to their family concerns—and if the present pay of those in the service is insufficent for the support of them and their families they must consequently quit it. The Novelty of the Army may engage others but you cannot immagin the injury the Army sustains by the loss of every good Officer. A young Officer without any experience in the Military Art or knowledge of mankind, unless he has a very uncommon Genius must be totally unfit to command a Regiment.
I observe in the Resolves of Congress they have reservd to themselves the right of rewarding by promotion according to merit; the reserve may be right but the exercise will be dangerous, often injurious and sometimes very unjust. Two Persons of very unequal merit the inferior may get promoted over the superior if a Single instance of bravery is a sufficient Reason for such promotion. There is no doubt but that its right and just to reward singular merit, but the publick applause accompanying every brave Action is a noble reward.
Where one Officer is promoted over the head of another if he has Spirit enough to be fit for service it lays him under the necessity of quiting it. It is a publick intimation that he is unfit for promotion and consequently undeserving his present Appointment. For my own part, I would never give any Legislative body an opportunity to humiliate me but once. I should think the Generals Recommendation is necessary to warrant a promotion out of the Regular channel. For Rank is of such importance in the Army and so delicate are4 the sentiments respecting it that very strong reasons ought to be given for going out of the proper channel, or else it will not be satisfactory to the army in general or to the party in particular.
The Emision of such large sums of money increases the price of things in proportion to the sums emited—the money has but a nominal value. The evil does not arise from a depreciation altogether but from there being larger sums Emited than is necessary for a circulating medium. If the Evil increases it will starve the Army, for the pay of the Troops at the pr[i]ces things are sold at will scarcely keep the Troops decently cloathed. Notwithstanding what I write I will engage { 230 } to keep the Troops under my command as easy and contented as any in the Army.
I observe you dont think the game you are playing is so desperate as I immagin. You doubtless are much better acquainted with the resources that are to be had in case of any misfortune than I am; but I flatter my self I know the History—Strength and state of the Army almost as well as any in it both with respect to the goodness of the Troops or the Abillities of the Officers. Dont be too confident the fate of War is very uncertain, little incidents has given rise to great events. Suppose this Army should be defeated, two or three of the leading Generals5 killed, our stores and magazines all lost, I would not be answerable for the consequences that such a stroke might produce in American politicks. You think the present army assisted by the militia is sufficient to oppose the force of Great Britain, formidable as it appears on paper. I can assure you its necessary to make great allowances in the calculation of our strength from the Establishment or else you'l be greatly deceived. I am confidant the force of America if properly exerted will prove superior to all her Enemies, but I would risque nothing to chance—it is easy to disband when it is impossible to raise Troops.
I approve your plan of encourageing our own Troops rather than seducing theirs, let us fight and beat them fairly; and free our Country from oppression with out departing from the principles of honnor Truth or Justice. The conditions you propose are very honnorable, but I fear whether they are altogether equal to the Emergency of the times, for mankind being much more influenced by present profit than remote advantagies, People will consider what benefit they are immediately to receive and take their Resolutions accordingly.
If the Force of Great Britain should prove near equal to what it has been represented, a large Augmentation will be necessary; if the present Offers should not be sufficient to induce People to engage in the Army—You will be oblige to Augment the bounty; and perhaps at a time, when that Order of People will have it in their power to make their own conditions or distress the state.
As I have wrote a great deal and the Doctor waiting I shall add no more only my hearty wishes for your health and happiness. Believe me to be with great esteem your most Obedient humble servant,
[signed] N Greene
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Gen. Green. June 2. 1776 an. June 22.” Some mutilation with one quarter-page missing.
{ 231 }
1. JA's letter not found. Greene's letter of the “24th” was dated by him the 26th (above; see note there).
2. Be inconsistent with, Obs. (OED).
3. Comma supplied.
4. The rest of this and the following sentence are supplied from The Papers of General Nathanael Greene, ed. Richard K. Showman and others, Chapel Hill, 1976 (1:225–226), the editors of which obtained the missing words from the G. W. Greene Transcripts at the Huntington Library.
5. From this point up to “its necessary to make” the missing words have been supplied from the source given in note 4 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0101

Author: Warren, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-06-02

From James Warren

[salute] My Dear Sir

I Received yours of the 20th. of May with the pamphlets Inclosed.1 I am much Obliged to you for them. I am quite satisfied that you have wrote to me as Often as your Situation would Admit of, that your Cares are great, and press on you from many quarters. I never suspected your Friendship. I pity you as much as you can wish a Friend to do, and Admire your Spirit and resolute perseverance in the publick Cause. I have read and see the difference of Sentiment in the two Pamphlets. The Thoughts on Government are far from being disdained in New England. They are Admired here. Very few Exceptions are made by any Body. The only one of any Consequence that I have heard is that the Author seems rather Inclined to A Negative in the third Branch, which is hardly popular enough for our Climate poor and sterile as it is. I believe the Author never Expected it would Comport with the Monarchick and Aristocratic Spirit of the South. Whether it is best there should be a perfect simularity in the form, and Spirit of the several Governments in the Colonies, provided they are all Independant of Britain, is a question I am not determined in. For some reasons it may be best for us there should be A difference. I therefore Consider the Address to the Convention of Virginia with the more Indifference as it may (if successful) neither Injure the publick or us.
I Regreted my not being Able to write by Mr. Winthrop who left this place two days ago. You will have by him a List of our new House, and I suppose a List of the Council Chosen as he promised me not to go without it. Coll. Orne and Danielson refused. We Chose Eldad Taylor and Coll. Thayer in their room.2 You will find in the House more Abilities, tho perhaps not more Zeal for the present System of politicks than in the last, and you will see in the List of Councellors some that I did not vote for. We have had yet Nothing before us to determine what we are to Expect from the Conduct of this New House. The Election took us two Intire days, and Controverted Elec• { 232 } tions filled up the rest of the last week. We Yesterday sent Home the Salem Members for the Irregularity of the proceedings of the Town in their Choice.3 Coll. Palmer is again in the House. I dare say you are Informed how.4
I presume as we are now at Liberty to Establish a Form of Government we shall soon take up that matter. I shall do every thing in my power to promote Unanimity in the Choice of A Governor or President, let the General voice be as it may. I thank you for your partiality. I could pitch on a much more suitable person than either of the Three you mention by going as far as Philadelphia tho' what we should do without him there I cant tell. Tis our Misfortune that the same men cant be in two places at the same time. I shall write you as soon as any thing on this Subject takes place. The peice you mention published in our papers is in total Oblivion, so desire you not to take your leave of us.
I shall do every thing in my power to have the Salaries and Commissions of the Judges Established. I have long been Convinced of the necessity of it, and I am sure we can do nothing more Advantageous to our Internal police. The Nerves of one of the Gentlemen you mention are weak oweing perhaps to his state of Health. His Heart I believe is good, tho' not so decisively zealous as I would wish, perhaps oweing to his Splendid fortune. His Head is undoubtedly good.
We have no News. Frequent rumours of Battles and victories in Canada since our late Misfortune there but nothing to be depended on. I am Mortified by the little Zeal and readiness shewn by our Countrymen to Enter into the service. Neither Marshals, Whitneys,5 or Crafts regiments are yet half full. What hopes can we Entertain that the five old Battalions left here will be filld up, or the two new ones raised. Can you Advise us to give them A Bounty by way of Encouragement, or should you disapprove of it. It certainly would be very Advantageous to us to have them, and our delegates deserve our Thanks for their Exertions on this Occasion, but how to get them is the question. I suppose it would not do to have the two Regiments we are now raising Converted into Continental Regiments. I cant account for the difficulties we have in raising men. Great Numbers are Indeed gone from us, and the southern Governments have Agents here Inlisting Seamen for their perticular services with full wages and large Bounties.6 I fear therefore you will find it difficult to man your ships. You should Attend to it without delay.
We have A promiseing Season, fine Showers the Crops look flourishing tho the weather has been cooler than usual. Mr. Winthrop has { 233 } with him my Accounts.7 I Expect there will be some small deficiency oweing to the Multiplicity of Business in that office, and the hurry and Croud we have been obliged to do it in. I have directed him to Charge for a Clerk, as it was Impossible to Execute it without one, and to Charge the Expenses of going to Philadelphia to settle Account as I am out of pay. I hope all these will be Allowed me. The Army here are in distress for want of money. I have run the venture at the Solicitations of Genl. Ward to pay several Sums since I had notice that my resignation was Accepted. I hope the publick Advantage, and the Generals Solicitations will Justifie my Conduct. I have desired Mr. Winthrop to call on you for any Assistance he may have Occasion for. I know you will give it to him, and I thot I need make no Apology for the Freedom. I have no Letters from Mrs. Adams to Inclose. She was well last Tuesday. Some of the little Boys had the Mumps. My regards to Mr. Adams and Gerry. I pray daily for your and their Health and Happiness and am your Friend, &c.
I never yet Congratulated you on the almost miraculous Interposition of Providence in sending us the prize Ship Carried into Boston. I do it now. The Gallant defence made by our small Vessels against the men of War Boats is perhaps as Noble A one as any this War. I cant give you An Exact Account of the loss on their side but I believe in Killd and wounded little short of A hundred. I am not certain that I have Acknowledged the receipt of some other of your favours. The Contents of them are Important and are Attended to. Want of Health for some time past and the Multiplicity of Business must be my Apology. You must not think of A Resignation. We shall be ruined if you do.
RC (Adams Papers); possible docketing: “Spr” [Speaker?].
1. See JA to Warren, 20 May, note 7. The pamphlets that Warren refers to later, however, were sent in JA's letter of 12 May. Warren is answering both letters, as well as JA's of 15 May (all above).
2. Azor Orne, Timothy Danielson, Ebenezer Thayer (Mass., House Jour., 1776–1777, 1st sess., p. 8).
3. The House held the election in Salem invalid because voters had signified their choice by using “kernels of corn and pease” (same, p. 10).
4. According to AA, in a close election in Braintree, Joseph Palmer promised to remain in the House (that is, he would refuse election to the Council) if he were chosen over his opponent, JA's brother, Peter Boylston Adams (Adams Family Correspondence, 1:416; 2:8).
5. Col. Josiah Whitney (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 590).
6. On 19 Jan. the congress had authorized South Carolina's agent to proceed to Cambridge to recruit seamen “in such parts of the country as will be the least prejudicial to the continental service,” and it recommended total bounties of no more than $14 per man (JCC, 4:67–68). In February the General Court, upon receipt of a letter from South Carolina's Council of Safety, voted to permit the recruitment of three hundred men in Massachusetts. By April, Massa• { 234 } chusetts had decided to give a month's wages in advance to encourage enlistment of seamen in the provincial navy, but it was paying only £2 per month, equivalent to less than $7. Other southern states like Virginia suffered a lack of experienced seamen, but the editors have found no record that their agents recruited men in Massachusetts (Mass., House Jour., 1775–1776, 3d sess., p. 303; C. O. Paullin, The Navy of the American Revolution, Cleveland, 1906, p. 421–422, 326–327, 403).
7. William Winthrop acted as Warren's agent when the army left Massachusetts for New York (Warren to JA, 30 March, above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0102

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Henry, Patrick
Date: 1776-06-03

To Patrick Henry

[salute] My dear Sir

I had this Morning the Pleasure of yours of 20 May. The little Pamphlet you mention is nullius Filius,1 and if I should be obliged to maintain it, the World will not expect that I should own it. My Motive for inclosing it to you, was not the Value of the Present, but as a Token of Friendship—and more for the Sake of inviting your Attention to the Subject, than because there was any Thing in it worthy your Perusal. The Subject is of infinite Moment, and perhaps more than Adequate to the Abilities of any Men, in America. I know of none So competent, to the Task as the Author of the first Virginia Resolutions against the Stamp Act, who will have the Glory with Posterity, of beginning and concluding this great Revolution. Happy Virginia, whose Constitution is to be framed by So masterly a Builder. Whether the Plan of the Pamphlet, is not too popular, whether the Elections are not too frequent, for your Colony I know not. The Usages and Genius and Manners of the People, must be consulted. And if Annual Elections of the Representatives of the People, are Sacredly preserved, those Elections by Ballott, and none permitted to be chosen but Inhabitants, Residents, as well as qualified Freeholders of the City, County, Parish, Town, or Burrough for which they are to serve,2 three essential Prerequisites of a free Government; the Council or middle Branch of the Legislature may be triennial, or even Septennial, without much Inconvenience.
I, esteam it an Honour and an Happiness, that my opinion So often co-incides with yours. It has ever appeared to me, that the natural Course and order of Things, was this—for every Colony to institute a Government—for all the Colonies to confederate, and define the Limits of the Continental Constitution—then to declare the Colonies a sovereign State, or a Number of confederated Sovereign States—and last of all to form Treaties with foreign Powers.3 But I fear We cannot proceed systematically, and that We Shall be obliged to declare { 235 } ourselves independant States before We confederate, and indeed before all the Colonies have established their Governments.
It is now pretty clear, that all these Measures will follow one another in a rapid Succession, and it may not perhaps be of much Importance, which is done first.
The Importance of an immediate Application to the French Court is clear, and I am very much obliged to you for your Hint of the Rout by the Mississippi.
Your Intimation that the session of your Representative Body would be long gave me great Pleasure, because We all look up to Virginia for Examples and in the present Perplexities, Dangers and Distresses of our Country it is necessary that the Supream Councils of the Colonies should be almost constantly Sitting. Some Colonies are not sensible of this and they will certainly Suffer for their Indiscretion. Events of such Magnitude as those which present themselves now in such quick Succession, require constant Attention and mature Deliberation.
The little Pamphlet, you mention which was published here as an Antidote to the Thoughts on Government, and which is whispered to have been the joint Production of one Native of Virginia and two Natives of New York, I know not how truly, will make no Fortune in the World. It is too absurd to be considered twice. It is contrived to involve a Colony in eternal War.
The Dons, the Bashaws, the Grandees, the Patricians, the Sachems, the Nabobs, call them by what Name you please, Sigh, and groan, and frett, and Sometimes Stamp, and foam, and curse—but all in vain. The Decree is gone forth, and it cannot be recalled, that a more equal Liberty, than has prevail'd in other Parts of the Earth, must be established in America. That Exuberance of Pride, which has produced an insolent Domination, in a few, a very few oppulent, monopolizing Families, will be brought down nearer to the Confines of Reason and Moderation, than they have been used. This is all the Evil, which they themselves will endure. It will do them good in this World and every other. For Pride was not made for Man only as a Tormentor.
I shall ever be happy in receiving your Advice, by Letter, untill I can be more compleatly so in seeing you here in Person, which I hope will be soon. I am with Sincere Affection and Esteem, dear sir, your Friend and very humble servant.
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent.”
1. An unacknowledged child.
2. Comma supplied.
3. Compare the order of events prescribed in JA to John Winthrop, 12 May (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0103

Author: Parsons, Samuel Holden
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-06-03

From Samuel Holden Parsons

[salute] Sir

Your favor of the 26th. Ultimo1 I duly received. I am fully of I Opinion with you that the Rank of Officers ought to be regarded, but not made the invariable Rule of Promotion in the Army, uncommon Merit in any Officer ought to be rewarded. The Danger lies in the Application of the Rule; Merit is comparative. It is difficult to compare where Two Officers are put to perform different Services and both acquit themselves well in their respective Departments; Uncommon Merit has generally the Voice of the Army to Support the Officer who thus distinguishes himself and Preferments of this Kind give very little Uneasiness; Instances in Col. Miflin preferd to the Rank of a Brigadier, Majr. Tupper to a Lt. Col. and Several other Preferments receive the general Approbation of all Ranks and their Merit allowed tho' they were not intitled to Succeed by their Rank; the Danger lies in advancing Friends under Color of Merit where there is no uncommon Merit, I know the Rule of Succession will occasion frequent Removals from one Regiment to another, but I cannot conceive that is a Difficulty to be avoided, especially in the Present Circumstances of the Country; when Corps of Men were raised by the different Provinces there could be no Pretence of succeeding from One to Another Regiment where Places fell Vacant in Regiments raised by another Colony; for the Troops of the different Colonies were considerd merely As Allies to each Other and not of the same United Body. Tis now otherwise, the whole are raised by the Continent without Regard to particular Colonies, and so the Appointments of Officers are made from several Colonies, in the same Regiment; this is peculiarly Advantageous to Us in destroying the local Prejudices of Colonies, which has always been discoverd in the Troops raised under the Authority of any Particular Colony, and in many Instances has produced very unhappy Effects. A Succession from One Regiment to another will naturally efface those Unreasonable Attachments and the whole will be United as one intire Body, whether the Massachusetts Bay, Virginia or Connectt. gave Birth to the Officer or Soldier. Three distinct Lists, have been observed in the Rank as well as Preferment of Officers: The Field Officers have respect to all the whole Army, Captains and Subalterns to their respective Regiments Only. The Staff have no Rank in Respect to the Commissioned Officers of the Army and can claim no Succession from the Station they sustain. This I take to be the Case in foreign Armies as well as in the English Nation; indeed a Staff { 237 } Officer is frequently gratified with a Commission giving him Rank of a Colonel Captain or Subaltern by which only he has Rank with the other Officers. If the Succession should among Field Officers be considerd as Regimental only such very frequent Changes would be made as would raise even a Subaltern Officer of not greater Merit, to the Command of a Regiment before a Lt. Colonel or Major of Another Regiment which would give great Uneasiness.
I am more sollicitous, however, about establishing a New Army I than ascertaining the Rank of the old or the Mode of Succession. I know a Delay will have the most Unhappy Effects, Men will not be persuaded to ingage in any new Service untill their former Engagements are at an End. If the Application is delayed till toward the End of their Term, they then see themselves soon at Liberty. Their Views are changed. Different Objects Are strongly painted on the Mind and the Pleasure of their expected new Circumstances makes the strongest Impression and every hard Circumstance of their present Condition receives double Weight. The last Campaign has fully convinced me of this and I dread having it repeated. Indeed the heavy Expence incurd last Year by calling in the Militia from Time to Time I think would convince every One that A Prudent Economy would cooperate with every other Consideration to induce our Legislators to take such Measures as will raise a Sufficient Body of Men in Season without being compelled to Similar Resorts again. As to Incouragement to the Soldier; you are very sensible there never was, nor ever rill be an Army of Patriots. Sacred and prophane History join to prove this Assertion; Patriots will rouse the martial Fire of the Soldier and urge on the Fight, but few very few, compard with the whole Body of Soldiers, will Stand forth with the Sword to defend their Country's Rights, especially in the Character of private Sentinels: some more operative Argument must therefore be Used to engage the common Soldier. What Estate, says he, have I to defend? Tis little Concern to le who is my Master: I would propose Sir that a Bounty be given, that there be a small Addition to their Wages and that a Coat be given Annually whilst in Service, and at the Expiration of the War a Grant of Land be made to Officers and Soldiers. This will be considerd as some provision for themselves and Families on which they may depend for the future Subsistance of their Families; besides if wild Lands are granted 'twill Operate as a Sale, for the rapid Settlement of a new Country by a disbanded Army will raise the Value of the Adjacent Country so that as much or more Money may be raised from the Remainder than could have been raised from the whole. The { 238 } increased Price of every Article of Apparel is a Reason why Wages of Soldiers should be raised. Indeed tis almost impossible with 40/ per Month to appear with Decency. As to Officers I have little to say on the Head of Wages. I believe we are all willing to take more and should be Content with Lands.

[salute] I wish a Speedy and happy Independance of the Colonies and that Glory and Honor and every kind of Prosperity may Attend you. I am Sr. yr. Friend and huml. Servt.

[signed] Saml. H. Parsons
P.S. Col. Waterbury2 who was proposed to command Genl. Arnold's Regiment is provided for in Connect. Lt. Col. Tyler of my Regiment has now Surely the best Pretentions. His Character may be fully known from Mr. Saml. Adams and Mr. Sherman.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Hon. John Adams Esqr. A Member of Congress in Philadelphia”; stamped: “FREE New York June 3”; docketed: “June 3. 1776”; and in an unknown hand, “G. Parsons.”
1. Not found.
2. David Waterbury was made brigadier general of Connecticut troops on 3 June (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 574).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0104

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Hughes, Hugh
Date: 1776-06-04

To Hugh Hughes

[salute] Sir

Yours of May 29. came safe to Hand, and am much pleased to find that your Citizens have behaved with so much Wisdom, Unanimity, and Spirit. Yet I was disappointed that you did not inclose their Votes.
Am very glad Mr. J. is with you, and hope he will be of great Service there but will he not be for making your Governor and Councillors for Life or during good Behaviour? I should dread Such a Constitution, in these perilous Times, because however wise and brave, and virtuous these Rulers may be at their first appointment, their Tempers, and Designs will be very apt to change, and then they may have it in their Power to betray the People, who will have no Means of Redress. The People ought to have frequently the opportunity, especially in these dangerous Times, of considering the Conduct of their Leaders, and of approving or disapproving. You will have no safety without it.
The Province of Pensilvania, is in a good Way, and will soon become an important Branch of the Confederation. The large Body of the People will be possessed of more Power and Importance, and a proud Junto of less: and yet Justice will I hope be done to all.
{ 239 }

[salute] I wish you Happiness, Promotion, and Reputation in the service, and am, with much Respect, your servant.

LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent.”

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0105

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lee, Richard
Date: 1776-06-04

To Richard Lee

[salute] Sir

Your Favour of 18 May, inclosing the momentous Resolution of your wise and patriotic Convention, together with the American Crisis1 came duely to Hand, and yesterday, I had the Pleasure of receiving the Proceedings of the House of Burgesses. I thank you, sir for both these esteemed Favours.
Is it not a little remarkable that this Congress and your Convention should come to Resolutions so nearly Similar, on the Same day, and that even the Convention of Maryland should, in that critical Moment, have proceeded so far as to abolish the Oaths of Allegiance, notwithstanding that Some of their other Resolves are a little excentric?2
Your Resolution is consistent and decisive, it is grounded on true Principles which are fairly and clearly Stated, and in my humble opinion the Proviso which reserves to your selves the Institution of your own Government is fit and right, this being a Matter of which the Colonies are the best Judges, and a Priviledge which each Colony ought to reserve to it self. Yet after all I believe there will be much more Uniformity, in the Governments which all of them will adopt than could have been expected a few Months ago.
The Joy and exultation which was expressed upon that great Occasion did Honour to their good sense and public Virtue. It was an important Event at a critical Time, in which the Interest and Happiness, of themselves and their Posterity, was much concerned.
Hopkins's Fleet, has been very unfortunate: a dreadful sickness has raged among his Men, and disabled him from putting more than two of his Vessells to sea.3 To what Place they are gone I know not. Perhaps to cruise for Transports. I am, sir, with great respect, your most humble servant.
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent.”
1. Probably a reference to the preamble to the resolutions, for it set forth the extent of the American crisis in vivid detail.
2. Since some men had refused appointment to office because they did not want to take oaths of allegiance while the dispute with Great Britain continued, the Maryland Convention on 15 May decreed that a simple oath of office would suffice (Force, Archives, 4th ser., 5:1584–1585). On Maryland's { 240 } eccentricity, see JA to James Warren, 20 May, note 8 (above).
3. See Esek Hopkins to Stephen Hopkins, 8 June (Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 5:425).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0106

Author: Warren, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-06-05

From James Warren

[salute] My Dear Sir

The Inclosed Letter was sealed to go by the last Post, but I Unluckily missed it.1 I have now An Opportunity to Inclose one from Braintree.2 Doctr. Church is Arrived here. Is not your resolve relative to him somewhat Extraordinary. I fear the People will kill him if at large. The Night before last he went to Lodge at Waltham was saved by the Interposition of the selectmen but by Jumping out of A Chamber Window and flying. His Life is of no great Consequence but such A Step has a tendency to lessen the Confidence of the People in the doings of Congress.
A large Sugar Ship from Jamaica with 300 hhds. sugar 80 Puncheons rum some Madeira wine &c. &c. is taken and got into the Vineyard in her way to Bedford. It is said that 4 or 5 others are taken by two Privateers who took this. What Privateers they are I cant learn.3
Must not something be done to prevent British Property being Covered by the West Indians. We shall loose our Labour, and discourage our Seamen. Why should not all English property going to Britain be liable to Capture.4 This matter must be Considered. We should fight them on equal Terms.
We have A Number of Seamen here supported at your Expence.5 If your Generosity and Civilized sentiments prevent, wont good policy dictate recourse to the Lex talionis. They are wanted. You will fine the want of them when you man your Ships.
1. A reference to Warren's letter of 2 June (above).
3. The Reynolds, one of three sugar ships seized by the privateers Congress and Chance, which were from Pennsylvania (Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 5:380).
4. On 3 April the congress had made liable to seizure ships belonging to inhabitants of Great Britain with two exceptions: ships bringing settlers to the United Colonies and those bringing war materials for the use of Americans. Not until 24 July did the congress broaden its resolution to include subjects of the British Crown with the exception of inhabitants of Bermuda and the Bahama Islands (JCC, 4:253; 5:606).
5. By this cryptic reference Warren may have meant captured British sea men, whom Warren wanted to see forced to serve in American vessels. The congress had voted on 21 May that prisoners were not to be enlisted in Continental forces, although on 5 Aug. the congress changed its mind (JCC, 4:372; 5:630). Two Continental frigates were being built at Newburyport, the Boston and the Hancock, the former being launched on 3 June (Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 5:159, 448, 449).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0107

Author: Massachusetts General Court
Recipient: Continental Congress, Massachusetts delegates
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: Hancock, John
Recipient: Adams, Samuel
Recipient: Paine, Robert Treat
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
Date: 1776-06-06

The General Court to the Massachusetts Delegates

Moses Gill Esqr. brought down the following Letter prepard by a Committee of both Houses to be sent to the Delegates of this Colony at the Continental Congress vizt.

[salute] Gentlemen

Moses Gill Esqr. brought down the following Letter prepard by a Committee of both Houses to be sent to the Delegates of this Colony at the Continental Congress vizt.
At the same time that we think Ourselves obliged to acknowledge the vigilance and care of our Delegates to the defence of our Colony, and the attention of the Congress to an impartial defence of every part of the united Colonies, in the late provision made for the Massachusetts Bay, their Resolve for adding three more Battalions to those left for the defence of it; we conceive it necessary to inform You that we think it will be very difficult if not impossible to raise the two Battalions propos'd to be rais'd here1 without some additional Encouragement. We are sensible of the importance and necessity of raising them, we are willing to give every encouragement in our power to effect it, we know of no encouragement but by a bounty, but yet dare not venture on such a Measure without some assurances that such a step would be agreable to Congress.2 You will therefore please to give us the sense of Congress on this subject, or such assurances of approbation of Congress if we should adopt the measure as we may rely on. We request this to be done as soon as possible, that the necessary steps for raising the Battalion may be taken and executed with the dispatch that the situation of this Colony requires. We can't conclude without expressing our approbation of the promotion of Generals Gates and Mifflin, and our wishes that they may be appointed to the command of the Troops here. We will return agreable to the Resolve of Congress a list of Field Officers as soon as it can be prepar'd, we should be glad to be inform'd of the extent of the encouragement Congress would be willing to give, and if they would be willing to give, and if they would disapprove of any additions this Colony may think necessary to make.
In the Council June 6th. 1776.
Read and sent down.
Read and orderd to be sent immediately to the Delegates of this Colony at the Honble. Continental Congress.
Sent up for Concurrence.
{ 242 }
FC (M–Ar:House of Representatives Records, 57:269–270)
1. Of the three battalions (in addition to the five already in the province), two were to be raised in Massachusetts and one in Connecticut (JA to James Warren, 18 May, note 2, above). The House of Representatives considered this request, but on 17 June decided to wait further word from the congress (Mass., House Jour., 1776–1777, 1st sess., p. 32).
2. The General Court's diffidence here is understandable. Some months earlier the congress had made it plain that it would not grant bounties despite the pleas of the New England colonies (JA to Joseph Hawley, 25 Nov. 1775, above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0108

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Cooper, Samuel
Date: 1776-06-09

To Samuel Cooper?

[salute] Dear Sir

Yours of 27. May, received yesterday.1 I did not expect that our Army would have raised the Siege of Quebec, So soon, much less So unskillfully and So timorously. I cannot forbear, these Epithets. But raising a siege in open day, and in the Face of an Enemy, was a Step, that nothing could justify, that I can think of.
The Small Pox is a terrible Enemy, but why could not this have been kept out of the Camp before Quebec, as well as out of the Camps at Cambridge and Roxbury? Provisions enough for the whole Army twice told, have been sent into Canada and taken there from the Enemy. But all has been total Confusion there and still is so. We have no regular Returns nor any certain Information. Our People dont fight. The officers have had no Command. The Men no order. However, I hope, Things will be better. We are doing the best We can. When I Say We I mean, the Delegates from N.E. and Some few others. In Truth the Syren Voice of Reconciliation, which deluded the Town of Boston to its Ruin, the Winter before last, has deluded the Congress and the Colonies whom they represent, during the last Winter, and this has petrified Us, and Stupified Us.
The Causes of our Misfortunes and Miscarriages in Canada, are So numerous are of So long Standing, and have been So incessantly increasing, that it would take a long Letter to develop them.
1. The primary Cause has been the Diversity of Sentiments in Congress, concerning that Expedition, and the Indecision, or rather Fluctuation of our Councils in the Support and Prosecution of it. In the original Conception of the Design of Sending our Arms into that Province, nearly one half the Number of the Colonies were against it. Some thought it too great an Undertaking. Some thought it too ex• { 243 } pensive. Others thought it, or pretended to think it unnecessary. From this variety of Opinions, or some other unknown Cause, an opposition has taken Place to every Motion, and Projection, for promoting and expediting the service, there.
2. Since the Death of Montgomery, We have had no General in Command there who Seems to have had a full and comprehensive View of the State of that Province, to have watched the Motions in every Part, or concerted his Measures with any System.
3. We have never had any regular Returns of Men, Arms, Cannon, Ammunition, Cloathing, Provisions, Money, or any Thing else.
4. We have never had a Commissary, Muster Master, Quarter Master, Principal, Deputy, or Assistant, who has faithfully done his Duty.
5. We have never had Intelligence of the Truth of Facts, nor true Information concerning the Characters of Officers or Men; every new Person from Canada, having generally contradicted the whole Story in every particular, of him who came before, both with respect to Men and Things, Characters, and Facts.
6. The Want of Physicians, Surgeons, Apothecaries, Medicines, amputating and trepanning Instruments, has been a great Misfortune to the sick and wounded and Discouragement to the Army.
7. Our Inability to procure hard Money for the Service in that Country, has impaired our Credit with the Canadians, and prevented our Officers and Men from procuring Such Articles of Cloathing, Provisions and other necessaries as were wanted.
8. The Small Pox, an unexpected Enemy, and more terrible than British Troops, Indians, or even Tories, invaded our Armies and defeated them more than once.
I believe you will think, Sir, that I have enumerated Causes enough to account without Recourse to any Thing more extraordinary, for all the Disasters in that Province.2
1. Although JA did not indicate to whom this letter was addressed, he is obviously answering specific questions in Cooper's letter of 27 May (above). JA did not follow his usual practice, however, of indicating whether the letter was sent. The frankness of his analysis of the defeat in Canada may have caused him to think twice about sending it. Compare his candor here with his reticence in the letter to William Cushing that follows. Cooper's subsequent letters to JA do not specifically acknowledge receipt of this letter of 9 June.
2. A comparison of this list of causes with that furnished to AA by JA on 3 July is instructive. There JA puts most emphasis, apart from the ravages of smallpox, on the desire for reconciliation (Adams Family Correspondence, 2:29–30).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0109

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Cushing, William
Date: 1776-06-09

To William Cushing

[salute] Dear Sir

I had, yesterday, the Honour of your Letter of the 20th. of May, and I read it, with all that Pleasure, which We feel on the Revival of an old Friendship when We meet a Friend, whom, for a long Time We have not Seen.
You do me great Honour, sir, in expressing a Pleasure at my Appointment to the Bench; but be assured that no Circumstance relating to that Appointment has given me So much concern, as my being placed at the Head of it, in Preference to another, who in my opinion was so much better qualified for it, and intituled to it.1 I did all in my Power to have it otherwise but was told that our Sovereign Lords the People must have it so.
When, or Where, or how, the Secret Imagination Seized you, as you Say it did, heretofore, that I was destined to that Place, I cant conjecture: nothing, I am Sure, was further from my Thoughts, or Wishes.
I am not a little chagrined that Sargeant has declined, having entertained great Hopes, from his Solid Judgment and extensive Knowledge. Paine has acted in his own Character, tho scarcely consistent wit the public Character, which he has been made to wear. At this, however, I am not much mortified, for the Bench will not be the less respectable, for having a little less Wit, Humour, Drollery, or Fun upon it—very different Qualities being requisite in that Department.
Warren has an excellent Head and Heart, and since the Province cannot be favoured and honoured with the Judgment of regularly educated Lawyers I know not where a better Man could have been found. I hope he will not decline. If he should, I hope that Lowell2 or Dana will be thought of.
Your appointment of Mr. Winthrop, whose Experience will be usefull in that Station and whose Conduct and Principles have deserved I it, was undoubtedly very right and cannot fail to give universal satisfaction.
You shall have my hearty Concurrence in telling the Jury, the Nullity of Acts of Parliament, whether We can prove it by the Jus Gladii or not. I am determined to live and die of that Opinion, let the Jus Gladii, Say what it will. The System and Rules of the Common Law, must be adopted, I Suppose, untill the Legislature Shall make Alterations in Either, and how much Soever, I may, heretofore have found fault with the Powers that were, I suppose, I shall now be { 245 } well pleased to hear Submission inculcated to the Powers that be—because they are ordained for good.
It would give me great Pleasure to ride this Eastern Circuit with you, and prate before you at the Bar, as I used to do. But I am destined to another Fate, to Drudgery of the most wasting, exhausting, consuming Kind, that I ever went through in my whole Life. Objects of the most Stupendous Magnitude, Measures in which the Lives and Liberties of Millions, born and unborn are most essentially interested, are now before Us. We are in the very midst of a Revolution, the most compleat, unexpected, and remarkable of any in the History of Nations. A few Matters must be dispatched before I can return. Every Colony must be induced to institute a perfect Government. All the Colonies must confederate together, in some solemn Compact. The Colonies must be declared free and independent states, and Embassadors, must be Sent abroad to foreign Courts, to solicit their Acknowledgment of Us, as Sovereign States, and to form with them, at least with some of them commercial Treaties of Friendship and Alliance.3 When these Things shall be once well finished, or in a Way of being so, I shall think that I have answered the End of my Creation, and sing with Pleasure my Nunc Dimittes, or if it should be the Will of Heaven that I should live a little longer, return to my Farm and Family, ride Circuits, plead Law, or judge Causes, just as you please.
The Rumours you heard of a Reinforcement in Canada, and those you must have heard before now of many Disasters there, are but too true. Canada has been neglected too much, to my infinite Grief and Regret, and against all the Remonstrances and Entreaties, which could be made. This has been owing to Causes, which it would tire you to read, if I was at Liberty to explain them.4 However nothing on the Part of your Delegates will be wanting, to secure with the Blessing of Heaven, a Reverse of Fortune, there. Dunmore is fled to an Island, having left behind him in their Graves most of his Negroes, and abandoned his Entrenchments on the Main. Our little fleet has had a shocking sickness, which had disabled So many Men, that the Commodore has sent out, on a Cruise two of his ships only. The Difficulty of defending So extended a sea Coast is prodigious, but the Spirit of the People is very willing, and they exert themselves nobly in most Places. The British Men of War are distressed for Provisions and even for Water, almost every where. They have no Comfort in any Part of America.
My good Genius whispers me very often that I shall enjoy many agreeable Hours with you, but Fortune often disappoints the Hopes { 246 } which this Genius inspires. Be this as it may, while at a distance I shall ever be happy to receive a Line from you. Should be much obliged to you, for some Account of Occurences in your Eastern Circuit. Remember me, with every sentiment of Respect to the Bench, the Bar, and all other Friends. I have the Honour to be with very great Respect, your Affectionate Friend, and very humble servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (MHi:Cushing Papers); docketed: “Ch. Just. Adams Letter, June, 9th. 1776.”
1. JA probably is referring to Cushing, who had been a superior court judge under the royal government, and whose father and grandfather had preceded him in that position (JA, Legal Papers, 1:xcix).
2. John Lowell (1743–1802), Newburyport lawyer, who moved to Boston in 1777. For a time he sat in the Continental Congress, became a federal judge, and played a leading role in cultural affairs in Massachusetts. He was the grandfather of James Russell Lowell (DAB).
3. JA's use of the word “alliance” must be understood in terms of 18th- rather than 20th-century usage. Today “alliance” connotes a political or military connection in which the parties agree to be allies in the event of war. In the 18th century, however, the term was used to describe all types of treaty connections; and, particularly in the American mind, a sharp distinction was made between a commercial alliance, which was not entangling, and a treaty promising direct aid in time of war, that is, a political or military alliance, which was entangling. For a more detailed treatment of JA's views on the proper sort of treaties for the United States, see the Plan of Treaties, 12 June–17 Sept. (below).
4. See JA to Samuel Cooper?, 9 June, note 1 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0110

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1776-06-09

To James Warren

I shall address this to you as Speaker, but you may be Councillor, or Governor, or Judge, or any other Thing, or nothing but a good Man, for what I know. Such is the Mutability of this World.
Upon my Word I think you Use the World very ill, to publish and send abroad a Newspaper, since the 29 May without telling Us one Word about the Election,1 where it was held, who preached the sermon, or &c. &c.
I write this in haste only to inclose to you a little Treatise upon Fire ships2—it may be sending Coals to New Castle. But it appears to me of such Importance that I thought myself bound to procure and send it least this Art should not be understood among you. This Art carries Terror and Dismay along with it, and the very Rumour of Preparations in this Kind may do you more service than many Battallions.
I am not easy about Boston, and have taken all the Pains in my { 247 } Power with G. Washington, to engage him to send G. and M.3 there, but he is so sanguine and confident that no Attempt will be made there that I am afraid his security will occasion one.
The News Papers inclosed, when you have read them, please to send them to the Foot of Penns Hill.4
RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “Mr J. A Lettr June 1776.”
1. The first newspaper to appear after the election was the New-England Chronicle of 30 May, too soon to carry the results; obviously JA was being facetious. The Boston Gazette printed the list of representatives and councilors on 3 June. The election was held in Watertown, and Rev. Samuel West preached the sermon. On West, see Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 13:501–510.
2. Enclosure not found, but the “treatise” is copied in JA's Letterbook. Apparently JA secured the information from experts, as he had promised he would do. No record of a published work has been found. JA's treatise is printed in Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 5:437–441, but JA's table of quantities of materials needed has been inaccurately copied. The columns headed “Tar” and “Oil” with their amounts have been inadvertently omitted, and the final figure is given as “2 Ct. 1.13” instead of “28 Ct. 1.13.”
3. Gens. Gates and Mifflin.
4. That is, to JA's home and AA.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0111

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Angier, Oakes
Date: 1776-06-12

To Oakes Angier

[salute] Dear Sir1

It was with great Pleasure, and perhaps some little Mixture of Pride, that I read your Name among the Representatives of Bridgwater, in the Boston Gazette. I rejoiced to find that your Townsmen, had So much Confidence in your Abilities and Patriotism, and that you had so much Confidence in the Justice of our Cause, and the Abilities of America to support it, as to embark your Fortune in it.
Your Country never stood so much in need of Men of clear Heads and Steady Hearts, to conduct her Affairs. Our civil Governments as well as military Preparations want much Improvement, and to this End a most vigilant Attention, as well as great Patience, Caution, Prudence and Firmness are necessary.
You will excuse the Freedom of a Friend, when I tell you, that I have never entertained any doubt that your political Principles and public Affections, corresponded with those of your Country. But you know that Jealousies and suspicions have been entertained and propagated concerning you. These Jealousies arose, I am well perswaded from an unreserved Freedom of Conversation, and a social Disposition, a little addicted to Disputation, which was sometimes perhaps incautiously indulged. Your present Situation, which is conspicuous and not { 248 } only exposed to observation but to Misconstruction and Misrepresentation, will make it necessary for you to be upon your Guard.
Let me recommend to you, an observation, that one of my Collegue[s] is very fond of, “The first Virtue of a Politician is Patience; the second is Patience; and the third is Patience.” As Demosthenes observed that Action was the first, second, and third Qualities of an orator.
You will experience in public Life such violent, sudden, and unexpected Provocations, and Disappointments, that if you are not now possessed of all the Patience of Job, I would advise you to acquire it, as soon as possible.
News, I can tell you none. I have written to Coll. Warren, Mr. Sewall,2 and Mr. Lowell, a few broken Hints, upon subjects which I wish you would turn your Thoughts to. Be so good as to write me, any Remarkables in the Legislature, or the Courts of Justice. I am your Friend.
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent.”
1. Oakes Angier (1745–1786), Bridgewater lawyer and a former student of JA's, had earlier exhibited anti-whig tendencies, which AA remarked upon to her husband (Adams Family Correspondence, 1:140–141, 153; Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 16:5–7).
2. See JA to David Sewall, 12 June (below), for identification.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0112

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Dana, Francis
Date: 1776-06-12

To Francis Dana

[salute] Dear Sir

In the Lists of the House and Board, I was as much pleased to find your Name among the latter as I was chagrined to find it omitted in the former. This is one among numberless Advantages of a Middle Branch of the Legislature, that a Place may be found in it, for such distinguished Friends of their Country, as are omitted by the People in the Choice of their Representatives. This is an Advantage which Pensylvania never enjoyed, and some ignorant Pretenders to the Art of building civil Governments seem to wish should prevail in other Colonies. But so far from succeeding every Colony on the Continent in their new Constitutions, even Pensilvania itself, will have a middle Branch.1 I hope you will now go on and compleat your Government by choosing a Governor and Lt. Governor.
I think the Province never had So fair a Representation, or so respectable an House, or Board, you have a great Number of ingenious, able Men in each. I sincerely congratulate the Province upon it, and think it forebodes much good.
{ 249 }
I am anxious to be informed of the State of the Province, and of the Progress you make, step by step. Should be much obliged to you for a Letter now and then.
We are drudging on, as usual. Sometimes it is seven O Clock before We rise. We have greater Things, in Contemplation, than ever. The greatest of all, which We ever shall have. Be silent and patient and time will bring forth, after the usual Groans, throws and Pains upon such occasions a fine Child—a fine, vigorous, healthy Boy, I presume. God bless him, and make him a great, wise, virtuous, pious, rich and powerfull Man.
Prepare yourself for Vexation enough, for my Tour of Duty is almost out, and when it is, you, or Lowell or both must come here, and toil a little, while We take a little Breath. I am, &c.
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent.”
1. Pennsylvania's constitution of 1776, adopted in September, provided for a council which had executive and advisory powers but no legislative role, so, properly speaking, it was not a middle branch of the legislature (Thorpe, Federal and State Constitutions, 5:3084–3085).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0113

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lowell, John
Date: 1776-06-12

To John Lowell

[salute] Dear Sir

Yesterdays Post brought me a Newspaper of the 3d. Instant, containing a List of your House, and Board, and upon my Word I read it with more Pleasure than I ever read any other List of the two Houses. I dont believe the Records of the Province can show, a more respectable set of Representatives or Councillors. Sergeant, Lowell, Pickering,1 Angier are great Acquisitions in the House: So are Dana, and Sewall at the Board, not to mention many other very respectable Characters among the new Members of each.
From this Collection of wise and prudent Men, I hope great Things. I hope that the most vigorous Exertions will be made to put the Province in the best State of Defence. Every Seaport in it, ought to be fortified in Such a Manner that you may sett the Enemy at Defyance. To this End, large Additions must be made to the Cannon of the Colony. I wish to know, whether, they are cast, at any Furnace in the Province, if not no Expence I think should be Spared to procure them. They are casting them Successfully in Maryland, Pensylvania, and Rhode Island. Another Article essentially necessary, is that of MUsquetts. I wish that every Man in the Province who can work about any Part of a Gun or Bayonnett was set to work. No Price, should be thought extravagant.
{ 250 }
Salt Petre it seems you are in a Way to procure in sufficient Quantities. But Sulphur and Lead I have not yet learnt to be made among you. I hope you will take effectual Measures to make Salt. You must do it. The other Colonies are too lazy and shiftless to do any Thing untill you set them the example.
The Defence of the Colony is the first object. The second is the Formation of a Constitution. In this Business, I presume you will proceed Slowly and deliberately. It is a difficult Work to atchieve and the Spirit of Levelling, as well as that of Innovation, is afloat. Before I saw, the List of the new Election I was under fearfull Apprehensions I confess. But my Mind is now at Ease, in this Respect. There are So many able Men in each House that I think, they will have Influence enough to prevent any dangerous Innovations, and yet to carry any necessary and usefull Improvements.
Some of you must prepare your stomachs to come to Philadelphia. I am weary, and must ask Leave to return to my Family, after a little Time, and one of my Colleagues at least, must do the same, Or I greatly fear, do worse. You and I know very well the Fatigues of Practice at the Bar: But I assure you, this incessant Round of thinking and Speaking upon the greatest Subjects that ever employed the Mind of Man, and the most perplexing Difficulties that ever puzzled it, is beyond all Comparison more exhausting and consuming.
Our affairs in Canada are in a confused and disastrous situation. But I hope they will not be worse. We have made large Requisitions upon you. How you can possibly comply with them I know not: but hope you will do as much as you can.
We have no Resource left my Friend, but our own Fortitude, and the Favour of Heaven. If We have the first I have no doubt We shall obtain the last. And these will be Sufficient. All Ideas of Reconciliation, or Accomodation Seem to be gone with the Years before the Flood.
I have nothing new to communicate, but what is in every Newspaper, and I began this Letter only to make my Compliments to you, and ask the Favour of your Correspondence; but have wandered, I know not whither. It is Time to subscribe myself your Friend and servant.
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent.”
1. Both John and Timothy Pickering were representatives from Salem.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0114

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Sewall, David
Date: 1776-06-12

To David Sewall

[salute] Dear Sir1

In the Boston Gazette of the 3d. Instant, I have the Pleasure to see your Name among the Councillors, where I have wished to see it, for some Time. That refined Ingenuity and pertenacious Industry, which distinguished my Classmate at Colledge, and my Brother at the Bar, I am sure will be of great service to the Province, at the Councill Board, especially at this Time, when the public Stands so much in Need of the services of her best Men. Your Mathematical and Philosophical Genius, will be agreably entertained with Speculations for the Defence of Places, and the Fortification of the Harbours and seaport Towns.
Let me Suggest to your Consideration two Objects of Inquiry; the one is Row Gallies and the other is Fire ships. Row Gallies and Floating Batteries, are Engines very formidable to Men of War, because they are So low and small that it is almost impossible for a Man of War to bring her Guns to bear upon them So as to do Execution, and the great Weight of Mettal, which is carried by the heavy Cannon, on board such Gallies and Batteries, tear the Ships to Pieces, and the shot is very sure.
Fire ships and Rafts, are the King of Terrors to Men of War, when so protected by Row Gallies and floating Batteries, that they cannot grapple them and anchor them by Means of their Boats, and Barges. I have inclosed to your excellent Speaker, a little Treatise2 upon the Art of making the Compositions and constructing the Vessells. There seems to be Something infernal in this Art. But our quondam Friend Jonathan used to quote from Mat. Prior,3 “When it is to combat Evil, Tis lawfull to employ the Devil.” There is no greater Evil on Earth or under it than the War that is made upon Us. And We have a Right, and it is our Duty to defend our selves, by such Means as We have.
There are Such Preparations of Vesseaux de Frizes, Fire ships, Fire Rafts, floating Batteries and Row Gallies in Delaware River, that they would Spread Destruction through any British Fleet, that should attempt to come up here. I wish that Similar Preparations were made in every Seaport in the Mass. Bay.
After you have done every Thing that is necessary for the Defence of the Colony, and her Sisters, I presume you will turn your Thoughts to the Establishment of a permanent Constitution of civil Government. The Board is so unwieldy a Body to conduct the Executive Part of Government, productive of So much Delay, and unnecessary Trouble, { 252 } that you will no doubt, choose a Governor. Will you give him a Negative upon your Laws, or only make him Primus inter Pares, at the Board? I suppose the high, free Spirit of our People will demand the latter. But, I must conclude, my Letter, by requesting the Favour of your Correspondence, and assuring you that I am with great Esteem, your Friend and humble Servant
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent.”
1. David Sewall (1735–1825) of York, Maine, had a reputation at Harvard for skill in astronomy that JA recalled in his old age. Sewall went on to become a prosperous lawyer and later a state and federal judge (JA to Sewall, 4 Nov. 1821, LbC, Adams Papers; Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 13:638–645).
2. See JA to James Warren, 9 June, note 2 (above).
3. Jonathan Sewall's quotation from the poet Matthew Prior has not been located.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0001

Editorial Note

On 12 June 1776, almost five months after a committee had been named to consider the establishment of a war office, the Continental Congress resolved to create “a Board of War and Ordnance” and on the following day appointed John Adams, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Harrison, James Wilson, and Edward Rutledge as its first members (JCC, 4:85; 5:434, 438). The new body, without which Washington believed “Affairs can never properly be conducted,” was an effort finally to bring organization into a chaotic situation. The Board was created to deal with the day-to-day administration of the army, including appointments, promotions, provisions, and prisoners (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 5:128).
Adams played a major role on the Board and thus in the war effort, for he served as the body's president from its creation until he left Congress in November 1777. It was a responsibility, as he explained to his wife, “to which I never aspired, a Trust to which I feel my self vastly unequal.” It must have taken up much of his available time, for he reported that it was meeting “every Morning and every Evening” (Adams Family Correspondence, 2:24). The burden for Adams was the heavier since he was also on committees to draft the Declaration of Independence and a treaty plan and was almost certainly active in the daily debates of the congress.
Although the Board was very busy during its first two and one-half months, neither Adams nor anyone else said very much about its activities. Between 12 June and 27 August the Board sent thirty-eight reports to con• { 253 } gress on subjects ranging from the appointment of chaplains to the issuance of an invitation to an Indian chief to visit congress. Only two of these reports, those of 13 August (printed below) and 22 August (calendared), are extant and only the first, because it is partially in Adams' hand, gives any evidence of his role in its formulation. For the remaining reports there is no way to determine the part played by Adams in the debates of the Board concerning them. Neither is there any indication of the extent to which actions taken by the Continental Congress on military matters but not touched upon in reports of the Board resulted from informal action by that body or of its members as individuals. The reader, therefore, to gain what little additional information exists on the actions of the Board for this period, must turn to the Board's correspondence and to references, often oblique, in John Adams' private letters.
In the Journals of the Continental Congress the reports of the Board of War take the form of resolutions passed by the congress. Comparison of later MS reports with the printed resolutions warrants the assumption that the latter typically follow closely the texts of Board reports. The congressional resolutions here calendared may then be viewed as reports of the Board of War. For the Board's expectations regarding its relations with General Washington, see its letter to him of 21 June (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0001

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-06-17

17 June.

17 June. The congress resolved, in response to a letter of 10 June from Gov. Jonathan Trumbull, that two battalions raised in Connecticut for service at Boston and New York, respectively, be sent to Canada; that blank commissions be sent to Trumbull for the officers of the battalion intended for New York; and that another battalion of militia be sent to Boston, Connecticut to receive $10,500 to defray the cost (JCC, 5:447–448; Note: Two additional resolutions immediately following and concerning the commissioning of officers by the Connecticut Assembly and the sale of gunpowder by the Secret Committee to New Jersey may have proceeded from the same report).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0002

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-06-19

19 June.

19 June. The congress resolved in regard to several letters, particularly one of 16 June from George Washington, that commissions given by Brigadier General Sullivan to officers in Canada be confirmed and that $300,000 be sent to the paymaster general in New York (JCC, 5:465).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0003

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-06-21

21 June.

21 June. The congress, considering the status of several officers who had served in Canada during the last winter, resolved that New York raise a new regiment and in doing so commission the veterans of the Canadian service; that the commissions be granted on the condition of their companies being raised to full strength; that Maj. Lewis Dubois in particular be provided for; and that Maj. John Vischer be commissioned as lieutenant colonel (JCC, 5:471–472).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0004

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-06-24

24 June.

24 June. The congress tabled a petition from Carpenter Wharton (see resolution of 6 July, below) and desired that General Washington inform it as to the cost of a ration as provided by the commissary general (JCC, 5:477).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0005

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-06-25

25 June.

25 June. In response to letters from Schuyler, Sullivan, and Arnold transmitted in a letter of 23 June from George Washington, the congress resolved that the number of men for the Northern Department be increased to 4,000; that Major Dubois be made a colonel and ordered to raise a regiment; that the force to be sent to the Northern Department be augmented by one regiment from New Hampshire, two regiments from Massachusetts, and one regiment from Connecticut, the regiments to be supplied by their respective colonies with reimbursement to come from the congress; that a regimental paymaster, not an officer of the army, be appointed by each of the colonies for the battalions (JCC, 5:477, 478–480; Note: A resolution immediately following that a committee be sent to confer with George Washington on further measures may have proceeded from the same report but was expunged from the record the following day).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0006

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-06-26

26 June.

26 June. The congress resolved that M. Felix Weibert be permitted to serve in the capacity of an engineer under General Washington (JCC, 5:480–482; Note: Three additional resolutions immediately following concerning the appointment of officers for the regiment to be raised by Col. Lewis Dubois, a letter to the New York Convention explaining the need for Dubois' regiment, and the empowering of the Marine Committee to purchase the Catharine may have proceeded from the same report).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0007

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-06-27

27 June.

27 June. In response to a letter from George Washington, the congress resolved that six companies of riflemen in addition to the three in New York be raised and placed in a regiment with Hugh Stephenson as commander; that four companies of riflemen be raised in Virginia and two in Maryland to serve in the above regiment; and that General Washington send to Congress a list of all vacancies in the Army (JCC, 5:486).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0008

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-06-28

28 June.

28 June. The congress resolved that M. Le Chevalier de Kirmovan be employed by Pennsylvania in planning and laying out the fortifications at Billingsport on the Delaware River (JCC, 5:490–491).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0009

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-07-05

5 July.

5 July. The congress resolved that a regiment be raised out of the officers who had served in Canada on the same basis as that of Colonel Dubois and designated the officers for this regiment (JCC, 5:518–519; Note: An additional resolution immediately following and concerning the dispatch of ship carpenters to General Schuyler at Albany to build boats for the defense of the lakes may have proceeded from the same report).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0010

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-07-05

5 July.

5 July. The congress resolved that John Coburne, assistant conductor of military stores in Canada, be allowed lieutenant's pay from 1 March – { 255 } 1 June 1776; that a chaplain be appointed to each regiment in the Continental Army; that immediate steps be taken to procure lead; and that an express be established between New York and Philadelphia to permit General Washington to send daily dispatches to the congress (JCC, 5:522).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0011

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-07-05

5 July.

5 July. The congress resolved that five tons of powder be sent to Gen. Andrew Lewis at Williamsburg for use in the Southern Department and that part of it be sent to South Carolina; that British prisoners in New Jersey be sent to York, Pennsylvania; and that four companies of militia be retained in Philadelphia to guard continental stores (JCC, 5:522–523).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0012

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-07-06

6 July.

6 July. The congress resolved that Carpenter Wharton be appointed commissary to the militia being sent from Pennsylvania to New Jersey; that William Sherman Jr. be named paymaster for Col. Seth Warner's regiment; and that Maj. Robert Rogers be sent to New Hampshire “to be disposed of” as that government thinks best (JCC, 5:523). Rogers, who was living in New Hampshire, was a half-pay officer in the King's forces and had gone to Philadelphia presumably to secure an American commission. Washington did not trust him (Force, Archives, 4th ser., 6:1108–1109).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0013

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-07-08

8 July.

8 July. The congress resolved that George Washington have the power to call to New York the continental regiments in Massachusetts not bound for Ticonderoga; that Washington have permission to employ as many Indians as necessary from the St. Johns, Nova Scotia, and Penobscot tribes; and that the commissary general have full power to supply the armies on the lakes and at New York respectively and to appoint and remove subordinates (JCC, 5:527).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0014

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-07-09

9 July.

9 July. The congress named officers for the Virginia Rifle Company and resolved that money be sent to Virginia and Maryland for the rifle companies (JCC, 5:529; Note: An additional resolution immediately following and concerning the appointment of William Palfrey to the rank of lieutenant colonel may have proceeded from the same report).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0015

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-07-10

10 July.

10 July. The congress resolved that the Committee of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, be empowered to mount a guard over the prisoners there and construct a stockade and that privates held as prisoners at Reading be sent to Lancaster (JCC, 5:531).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0016

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-07-11

11 July.

11 July. In response to a letter from the New Jersey Convention the congress resolved that New Jersey be informed of the measures being taken by the congress for the defense of the Province (JCC, 5:541).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0017

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-07-16

16 July.

16 July. The congress resolved that the new positions of sergeant major, quartermaster sergeant, drum major, fife major, and paymaster be created at the regimental level; that payment be made to each member of the Con• { 256 } necticut light horse for the maintenance of his mount; that General Schuyler be directed to work to free the army of smallpox; that the Pennsylvania Provincial Convention take proper measures to secure lead for the Flying Camp; that commissioners be appointed to audit the accounts of the army in New York and that in the north; and that General Washington be informed of the application of its recently passed bounty system (JCC, 5:563–566; Note: Additional resolutions immediately following and concerning appointments to and reinforcements from the Flying Camp and the need of the army at New York for reinforcements from Connecticut may have proceeded from the same report).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0018

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-07-17

17 July.

17 July. The congress resolved that Washington had acted with dignity in refusing to receive an improperly addressed letter from Lord Howe and resolved further that no American commander should receive a letter from the enemy that failed to use his official rank in the address (JCC, 5:567).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0019

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-07-19

19 July.

19 July. The congress resolved that General Schuyler should police the pricing of goods sold to soldiers, observe the rule of the congress that officers hold no more than one office each, and promote harmony among the units of the different states (JCC, 5:591: Note: Two additional resolutions immediately following and calling on Pennsylvania and Maryland to expedite the movement of their troops into New Jersey and New York may have proceeded from the same report).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0020

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-07-20

20 July.

20 July. The congress resolved that Jacques Antoine de Franchessin be commissioned a lieutenant colonel and assigned to the Flying Camp (JCC, 5:595; Note: An additional resolution immediately following and recommending Dr. Isaac Senter to Dr. John Morgan may have proceeded from the same report).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0021

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-07-23

23 July.

23 July. The congress resolved, despite allegations, to allow Col. Lewis Dubois to proceed in recruiting his regiment as originally planned; to inform Washington of the confidence the congress had in his military judgment in disposing troops and of its approval of the loan to the New York Convention; and to appoint M. St. Martin lieutenant colonel as an engineer (JCC, 5:602–603; Note: An additional resolution immediately following concerning the appointment of Dr. David Griffith as chaplain and surgeon in the Third Regiment of Virginia may have proceeded from the same report).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0022

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-07-24

24 July.

24 July. The congress resolved to take into continental service the South Carolina rangers and prescribed their table of organization and rates of pay and further resolved to take on the same conditions rangers to be raised in Georgia (JCC, 5:606–607; Note: Additional resolutions immediately following and permitting Col. Henry Knox to raise another battalion of artillery; the exchange of Phillip Skene for James Lovell; and the { 257 } entry into the continental service of a troop of light horse under Capt. John Leary Jr. may have proceeded from the same report).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0023

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-07-29

29 July.

29 July. The congress resolved that General Washington could use the newly formed Connecticut regiment at his discretion; that M. Jean Artur Vermonet be appointed brevet captain and another French volunteer, M. Marie Fidel Dorrè, be used as seemed proper; that M. Christopher Pellisier be appointed an engineer with the rank of lieutenant colonel and sent to New York; that General Washington issue commissions to such officers of Colonel Elmore's regiment as bring men to join him and, in the same regiment, that John Brown be commissioned lieutenant colonel and Robert Cochran be appointed major in place of the deceased Maj. Israel Curtis (JCC, 5:614–615; Note: An additional resolution immediately following and calling for the appointment of a lieutenant colonel for the Second Pennsylvania Battalion may have proceeded from the same report).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0024

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-07-30

30 July.

30 July. The congress resolved that the recruitment bounties paid to officers be extended to those enlisting men in the new army for three years; that General Mercer's plan to build boats be approved and materials supplied for that purpose; that General Schuyler be permitted to publish portions of the treaty with the Six Nations; and that an Indian chief, Cayashuta of Niagara, be invited to visit the congress (JCC, 5:620–621).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0025

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-07-31

31 July.

31 July. The congress resolved that five tons of powder be sent to General Washington at New York and that those militia forces thought necessary by the Massachusetts General Court be supplied and paid by the Continent (JCC, 5:623).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0026

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-08-01

1 August.

1 August. The congress ordered transcribed and sent a draft letter to George Washington stating that the power given to General Gates in Canada to appoint officers resulted from no lack of confidence in him and would establish no precedent (JCC, 5:625; see John Hancock to George Washington, 2 Aug., Force, Archives, 5th ser., 1:725).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0027

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-08-01

1 August.

1 August. The congress resolved that Col. John Brown be permitted the rank and pay of lieutenant colonel from 20 November 1775 and that Col. James Easton be allowed the rank and pay of colonel from 1 July 1775 until his discharge pending the decision of a court of inquiry or court martial which, if favorable, would recommend him for further employment (JCC, 5:626; Note: An additional resolution immediately following and appropriating money to feed the militia passing through Philadelphia to the Flying Camp may have proceeded from the same report).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0028

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-08-02

2 August.

2 August. The congress resolved that Jonathan Trumbull, deputy paymaster general of the Northern Department, be sent $200,000 and additionally that he send a return of all monies intrusted to him since his appointment; that General Washington be permitted to employ as many { 258 } Stockbridge Indians as necessary; that one hundred old arms held by the congress be sent to the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety for repair and issuing to soldiers going to the Flying Camp; that the paymaster general and deputies, commissary general and deputies, and quartermaster general and deputies be required to submit weekly returns of monies supplied them; that the commissary general and deputies and quartermaster general and deputies make monthly returns of supplies in their care; and that the commanders of each department make monthly returns of drafts made on them by the paymaster (JCC, 5:627–628).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0029

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1776-08-05

5 August.

5 August. The congress resolved that commanders of American naval vessels or privateers be allowed to enlist sailors taken from the enemy and that those who refuse enlistment be held and exchanged for American sailors; that Rufus Putnam be appointed an engineer with the rank of colonel and pay of $60 per month (JCC, 5:630).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0030

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Author: Continental Congress
Date: 1776-08-07

7 August.

7 August. The congress ordered payment of $222 to three Canadians, Messrs. Giasson, Hertel, and de la Magdelaine, for their expenses from 15 Nov. to 31 July as prisoners at Bristol (JCC, 5:636).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0031

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Author: Continental Congress
Date: 1776-08-09

9 August.

9 August. The congress resolved that the Secret Committee supply the Delaware battalion with those articles in the Committee's possession thought necessary by the Board of War and that it also send 30,000 flints to General Washington (JCC, 5:640; Note: The report for this date was tabled, but it is likely that the resolutions immediately following it proceeded from that report).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0032

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Author: Continental Congress
Date: 1776-08-10

10 August.

10 August. The congress resolved that the officers recommended by the Board be issued commissions, excepting only those named to fill positions held by captured officers, which were to remain open until an exchange was effected; that in the 10th and 20th regiments, respectively, Lieutenant Colonels John Tyler and John Durkee be commissioned colonels and Majors Samuel Prentiss and Thomas Knowlton, lieutenant colonels (JCC, 5:644). On 19 Aug., to fill the vacancies caused by the promotion of Prentiss and Knowlton, the congress accepted a recommendation of the Board and resolved that Captains James Chapman and Thomas Dyer be commissioned as majors (JCC, 5:667–668).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0033

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Author: Continental Congress
Date: 1776-08-13

13 August.

13 August. The congress resolved that General Washington supply it with a copy of Massachusetts Bay's treaty with the St. Johns and Micmac Indians; that Colonel Wilson's battalion of militia be supplied with 22 muskets, 22 lbs. of powder, and 88 lbs. of lead; and that William Caldwell and William Lawrence be appointed paymasters of Col. Loammi Baldwin's and Col. John Shee's regiments, respectively (JCC, 5:651).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0034

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Author: Continental Congress
Date: 1776-08-13

14 August.

14 August. See the Board of War report for 13 August printed below.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0035

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Author: Continental Congress
Date: 1776-08-15

15 August.

15 August. The congress resolved that James Livingston be commissioned as colonel and ordered to raise as many companies of Canadians as would serve and that the commander in chief of the Northern Department recommend officers to serve under him (JCC, 5:657).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0036

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Author: Continental Congress
Date: 1776-08-17

17 August.

17 August. The congress resolved that Gustavus Risberg be appointed an assistant to Clement Biddle, deputy quartermaster general to the Flying Camp (JCC, 5:665–666; Note: Several other resolutions immediately following concerning the exchange of prisoners, troops raised in Maryland, and supplies requested by General Mercer may have proceeded from the same report).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0037

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Author: Continental Congress
Date: 1776-08-21

21 August.

21 August. The congress resolved that the cannon committee let a contract for casting in brass or iron six 6-pounders, six 12-pounders, four 8-inch howitzers, and 6 Cohorn mortars for use by General Gates, and further that this committee take possession of the copper belonging to the United States at New London; that, until further orders, Maj. Gen. Artemas Ward remain in command of the Eastern Department (JCC, 5:693–694; Note: An additional resolution immediately following and appropriating money for the use of Col. Henry Knox in procuring copper may have proceeded from the same report).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0038

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Author: Continental Congress
Date: 1776-08-22

22 August.

22 August. On this date the Board presented a report that was tabled, with no indication given of its content (JCC, 5:696). This was probably the report on the petition of Preudhome La Jeunesse that had been referred to the Board of War on 21 Aug. (same, p. 692). This report, dated by the Board 21 Aug. but not recorded under that date in the JCC, is extant and in the hand of Richard Peters. Bearing the notation “Agreed to report to Congress” and docketed “Order'd to Lie,” the report recommended that La Jeunesse be given a commission as captain and attached to Col. James Livingston's regiment at Ticonderoga (PCC, No. 147, I).
(PCC, No. 147, I).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0115-0002-0039

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Author: Continental Congress
Date: 1776-08-27

27 August.

27 August. The congress resolved that the expense of clothing the soldiers for the Continental Army raised in Virginia be assumed by the Continent and deducted from the soldiers' pay and that Mr. Measam's petition for compensation be referred to the Treasury Board (JCC, 5:706; Note: An additional resolution immediately following and directing the Secret Committee to deliver arms to the Maryland troops may have proceeded from this same report).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0116-0001

Editorial Note

The Plan of Treaties of 1776 had its origin in a resolution of the Continental Congress on 11 June. Coming on the day following the resolution to appoint a committee to prepare a declaration of independence, it stated that a committee should be named “to prepare a plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign powers.” The next day John Dickinson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Benjamin Harrison, and Robert Morris were appointed to undertake the task. On 18 July the plan was reported to Congress, and two months later, on 17 September, the treaty plan was adopted and incorporated into instructions for the American representatives in Europe (JCC, 5:431, 428–429, 433, 575, 768, 813).
The Plan of Treaties was the work of John Adams, and of all the documents composed by him during his career in the congress, it was perhaps the most important and certainly had the most lasting effect. It was the first major state paper dealing with the conduct of the United States toward other sovereign states. It would guide the makers of American foreign policy far beyond the exigencies of the Revolution. Indeed, its tone and the principles on which it was based lie at the core of almost all major pronouncements on foreign policy by American statesmen from that time until at least the beginning of World War II.
In his Autobiography, Adams states that in the committee's deliberations over the Plan of Treaties, he “contended for the same Principles, which I had before avowed and defended in Congress.” His claim is supported by an entry in his Diary for March–April 1776, a period during which overtures to France were recurrently debated in Congress. There Adams set down the principle that he believed should guide any attempt to form a Franco-American treaty: that is, that there should be only a commercial connection, with no political or military ties (Diary and Autobiography, 3:337; 2:236; see also JA to John M. Jackson, 30 Dec. 1817, JA, Works, 10:269–270). It was Adams' strong advocacy of a treaty that probably brought him the task of drafting the plan, for he had come to see an intimate connection between independence and an “alliance.” As he { 261 } championed the first, he strove mightily for the second. It is perhaps not too strong to say that by June, as he was in the midst of drafting the Plan of Treaties, Adams had come to believe that independence was necessary if a treaty was to be negotiated, but that a treaty was necessary if independence was to be maintained (see JA to Charles Lee, 13 Oct. 1775; JA to John Winthrop, 12 May; JA to Patrick Henry, 3 June, all above; JA to John Winthrop, 23 June, below).
Two principles guided Adams as he drafted the Plan of Treaties: that it would be with France and that it would be a commercial agreement. That France was the obvious choice for a treaty was clear to all, since it was the only European power with the resources to provide the needed aid. Further, France was still unreconciled to defeat in the Seven Years' War and suffering the humiliation of a subordinate role to Great Britain in the European political arena. Although a treaty with France would go in the face of ingrained American prejudices against Roman Catholicism, deepened in France's case by the long history of Anglo-French conflict in North America, the advantages would outweigh the disadvantages. In Articles 8 and 9 of the draft Adams took care to insure that France would be prohibited from establishing itself once again on the American continent and thereby posing a threat to American independence.
Yet the Plan of Treaties was first and foremost a commercial agreement. Adams strongly believed that the right to trade with the United States was sufficient compensation for any aid given to it, even if the act of providing aid involved the other nation in a war with Great Britain. Such treaties were in the interest of the United States because they avoided a political or military alliance that “might embarrass Us in after times and involve Us in future European Wars,” thus compromising the true policy of the new country, perfect neutrality (Diary and Autobiography, 2:236; 3:337–338; see JA to James Warren, 16 April, above; JA to John Winthrop, 23 June, below).
The commercial provisions of the treaty plan had several facets. First, although free trade may have been an ultimate goal, the plan provided not so much for that as for an equality of trade. Americans were to pay no higher duties on imports into France than natives of that country and vice versa. Equally important, the same principle applied to France's colonial possessions. Second, the treaty provided for a limited list of wartime contraband and the principle that free ships make free goods. Thus a strong basis for future American neutrality was laid down, since a neutral nation, by definition, would want contraband limited as much as possible and non-contraband goods, regardless of their ownership, free from seizure when carried by its ships.
These provisions, certainly in the interest of the United States, were also seen as offering advantages to France that would induce it to sign the treaty and provide aid without demanding a military or political alliance. In any future war with Great Britain it was likely that the French Navy would be rendered relatively impotent, as had been the case in the past, { 262 } with the result that French colonial trade would be cut off. A neutral America, supporting the provisions contained in the treaty plan, would be of immense benefit to France by taking over its carrying trade and mitigating for it the consequences of British naval superiority. In addition, though not necessarily considered by Adams as he drafted his plan, if this treaty opened French colonial trade to the United States in time of peace, it could avoid in wartime collision with the British Rule of 1756. In its simplest form, this rule declared that opening in time of war trade that was forbidden during peace (a common French practice in regard to its colonial trade) was illegal. Neutral ships violating the rule were subject to seizure.
Adams states in his Autobiography that “the Committee after as much deliberation upon the Subject as they chose to employ, appointed me, to draw up a Plan and Report” (Diary and Autobiography, 3:338). With that mandate and his own clear conception of what the treaty should include, he set to work, producing a draft made up of two distinct parts.
The first section, Articles 1 through 13, was apparently written almost entirely by Adams with occasional references to the third volume of A Collection of State Tracts Publish'd . . . during the Reign of King William III. To which is Prefix'd The History of the Dutch War in 1672, 3 vols., London, 1705–1707, and to [Alexander Justice], A General Treatise of the Dominion of the Sea: And a Compleat Body of the Sea-Laws . . . To which is subjoin'd, An Appendix concerning the present State and Regulations of the Admiralty and Navy, London, 1709?, both of which works are cited in marginal notes opposite the preamble and Article 5 of the draft (see No. I, notes 1 and 6, below). The pages referred to in these notes contain treaty articles that seem appropriate to Adams' purpose, and he incorporated some of their language into the articles he drafted for the treaty plan. In regard to the first thirteen articles, however, the two volumes seem to have been used by Adams as guides to the proper forms for composing treaty provisions rather than as sources for complete articles, taken verbatim from existing treaties and changed only to fit American needs.
For the remaining seventeen articles, together with the passport and certificates appended at the end of the treaty plan, we know that Adams copied appropriate articles from treaties contained in a particular collection: Henry Edmunds and William Harris, comps., A Compleat Collection of All the Articles and Clauses which Relate to the Marine, in the Several Treaties Now Subsisting Between Great Britain, and Other Kingdoms and States, To which is Prefixed a Preface or Introductory Discourse, London, 1760 (see No. I, notes 11, 17, and 18, below). The copy that Adams used was lent to him: “Franklin had made some marks with a Pencil against some Articles in a printed Volume of Treaties, which he put into my hand” (Diary and Autobiography, 3:338). The Houghton Library of Harvard University now owns Franklin's copy of A Compleat Collection, and in it various treaty articles have an “X” beside them. Moreover, the { 263 } page numbers cited opposite Articles 24 and 25 of the draft are those for the corresponding articles copied by Adams from this book.
This volume, which almost certainly came to Adams in the midst of his labors, was a godsend, enabling him to speed the drafting process. That he had not possessed it earlier is suggested by his using State Tracts and Sea Laws for the first thirteen articles. A Compleat Collection was more appropriate to his needs, for two of the treaties consulted in State Tracts and Sea Laws were also included in A Compleat Collection. It is reasonable to suppose that if Adams had possessed the latter sooner he would have followed for the earlier articles the same practice that he used for the remaining ones, that is, verbatim copying. Even though the substance of the first thirteen articles, which deal largely with the interests of the United States, did not in every case lend itself to coverage by articles simply copied from other treaties, the alterations required would have taken less time than drafting each article individually.
The process by which Adams drafted Articles 14 through 30, with the accompanying passport and certificates, is significant for revealing his intentions. From Article 14 on, the provisions of the treaty plan were copied from three existing agreements between Great Britain and France, especially the commercial treaty concluded at Utrecht in 1713. Franklin had marked three treaties between Great Britain and Spain, but Adams' object was probably to choose articles to which France was already a party, thereby making it easier for her to accept the Plan of Treaties as it was rather than insist on different articles that might compromise American interests. Whether Adams had it in mind or not, his draft was essentially a transformation of existing Anglo-French agreements into Franco-American treaties and for France amounted merely to a reratification of them in favor of the United States.
Adams' draft of the Plan of Treaties served as the basis for the report made to Congress on 18 July (see No. I, descriptive note, below). The differences between the draft and the report as ordered printed on 20 July (JCC, 5:594; No. II, below) indicate that the committee in debating the draft made additions and deletions. The Plan of Treaties as adopted by the congress (No. III, below) emerged from debates on 22 and 27 August, when it was referred back to the original committee enlarged by the addition of Richard Henry Lee and James Wilson (JCC, 5:696, 709–710). The expanded committee put the plan into its final form; yet when adopted on 17 September, the treaty plan differed little in its essentials from Adams' original draft.
The adoption of the Plan of Treaties did not, however, end Adams' worries. Much depended on the instructions that were to guide the American negotiators in Europe, for if these differed markedly from the principles set down in the plan, Adams would have labored in vain. It is not known to what extent Adams participated in the expanded committee's deliberations, but the instructions which were adopted on 24 September and which dealt specifically with Articles 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 16, 25, and 26 { 264 } { 265 } did not, with three important exceptions, conflict with the plan as drafted (JCC, 5:813–817). The exceptions are discussed in No. III, notes 2, 6, and 8 (below).
The editors have included the adopted version of the treaty plan, even though its inclusion adds to the repetition of text, because it has never been printed exactly as written (compare the version in JCC, 5:768–779, with No. III, below) and because notes that relate the instructions to its provisions can be provided without the clutter of notes on textual changes. The version printed in Journals of the Continental Congress, 5:576–589, seems to be a conflation of Adams' draft and the printed committee report.
Although the Treaty of Amity and Commerce concluded between the United States and France on 6 February 1778 differed from the Plan of Treaties in some ways, it clearly reflected the principles set down by John Adams. The accompanying Treaty of Alliance, however, did not (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:3–29, 35–41). A political and military alliance had been no part of Adams' plan, and its conclusion undoubtedly colored his later attitude toward both France and Benjamin Franklin. Indeed, Franklin's part in the negotiation of 1778 probably accounts for Adams' assessment of him in the Autobiography: “Franklin although he was commonly as silent on committees as in Congress, upon this Occasion, ventured so far as to intimate his concurrence with me in these Sentiments [that there should be only a commercial connection with France], though as will be seen hereafter he shifted them as easily as the Wind ever shifted: and assumed a dogmatical Tone, in favour of an Opposite System” (Diary and Autobiography, 3:338).
In 1776, however, Adams could look upon the adoption of the treaty plan as a victory. He had drafted it and defended it in the congress, and in the end, “the Treaty passed without one Particle of Alliance, exclusive Priviledge, or Warranty” (same, 3:338). It was his plan that would guide the American negotiators when for the first time the United States exercised the most fundamental right of sovereignty, the conclusion of a treaty with another sovereign state.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0116-0002

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress
Date: 1776-06-18

I. A Plan of Treaties

There Shall be a firm, inviolable, and universal Peace, and a true and Sincere Friendship between the most Serene and mighty Prince, Lewis the Sixteenth, the most Christian King his Heirs and Successors, and the united States of America; and the Subjects of the most Christian King, and of the Said States; and between the Countries, Islands, Cities, and Towns Situate under the Jurisdiction of the most Christian King and of the Said united States, <and every of them> and the People and Inhabitants thereof of every degree; without Exception of Persons or Places; and the Terms hereinafter mentioned Shall be per• { 266 } petual between the most Christian King, his Heirs and successors, and the Said united States.1
Art. 1. The Subjects of the most Christian King Shall pay no other Duties or Imposts in the Ports, Havens, Roads, Countries, Islands, Cities, or Towns of the Said united States, or any of them, than the Natives thereof, or any Commercial Companies established by them or any of them, Shall pay, but Shall enjoy all other the Rights, Liberties, Priviledges, Immunities, and Exemptions in Trade, Navigation and Commerce in passing from one Part thereof to another, and in going to and from the Same, from and to any Part of the World, which the Said Natives, or Companies enjoy.2
Art. 2 The Subjects, People and Inhabitants of the Said united States and every of them Shall pay no other Duties, or Imposts in the Ports, Havens, Roads, Countries, Islands, Cities, or Towns of the most Christian King, than the Natives of Such Countries, Islands, Cities, or Towns of France, or any commercial Companies established by the most Christian King Shall pay, but shall enjoy all other the Rights, Liberties, Priviledges, Immunities and Exemptions in Trade, Navigation and Commerce, in passing from one Part thereof to another, and in going to and from the Same, from and to any Part of the World, which the Said Natives, or Companies enjoy.3
Art. 3. The most Christian King Shall endeavour, by all the Means in his Power to protect and defend all Vessells, and the Effects belonging to the Subjects People, or Inhabitants of the Said united States, or any of them, being in his Ports, Havens, or Roads, or on the Seas, <and> near to his Countries, Islands, Cities, or Towns, and to recover and restore, to the right owners, their Agents or Attornies, all Such Vessells, and Effects, which Shall be taken, within his Jurisdiction; and his Ships of War, or any Convoys Sailing under his Authority, Shall upon all occasions, take under their Protection all Vessells belonging to the Subjects, People or Inhabitants of the Said united States, or any of them, and holding the Same Course, or going the Same Way, and shall defend Such Vessells as long as they hold the Same Course, or go the same Way, against all Attacks, Force, and Violence, in the Same manner, as they ought to protect and defend Vessells belonging to the Subjects of the most Christian King.4
Art. 4. In like manner the Said united States, and their Ships of War and Convoys Sailing under their Authority Shall protect and defend all Vessells and Effects belonging to the Subjects of the most Christian King, and endeavour to recover and restore them, if taken within the Jurisdiction of the Said united States, or any of them.5
{ 267 }
Art. 5. The most Christian King and the Said united States Shall not receive, nor Suffer to be received into any of their Ports, Havens, Roads, Countries, Islands, Cities or Towns, any Pirates, or Sea Robbers, or afford, or suffer any Entertainment, Assistance, or Provision to be afforded to them, but shall endeavour by all Means, that all Pyrates, and Sea Robbers, and their Partners, Sharers, and Abettors be found out, apprehended, and Suffer condign Punishment; and all the Vessells and Effects piratically taken, and brought into the Ports or Havens of the most Christian King, or the Said united States, which can be found, altho they be Sold, Shall be restored, or Satisfaction given therefor to the right owners, their Agents or Attornies demanding the Same, and making the right of Property to appear by due Proof.6
Art. 6. The most Christian King Shall protect, defend and Secure, as far as in his Power, the Subjects, People and Inhabitants of the Said united States and every of them, and their Vessells and Effects of every Kind, against all Attacks, Assaults, Violences, Injuries. Depredations or Plunderings by or from the King or Emperor of Morocco, or Fez, and the States of Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli, and any of them, and every other Prince, State, and Power, on the Coast of Barbary in Africa and the Subjects of the Said King<s> Emperor<s or> States and Powers, and of every of them, in the Same manner, and as effectually and fully, and as much to the Benefit Advantage Ease and Safety of the Said united States and every of them, and of the Subjects, People, and Inhabitants thereof, to all Intents and Purposes, as the King and Kingdom of Great Britain, before the Commencement of the present War, protected, defended, and Secured the People and Inhabitants of the Said united States, then called the British Colonies, in North America, their Vessells and Effects, against all Such Attacks, Assaults, Violences, Injuries, Depredations and Plunderings.
<Art. 7. If the most Christian King Shall in consequence of this Treaty, engage in a War with the King of Great Britain, the Said united States, Shall not assist the latter.>7
Art. 7. If, in Consequence of this Treaty the King of Great Britain, should declare War, against the most Christian King, the Said united States shall not assist Great Britain, in Such War, with Men, Money, ships, or any of the Articles in this treaty denominated Contraband Goods <or in any other way>. And if France to favour the said united States Shall join with them in their present War against Great Britain they shall not make a separate Peace.
Art. 8. In Case of any War between the most Christian King and the King of Great Britain, the most Christian King Shall never invade, { 268 } nor attempt to invade, or get Possession, for himself of Labradore, New Britain, Nova Scotia, Accadia, Canada, Florida, nor any of the Countries, Cities, or Towns, on the Continent of North America, nor of the Islands of Newfoundland, Cape Breton, St. Johns, Anticoste, nor of any other Islands lying near to the Said Continent, in the Seas, or in any Gulph, Bay, or River, it being the true intent and meaning of this Treaty, that the Said united States Shall have the Sole, exclusive undivided and perpetual Possession of all the Countries, Cities, and Towns, on the Said Continent, and of all Islands near to it, which now are, or lately were under the Jurisdiction of or subject to the King or Crown of Great Britain, whenever the Same can be invaded, and conquered by the Said united States, or shall in any manner submit to or be confederated with them.
Art. 9. Nor Shall the most Christian King, at any Time, make any Claim, or demand's to the Said Countries, Islands, Cities, and Towns mentioned in the next preceding Article, or any of them, or to any Part thereof, for, or on Account of any Assistance afforded to the Said united States, in attacking or conquering the Same, or in obtaining Such a Submission, or Confederation as has been mentioned in the Said Preceding Articles, nor on any other Account what ever.8
Art. 10. If in any War, the most Christian King, Shall conquer, or get Possession of the Islands in the West Indies, now under the Jurisdiction of the King or Crown of Great Britain, or any of them, or any Dominions of the Said King or Crown in <Europe>[any other parts of the world], the Subjects <and> People and Inhabitants of the Said united States, and every of them Shall enjoy the Same Rights, Liberties, Priviledges, Immunities and Exemptions in Trade, Commerce and Navigation to and from the Said Islands, and Dominions, that are mentioned in the Second Article of this Treaty.
Art. 11. It is the true Intent and Meaning of this Treaty, that no higher or other Duties Shall be imposed on the Exportation of any Thing of the Growth, Production, or Manufacture of the Islands in the West Indies now belonging, or which may hereafter belong to the most Christian King, <or which>9 to the Said united States, or any of them, than the lowest that are or shall be imposed on the Exportation thereof to France or to any other Part of the World.
Art. 12. It is agreed, by and between the Said Parties that no Duties whatever more than []<Per Gallon>10 shall ever hereafter be imposed on the Exportation of Molasses, from any of the Islands and Dominions of the most Christian King in the West Indies to any of these united States.
{ 269 }
Art. 13. The Subjects, People, and Inhabitants of the Said united States, or any of them, being Merchants and residing in France, and their Property, and Effects of every Kind, shall be exempt from the Droit de Aubeine.11
Art. 14 The Merchant Ship of either of the Parties, which shall be making into a Port belonging to the Enemy of the other Ally,12 and concerning whose Voyage, and the Species of Goods on board her, there Shall be just Grounds of Suspicion, Shall be obliged to exhibit, as well upon the high Seas as in the Ports and Havens, not only her Passports, but like wise Certificates, expressly Shewing that her Goods are not of the Number of those which have been prohibited, as Contraband.
Art. 15 <That> If by the exhibiting of the abovesaid Certificates, the other Party discover there are any of those Sorts of Goods, which are prohibited and declared Contraband, and consigned for a Port under the Obedience of his Enemies, it Shall not be lawfull to break up the Hatches of such ship, or to open any Chests, Coffers, Packs, Casks, or any other Vessells found therein or to remove the Smallest Parcells of her Goods, whether such Ship belong to the Subjects of France, or the Inhabitants of the said united States, unless the lading be brought on Shore in the Presence of the Officers of the Court of Admiralty, and an Inventory thereof made; but there Shall be no Allowance to sell, exchange, or alienate the same in any manner, untill after that due and lawfull Proscess shall have been had against such prohibited Goods, and the Court of Admiralty shall, by a Sentence pronounced, have confiscated the same, Saving always as well the Ship itself, as any other Goods found therein, which by this Treaty are to be esteemed free; neither may they be detained on Pretence of their being as it were infected by the prohibited Goods, much less shall they be confiscated as lawfull Prize: But if not the whole Cargo, but only Part thereof Shall consist of prohibited or contraband Goods, and the Commander of the ship shall be ready and willing to deliver them to the Captor who has discovered them, in such Case the Captor having received those Goods, shall forthwith discharge the ship, and not hinder her by any Means freely to prosecute the Voyage on which she was bound.
Art. 16 On the Contrary, it is agreed, that whatever Shall be found to be laden by the Subjects and Inhabitants of either Party, on any ship belonging to the Enemy of the other or to his Subjects, the whole, although it be not of the sort of prohibited Goods, may be confiscated in the Same Manner as if it belonged to the Enemy himself, except { 270 } Such Goods and Merchandise as were put on board Such Ship before the Declaration of War, or even after Such Declaration, if So be it were done without Knowledge of such Declaration. So that the Goods of the Subjects and People of either Party, whether they be of the Nature of Such as are prohibited, or otherwise which, as, is aforesaid, were put on board any Ship belonging to an Enemy before the War, or after the Declaration of the Same, <within the Time and>13 without Knowledge of it, Shall noways be liable to Confiscation, but Shall well and truly be restored without delay to the Proprietors demanding the Same; but so as that if the Said Merchandizes be contraband, it Shall not be any Ways lawfull to carry them afterwards to any Ports belonging to the Enemy.
Art. 17. And that more effectual Care may be taken, for the Security of the Subjects, and Inhabitants of both Parties, that they Suffer no Injury by the Men of War or Privateers of the other Party, all the Commanders of the Ships of the most Christian King, and <all their Subjects, Shall be forbid,>14 of the said united States, and all their subjects and Inhabitants, Shall be forbid, doing any Injury, or Damage to the other Side; and if they act to the contrary, they Shall be punished, and Shall moreover be bound to make Satisfaction for all matter of Damage, and the Interest thereof, by Reparation, under the Pain and Obligation of their Person and Goods.
Art. 18 All Ships, and Merchandizes, of what Nature So ever, which Shall be rescued out of the Hands of any Pirates, or Robbers on the high Seas, Shall be brought into Some Port of either State, and Shall be delivered to the Custody of the Officers of that Port, in order to be restored entire to the true Proprietor, as Soon, as due and Sufficient Proof Shall be made, concerning the Property, thereof.
Art. 19 It Shall be lawfull for the Ships of War of either Party and Privateers, freely to carry whithersoever they please, the Ships and Goods, taken from their Enemies, without being obliged to pay any Duty to the Officers of the Admiralty or any other Judges; nor Shall Such Prizes be arrested, or Seized, when they come to, and enter the Ports of either Party; nor Shall the Searchers, or other Officers of those Places Search the Same, or make Examination concerning the Lawfullness of Such Prizes, but they may hoist Sail, at any Time and depart and carry their Prizes to the Place expressed in their Commissions, which the Commanders of Such Ships of War Shall be obliged to shew: on the Contrary, no shelter, or Refuge Shall be given in their Ports to Such as Shall have made Prize of the Subjects, People, or Property, of either of the Parties; but if Such Should come in, being { 271 } forced by Stress of Weather, or the Danger of the Sea, all proper Means Shall be vigorously used, that they go out, and retire from thence as Soon as possible <, so far as>.15
Art. 20. If any Ships belonging to either of the Parties, their People, or subjects Shall, within the Coasts, or Dominions of the other, Stick upon the Sands or be wrecked, or Suffer any other Damage, all friendly Assistance and Relief Shall be given to the Persons Ship wrecked, or such as Shall be in danger thereof; and Letters of Safe Conduct Shall likewise be given to them for their free and quiet Passage from thence, and the Return of every one to his own Country.
Art. 21. That in Case the Subjects and Inhabitants of Either Party, with their Shipping, whether public, and of War, or private and of Merchants be forced through Stress of Weather, Pursuit of Pirates or Enemies or any other urgent Necessity, for Seeking of shelter and Harbour to retreat, and enter into any of the Rivers, Creeks, Bays, Havens, Roads, Ports, or shores, belonging to the other Party, they shall be received and treated with all Humanity and Kindness, and enjoy all friendly Protection and Help; and they Shall be permitted to refresh and provide themselves, at reasonable Rates, with Victuals and all Things needfull for the sustenance of their Persons, or Reparation of their Ships, and Conveniency of their Voyage, and they shall no Ways be detained or hindered from returning out of the Said Ports or Roads, but may remove and depart when and whither they please, without any Lett or Hindrance;
Art. 22 The Subjects, Inhabitants, Merchants, Commanders of Ships, Masters and Mariners of the States, Provinces, and Dominions of each Party respectively, shall abstain and forbear to <trade and>16 fish in all Places possessed, or which shall be possessed by <one or> the other Party <in>. The most Christian Kings Subjects Shall not fish in the Havens, Bays, Creeks, Roads, Coasts, or Places, which the said united States hold or shall hereafter hold: and in like manner, the subjects, People, and Inhabitants of the said united states, shall not fish in the Havens, Bays, Creeks, Roads, Coasts, or Places, which the <said> most Christian King possesses, or shall hereafter possess; and if any ship or Vessell shall be found <trading> fishing, contrary to the Tenor of this Treaty, the Said ship or Vessell, with its Lading, Proof being made thereof, shall be confiscated.
Art. 23 For the better promoting of Commerce on both Sides, it is agreed, that if a War should break out between the Said two Nations, Six Months, after the Proclamation of War, Shall be allowed to the Merchants, in the Cities and Towns where they live, for settling { 272 } and transporting their Goods and Merchandizes; and if any Thing be taken from them, or any Injury be done them within that Term by either Party, or the People or subjects of either, full Satisfaction shall be made for the Same.
Art. 24 No Subjects of the <said> most Christian King, shall apply for, or take any Commission or Letters of Marque for arming any Ship or Ships to act as Privateers, against the Said united States or any of them, or against the Subjects, People, or Inhabitants of the Said united States or any of them, or against the Property of any of the Inhabitants of any of them, from any Prince, or State with which the Said united States Shall be at War:17
Nor shall any Citizen, Subject, or Inhabitant, of the said united States or any of them, apply for, or take any Commission or Letters of Marque for arming any ship or Ships to act as Privateers, against the Subjects of the <said> most Christian King or any of them, or the Property of any of them, from any Prince or State, with which the Said King Shall be at War: And if any Person of either Nation Shall take Such Commissions or Letters of Marque, he shall be punished as a Pirate.
Art. 25. It Shall not be lawfull for any foreign Privateers, not be<ing>[longing][to the]18 Subjects of the <said> most Christian King, nor Citizens of the Said united States, who have Commissions from any other Prince or State, in Enmity with either Nation, to fit their Ships in the Ports of either the one or the other of the aforesaid Parties, to Sell what they have taken, or in any other manner whatsoever to exchange either Ships, Merchandizes, or any other Lading: neither Shall they be allowed even to purchase Victuals, except Such as Shall be necessary for their going to the next Port of that Prince or State from which they have Commissions.
Art. 26 It Shall be lawfull for all and Singular the Subjects of the <said> most Christian King, and the Citizens, People, and Inhabitants of the Said united States, to Sail with their Ships, with all manner of Liberty and Security; no distinction being made, who are the Proprietors of the Merchandizes laden thereon from any Port, to the Places of those who now are, or hereafter shall be at Enmity with the most Christian King, or the united States. It shall likewise be lawfull for the Subjects and Inhabitants aforesaid, to Sail with the Ships and Merchandizes aforementioned; and to trade with the Same Liberty and Security, from the Places, Ports, and Havens of those who are Enemies of both or either Party, without any opposition or Disturbance whatsoever, not only directly from the Places of the Enemy aforemen• { 273 } tioned to neutral Places; but also from one Place belonging to an Enemy, to another Place belonging to an Enemy, whether they be under the Jurisdiction of the Same Prince or under Several: And it is hereby Stipulated that free Ships Shall also give a Freedom to Goods, and that every Thing Shall be deemed to be free and exempt, which Shall be found on board the Ships, belonging to the Subjects of either of the Confederates; although the whole Lading or any Part thereof, should appertain to the Enemies of Either, Contraband Goods being always excepted. It is also agreed in like manner, that the Same Liberty, be extended to Persons, who are on board a free ship with this Effect, that although they be Enemies to both or either Party, they are not to be taken out of that free ship, unless they are Soldiers, and in actual Service of the Enemies.
Art. 27 This Liberty of Navigation and Commerce Shall extend to all Kinds of Merchandizes, excepting those only which are distinguished by the Name of Contraband: and under this Name of Contraband, or prohibited Goods, Shall be comprehended Arms, Great Guns, Bombs with their Fuzees, and other Things belonging to them; Fire-balls, Gunpowder, Match, Cannon Ball, Pikes, Swords, Lances, Spears, Halberds, Mortars, Petards, Granadoes, Saltpetre, Musketts, Muskett Ball, Helmets, Head Pieces, Breast Plates, Coats of Mail, and the like Kinds of Arms proper for arming Soldiers, Muskett-rests, Belts, Horses with their Furniture, and all other warlike Instruments whatever. These Merchandizes which follow, Shall not be reckoned among Contraband or prohibited