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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 4

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0185

Author: Ward, Joseph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-28

From Joseph Ward

[salute] Sir

I have the pleasure to inform you that the Continental armed Schooners Hancock and Franklin sent into Marblehead this day a Transport from Hallifax bound to New York with provisions and dry goods. There are many Tories on board, among whom is the noted Benjamin Davis.1
Last Sunday a Transport from Ireland came into this Harbour, (not knowing the Pirates were gone) and was taken; She had seventeen hundred Barrels of Beef and Pork and four hundred Casks of Butter for the use of the Enemy.2
Some days since our Hearts were made glad with the glorious Declaration of the Independent States of America! Blessed be their memory and immortal Fame attend those who had the Wisdom and Virtue and Magnanimity to Do This! We have undoubtedly many and great things yet to do, but in my humble opinion, the greatest is done; the Foundation is now laid.
We now learn who the mighty Commissioners are, and also the great things they have to propose. Of all the conduct of the British Court I think this is the most ridiculous, and serves to crown all their { 418 } past folly. It must serve the Cause of the American States by shutting the last mouth that was open in favour of Britain, and will open the last of the blind Eyes in these United States.3
The Two Regiments in Boston will march for New York this week, as they are chiefly recovered of the Small pox. The Government have determined to raise between two and three thousand Men to replace the Continental Troops, in addition to those now in the pay of this Government.4
General Ward had the small pox very lightly, but his nervous complaints still remain; he intends to retire from a military life as soon as these Regiments are marched. Who will command the Troops who are to take the place of the Continental Regiments, I have not yet learnt; it seems necessary that as these men will be supported by the Continent, that a General Officer should be appointed by Congress to command them and to draw provisions and military Stores for them out of the Continental Stores, as those Commissaries and Storekeepers cannot answer an order from any one but a Continental Commander. Besides, Guards are necessary to guard the Stores and Magazines belonging to the Continent; the Agents for the Continental armed Vessels want frequent supplies, and other assistance from the General, which none but a Continental Commander can furnish. You will excuse me Sir, for mentioning these things, as it is not my apprehension only, but General Ward's, and those who are most acquainted with matters and things relating to our military and naval Concerns.
It is natural to suppose that when the Regiments were ordered from this place all those matters did not occur to Congress, nor to General Washington, or some mention would have been made of them; indeed you must be something more [than] Men if nothing escaped your attention in the vast Circle of business and great Concerns in which you are engaged. I am Sir Your most obedient and very humble Servant
[signed] Joseph Ward
P.S. We have just received the agreeable News from South Carolina, I hope it is a prelude to our future Success in every part of America.
RC (Adams Papers); a piece cut from the bottom of p. 3 has mutilated the docketing on the verso, which now reads only “W J,” undoubtedly for “Ward July.”
1. Samuel Tucker in command of the Hancock and John Skimmer in command of the Franklin captured the Peggy on the high seas on 22 July. She was en route to New York to supply the British there (Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 5:1268–1269). Benjamin Davis, a Boston merchant, was probably notorious for being an addresser of both Hutchinson and Gage upon the departure and arrival of { 419 } those two much-despised men (Sabine, Loyalists, 1:359–360).
2. The Queen of England, James Arnout master, was captured by Capt. Caleb Hopkins, commander of the George, in Nantasket Roads (Allen, Mass. Privateers, p. 155; the New-England Chronicle, 25 July, mistakenly calls Hopkins “commodore”).
3. On the Howe peace commission see James Warren to JA, 7 March, notes 2 and 3 (above).
4. On 18 July the Council ordered Maj. Gen. James Warren to draft out of the training band and alarm list of each county every twenty-fifth man, “their pay and Establishment . . . to be the same as is Allow'd in the Continental Army.” Their service confined to the province and extending to 1 Dec., they were raised to replace the five regiments that Gen. Washington had ordered to march to New York (Records of the States, Microfilm, Mass. E.1, Reel No. 9, Unit 3, p. 89–91).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0186

Author: Cushing, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-29

From William Cushing

[salute] Dear Sir

I am much obliged for your favor of the 9th June, which I did not receive till the 15th instant, when I came to town for inoculation; general permission having been given by authority therefor, and that being the last day: I had just returnd from Falmouth time enough to take hold of the Opportunity.
I have the pleasure to congratulate you on the light and easy manner, in which Mrs. Adams and your family, as well as Mr. Cranche's have gone through the disorder. Upon this occasion, people are collected here from all quarters by thousands, Col. Warren and wife, Mr. Sargeant and his new wife, Pincin,1 Lowell with his children, Dana with his wife and child, &c., &c. This is the 14th day with Mrs. Cushing and Me; the Symtoms have been somewhat disagreeable, owing chiefly, I imagine, to the present warmth of the Season, but I have only three pox that come to any thing, which are filling, she not more, both of us likely to be rid of the distemper soon. As to the affair of appointments, I had diverse times heard before, and felt, your generous and disinterested behavior—but rejoice that it is, as it is—having beforehand dictated the same thing to diverse Reps. [Representatives?] our way.2
Col. Warren has absolutely refused. Our minds are still upon Sargeant; if peradventure he may be once more appointed, he will accept. Brother Foster and Sullivan are fond of the matter and are determined to say all they can to bring it to pass. With respect to the manner of our holding courts, we did it perhaps, with as much Solemnity as heretofore, and with better acceptance than when last attending; our sitting being to all appearance agreeable to people of all ranks and degrees. By an order of General Court we took up all actions standing on the book continued before, and continued them again, { 420 } also by like power admitted entry of appeals and complaints which had fallen to the ground by the failure of Courts, giving Judgment on defaults, but continuing such matters as were any ways open to dispute, and ordering notice to be given to adverse parties, by those bringing actions forward. At Ipswich, where we whil'd away the time till Friday morning, the Grand jury found four bills, two for theft, one for housebreaking the other for robbery on the high way, but leaving out the felonies, being determined to have no hanging matters in hand, till you come to help pull a rope. Indeed the man robbed (of some paper money) was absent and out of the province, so that the felony could not have been proved, had it been laid. Two pleaded guilty; the housebreaker, who in a drunken fit blundered into Dr. Putnam's house in Salem3 at midnight, mistaking the house where his sweetheart lived, and the Robber were tried and convicted, and all punished. Great number of Complaints were entred at Ipswich. No jury trial in any civil action. Attornies present, Pincin, Sargeant, Lowell, Mansfield—Hichborn, Morton, two Parsonses and Wetmore;4 the five last being admitted to their oaths on motion, without delaying a term, considering the Scarcity of Lawyers arising from deaths toryism and running their country. Mansfield was appointed to act instead of Attorney General; government not having given us one yet, and the three first Gentlemen not coming in till the Charge was over. Sargeant and Lowell came directly from General Court, to which they belong. Both at Ipswich and York we were introduced by the Sheriffs with some degree of pomp and Respect. Moulton5 was particularly zealous in the matter. At York and Falmouth we adjourned the Courts to Monday 5 oC. afternoon before the next terms respectively, as Mr. Sewall was at Council and Bradbury6 desired the same favor. No bills at York. No Grand jury at Falmouth, the venires to Lincoln, miscarrying. But the Cumberland jurors appeared, which were insufficient to make a Pannel. The two last Courts were very Short, especially Falmouth. Col. Sparhawk was over at York at the opening of Court and Parson Stevens7 and dined with us. All things went on decently and in Order.
Brother Foster Winthrop and I went over to Kittery and Spent a day and a night with the Colonel and view'd the forts there, which with what nature has done, seem a Sufficient defence of Portsmouth from any naval Attacks. John Wait our Sheriff at Falmouth is a very likely man and will make a very good Officer. The ruins of Falmouth are truly melancholy to behold: All below Bradbury's house, and both Sides of what they called Kingstreet, with old Parson Smith's house at { 421 } the head of it, are in ashes—excepting only Mrs. Rosses Two houses standing together, which Mowat drew up his Ship against, as it is said, to prevent our people from setting fire to.8 At the foot of Kingstreet Brother Sullivan has built a fine battery, besides diverse others in convenient places for annoying the Ships, also there are two considerable forts on the Top of the great hill.
Your declaration of Independence happend in good season, to preclude all shorn proposals and pretences of reconciliation. We hear of ten thousands Germans on their way to New York, when tis said their army will amount to nigh 20,000, and not more. I hope this Summer will put a Settled period to the Sanguine impudent expectations of Tyranny. Low regimen, mercurials and the operation of Small pox have prevented my writing you Sooner. By Act of General Court we are to hold Superior Court at Brantree; but I imagine Boston will be sufficiently clear of Infection to hold it here by the fourth Tuesday of August. Yr. affte. Friend & humble Servt.
[signed] Wm. Cushing
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “J Cushing July 29. 1776.”
1. In May, Nathaniel Peaslee Sargeant had married Mary Pickering. William Pynchon (1723–1789) was a Salem lawyer and loyalist, who had refused to flee the country (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 12:577; 11:295–301).
2. Cushing is referring to JA's expressed wish that another, probably Cushing himself, had been named chief justice (see JA to Cushing, 9 June, note 1, above).
3. Dr. Ebenezer Putnam (1717–1788), a successful Salem physician, had bought a house on the corner of the present Washington and Church streets (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 10:395–397).
4. Probably Perez Morton, who had been admitted to the Suffolk co. bar in 1774; Theophilus Parsons (1750–1813), later a distinguished jurist and teacher of law students, and possibly Moses Parsons (1744–1801), who returned from New Hampshire to practice law in Haverhill; William Wetmore (1749–1830), who practiced in Salem in association with Pynchon (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 17:555–561, 190–207; 16: 196; 17:447–451). Isaac Mansfield, as mentioned below, acted as attorney general for this session (Minute Books, Superior Court of Judicature, Microfilms, Reel No. 4).
5. Jotham Moulton was appointed sheriff for York co. on 29 Aug. 1775 (Records of the States, Microfilm, Mass. E.1, Reel No. 9, Unit 1, p. 68).
6. Theophilus Bradbury (1739–1803), lawyer in Falmouth (Portland, Maine) and later in Newburyport (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 14:143–146).
7. Nathaniel Sparhawk of Kittery, colonel in the militia and son-in-law of Sir William Pepperrell, hero of Louisbourg (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 510; Byron Fairchild, Messrs. William Pepperrell, Merchants of Piscataqua, Ithaca, N.Y., 1954, p. 140–141). Rev. Benjamin Stevens (1721–1791), Kittery Point pastor, a man of culture and close friend of William Pepperrell, once considered for the presidency of Harvard and later awarded a D.D. by Harvard (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 10:535–539).
8. Capt. Henry Mowatt's burning of the town in Oct. 1775 had shocked all New England. That Cushing's description of the extent of the damage is accurate is apparent from a map of the affected area inserted in the back of William Willis, The History of Portland, facsim. of 1865 2d edn., Portland, Maine, 1972. The map shows that all the buildings on Falmouth Neck north-east of Theophilus Bradbury's house, { 422 } with the exception of two houses belonging to Mrs. Alexander Ross, were burned. At the time, these houses were occupied by Mrs. Ross' son-in-law, Sheriff William Tyng, a supporter of the King. In the whole town all but one hundred houses were destroyed, including that of Rev. Thomas Smith, who had come to Falmouth as a young man in 1725 (History of Portland, p. 360, 511, note 1; 515, note 1; 516–523).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2017.