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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 4


Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0202

Author: Mason, Jonathan Jr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-12

From Jonathan Mason Jr.

[salute] Honoured Sir

Your favour of July the 18th came safe to hand. I consider it as a favour, this amid so great a variety of business, of the first importance, you have condescended so freely to offer me your advice, my situation warmly calling for it. The Obligation will be ever fresh in my memory, which in addition to many others I have received from yourself and your agreeable Lady, how to compensate for I am entirely at a loss—but when I reflect that the whole labours of your Life have been expended in the Service of your Country and the welfare of its individuals, that you have shown to the World that your chief happiness consists in that of mankind universally, I feel a pride that I am still indebted.
My first inclinations, which prompted me to the field, I have determined to lay aside, and till necessity calls, have resolved within myself closely to pursue the science of the Law. It is a Study I have never found so dry and barren of entertainment as represented. The path is sufficiently pleasing. One thing however often occurs, and that is the further I travel, the more I read, the remaining task is still so great, that I seem further from my object than at my first setting out. The business of my Life shall be to trace the tract as far as ability will permit [to?] obtain the protection and favour of its patrons. I readily conceive of great reading being much more serviceable than much practice, and I believe it would be full as advantageous if every pupil should spend one or two years in reading, before he touches at all upon the practical part. Thro' forgetfullness, I omitted in my last, the least information concerning what I had read, or how long I had been in the Study, and I since have thought that had you been previously acquainted with those circumstances, you perhaps might have entertained different Sentiments. Two years are passed since I { 448 } commenced the Study, and my whole time has been devoted to a theoretical foundation. Hume, McCaulay, and Smollet,1 were the first that I read. I have been twice thro' Judge Blackstone's Commentaries and Dr. Sullivan's Lectures.2 Wood's institutes and My Lord Coke upon Littleton, I have studied diligently, and also Hawkins's Pleas of the Crown. These are the principal that I have yet read. Since my removal to Boston, agreeable to your direction, I have entered upon Plowden's reports.
Tho' perhaps of advantage in the end, yet I frankly confess I should not wish to continue longer than three years in the Study, without entering into the practice of the inferior Court, and I flatter myself that the little knowledge I have already acquired, and my exertions in the approaching year will put me upon a standing with my cotemporaries that will enter at the expiration of their term. I am anxious, perhaps too much so, to be in some field or another. A dependant Life is what we all dislike, especially when we imagine we are able to extricate ourselves. I should wish yet and till I enter the bar to be considered as the pupil of Mr. Adams. Mr. Morton, who hath ever proved himself a warm friend to me, hath given me the offer to enter into his Office in the capacity of a Companion, and he hath promised me, he will make it his business to instruct me in as much of the practice as he himself is master of. Whether this step, would be profitable; Whether it is not full time, provided I enter at the close of my third year, to intermix with my reading the knowlege of practice, I would once more request your Opinion. The time of life we engage in this Study, which some call, and I do not know, but with the greatest propriety, the most abstruse and difficult, requires I am sensible the greatest circumspection the least allurements and temptations possible. Law is not a lesson for a school Boy, neither is it a task for a parrot: Unless we understand the reason, we shall never know the substance, we shall never know the beauty of the Law. I therefore readily conceive that a life of reading, with a year or two only of practice, would make much the greater Lawyer than its Opposite. This must be done by him only who thinks he has already a sufficiency of interest to support him, and such a mode would be well worth his while pursuing, if he had a prospect that the fruit of his industry would prove a part of the means in snatching his Country from the jaws of Slavery. If otherwise, would not the honest knowing practitioner be a more usefull member of Society, than the secluse Student, who is continually sowing for self satisfaction, totally regardless what becomes of his neighbour.
{ 449 }
The State of the Mass: Bay tho' the Fleets and Armies of Britain have left off to trouble her, tho' they have precipitately and shamefully, with scorched fingers fled, yet such is the invincible, manly spirit of her brood that she seems as yet unwilling to loose the merit of contributing her share to the glorious Struggle. First in the attack, she played an entire game of Hasard,3 uncertain of the Sentiments of her Sisters, she never once hesitated to strike the important stroke, and it astonished the most sanguine. Tho' she should fall alone, for the success of the cause, she thought it worth dying. She withstood, She conquered the force of Britain, and since the departure of those enemies to our sea Costs, I beleive she has been as diligent at Sea as any one Colony whatever. This last Week was sent into Portsmouth a large prize of 700 Hogsheads of Sugar and 100 of Rum, Cotton &c.4 One White in Captain Darby's employ hath mastered and took seven within three weeks past5 and on Saturday one from the Granada's came into Boston Harbour, with 500 Hogsheads of Sugar and 25 Tons of Cotton.6 We shall ever lament the scarcity of guns to mann our continental cruisers. In all probability had they have been ready six Weeks since, we should have been able to hold a much more satisfactory story.
Mrs. Adams, I have just waited upon, she is in good health and Spirits. Your Children have been extreemly favoured in the distemper, excepting Charles. Mrs. Adams is doubtfull whether he is ever taken it. Miss Nabby has been breaking out with it this last Week, she has about fifty in her face. From Yr. Most Obedient hum: Servt:
[signed] Jona: Mason Jr
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “For The Honble. John Adams Esqr. In Philadelphia”; docketed: “Mason Aut 12. 1776.”
1. Three historians of England. For titles of their works, see JA, Papers, 2: index.
2. Francis S. Sullivan, Historical Treatise on the Feudal Law, and the Constitution and Laws of England . . . Lectures in the University of Dublin, London, 1770. For Blackstone, Wood, Coke, and Hawkins, see JA, Papers, 2: index.
3. Hazard, a game played with dice (OED).
4. On 7 Aug., Pennsylvania's warship the Hancock captured the Reward, which was reported to have between 1,000 and 1,100 hhds. of sugar, 12 bales of cotton, and cannon aboard (New-England Chronicle, 15 Aug.).
5. Capt. Joseph White, commander of the Revenge, listed his prizes, most of which were carrying sugar and rum (same, 8 Aug.; Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 6:29–30, 347). On Capt. John Derby, see James Warren to JA, 20 July 1775, note 5 (above).
6. This prize was the Earl of Errol, coming from Grenada, mentioned by James Warren (to JA, 11 Aug., note 2, above). The two New York privateers that captured it were the Enterprize and the Beaver (Boston Gazette, 19 Aug.; Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 6:193, note 1).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0203

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gates, Horatio
Date: 1776-08-13
Date: 1776-08-18

To Horatio Gates

[salute] Dear Sir

Your Favours of 24 June, and 17. July, are before me. I wish with all my Heart that you were Dictator at Ticonderoga, as much as it was intended you Should be, in Canada. Not for the sake of promoting Mr. Rice, nor any other particular Person, but for the good of the Service in general. <Let me ask you however, by the Way, whether, Rice would not do for a Judge Advocate in that Department?>
I Showed your last Letter to Mr. Chase, who begged it to write you an answer. I have exactly the Same Idea of him, which you express. He had the good of the Service at Heart, but was too Sanguine, and had too little Experience in such Scenes, and too little Penetration into the Characters of Men.1
I lament the wretched State of your Army: but am happy to find by your last Letter to Congress,2 that Things are getting into a better Train. The Small Pox must be cleansed out of the Army, or it will be undone. A Circular Letter went,3 Sent to you or to General Schuyler, for a compleat Return of every Thing in your Department to the War office. We have as yet received no answer. Let me beg of you to transmit it as soon as possible. The Want of regular Returns has ruined our Affairs in Canada, and without them from every Department, We shall ever be in Confusion.
Since the Receipt of your Letter, I have procured Resolutions to be past that regular Returns shall be made at least once a Month, by the Commanding officer the Paymaster, the Quarter Master, Muster Master and Commissary, and if these Returns are not now made, I think there will Inquiries [be] made, into the Cause of the Neglects, which will not be very pleasant to the Negligent. We shall know who is General, who Quarter Master who Paymaster, who Commissary and who Muster Master, important secrets in Canada, which all our Penetration was never able to discover.
We are very anxious, for you and your Army, as well as for the General and his at New York: We expect some bold Strokes from the Enemy, but I dont believe that How and Burgoigne will unite their Forces this year.
Since the above was written We received your Return.4 It is the most Systematical, that I have seen. Your Letter gives us great Joy.
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent.”
{ 451 }
1. According to Benjamin Rush, JA's assessment for the congress of Chase's performance was not so tempered. The congress debated mainly during July and August the causes of the failure of the Canada campaign. When Chase tried to lay a principal part of the blame on New England troops, JA accused Chase of having “fomented jealousies and quarrels between the troops from the New England and Southern States.” He added that if Chase understood “his improper and wicked conduct, he would fall down upon his knees . . . and ask our forgiveness. He would afterwards retire with shame, and spend the remainder of his life in sackcloth and ashes, deploring the mischief he has done his country” (The Autobiography of Benjamin Rush, ed. George W. Corner, Princeton, 1948, p. 141; JCC, 5:617–618, 623, 633).
2. That of 29 July (Force, Archives, 5th ser., 1:649).
3. Comma supplied.
4. Included with Gates' letter of 6 Aug. to the president of the congress (same, p. 795–797).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0204

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

A Report of the Board of War

Agreed to report to Congress
That Monsr. Weibert now serving in the continental Army at New York as an Engineer be appointed Assistant Engineer with the Rank and Pay of Lieut. Colonel and that his Pay commence from the Time of his engaging in the Service.1
That General Mercer be directed to discharge or grant Furlows to Joseph Kerr Hatter a private of Capt Will's Company in the first Battallion and to Philip Mouse Stocking Weaver a Private in Capt Kling's Company of the fourth Battallion of Philadelphia Militia, these two Persons being applied for by Messrs. Mease and Caldwell, Commissaries, to whom their Services are indispensibly necessary in making and providing Clothing for the Army.
That the Council of the Massachusetts Bay, be requested to appoint, one of the General Officers of their Militia to command the Troops, which that State has ordered for its Defence, in the Room of the Continental Regiments lately ordered from Boston to N. York and Ticonderoga, which General Officer, Shall be invested with the Same Powers, and Subject to the Same Duties, within that State, and be upon the Same Establishment, with the Continental General Officers, during the Continuance of the Said Troops in the Continental Service.2
MS (PCC, No. 147, 1); docketed: “August 13 1776 Report of the board of war partly agreed to Aug. 14 1776 recmd. postponed till tomorrow.” Opposite the first two paragraphs, which are in Richard Peters' hand: “agreed”; opposite the third paragraph, which is in JA's hand: “orderd. to lie.”
1. See Thomas Mifflin to JA, 5 Aug. (above).
2. Several of JA's correspondents for practical reasons pointed out the urgent necessity for a general officer to command the Massachusetts troops replac• { 452 } ing the Continental regiments withdrawn from the state, but the advice of Elbridge Gerry was followed most closely (Joseph Ward to JA, 28 July, 8 Aug.; Gerry to Samuel Adams and JA, 3 Aug.; James Warren to JA, 11 Aug., all above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0205

Author: Adams, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-13

From Samuel Adams

[salute] Dear sir

Before this reaches you, you will have heard of the Arrival of near an hundred more of the Enemies ships.2 There are too many Soldiers now in Philadelphia waiting for Arms. Is it not of the utmost Importance that they should march even without Arms, especially as they may be furnished with the Arms of those who are sick at N York. Would it not be doing great Service to the Cause at this time if you would speak to some of the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania relative to this matter. I write in haste. The Bearer3 will inform you of the State of things. Your Friend
[signed] S Adams
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Hon John Adams Esqr Philadelphia”; docketed: “Mr S. Adams Aug. 13. 1776.”
1. Samuel Adams, who was in bad health, left Philadelphia on 12 Aug. in the company of William Whipple, delegate from New Hampshire, to return home for rest (JA to AA, 12 Aug. [bis], Adams Family Correspondence, 2:88, 89).
2. Como. William Hotham appeared on 12 Aug. with 2,600 British and 8,400 German troops. The Germans were so tightly packed in the transports that they could hardly move, and most were sick from bad food (Willard M. Wallace, Appeal to Arms, N.Y., 1951, p. 100, 102).
3. Not identified.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0206

Author: Parsons, Samuel Holden
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-13

From Samuel Holden Parsons

[salute] Dear Sir

My sincere Thanks are due to my Friend in Congress for the unexpected Honor, done me in my late Preferment. As it was unsolicited and unthought of by me, I cannot but feel the most grateful Sense of the Obligation my Friends have laid me Under by this Token of their Esteem for me. I wish I may discharge the Duties of this important Trust in a Manner which may fully Answer the just Expectations of my Country and Friends. I beg Leave to recommend to your Notice my Friend Captain Thomas Dier1 of Col. Durkee's Regiment as person Suitable to discharge with Honor the Duty of a Major in that Regiment. This is One Instance wherein I agree the Rule of Succession will not be for the best Good. The first Captain by the best Information I can get, perhaps possesses not a Single Qualification for that { 453 } Office, except his Rank, Mr. Diar is the next in Rank, and will do Honor to the Appointment. Capt. James Chapman of my Quondam Regiment2 is an Officer of Unquestionable Abilities and Universally beloved and Esteemed and I suppose would have a Universal Suffrage in the Regiment, if called for, I therefore beg your Friendship for him to be Major of that Regiment. I am with great Respect & Esteem Yr. Friend & hl Servt3
[signed] Saml H. Parsons
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Hon John Adams Esqr. Member of Congress in Philadelphia”; stamped: “N*York. Aug:14 FREE”; docketed: “G. Parsons Aut 13. 1776.”
1. Dyer of the 20th Continental Infantry was a son of Eliphalet Dyer of Connecticut. He was promoted on 19 Aug. (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 23).
2. Chapman was made major of the 10th Continental Infantry on 15 Aug. (same, p. 21).
3. JA answered this letter and another from Parsons of 15 Aug. (below) on 19 Aug. and from his Letterbook copied his answer into his Autobiography, where it is printed (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:447–449.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0207-0001

Author: Sergeant, Jonathan Dickinson
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-13

From Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant

[salute] Dear Sir

Inclosed is a rough Sketch of a plan, which, for ought I know, may be about as wise as an hundred others, that have made their Appearance in this World. I had Thoughts of giving it my last Hand and printing it; but determined first to inclose it for your perusal. If you should think it of any Importance please to return it cum Notis; or else, if You find Leisure and Inclination You may finish it for me, in which Case “e'en what You'd have it make it.” However I rather apprehend it to be heretical: if so commit it to the Flames, or deal with it in what other Manner You think best; only I except to Tarring and Feathering, for the poor thing is no Tory.
This is the Day of our general Election, for which Reason our worshipful Convention have adjourned, after ordering out Half the Men of New Jersey besides the 5,500 before ordered. As I have the Misfortune to be a Lawyer I have thought it not best to risque my Reputation by setting up, as we phrase it; which, that You may understand it, is to carry a Man all round a County like a Show, that People may see how they like him, and according As they like his Appearance, or find Faith to believe the several Lies of the Election, vote for him or against him. We have been wormed out of the plan of voting by Ballot, thro' one dirty Artifice or other; and I am resolved never again to set up; tho I once submitted to it at the last Election.
{ 454 }
I have therefore stayed at home and amused myself with the Scheme of a Negroe Battalion.
A few Weeks, perhaps a few Days will in a great Measure decide our Fate. I wish our Preparations were a few Months more forward; but—
Can You satisfy my Curiosity by informing me the Reason of the New Englandmen's Backwardness this Campaign? My best Compliments to my old Friends. Adieu Yr. most hble Servt.
[signed] Jona D Sergeant
RC with enclosure (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0207-0002

Author: Speculator
Author: Sergeant, Jonathan Dickinson

Enclosure: Draft of an Article

[salute] Mr. Printer

At this Time of general Danger, when every one is anxiously considering by what Means our Liberties may be preserved, I hope to be at least forgiven, if I attempt to suggest a Hint which, perhaps, by wiser Heads, may be improved to publick Advantage.
The Calling out our Militia in such Numbers for the Defence of our Country is attended with this Difficulty among others, that the Slaves left at home excite an Alarm for the Safety of their Families; an Alarm which, on such Occasions, is industriously increased by designing Men, who make it their Business to obstruct every Measure which is taken for the publick Good.
I would therefore desire that it may be considered whether a Method might not be devised for employing those Slaves as Soldiers in the publick Service.
Suppose the Congress to enlist under proper Officers a Number of Slaves within a certain Age sufficient to form a Battalion, paying their Masters according to a certain Rate (say fifty Pounds a piece) and as a farther Compensation for their additional Value let the Master be exempted from bearing Arms. Many Slaves would willingly enlist and I suppose a great many Masters would be glad to purchase an Exemption from bearing Arms upon these Terms.
Let every one of these Slaves become free as soon as by Stoppages from his Pay or otherwise he can reimburse the Money advanced for his Purchase and as a Security to the Publick let the Survivors be answerable for the Deficiencies of such as may die in the Service. This will not be heavier upon the Survivor than if each Individual was bound to make good the full Amount of his real Value.
Let these People, during the Time of their Redemption, be on their good Behaviour. Let every great Offence or gross Misconduct be punished by reducing them back to Slavery.
Other Regulations may be found necessary. I shall only add that { 455 } if Peace should be restored before these people had redeemed themselves, they might be set to labour on some publick Works until they had made Satisfaction. Or also possibly it might be as well, instead of the Plan of their redeeming themselves by Stoppages, to enlist them at Once for 7 or 10 Years at 30/ a Month, instead of 50/.1
There are two or three Objections to this Scheme which deserve to be considered.
1. It may be said that these People will want Courage. Slaves generally are Cowards: but set Liberty before their Eyes as the Reward of their Valour and I believe we should find them sufficiently brave. Neither the Hue of their Complexion nor the Blood of Africk have any Connection with Cowardice. It is their Condition as Slaves that stifles every noble Exertion. Change their Conditions and You will change their Tempers. If any one has further doubts upon this subject, let him consider the free Negroes of Jamaica who purchased their Freedom by Arms, or the Case of the brave Caribbs.2
2. The Danger of putting Arms into such Hands may be objected. This can only be obviated by restricting their Numbers, so as not to suffer them to bear any large Proportion to the whites. When at length they had wrought out their own Freedom they would have the same Interest with the Rest of the Community in quelling Insurrections.
3. Some may be narrow enough to enquire what is to become of those People when they are free and discharged? I answer, let them have Land, let them form a Settlement of Blacks if they will. There is Room enough on this Continent for them and us too.
If this Experiment should be thought worth trying and should answer any valuable Purpose I shall rejoice to have furnished these Hints; if otherwise I am content.
[signed] Speculator
RC with enclosure (Adams Papers).
1. The concluding sentence of this paragraph was written in the margin of p. 3 of the MS but is inserted here according to the author's direction.
2. The Maroons of Jamaica were descendants of Spanish slaves and others who had not submitted at the time of the English conquest of Jamaica. Later the term was broadened to include slaves who successfully rebelled under Cudjoe in the 1730s. These free blacks were recognized in a peace treaty, were settled in several different places on the island, and actually helped the government to seize runaway slaves. By the 1760s the Maroons numbered about 4,000. The Caribs were inhabitants of the so-called Neutral Islands in the Windwards—St. Vincent, Dominica, St. Lucia, and Tobago—none of these clearly belonging to England or France before 1763. The Caribs, many of them of mixed parentage, Indian and black, resisted dominance by either country for many years (George Wilson Bridges, The Annals of Jamaica, 2 vols., London, 1828, 1:407, note 55, 494–496, 499; Richard Pares, War and Trade in the West Indies, 1739–1763, Oxford, 1936, p. 252, 195–196, 202, 215).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0208

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Tudor, William
Date: 1776-08-14

To William Tudor

[salute] Dear sir

By a Return from the Adjutant General of the 10. instant, I see a new Brigade, makes its appearance, under the Title of General Fellow's Brigade, composed of Coll. Holman's Coll. Smith's, and Coll. Carys Regiments,1 making in the whole 1544 Men. These I conclude are from the Massachusetts.
Neither the Council, nor the House nor any Individual, of our Province, have ever mentioned one Word, in any of their Letters of these Troops or any one of their officers, an omission, like a thousand others, which have given me, much Uneasiness.
I must therefore make Use of my Friends at New York to gain a little Information, which the Province, from Regard to its own Interest and Honour, if they had no Regard to me, and their other Delegates, here, ought to have given, of Course, without giving Us the Trouble of Writing Letters to obtain.
Let me beg of you, Sir, to make the earliest Enquiry concerning these officers, their Characters, the Parts of the Province from whence they came, and the Kind of Troops under their Command, and as I see the Regiments are not full, whether any more Recruits are expected to fill them. I have a Suspicion that Coll. Smith may be my Brother,2 but have never had the least Intimation of it, from any of my Friends.
We have nothing new, but the Arrival of a large ship from Havre de Grace, with a very valuable Cargo of Duck, Powder, Lead, and dry Goods. This is all which has happened here to distinguish the Anniversary of the 14 August, the Birth day of American Independence.3
Pray let me know if Major Austin is at New York, and how the new Promotions of General Officers is relished in the Army.4 I am, your Friend & servant,
[signed] John Adams
RC (MHi: Tudor Papers); docketed: “Phila. Aug 14th 1776”; LbC (Adams Papers).
1. For information on these officers see William Tudor to JA, 19 Aug. and note there (below).
2. A year before JA had sought the preferment of his brother-in-law William Smith Jr., but the Smith mentioned here was not he (same; JA to Washington, [19 or 20] June 1775, above).
3. The anniversary of the Stamp Act riots in Boston in 1765.
4. JA added the final sentence as an afterthought, for in the Letterbook he started to write his complimentary close before it.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0209

Author: Cooper, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-14

From Samuel Cooper

[salute] My dear Sir

Your Letter of June 10,1 in Answer to mine on the Continental Currency, I have now to thank you for. Who brought it I know not, but it was never deliver'd to me till four days ago.
A Number of the most sensible Gentlemen among us, with whom I have convers'd upon the Subject are fully of opinion that there is no Way they can at present think of, so effectual to promote public Credit in the Colonies, and consequently the grand Cause, as by having only Continental Bills pass among us. A thousand Inconveniences will be avoided by this, some of which begin already to take Place. An Officer of Rank in our Army at N. York in a Letter of 4th Aug:2 after mentioning the Dearness of Provision there, and that it requires double the Sum to support the Army there that it did here, writes me in these Words—“The Members of the Provincial Congress here refuse taking either Massachusetts, New Hampshire, R. Island or Connecticut Money, in pay for any Thing. Unless this is remedied, and a Stop put to such Impositions I am perswaded it will have a fatal Tendency. One of the Members who refused taking Massachusetts' Money is named De Witt:3 This I know bieng present at the Time.” Nothing is more threatning to the Union of these States than Disputes of this Nature arising among us which would all be prevented by the proposed Plan. No State could esteem itself confin'd, or depriv'd of it's Liberty by it, since it is to be understood that ev'ry State may borrow of the Congress according to it's Exigencies; and were the Congress to originate a Plan of this Kind and propose it to the several States, I am perswaded they would all be so convinc'd of it's great Utility if not absolutely Necessity as to desire it might take Place; and would in this Way obviate the Objection, and make it their own Act.
I Yesterday saw Mr. Tracy of Newbury Port,4 just return'd from a Negotiation with Lord Howe, respecting the Officers and Crew taken in the Yankee Hero. He speaks in the highest Terms of the Politeness and insinuating Address of his Lordship, which I find made an Impression upon him: His Lordship, however, declar'd that he had no Powers to treat with us as independent States, and that the Sword must decide it. This military Commander and Negotiator seems to be of the cunning glozing Cast of Hutchinson and Lord North and I hope as short-sighted as either of them. Our People should be allowed, I think, Interviews with him as seldom as may be, and only in Cases { 458 } of Necessity. For I am perswaded he hopes to find his Account in enlarging the Communication. The Foreigners, it seems, hir'd by Britain, have insisted much in Europe upon a Cartel—and perhaps may have a Promise not to be requir'd to fight till this Point is settled. Howe's great Earnestness to have his Letter on this Subject receiv'd, favors such a Conjecture. If an absolute Refusal of a Cartel for the Germans should not be determin'd on, a long Negotiation on this Matter might tie their Hands for the remainder of this Campaign.
The Papers will inform you of the many rich Captures that have been lately sent in to this Quarter. They have given a Spring to our naval Armaments, and ev'ry Body seems now engag'd in fitting out Privateers, tho' I wish we had greater Plenty of the Means.
Last Sunday, by Order of Council, the Declaration of Independency was read after divine Service thro this State with some Exception of Episcopalians.5 That Masterly Performance cannot fail of it's deserved Weight upon the Minds of the People. I could wish, however, that some great Strokes I saw in a Manuscript Draught had not been omitted.6 I have been put in Pain by hearing of your ill Health. I hope your own, and that of our Friends with you is before now reestablished. Pray take the best Care of it for the Sake of your Friends and the Public. With every Sentiment of Esteem and Friendship, I am, my dear Sir, your most obedt. humle. Servant
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Cooper Aut 14. 1776.”
1. Cooper's original misdating of the month probably led him to give the wrong date to his letter from JA to 10 July (above).
2. Cooper's correspondent remains unidentified.
3. Charles DeWitt of Greenkill, Ulster co. (Marius Schoonmaker, The History of Kingston, New York, from Its Early Settlement to the Year 1820, N.Y., 1888, p. 148, 259).
4. Probably Nathaniel Tracy, one of the owners of the privateer Yankee Hero, which was commanded by Capt. James Tracy (Allen, Mass. Privateers, p. 48, 329). See also Isaac Smith Sr. to JA, 29 Feb., note 3 (above).
5. Anglican clergy were bound by their special oath of allegiance to the king as head of the church and the liturgical requirement that prayers be said for the king.
6. Almost certainly a reference to the draft of the Declaration of Independence sent to AA by JA, which included the strong clauses against the slave trade. See JA's Copy of the Declaration, [ante 28 June,] Editorial Note (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0210

Author: Lowell, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-14

From John Lowell

[salute] Dear Sir

By some Accident your Letter of the 12th. of June did not reach me till last Week, or I should not have delayed so long to accept a Proposal so much to my Advantage, as a Correspondence with you.1 { 459 } From a Sense of its being my Duty to take a more active Part in our Public Matters, than I had in the first Part of my Life determined at any Time to have done, I willingly entered into the General Assembly, and think myself bound, in this Crisis, to afford my Country the little Assistance that I may be able to. I am happy in finding a very considerable Number of worthy Charecters in both Houses, and also that your Sentiments (which before I doubted not of) and those of some other my Friends at Congress, coincide with mine in our Line of Conduct; I wish to see the Liberties of America fixed on a firm, immoveable Basis, and to effect it I know they must be constructed on a broad and liberal Scale. The only Difficulty in our Assembly is that some of the narrow Ideas which were contracted by Some, and are still retain'd, prevent our yet knowing each other, and a Timidity of opposing Principles that begun to be too popular, prevent many of us from opening as we ought; but I trust these Things will wear away, and that we shall uniformly pursue the public Good, without deviating from our Course to catch the Straws which float upon the Surface. Our Defence, I am very sensible, is an Object so important that it ought to engross our whole Attention; I have no Doubt that this is the critical Year, and I have not more Doubt that the Crisis will be favourable; but our Fortitude and unremitting Endeavours must not abate, for it is these that are to insure Success. A Committee was chosen to devise during the Recess of the Court, some successfull Method of making Cannon,2 and I hope this Matter will be bro't forward to Advantage. I have no Doubt that the Manufacture of Small Arms, will at the first Meeting of the Assembly receive every possible Encouragement. We have happily succeeded in the Manufacture of Saltpetre, and we have 3 Powder Mills at Work, and a fourth erecting; Salt I have no Doubt will be made as soon as we feel the Necessity of it; hitherto, tho it has been at an high Price, we have not suffered for the Want of it. I am more ignorant as to the Probability of our getting Sulphur, and Lead; the first I believe we shall be able at some Seasons to import, if the Cruisers of the Enemy are ever so vigilant; they are however both of them Objects that deserve Attention. The mention of the Enemies Cruisers, reminds me of our own. It is an unlucky Circumstance that the continental Frigates are not yet at Sea, had they been many more of the Enemies Vessells, and a Number of their Troops would have fallen into our Hands, I suppose the Delay has been inevitable; it is a Matter that surely will not be neglected. Is it not worthy Consideration whether it will not be adviseable, to order those continental armed Vessells which are ready for Service, in Conjunc• { 460 } tion with the <colonial> Vessells of the particular States, and such private armed Vessells as will engage, immediately to Newfoundland. Much may be done against the British Fishery, on Shore, as well as at Sea. We shall be furnished with a Commodity to exchange for such french goods as may be bro't us, the West India Islands will be without their Supply of Fish, and the Poole Men,3 who meant us much Harm, will be rewarded according to their Deeds. I hear you are now on the continental Confederation, I hope this and our internal Police will both be settled on the best Principles. Will it not be necessary that the respective Legislatures, or the People in the several States, should be consulted on this continental Constitution, to remove any future Objections to the Validity of it; while we are in common Danger we may not be apprehensive of nice Disquisitions into these Matters, but in Peace, when the Interest of a particular State may clash with the Interest of the whole, there may be more Danger, if Things are not well settled at first.
We have been in an unfortunate Situation with respect to a general Officer here, it is proposed to recommend Genl. Lincoln to this Command, he will be universally agreable, he has been appointed to the Command of the Forces in the Pay of this State; and is well acquainted with the Arrangements in this Quarter.
The Assembly will doubtless make an Addition to the Number of Delegates at Congress, but you must not be excused yet as I hear you have desired, a temporary Relief is all you must expect.
The Formation of an internal Constitution is a Matter of great, and important Consequence. I perfectly agree with you in your Sentiments on this Head, that it ought to be slowly and deliberately done. We have chosen a large Committee, one from each County to consider of this Matter,4 but they will not bring about anything in Haste; I do not think the Method of chusing them was wise, they would have taken better Men in some Instances, if they had not confined themselves to Counties. We have now such a Constitution as will well answer our present Exigencies, tho it may doubtless receive great Amendments, but by Delay we may avail ourselves of the Wisdom, and in some Measure of the Experience of our Sister States in their Forms of Government.
I hear it is proposed to establish certain maritime Courts on a continental Establishment, to hear Appeals, if not of original Jurisdiction5, something of this Kind ought to be done soon, as there are already Appeals claimed from our Courts in this State, unless the Congress should think it best to direct that all Appeals should be to the Su• { 461 } periour Court. This will be attended with some Inconveniences, where the Interests of different States clash, in other Cases would be very convenient to the Parties. I have hitherto acted generally as Advocate for the Captors in this District, and shall have no Objection if there should be an Appointment to continue as such if the Establishment is Such as would not make it preferable to be free to engage for Individuals. You see I have in good Earnest embraced your Proposal for a Correspondence. I hope I shall not make you wish it had not been made, I shall always be gratified by a Line from you and am with much Esteem I can truly add but I know you will not like it better with much Respect your obliged Friend and hble Servt.
[signed] J Lowell
1. Here and at several other points, terminal punctuation has been supplied in place of semi-colons and commas in order to break up sentences.
2. The committee was appointed on 29 June and consisted of Messrs. Hall, Cooper, Davis, Crane, and Col. Mitchel. It reported on 1 July, its report being recommitted and two additional members being added to the committee, Messrs. Sumner and Brown (Mass., House Jour., 1776–1777, 1st sess., p. 52, 54).
3. Poole was one of the English west country ports whose merchants had played an important role in trying to dominate the Newfoundland fisheries; they had no love for the New Englanders (Ralph Greenslee Lounsbury, The British Fishery at Newfoundland, 1634–1763, New Haven, 1934, p. 288 and passim).
4. See Francis Dana to JA, 28 July, note 4 (above).
5. The original draft of the Articles of Confederation, presented on 12 July, contained a provision for “Appeals in all Cases of Captures,” but in having the draft printed, the congress provided for the strictest secrecy (JCC, 5:550, 555). Lowell had probably heard about the provision in a general way, possibly from someone like Elbridge Gerry. The clause was carried over into Art. IX of the Articles as finally adopted (same, 9:916).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0211

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Mifflin, Thomas
Date: 1776-08-15

To Thomas Mifflin

[salute] Dear Sir

I received yours of the 5th. instant by Tuesdays1 Post, and laid it before the Board of War, who recommended Monsr. Weibert to Congress for the Rank and pay of a Lieutenant Coll., and the Office of an assistant Engineer, to which he was appointed, without opposition and the President I suppose will transmit his Commission by the first opportunity.
I am happy to learn that his Conduct, Skill, and services have been So acceptable to you.
We are waiting with anxious Expectation, for Intelligence of an Attack. A Great Event it will be. The Thought of it, is enough to arouse a Sleepier Soul than mine. I almost envy, your Situation.
What Glory will accrue to our Arms, what Laurells will be reaped { 462 } by our Officers, if We Should give the Enemy an overthrow. But if even the worst should happen, which is possible, Duke et decorum est.
We have been making a fresh Emission of Generals. I wish to know how it Sitts upon certain Stomacks. One Thing gives me much concern. The Massachusetts, which furnishes So many Men, has only two Generals. When other Colonies, which furnish very few Troops have many more Generals. This I much fear will give disgust and discontent both to the People of the Colony and to the officers and soldiers from that State. That Province never did and never will desire more than its just Proportion of the good Things of this Life, but I am vastly deceived in its Character if it can bear to have less. Will you drop me a Line now and then?
There is a Person who has been in some Place under you, whose Honesty Diligence and Capacity for Business, intitle him to something much better than he has ever had. He has the Additional Claim of Suffering to a large Amount—having been robbed in Boston of his all which was Something handsome too. His Name is Nathaniel Cranch.2 If any Thing could be given him, better than what he has it could not be more honestly bestowed. I am
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent.”
1. 13 Aug.
2. Nathaniel Cranch (d. 1780) was a nephew of Richard Cranch, AA's brother-in-law. Richard had written to JA on 22 July, noting that Nathaniel deserved something better than being a clerk in the quartermaster general's office and suggesting that if opportunity offered, JA might do something for him. In leaving Boston during the occupation without a pass, Nathaniel had had several hundred pounds' worth of property confiscated by the British (Adams Family Correspondence, 2:58).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0212

Author: Parsons, Samuel Holden
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-15

From Samuel Holden Parsons

[salute] Dear Sir

Your Favors of the 3d. and 11th. Instant I received this Day for which I am much obliged. I know not whither the Promotion of Generals will give perfect Content, the Uneasiness amongst the Brigadiers who are promoted I beleive will Satisfy them,1 the Promotion of Colonels I dont hear objected to, except that <None> One from Rhode Island are not promoted;2 on my Part I ought to be contented when you have done much more than my most sanguine Expectations gave Reason to hope, at this Time. The Two Regiments of Tyler and Durkee are Satisfied. To the Majority of these Regiments I beg Leave again to recommend to you Captain James Chapman of Tyler's Regiment, the first Captain, an officer faithful and Approved in a Variety of Campaigns the last and present War, of a liberal capacious Mind, { 463 } | view well acquainted with Men and in every Respect an able good Officer universally esteemed as such, he has already a temporary Appointment by the General which is all he can do. Capt. Dier of Col. Durkee's Regiment is Son to Col. Dier, and a Gentleman of a liberal extensive Education and has every Character of a Soldier, he is the Second Captain and without Exception the best Man in the Regiment for a Majority. The first Captain is an honest Man, (and that is a good Character), but by no Means fit to command. I know I may write in Confidence to you, and therefore will endeavor to give the Characters of your Officers as I am able from my Acquaintance, tho' I think the Task hard and not the most agreable.
Colonels3    
Whitcomb   has no Trace of an Officer, his Men under no Government  
Reed   A good Officer not of the most extensive Knowledge but far from being low or despicable  
Prescot   A Good Soldier to fight no Sense after Eight o'Clock A M  
Little   A Midling Officer and of tolerable Genius, not great  
Serjeant   has a pretty good Character but I have no Acquaintance  
Glover   is said to be a good Officer but am not acquainted  
Hutchinson   An easy good Man not of great Genius  
Baley   is Nothing  
Baldwin   a Personable Man but not of the first Character  
Learned   Was a good Officer, is old, Superanuated and Resigned  
Greaton   An excellent Disciplinarian his Courage has been questioned, but I dont know with what Justice  
Bond   I dont know him  
Patterson   A Good Officer of a liberal Education, ingenious and Sensible  
Lt. Colonels4    
Shephard   an excellent Officer none before him, of good Understanding and good common Learning  
Jacobs   is less than Nothing  
Wesson   An Able Officer  
Clap   Pretty good  
Reed   Pretty good  
Moulton   Am not acquainted  
{ 464 }
Henshaw   Am not acquainted  
Johonnot   Very good a fine Soldier and an extensive Acquaintance  
Majors5    
Sprout   a good, able, Officer  
Brooks   an Officer, Soldier, Gentleman and Scholar of the first Character  
Smith   a midling Officer  
Haydon   a good Officer faithful and prudent not of the most Learning or great Knowledge of the World  
Lt. Col. Nixon I had forgot he is a discreet good Officer not of the greatest Mind.6
Col. Ward is a diligent faithful Man and a good Soldier.
These are all the Field Officers from your State which I at present recollect with whom I have any Acquaintance; amongst them all tis my Opinion Lt. Col. Shephard would make as good an Officer as any at the Head of a Regiment and that Major Brooks would Honor any Command he Should be appointed to, he is now a Major of Col. Wibb's Regiment7 and as fit to command a Regiment as any Man in the Lines. Thus you have my Opinion without disguise and I am sure you will make no improper Use of it. Lt. Col. Shephard is a Man of great Spirit he highly resents Col. Learned's being sent for to command the Regiment after his Resignation; I think we shall loose an able good Officer if he leaves the Service and one who was always Col. Learned's equal, at least, before he lost his Health and his Powers of Mind were impaired. I wish him to have the Regiment. Am sure no Man better deserves it. Several Young Gentlemen in the Service I think justly Merit further Notice from their good Conduct and liberal Education and largeness of Mind; Capt. Warham Park8 of West Field is not the most inconsiderable of the Number. Tudor, Osgood, and Ward I am well acquainted with and think they will honor their Country in any Military Character. Orne I dont know, Warren I imagine will do Justice to your Expectations; but we much differ in our Ideas of a military Character or I am totally deceived in Lincoln who may serve his Country well in a civil Department, but I imagine has very little of the Soldier.
The Objection to a grant of Lands to the Soldiery can have very little Weight when it must be purchased. Let it be Scituated in one State or another, And this Purchase at the joint Expence of the United States will make the Burthen equal on the Whole and perhaps a Purchase of the Natives erected into a new Government might { 465 } best Answer the Purposes and serve as a Barier to the other States.
The great the important Crisis is now at Hand when we must decide the Question whither we will be freemen or Slaves, I wish we may prove to our Enemies that Life without our Liberty we think not worth our Enjoyment; by the Preparations of our Enemy we expect an Attack the first Wind and Tide. I am Sir with Esteem & Regard yr. most obedt. hl Servt.9
[signed] Saml H. Parsons
1. William Heath, Joseph Spencer, John Sullivan, and Nathanael Greene were promoted from brigadier to major general as of 9 Aug. Although his brigadier's commission bore the same date as that of the others, David Wooster was passed over, probably because of congressional criticism of his performance in Canada (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 9).
2. James Reed, John Nixon, Arthur St. Clair, Alexander McDougall, Samuel Holden Parsons, and James Clinton were all promoted from colonel to brigadier general as of 9 Aug. Cols. James Mitchell Varnum and Daniel Hitchcock, both from Rhode Island, whose commissions as colonels in the Continental Army dated from 1 Jan. 1776, as did those of Reed, Parsons, and Nixon, were passed over. St. Clair's commission was dated 3 Jan., and the two New Yorkers, Clinton and McDougall, had not held a Continental commission before becoming brigadier generals (same, p. 10, 559, 291, 461, 428, 414, 516, 161, and 368). JA had said that he would cast his vote for promotion for Varnum, Parsons, and Hitchcock (to Hitchcock, 3 Aug., above). Varnum talked to Washington of resigning (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 5:432). For other disappointments see William Tudor to JA, 19 Aug. (below).
3. For the colonels, as well as for the other officers listed, only those not mentioned earlier are identified by their commands, which are listed in Heitman, passim. Joseph Read, commander of the 13th Continental Infantry; Moses Little, commander of the 12th Continental Infantry; John Bailey, commander of the 23d Continental Infantry; Loammi Baldwin, commander of the 26th Continental Infantry (Baldwin was a member of the legislature, 1778–1779, 1780, and sheriff of Middlesex co., 1780–1794—Appletons' Cyclo. Amer. Biog.); Ebenezer Learned was 48 in 1776, and although he resigned in May, he became a brigadier general in 1777 (DAB).
4. John Jacobs of the 23d Continental Infantry; James Wesson, of the 26th; Ebenezer Clapp, of the 13th; Seth Reed, of the 15th; Johnson Moulton, of the 7th; Gabriel Johonnot, of the 14th.
5. Ebenezer Sprout, of the 3rd Continental Infantry; John Brooks, of the 19th (Federalist governor of Massachusetts, 1816–1822—DAB); Calvin Smith, of the 13th; Josiah Hayden, of the 23d.
6. Thomas Nixon of the 4th Continental Infantry.
7. Charles Webb.
8. Warham Parks, a captain in the 3d Continental Infantry.
9. JA answered this letter and an earlier letter from Parsons of 13 Aug. and from his Letterbook copied his answer into his Autobiography, where it is printed (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:447–449).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0213

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Dana, Francis
Date: 1776-08-16

To Francis Dana

[salute] My dear Sir

Your obliging Favour of July 28. I duely received. Am glad to hear that your third Freshmanship is a busy one. I think you commence a { 466 } fourth, at Philadelphia, very Soon. I have presumed to lay before the General Court a Proposal, to choose Nine Delegates. That their Duty may be discharged here in Rotation. The Service here is too hard, for any one, to be continued So long; at least for me.
Who will be thought of, I know not. I wish they may be Characters respectable in every Point of View. Mr. Bowdoin Dr. Winthrop, Major Hawley, Gen. Warren, Dana, Lowell, Sewall, Sullivan, Serjeant, present themselves with many others and cannot leave the Court at a Loss.
You inform me, that the House, have taken up the Subject of Government, and appointed a Committee to prepare a Form. And altho they have not joined the Board, in this important Business, yet I hope they will prepare a Plan which the Board will approve. I fear I was mistaken, when in my last to you, I foretold, that every Colony would have more than one Branch to its Legislature. The Convention of Pensilvania has voted for a single Assembly, such is the Force of Habit, and what Surprizes me not a little is, that the American Philosopher,1 should have So far accommodated himself to the Customs of his Countrymen as to be a zealous Advocate for it. No Country, ever will be long happy, or ever entirely Safe and free, which is thus governed. The Curse of a Jus vagum,2 will be their Portion.
I wish with you that the Genius of this Country may expand itself, now the Shackles are knocked off, which have heretofore confined it: But there is not a little danger of its becoming Still more contracted. If a Sufficient Scope is not allowed for the human Mind to exert itself, if Genius and Learning are not Sufficiently encouraged, instead of improving by this Resolution, We shall become more despicably narrow, timid, selfish, base and barbarous.
The little Pamphlet you mention was printed, by Coll. Lee, who insisted upon it So much that it could not be decently refused. Instead of wondering that it was not enlarged, the Wonder ought to be that it was ever written. It is a poor Scrap. The Negative given in it to the first Magistrate will be adopted no Where but in S. Carolina. Virginia, has done very well. I hope the next Sister, will do equally. I hope the Massachusetts will call their Government a Commonwealth. Let Us take the Name, manfully, and Let the first Executive Magistrate be the Head of the Council board, and no more. Our People will never Submit to more, and I am not clear that it is best they should.
The Thoughts on Government were callculated for Southern Latitudes, not northern. But if the House should establish a single Assembly as a Legislature, I confess it would grieve me to the very Soul. { 467 } And however others may be, I shall certainly never be happy under such a Government. However, the Right of the People to establish such a Government, as they please, will ever be defended by me, whether they choose wisely or foolishly.
M. Wrixon has found hard Luck in America, as well as in Europe. I have never Seen nor heard of any Reason to doubt the Sincerity of his Professions of regard to our Country. But he is about returning. I am Sorry that he has just Cause to return. The Baron3 is dead. Has not left a very good Character.
There is one Particular, my Friend, in which, our Province uses her Delegates here very unkindly, and by the same Means injures herself, and All the united States. I mean in not sending Us your Journals. To this Moment I dont know one Step that has been taken to raise the Troops for N. York and Ticonderoga—nor the Name of one Officer— nor When they marched. The Interest and Reputation of our Province Suffers, beyond Measure by such a confused Way of doing Business. We ought to be minutely informed of the Characters, and Connections of all the Officers you send into the service as well as of their Names. You ought to Rank and Number the Massachusetts Regiments and publish a List of all the Officers Names.
Mr. Ellery is very well. He Says he dont intend to write you again till you answer his Letter. I made him very happy, by letting him know that Mrs. Dana and her little son, were in a good Way.
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent.”
1. Benjamin Franklin.
2. Fickle or aimless law.
3. Baron de Woedtke.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0214

Author: Adams, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-16

From Samuel Adams

[salute] My dear Sir

I sit down to write in great Haste as the post is just going. I reached P. Ferry1 on tuesday Six Clock P M and passed over the next morning. Found the General and his family in Health and spirits. Indeed every Officer and Soldier appears to be determin'd. I have not had Opportunity to view the Works here, but I am told they are strong and will be well defended whenever an Attack is made which is expected daily. I see now more than I ever did the Importance of Congress attending immediately to Inlisiments for the next Campaign. It would be a pity to lose your old Soldiers. I am of Opinion that a more generous { 468 } Bounty should be given.2 20 Dollars and 100 Acres of Land for three years at least—but enough of this. The State of our Northern Army mends apace. The Number of invalids decreases. Harmony prevails. They carry on all kinds of Business within themselves. Smiths Armourers Carpenters Turners Carriage Makers Rope Makers &c. &c. they are well provided with. There were at Tyconderoga August 12 2,668 Rank and file fit for Duty at Crownpoint and Skeansborough 750, in Hospital 1,110. Lt Whittemore returnd from his Discoveries.3 He left St. Johns July 30 saw 2000 or 2500 at that place and Chamblee. Stores coming on from Montreal. Counted 30 Batteaus. No Vessell built or building. This Account may I think be depended upon. In my opinion we are happy to have General Gates there. The Man who has the Superintendency of Indian Affairs—the nominal Command of the Army,4—is the real Contractor and Quarter Master General &c. and has too many Employments to attend to the reform of such an Army. Besides the Army can confide in the Valor and military Skill and Accomplishments of Gates—Sat. Verbum Sapienti.5 Pray write me and let me know how the Confederation yet goes on. Major Meigs6 a brave Officer and a Prisoner taken at Quebeck is at this time, as I suppose, at Philadelphia. He wishes to be exchanged. Such an Officer would be very usefull here. I wish you would give him your Assistance. I prepare to sett of[f] tomorrow for the Eastward. Adieu
Cap Palmes7 is in this City waiting for inlisting orders. I wish the Rank of the Navy Officers was settled and the Commissions made out. Capt. Dearborne of N. Hampshire8 is in the same Predicament with Major Meigs. Coll. Whipple9 who now sends his Regards to you, is very desirous that he may also be exchanged. His Character is remarkeably good as Maj. Meigs can inform you.
1. Probably Powle's Hook Ferry (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:111).
2. The congress had voted to offer $10 for a three-year enlistment (JCC, 5:483).
3. The journal of Lt. Benjamin Whitcomb is in Force, Archives, 5th ser., 1:828–829. Adams' secondhand report is garbled, but the thirty batteaus, the estimate of men at St. John's, and the stores moving from Montreal all match. Gen. Gates sent Whitcomb's journal and a report from Capt. Anthony Mesnard to Washington in a letter dated 7 Aug. (same, p. 827–828).
4. Gen. Schuyler. The congress had given Gates command over the troops that were in Canada, but intended that when the army left that country Schuyler should remain in command of the Northern Army. Some bad feeling developed and the congress was forced to clarify command responsibilities. New Englanders supported the pretensions of Gates (JCC, 5:526; Joseph Trumbull to Gen. Gates, 5 July, Force, Archives, 5th ser., 1:20; Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 5:257, note 14; for another view, see George Athan Billias, “Horatio Gates: Professional Soldier,” George Washington's Generals, ed. Billias, N.Y., 1964, p. 86–87).
{ 469 }
5. A word to the wise is sufficient.
6. Return Jonathan Meigs was exchanged 10 Jan. 1777 (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 388).
7. Capt. Richard Palmes of the Continental marines (JCC, 5:604).
8. Henry Dearborn was exchanged 10 March 1777 (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 190).
9. See Samuel Adams to JA, 13 Aug., note 1 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0215

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Sergeant, Jonathan Dickinson
Date: 1776-08-17

To Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant

[salute] Dear sir

Yours of the 13. came by Yesterdays Post. You have not acknowledged in it, the Receipt of a Letter I wrote you, 21. of July.
I dont like your Elections at all. County Elections, are never worth much. Divide your Counties into Towns and give a Representative to every Town. The Ballot is of great Importance, and ought not to be given up, if you have lost it for once. You was in the Right, not to set up. It is so ridiculous a Farce, that it brings Elections themselves into Contempt, and it is a never failing Source of Corruption. I hope nevertheless, that your County will have the Wisdom the Cunning and the Selfishness to choose you.
Your Convention have done worthily in ordering out so many of the Militia.
You ask the Reason of the New England mens Backwardness, this Campaign. If there was a Backwardness it might easily be accounted for, Several Ways. The Small Pox is more terrible to them than any other Enemy. There has been another severe Drought this year, which obliges them to double their dilligence to get Bread.1 Besides there has been enough of successfull Pains taken to disgust them, particularly in the affair of Officers. But notwithstanding all this, I deny the Fact. The Massachusetts, has more than Ten Thousand private Men, at N. Y. and Ticonderoga. Besides all that are employed in defending their extensive Sea Coast, and in garrisoning the Fortifications in Boston Harbour, or on Board the armed Vessells. N. Hampshire and Connecticutt have Numbers in Proportion. R. Island has not been called upon. The Brigade of Militia ordered from the Massachusetts, has arrived at N. York under General Fellows. It is composed of Holmans, Smiths, and Carys Regiments.2 Your Negro Battallion will never do. S. Carolina would run out of their Wits at the least Hint of such a Measure. I am
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent.”
1. This sentence is interlined.
2. For information on these officers, see William Tudor to JA, 19 Aug. and note there (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0216

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1776-08-17

To James Warren

[salute] Dear Sir

I had a Letter from you, by the Post Yesterday.1 Congratulate you, and your other Self, on your happy Passage, through the Small Pox.
I must intreat you to embrace the earliest opportunity, after the General Court Shall assemble, to elect Some new Members to attend here, at least one, instead of me. As to others they will follow, their own Inclinations. If it had not been for the critical State of Things, I Should have been at Boston, e'er now. But a Battle, being expected at New York, as it is every day, and has been for Some Time, I thought it would not be well to leave my Station here. Indeed if the Decision Should be unfortunate, it will be absolutely necessary, for a Congress to be Sitting and perhaps, I may be as well calculated to Sustain Such a Shock, as Some others. It will be necessary to have Some Persons here, who will not be Seized with an Ague fit, upon the Occasion. So much for froth: now for Something of Importance. Our Province has neglected Some particular Measures, apparently of Small Moment, which are really important. One in particular let me mention at present. You Should have numbered your Regiments; and arranged all your Officers, according to their Rank, and transmitted them to congress, at least to your Delegates here. I assure you, I have Suffered much for Want of this Information. Besides this has a great Effect upon the Public. The five and Twentyeth Regiment from the Republic of Massachusetts Bay, would make a Sound. New York, New Jersey, Pensilvania, Virginia, &c. are very Sensible of this. They have taken this political Precaution, and have found its Advantage. It has a good Effect too upon Officers. It makes them think themselves Men of Consequence, it excites their Ambition, and makes them Stand upon their Honour.
Another Subject of great Importance, We ought to have been informed of, I mean your Navy. We ought to have known the Number, of your armed Vessells, their Tonnage, Number of Guns, Weight of Metal, Number of Men, Officers Names, Ranks Characters—in short you should have given Us your compleat Army and Navy Lists. Besides this one would have thought We should have been informed, by Some Means or other, of the Privateers fitted out in your State—their Size, Tonnage, Guns, Men, Officers, Names and Characters. But in all these Respects I declare myself as ignorant, as the Duke De Choiseul,2 and I Suspect much more so.
Our People have a curious Way of telling a Story. “The Continental { 471 } Cruizers Hancock and Franklin, took a noble Prize.” Ay! But who knows any Thing, about the Said Cruisers. How large are they? How many Guns? 6. 9. 12. 18 or 24 Pounders? How many Men? Who was the Commander! These Questions are asked me So often, that I am ashamed to repeat my Answer. I dont know. I cant tell. I have not heard. Our Province have never informed me. The Reputation of the Province, the Character of your Officers, and the real Interests of both, Suffer inexpressibly, by this Inaccuracy and Negligence. Look into Coll. Campbells Letter.3 With what Precision he States every particular of his own Force, of the Force of his Adversary, and how exact is his Narration of Facts and Circumstances, Step by Step? When shall We acquire equal Wisdom. We must take more Pains to get Men of thorough Education, and Accomplishments into every Department, civil, military and naval. I am as usual
My Horse, upon which I depended is ruined. How and where to get another to carry me home I know not. I wrote to my Partner to Speak to some Members of the General Court, to see if they could furnish me with a Couple of good Saddle Horses. If not She will be put to some Trouble I fear.
RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “J. A. Letter Augt. 17. 1776.”
1. Warren's letter of 7 Aug. (above).
2. JA's reference to Etienne-François, Due de Choiseul, former French Minister of Foreign Affairs, can be explained by the circulation of rumors that he was coming back into power. Two Virginians, recently arrived on the New York packet, had brought a letter stating that the ministry in France had changed “and those who are for war, with the Duke de Choiseul at their head, are taken in” (Thomas Jefferson to Francis Eppes, 9 Aug., Jefferson, Papers, 1:487–488). Silas Deane wrote from France in a similar vein on 15 Aug., although, of course, his intelligence would still be unknown to members of the congress: “All eyes are turned on the Duc de Choiseul. I am convinced the moment he comes into office an active, open, and [friendly part] will be taken. I think he will be minister very soon” (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:123).
3. The captured Highlander Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell to Gen. Howe, 19 June 1776. Washington forwarded this letter to the congress, where it was read 2 July. It was then printed in the newspapers (JCC, 5:506; New-England Chronicle, 18 July). The text is also available in Force, Archives, 4th ser., 6:981–982.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0217

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Samuel
Date: 1776-08-18

To Samuel Adams

[salute] Dear Sir

I had the Pleasure of a line from you, at Princetown, and Yesterdays Post brought me another from New York.1 I thank you for this Attention, and for the encouraging Account you give of the State of our Affairs at New York and Ti. The last is agreable to the Official { 472 } Letters We have from General Gates who has at last Sent Us a general Return of the Army and Navy upon a more distinct, accurate and intelligible Plan, than any which I have seen before, among other Particulars which are new, is a Return of the State of the Hospital, in one Column the Number Admitted in July, in another the Number discharged, the Ballance remains by which it appears that between 4 and 500 got well in that Month, and has distinguished the Regiments to which they belong, by which it appears that the Pensilvania, N. Jersey and N. York Battallions, are as Sickly in Proportion to their Numbers, as the N. England ones.
Confederation has not been mentioned Since you left Us. We have Spent the Time upon the two old Bones of Contention. The Old General and the Commodore.2 The first We voted blameless. The last We voted censurable, because the Reasons given for not complying litterally with his Instructions, were by no Means, satisfactory. My two Colleagues differed in Opinion from me, upon these Questions concerning the Admiral. 6 Colonies Ay. 3. No. 3 divided. I am afraid this will hurt the Fleet, but Time must determine. We have ordered the old Hero to his Command.
Before the Receipt of your Letter, what you Advise concerning Meigs and Dearborne was done.3 The Board of War recommended it and it was done, but not without opposition from 5 or 6 Colonies, who thought, that there ought to be no Distinctions made, but a general Exchange of the Prisoners of Arnolds Party, or none.
Let me intreat you, Sir upon your Return to Watertown, to promote an Inquiry concerning the Massachusetts Forces. Let a List be collected and published of all the Regiments raised in that State. The Names of all the Officers. Let the Regiments be numbered and the Officers ranked. Let us know for what Periods they were inlisted.
Let me suggest one Thing more. I am in doubt, whether our Province have had returned to them all the Powder, they furnished the Continent from the Town Stocks, as well as the Provincial Magazines. Pray inquire and if they have not, let it be demanded. There is by a Return from General Ward 3 or 400 Barrells of Powder, there belonging to the Continent, and if this opportunity is not embraced, another So fair, may not present itself.
I wish to know the Armed Vessells in the Service of the Province, thier Number, Size, Guns, Weight of Metal, Number of Men &c.
As soon as the General Court shall assemble I hope you will promote an Election of Some fresh Delegates, at least of one, to take my Place. Mr. Hawley, I hope will be perswaded to come. It will be a fine Season { 473 } to have the Small Pox here, and Rush will insure him through, almost without a sigh or Groan. Warren is the next, Dana the third and Lowell the fourth. If the Province should approve the Plan of choosing Nine. These four will make up the Number. But if there are objections to these there are enough others.
Some of Us here, are tremblingly alive, at the Prospect of a Battle, but whether it will be fought this Year, or not, I cant Say. The Two gratefull Brothers4 may loose Reputation with thier fellow Tyrants, if they dont attack, but I hope they will loose more, if they do. My most respectfull Compliments to your good Lady. I am, your Friend and servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (NN:George Bancroft Coll.); docketed: “from J Adams 18 Augt. 1776.”
1. Those of 13 and 16 Aug. (above).
2. Brig. Gen. Wooster and Como. Esek Hopkins. The former had been charged with failure to keep Gen. Schuyler, his superior, adequately informed; the latter had been charged with failure to obey properly the orders given to him (JCC, 5:664–665, 658–659, 661–662).
3. On 17 Aug. the congress considered the report of the Board of War (same, p. 665).
4. For the background of this sarcastic reference to the Howes, see JA to Joseph Palmer, 20 June 1775, note 3 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0218

Author: Tudor, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-18

From William Tudor

[salute] Dear Sir

It was with no small Degree of Pleasure, on my Return here,1 I observed the Cheerfulness which brightened the Countenance of every Soldier I met. The whole Army are in most excellent Spirits and shew an Impatience for Action. And the Spade and Pick Ax have been so well employ'd, that there is scarce a Spot upon the whole Island, where a Redoubt or Breast Work could be of service, but what has either one or other. From the Advantage we now possess I think General Howe must be repulsed whenever he attacks, but should he be able to carry the Island, it must be with so prodigious a Loss that Victory will be Ruin. He must get Winter Quarters for his Troops somewhere, and I am afraid if he can't get them in York, he will once more attempt it in Boston. Their Command of the Sea gives them vast Advantages.
On Friday Night an armed Schooner a Tender of the Phenix2 was burnt by one of the fire Ships, another fire Vessel grappeled the Phenix, but being small and being on the Leeward Side of the Ship, they disengaged themselves and received but little Damage. This Morning the two Ships with two Tenders taking Advantage of a Strong Ebb Tide and brisk Northerly Wind came down the River and not• { 474 } { 475 } withstanding a heavy Fire from our Batteries, passed them all and joined the Fleet at Staten Island. It is thought the Tenders might have been taken going down, had the Galleys and a Privateer which lay in the East River done their Duty.
Col. Sargent's Regiment is stationed at Horn's Hook or Hell Gate. About one half of it is here, the Remainder were left sick with the small Pox at Boston. The Colonel did not come, and it is thought will be censured on his Arrival, which will produce a Resignation.
The Major3 tells me it is a Matter of much Indifference to him whether He has a Regiment or not. A Privateer of which he was a principal Owner having taken two very rich Prizes,4 the Colonel, it is thought prefers enjoying Ease and Wealth, to hard Knocks and Glory. If he should quit the Regiment, I think there is a fair Chance for Austin's Promotion. From Inquiry I learn that he behaved well at the Castle,5 nor do I hear of any thing degrading in his Behaviour since he has been in the Service. He has certainly a good Deal of Merit in disciplining his Regiment. He will certainly be much neglected if he is not advanced. Nor will you Sir think it much against him that he declines supplicating a Recommendation from Head Quarters. Give me leave to mention one or two other N. E. Officers. There is Lieut. Col. Johnnot of Glover's Regiment, has Fire, Sense and Courage, nor is Major Lee of the same Regiment deficient in either.6 There is also Jos. Lee a Captain in the same Regiment. This young Fellow is son to the late Col. Jer. Lee of Marblehead.7 He has a young Wife at Home, and his Fortune sets him above any mercenary Inducement. He is here purely from the best of Motives, the Love of Freedom and his Country. There are also several other Young Fellows in that Regiment of Spirit and Parts, who will never basely cringe to beg the General to inform Congress they wish for Preferment. I will take another Opportunity to prosecute this Subject.
The Adjutant General8 thinks it would be best when the Press is set to strike off 4 or 5000 Copies of the Articles of War; 2000 at least will be immediately wanted here. The Rest may be kept in the War Office and delivered out as occasion may require. Col. Reed desired me to mention this to you and press for having the New Articles as soon as possible. They are much wanted.9 I wish there may be 50 or 60 sets sewed in blue or marble Paper that I may furnish each General Officer with one. I am, with great Esteem, & Sir, Yr. most obedt. Servt.
[signed] Wm. Tudor
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “The Honble. John Adams Esq Philadelphia”; stamped: “FREE”; docketed: “Tudor Aut. 18. 1776.”
{ 476 }
1. Tudor had been in Philadelphia and returned to New York in the company of Samuel Adams and William Whipple (JA to AA, 2d letter of 12 Aug., Adams Family Correspondence, 2:89).
2. The Phoenix, a 44-gun ship, in company with the Rose, 20 guns, was attacked by American fireships on 16 Aug. The journals of the two ships, describing the encounter, agree with Tudor's account except that it was the Rose's tender that was burnt (Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 6:167, 206).
3. Jonathan Williams Austin of the 16th Continental Infantry (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 22).
4. The sloop Yankee took the Creighton and the Zechariah Baily on 3 July. P. D. Sargent & Co. owned the sloop (Allen, Mass. Privateers, p. 328; see also Joseph Ward to JA, 8 July, note 3, above).
5. See JA to William Tudor, 24 June (above).
6. Gabriel Johonnot and William R. Lee were in John Glover's 14th Continental Infantry (Heitman, p. 22).
7. Col. Jeremiah Lee (1721–1775) was a wealthy and prominent merchant of Marblehead, whose mansion there can still be seen. He was a firm supporter of the American cause, active on committees, and a member of the Provincial Congress (Priscilla Sawyer Lord and Virginia Clegg Gamage, Marblehead: The Spirit of '76 Lives Here, Phila., 1972, p. 101, 106, 234–236).
8. Joseph Reed.
9. The congress began consideration of a committee report on revision of the Articles of War on 7 Aug., but final agreement was not reached until 20 Sept. JA was on the committee that made the initial suggestions (JCC, 5:417, 442, 636, 788–807).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0219

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Parsons, Samuel Holden
Date: 1776-08-19

To Samuel Holden Parsons

Philadelphia, 19 August 1776. Printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:447–449.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0220

Author: Tudor, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-19

From William Tudor

[salute] Dear Sir

I set down to give you Part of the Information you ask. The Brigade you mention are new Levies wholly from the Massachusetts Bay. They are posted at Greenwich on the North River about 2 Miles out of Town. What the Men are or how they look I can't tell not having seen them. The Brigadier Mr. Fellows, was a Colonel in the Continental Service last Campaign, his Regiment was at Roxbury. He lives in Sheffield in the County of Berkshire. He was in several Campaigns last War to the Westward, but never rose above a Captain. 'Tis said he has Courage, but is without any other Requisite to intitle him to the Rank of a General Officer. Colonel Holman comes from Sutton in the County of Worcester and is above 50 Years old; Col. Carey comes from Bridgewater in the County of Plymouth and is very old; Col. Smith belongs to Lanesborough, an obscure Town in Berkshire and is not so old: Neither of these Officers possess either civil or military Abilities sufficient to have brought them into Notice at any other Time than the present, Which, however critical it may seem to the rest of the Continent, our Colony improve to little other Purpose than to thrust in• { 477 } to Notice Men, whom Nature design'd for Obscurity. As to the rest of the Field Officers, I can find nobody who knows them. Doctor Bricket of Haverhill who was a Lieutenant Colonel last Campaign and could not be return'd qualified for a Field Officer this, is sent by the Massachusetts in the Capacity of Brigadier General of the New Levies ordered to Ticonderoga.1 I can account for the strange military Appointments in our Colony, on no other Principle, than that they mean to guard against the Danger of an Army by making it contemptible. But they ought to know that without Officers we never shall have Soldiers. And to consider, that by this Management, they are exposing themselves to an eminent present Danger, to guard against a distant, possible Evil; and at the same Time are sinking the Province in the Eyes of the whole Continent.
Your late Promotions were tolerably well liked in general. Knox indeed thought himself neglected, because as Colonel of Artillery, he conceives he has a Rank before any commanding Officer of a Battalion. Varnum was chagrined, and Prescott felt a little Angry—but we had nothing like a Convulsion. Some Officers resented Major Knowlton being promoted to a Lieutt. Col. in Durkee's Regiment, he was only a Captain last Campaign, and will never be a Gentleman. He fought well at Bunker's Hill.
Is not Congress taking some effectual Steps to raise another Army? It is surely Time to guard against the Distress we were thrown into last Winter by the disbanding of the Army. It will be greater this if Care is not taken; Because as Most of the Men are at a greater Distance, and will be longer from home than last Year was the Case, they will be more eager to get away. A large Bounty must be given to induce the Men to engage for as long a Time as they may be wanted. And I hope there will never be another Soldier inlisted but on these Terms. Twenty Dollars would be better than ten and a hundred Acres of Land. While we continue to take Men from the Plough and the Anvil and engage them for 6 or 9 months only we never shall have an Army that will be formidable. Another Thing, You will not another Year get Men of Sense and Spirit to engage in your Service, without an Augmentation of their Pay. At the End of a Campaign, we find Butchers, Bakers, Suttlers, with a large Tribe of Contractors, with Fortunes made at the Public Expence, whilst a young Officer of Merit on 26 Dollars a month is a Beggar. A Man of Honour and Spirit cannot herd with Company unworthy him, Yet there is no one beneath a field Officer, whose Pay gives him a Right to Company above a Shoe Black.
The great Number of Southern Officers now in York, who are but { 478 } little used to the Equality which prevails in N.E. are continually resenting the Littleness of their Pay, and thereby encourage Sentiments throughout the Army, (among Officers) which will be no small Impediment to your getting a future well officer'd Army. I am with great Respect Dr Sir, very sincerely Yours.
1. The officers mentioned are John Fellows, Jonathan Holman, Simeon Carey, Jonathan Smith, and James Brickett, who all had commands in the Massachusetts militia before being sent out of the state (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 224, 297, 143, 120; Mass. Soldiers and Sailors, 14:470; 2:482–483). The rise of Brickett was most noteworthy. A surgeon at Ticonderoga in the French and Indian War, he became a lieutenant colonel at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Named a colonel on 5 July 1776, he was promoted to brigadier general on the 11th (Appletons' Cyclo. Amer. Biog.; Records of the States, Microfilm, Mass. A. 1 a, Reel No. 12, Unit No. 2, p. 428, 453).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0221

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Ward, Joseph
Date: 1776-08-20

To Joseph Ward

[salute] Sir

Your Favours of 28th. July and 8. August are before me. I have a Favour to ask of you, that is to Send me, an exact Account of the Number of Continental Cruizers fitted out, in the Massachusetts, the Tonnage of the Vessells the Number of Guns belonging to each, the Weight of Metal, the Number of Men, the Names of the Vessells and the Names of all the Officers, that is to say, the Captains and Lieutenants, the Sailing Masters and Mates, and the Officers of Marines.
You complain that there has not been a Sufficient Number of Promotions among the Massachusetts Officers. Perhaps with Justice. But what is the Cause of the Disinclination in Massachusetts Gentlemen to the service. Ward, Fry, and Whitcomb have resigned. If We go out of the Line of Succession among the Collonells, to make a Brigadier General, We give Discontent. And can you lay your Hand upon your Heart and recommend the ablest Collonells for Generals as they Stand upon the Line. We have now made Nixon, a General. I know neither him nor his Qualifications. Prescott would have been a General long ago. Nay there is no Advancement to which he would not have been pushed, for his Conduct and Intrepidity on Charlestown Heights. But you know there is a fatal objection.1
You ask if it was not in Contemplation to send two southern Generals to command you, in Defence of yourselves? I answer it was, and that, at the earnest Solicitation of the principal Gentlemen, in the Province, who in their Letters pressed for it. They had two Reasons for this, one was that a Stranger would be likely to have more Au• { 479 } thority among the People there than a Native. Another was that a southern Gentleman, would be likely to give more Satisfaction to the middle and Southern Colonies. I will tell you a plain, frank Truth Mr. Ward, the People of our own Province, have not much Confidence in their own Generals. I am extremely Sorry for it—nothing has made me more unhappy, but so the fact is, and I cannot alter it.
You Speak of a General Mifflin who was young in Experience, and in the Service. I wish our Massachusetts Collonels, old as they are, had as much Activity, and as extensive Capacities and Accomplishments as that young General. However he is not so very young. He is old in Merit in the American Cause. He has the utmost Spirit and Activity, and the best Education and Abilities. He is of one of the best Families and has an handsome Future in his Country. He has been long a Member of the Legislature here, and of Congress. He was long the most indefatigable and successfull Supporter of the American Cause in this Province, where it has laboured more than any where else. He was the prime Conductor, and the Center of Motion to that association, which has compleated the Reduction of this Province to the American Union, and has infused a martial Spirit into a People who never felt any Thing like it before. You can Scarcely name a Man, any where who has more Signal Merit.
There is a Number of young Gentlemen, of our Province, whom I wish promoted. But to advance them over the Heads of a long Line of Colonells, would ruin the service. And I wish you would tell me, which of our Collonells you think most fit for Generals. I wish you Promotion with all my Heart, because I think, your military and literary Qualifications would do Honour to your Country. But you know, that to shoot you up into high Command, over the Heads of a hundred Officers, would destroy the Army.
Since the foregoing was written Congress has requested General Ward to continue in Command.2 I hope he will. The Fortifications in Boston Harbour must be compleated, otherwise the two gratefull Brothers may seek Winter Quarters there.
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent.”
1. See the judgment given by Gen. Parsons to JA, 15 Aug. (above).
2. See Joseph Ward to JA, 23 March, note 1 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0222

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Mason, Jonathan Jr.
Date: 1776-08-21

To Jonathan Mason Jr.

[salute] Dear sir

I had by Yesterdays Post, the Pleasure of your Letter of the 12. instant. The Account you give me of the Books you have read and { 480 } Studied is very agreable to me. Let me request you, to pursue my Lord Coke. The first Institute You Say you have diligently Studied. Let me Advise you to study the second, third and fourth Institutes with equal Diligence. My Lord Coke is justly Styled the oracle of the Law, and whoever is Master of his Writings is Master of the Laws of England. I should not have forgotten his Reports or his Entries. These, equally with his Institutes demand and deserve the Attention of the student.
It is a Matter of Curiosity rather than Use, of Speculation rather than Practice, to contemplate what Mr. Selden calls the Antiqua Legis Facies. Yet I know a young Mind as active and inquisitive as yours, will not be easy without it. Horne, Bracton, Briton, Fleta, Thornton, Glanville, and Fortesque,1 will exhibit to you this ancient Face, and there you may contemplate all its Beauties.
The Year Books, are also a great Curiosity. You must make yourself sufficiently acquainted with Law French, and with the abbreviated Law Hand, to read and understand the Cases reported in these Books when you have occasion to search a Point.2
The French Language will not only be necessary for you as a Lawyer, but if I mistake not, it will become every day more and more a necessary Accomplishment of a Gentleman in America.
There is another Science, my dear sir, that I must recommend to your most attentive Consideration, and that is the civil Law. You will find it so interspersed with History, Oratory, Law, Politicks, and War, and Commerce, that you will find Advantages in it, every day. Wood, Domat, Ayliff, Taylor ought to be read but these should not suffice.3 You should go to the Fountain Head, and drink deep of the Pierian Spring. Justinians Institutes and all the Commentators upon them, that you can find you ought to read.
The civil Law will come as fast into Fashion in America as the french Language, and from the same Causes.
I think myself much obliged to Mr. Morton for his Politeness to you, and should Advise you to accept of his kind Offer, provided you dont find the Practice of his office interferes too much with your studies, which I dont think it will.
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent. Aug. 24.”
1. For identification of Horne, Bracton, Britton, Fleta, and Fortesque and JA's use of these authorities, see JA, Papers, 1:261–262, 267, note 1, 277–286, notes 3, 8, 9. Ranulf de Glanville, Tractatus de legibus et consuetudinibus regni Anglie tempore Regis Henrici secundi compositus . . . , [London,] 1604. Thornton has not been identified.
2. “Year Books” was the familiar term for the books of reports published yearly at crown expense and written by court scribes. The series runs from Edward I through Henry VIII (Black, Law Dictionary). Law French was the Norman French used in these reports, and Law { 481 } Hand probably refers to the abbreviations that the scribes commonly used.
3. Thomas Wood, A New Institute of the Imperial or Civil Law . . . , London, 1704; Jean Domat, Civil Law in Its Natural Order . . . , transl. W. Strahan, 2 vols., London, 1722; John Ayliff, New Pandect of the Roman Civil Law, London, 1734; John Taylor, The Elements of Civil Law, Cambridge, 1755. The Catalogue of JA's Library lists Domat in a French edition of 1777.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0223

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Temple, Harriet
Date: 1776-08-21

To Harriet Temple

[salute] Madam

I had the Honour of receiving your very polite Letter of the Tenth instant by Yesterdays Post. I Sympathize with you, most Sincerely in your peculiar Situation, and nothing would give me greater Pleasure than to be able to contribute any Thing, towards procuring you Relief and Redress. I have the Pleasure to congratulate you on Mr. Temples Arrival, in the Fleet. General Washington, has given Leave for him to come to New York and return to New England, which the Congress have approved, so that I hope, he is now on his Way home, and that you will have the Happiness to see him before you receive this Letter.
Upon the Receipt of your Favour, I went immediately to Mr. Hancock and inquired of him concerning your former Application to him. He Says he received your Letter in May, at a Time when the General was here to whom he showed your Letter. The General expressed, the utmost Concern for Mrs. Temple and her Family, and wished her Relief, but there were so many other Persons in the Same unhappy Predicament, that he did not see, how one could be relieved without establishing a Precedent for all. The Multiplicity of Avocations which constantly engage Mr. Hancock, have no doubt been the Cause, that he has not answered your Letter.
I have shown your Letter to me, Madam, and the Copy of that to Mr. Hancock to Mr. Hooper of N. Carolina, and several other Gentlemen and intend to show it to more, and to move that it may be considered in Congress. But whether any Relief will be granted you, I cannot Say. I wish it may with all my Heart, and it shall not be my fault if it is not.
I thank you, Madam, for your kind Visit to my dear Mrs. Adams in her Distress, and for the agreable Account you give me, of her Recovery. Be pleased to make my most respectfull Compliments to Mr. Temple, and believe me to be, with great Respect, Madam, his and your, most obedient, humble Servant
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent by Post Aug. 23d.” JA copied this letter into his second Letterbook along with copies of letters to AA and other family members.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0224

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1776-08-21

To James Warren

[salute] Dear Sir

Yours of August 11 reached me Yesterday. Mrs. Temple shall have all the Assistance which I can give her, but I fear it will be without success. It will be a Precedent for So many others, that there is no seeing the End of it. I shall answer her Letter by the next Post, and if I cannot promise her any Relief, I can assure her of Mr. Temples Arrival, and of his having Leave to go home, which I presume will be more welcome News.
The Success of your Privateers is incouraging. I lament with you the Langour and Inattention to the Fleet. I wish I could explain to you my Sentiments upon this Subject, but I will not. I am determined you Shall come here and See and hear, and feel for yourself, and that Major Hawley and Some others shall do the Same. I must not write Strictures upon Characters. I set all Mankind a Swearing, if I do. I must not point out to you not even to you, the Cause of the Losses, Disgraces and Misfortunes that befall you. I make the Faces of my best Friends a mile long, if I do. What then shall I do? Just what I have long Since determined; go home, and let two or three of you come here and fret yourselves, as long as I have done, untill you shall acknowledge that I had Reason.
There is a Marine Committee, who have the Care of every Thing relating to the Navy. Hopkins and his Captains, Saltonstall and Whipple have been Summoned here, and here they have lingered, and their Ships laid idle.1 I cannot, I will not explain this Business to you, because if I should, it would get into a News Paper, I suppose. You must come and see.
We suffer inexpressibly for Want of Men of Business. Men acquainted with War by sea and Land. Men who have no Pleasure but in Business. You have them, send them along.
Have you got Boston Harbour, Sufficiently fortified? If not take no Rest untill it is done. Howe, must have Winter Quarters, Somewhere. If he cant obtain them at New York, he must attempt them at the southward or Northward. It will be your Fault, if you are not prepared for him, in the North. I took a Hint from your Letter, and this day obtained a Resolution, authorizing and desiring General Ward to continue in the Command in the Eastern Department, untill further orders. I hope he will comply.2 He has some good Officers about him, and he does very well. We give him the Credit in the War Office of making the best Returns, that We receive from any Department. { 483 } The Scene brightens at Ticonderoga—and We have a very numerous Army at N. York. By the last Return We have more than Eight and Twenty thousand Men including Officers, at New York, exclusive of all in the Jerseys. Since which Men have been pouring in from Connecticutt. Massachusetts I think is rather lazy this Campaign.3 Remember me with all possible Respect to your good Lady and believe me to be as usual
Since the foregoing was written I have procured Mrs. Temples Letter to be committed. I must depend upon the General Court to send me, a couple of good Saddle Horses.
RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “Mr J Adams Lettr Augt. 76.”
1. Dudley Saltonstall and Abraham Whipple had been summoned to Philadelphia, along with Como. Esek Hopkins, to face charges; but on 11 July the Marine Committee, after hearing the complaints of inferior officers, reported that the charges against the two captains were not well founded, and they were allowed to return to their ships. Whipple was cautioned to improve his relations with his officers (JCC, 5:439, 542–543).
2. For details about Ward's resignation and the action of the congress, see Joseph Ward to JA, 23 March, note 1 (above).
3. Contrast JA's opinion here with his defense of Massachusetts to a citizen of New Jersey (JA to Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant, 17 Aug., above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0225

Author: Knox, Henry
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-21

From Henry Knox

[salute] Dear Sir

I received your favor by the post for which please to accept my thanks.1 I hope the Copper you mentioned will be purchas'd as speedily as possible, as it appears to me to be matter of the utmost consequence. I have purchas'd about two tons but this is nothing equal to what I wish was collected. We ought at least to have enough to cast an hundred Mortars, Howitzers, and feild peices. A numerous and well serv'd field Artillery in action very often confers victory. As Copper Can be purchas'd at a little advanc'd price we may be possessd of a fine field train, but if for fear of trouble or expence we omit getting them and any bad Consequences happen our Enemies will laugh at us and posterity curse us. Let us for a moment suppose a misfortune happen to the field Artillery we have in this army, Where shall we get immediately supplied—not in America. With you I very much lament the want of General officers for the State of Massachusetts Bay. In confidence I am sorry to observe that few men of Genius Spirit and solid judgement are high up in the list of Colonels from that State. The requisitions necessary for a General officer are so many that I tremble to think of some certain situations where true greatness of { 484 } soul alone could extricate an army out of its difficulties. The remedy is, local. We have a number of our young men of sense and abilities in the army, but not the greatest proportion—these ought to be drawn into it. It is from men of solid abilities united with Spirit that a Country is to expect great actions. A man being a good marksman cannot in the nature of things alone be a sufficient Recommendation to make him either a Colonel or General officer. There is Col Glover of the 14 Regiment from Marblehead who appears to be the most suitable man I know in our list of Colonels for promotion. He is brave and is said to be a man of reflection.
Pray my dear Sir when is the army to be Re-Inlisted? How much bounty is intended to be given? It is said you intend to attempt raising an army, for three years with ten dollars Bounty. In my opinion you could Create an army with equal ease. When the soldiers of this army who are the Yeomanry and the Yeomanrys Sons first engag'd in the service, their County was the immediate Seat of war—and had there have been no pay they would have been oblig'd by the Laws of self preservation to have Continued for some time embodied. The first emotions subsided and people thought it reasonable that those who did not fight should pay. As the pay of the soldiers was high in their opinions they rais'd every necessary the soldier wanted to enable them to pay their proportions—which Spirit has diffus'd it self to every place to which the army has Removd. So that in fact that which appear'd to be at first great pay will not now afford them decent <subsistence> cloathing—nothing to remit to their families except they go as ragged as beggars. From the observations and Inquiries I have been able to make it appears to me that nothing short of 25 or 30 Dollars Bounty and 100 or 150 Acres Land at the expiration of their Service will produce an army from the New England Colonies. Any attempt at a less expence will be fruitless. The pay of the officers must likewise be rais'd or you will [have] very few of the present officers to continue longer in the service. They are not vastly riveted to the honor of starving their families for the sake of being in the army. I wish you to consult Marshall Saxe on the Chapter of paying the troops.2 I am not speaking for myself. But I am speaking in the behalf of a great number of worthy men who wish to do their Country every Service in their power at a less price than the ruin of themselves and families. I write thus freely to you as I am certain you wish to be inform'd of naked facts.
The enemy appear to hesitate where to attack us. Their protraction is of service to us as we are daily Receiving large Reinforcements. If { 485 } they make their push on Long Island I think we shall beat them. If they make their attack on the Island of New York they will stake an empire on the cast of a Die on the success of one action. They will act unlike Good Generals for if they are beaten they must be ruined past redemption. [For] these Reasons I think their first attempts will be on Long Isle. They have got sick of the North River. In a day or two we shall have the east River stoppd sufficiently. I am Dear sir with the greatest Respect and affection your most obet. & most hble Sert.
[signed] Henry Knox
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Honorable John Adams Esqr Philadelphia”; stamped: “FREE N*York, Aug:21”; docketed: “Hitchcock Knox Aug 21. 1776 ans. Aug. 25.”; docketed in another hand: “Knox Aug 21–1776.”
1. JA's letter of 13 Aug. (MHi: Knox Papers, not printed here; LbC, Adams Papers)
2. See JA to William Tudor, 12 Oct. 1775, note 5 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0226

Author: Hitchcock, Daniel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-22

From Daniel Hitchcock

[salute] Worthy Sir

Your Favour of the third instant yesterday came safe to Hand, for which I thank You; am glad to hear that the Burden lying on Colonels of Contracting for Cloathing Arms &c. is removed by the Establishment of a Pay Master, tho I think if he is to purchase Cloathing it ought to be assertained what or whether he is to put on any, Profit on the Cloathing, and that to be under the Inspection of the Colonels or otherwise there will be great Impositions; I think if its properly regulated One Person may do the Business, Some Profit, I think will be necessary to allow him. I know tis extremely difficult, fully to satisfy your Constituents and the Army too; unhappy for both that the good Yeomanry think that all Money is centred in the Army; and the Army know that their Wages, on the Account of the Rise of every thing around them do not support them; we must look to your Councils to stear Us betwixt Cylla and Carybdis; it never will do to starve the Army, tho should think it not adviseable to raise Soldiers Wages, because if anything favourable should happen; you cant lower them again; a very large Bounty, say twenty Dollars, wou'd be much the most probable Way to raise an Army, and in fine certainly much the Cheapest; none have so great Reason to find fault as the Field Officers, whose Pay is not certainly adaquate to their Trouble. Am satisfied with Regard to the Advancement of Officers to the Southward, tis certainly right, that southern Brigades should have southern Generals; the hardest Pill is when one Colonel is put over anothers Head, of the same State, for Instance suppose Colo. Varnum should be promoted { 486 } over Me, which I know he is constantly dogging the General to do; I should instantly resign, because I know my Character wou'd inevitably suffer in the State from whence we came. I think a Method might be hit upon, which wou'd satisfy the Colonels in Point of Honor, and the Field Officers with Regard to their Wages; and that is this; tis a well known Truth in the Army that the Lt. Colonels are in General, but the very Drones of the Army, they say that no Author has particularly pointed out their Duty, but that the whole Business of the Regiment is to be done by the Colonel and Major, and that the Lt. Colonel has nothing to do till the Colonel is killed or Absent. Now what I wou'd propose is this, that a new Rank be created of Brigadier Colonels, that these Brigadiers should have the Command of two or three Battalions only; that each Battalion shou'd have only two Field Officers, a Colonel Commandant, and a Lt. Colonel, who should act and perform the Duty of a Major; these two Officers wou'd do full as well as three; that the Pay of a Brigadier Colonel shou'd be Twenty five Pounds L[awful] Money of N. England, with Nine Rations; a Colonel Commandant fifteen Pounds, and a Lt. Colonel Twelve Pounds like Money, the Rations of those as now established; if a Brigadier commanded two Battalions, the Wages of the Field Officers of the two Battalions, including the Brigadiers, woud amount to only five Pounds per Month more than what the Wages of the Field Officers of two Regiments do now; if he commanded three Battalions, the Wages would be five Pounds less; I think it might be done and every Colonel and Field Officer satisfied.
I believe your late Promotions have not given much Disgust, tho abler Colonels than some of them might, I fancy, have been picked out of the Army, since your Resolutions have told Us, that Promotions shall not be by Succession.
Am willing my Letter shou'd be exposed so far as it respects the new Modelling the Army. I indeed think its worth attending to, or at least something of the like kind, tho I wou'd not mean to dictate, but as you desired my Sentiments, I've freely given them; I believe twou'd take in the best Colonels in the Army.
I am told that Letters by the Post to Members of Congress are franked, if not, wish you wou'd notify Me; for I dont think my Scrawls are worth Paying much for. With the greatest Respect, Am your most obedt. Hble Servt.
[signed] Dan Hitchcock
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To the Honble John Adams Esqr Member of the Honble Continental Congress Philadelphia”; stamped: “FREE N*York, Aug:21”; docketed: “Hitchcock Aut 22. 1776.”

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0227

Author: Clark, Abraham
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-23

From Abraham Clark

[salute] Dear Sir

Colo. Dayton,1 who with his battalion is Stationed at Fort Stanwix, informs me no Regimental Paymaster hath been appointed to his battalion, and Genl Schuyler does not conceive himself Authorized to appoint one. Jonathan Dayton, a son of the Colo, is Recommended as a proper person for that Station, his father offers to become Security for his faithful discharge of the Office.2 Mr. Caldwell the Chaplain of that battalion3 is come down and informs me Genl. Schuyler would have Appointed Dayton had he been Authorized, and Offers to Recommend him to Congress if Necessary. The young mans Qualification can be known from Dr. Witherspoon. If no just objection appears Against him, I wish a Commission may be sent to me for him.
I remain in a Weak infirm State. We are daily Alarmed with News of an Attack on this Town but have hitherto escaped it. We hear the British Troops are busily employed hanging the Refractory among them: may their business increse. I am Dear Sir, Your Sincere Friend & Humle. Servt.
[signed] Abra. Clark4
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honourable John Adams Esqr. in Congress. Philadelpa.”; docketed: “Mr Clark Aut 23. 1776.”
1. Elias Dayton, colonel of the 3d New Jersey Regiment (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 190).
2. Young Dayton was named regimental paymaster on 26 Aug. (JCC, 5:701).
3. James Caldwell (Heitman, p. 139).
4. Clark was a delegate to the congress from New Jersey (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 2:liv).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0228

Author: Edwards, Thomas
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-23

From Thomas Edwards

[salute] Sir

In the general Calamity of the times, I find there is little or no Business to be had unless help'd and push'd forward by some able and powerful Friend; Necessity at length obliges me to seek one, and I apply to you, Sir, in preference to another on Account of the Notice you have heretofore taken of me; I have delay'd this Application thus long, lest I should give you trouble, not that the trouble is less now, but my Necessity greater.
Cannot the Continental Agent here be directed to apply to me to file Libels against what Prizes may be brought in here by the Continental Cruizers and to do what Business may be needful in our Way here, or is there not wanted a Deputy Judge Advocate, that Business I'm acquainted with as I acted as an Assistant to Mr. Tudor 5 or 6 { 488 } Months last Year at Cambridge, but his removing to N. York deprived me of that, or in short is there not any Place which you think will be agreable to me. If you can effect anything of this kind it will be conferring a great Obligation on one who will ever hold you in grateful Remembrance. If you think proper you may communicate this to S. Adams Esqr. who knew my Father (who is now no more) and perhaps for his Sake if not my own he will assist his Son. Impute the Liberty I have taken to my Necessity and presumption on your kind Assistance. If you will be so kind as to write an Answer to this and acquaint me if there is any probability of my succeeding in my Requests I shall esteem it a great favour done to Sir Your humble Servt.
[signed] Thos: Edwards1
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honble John Adams Esqr. Member of Congress Philadelphia”; docketed: “Mr Tho. Edwards Aut 23. 1776.”
1. JA replied on 1 Oct., regretting that he could do little to help Edwards (LbC, Adams Papers). In spite of suspicions about his loyalty which led to his brief detention in Feb. 1777, Thomas Edwards (1753–1806), a Harvard graduate and former Braintree schoolmaster who changed to law, was named deputy judge advocate in April 1780 and judge advocate for the Continental Army in Oct. 1782, holding the latter position until his retirement in Aug. 1783 (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 17:507–510; Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 212).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0229

Author: Gates, Horatio
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-23

From Horatio Gates

[salute] Dear Sir

I have the Satisfaction to acquaint You that immediately after my Arrival here I appointed Mr. Rice a Major of Brigade. He is a most deserving young Man and will do Honour to the profession. The Inclosed from Lieutt. Col. Baldwin1 I have the pleasure to send You, and entreat you will endeavour to procure him the Rank he Requests. I can assure You Sir he is a most Excellent Officer, and the Only one I can depend upon here in the Engineering Branch. I must refer you to Chase for all that is worth knowing from hence. If you can hold the Enemy Fast upon Saten Island, I think there is but little likelyhood that those in Canada will be able to pass here. May Him who gives the Race to the Slow, and The Battle to the Weak, prosper Our Arms. My very Affectionate Compliments to Messrs. Adams, Gerry, Paine, &c. &c. with the most Cordial Affection, I am Dear Sir Your much Obliged & most obedt: Humble Servent
[signed] Horatio Gates
1. This enclosure has not been found, but it, together with Gates' recommendation { 489 } and Jeduthun Baldwin's most recent letter to JA (22 July, above), may have brought about on 3 Sept. the appointment of Baldwin as engineer with the rank of colonel (JCC, 5:732).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0230

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Hitchcock, Daniel
Date: 1776-08-24

To Daniel Hitchcock

[salute] Sir

Yours of the Twenty Second is before me. You mention, the Delicacy of appointing, an Officer of the Same State over another. And you put the Case of Coll Varnum and yourself. I have been a long Time puzzled to account, for Varnums Standing on the List of Colonells before you, whom I know to be many Years older than that Gentleman, has been represented to me to be. I have heard, this young Gentleman Spoken of in Raptures as a Genius, and from all I have heard I believe his Abilities and Accomplishments to be very good. But his Years are tender in Comparason of yours, and his Education is but equal at best, how happened it then that in Arranging of Collonells, you was placed after him. I am Sure this has made a Puzzle in Some Minds here which will continue. It may possibly prevent either of you from rising so soon, as one of you would have done, if this Obstruction had not been in the Way.
The Massachusetts Bay, your Native Country, continues to act, the most odd Surprizing and unaccountable Part, respecting Officers. They have a most wonderfull Faculty of finding out Persons for Generals and Colonells of whom no Body ever heard before. Let me beg of you, in Confidence to give me your candid and explicit opinion, of the Massachusetts General and Field Officers, and point out such as have any Education, Erudition, Sentiment, Reflection Address or other Qualification or Accomplishment excepting Honour and Valour for Officers in high Rank. Who and What is General Fellows? Who and What is General <Frickett, I think his name is> Brickett? Who is Coll. Holman, Cary, Smith?1 There is a brave Veteran gone as a Coll. to Ticonderoga, who should have my Vote for a General, sooner than an hundred of them. I mean Aaron Willard.2
If there are any officers, young or old, among the Massachusetts Forces who have Genius, <Honour,> Spirit, Reflection, Science, Literature, and Breeding, do for the Lands sake, and the Armys sake, and the Province sake let me know their Names, Places of Abodes and Characters.
Your Plan for New modelling the Army may be a good one, for what I know. But I will give you more for a Plan for new modelling Massachusetts officers. I am &c.
{ 490 }
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent.”
1. JA had not yet received William Tudor's account of these officers (to JA, 19 Aug., above).
2. Aaron Willard, despite JA's enthusiasm, remains an obscure figure, unmentioned in the Diary and Autobiography or Adams Family Correspondence for this period. Willard was named to command a regiment going to Canada and probably received his commission on 19 July (Mass. Soldiers and Sailors, 17:380).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0231

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Tudor, William
Date: 1776-08-24

To William Tudor

[salute] Dear Sir

Your Favours of 18 and 19 of August are before me. I am much obliged to you for them, and am determined to pursue this Correspondence, untill I can obtain a perfect Knowledge of the Characters of our Field Officers.
If the Colonell quits the Regiment Austin will certainly be promoted, unless Some Stain can be fixed upon his Character, Since he has been in the Army. His Genius is equal to any one of his Age. His Education is not inferiour. So far I can Say of my own Knowledge. If his Morals, his Honour, and his Discretion, are equal there is not a Superiour Character of his Age in the Army. If I could Speak with as much Confidence of these as of those, I should not hesitate one Moment to propose him for the Command of a Regiment.
You mention a Major Lee in Glovers Regiment. I wish you had given me more of his Biography and Character. Captn. Jos. Lee the Son of Coll. Jer. Lee, has so much Merit, that I think he ought to be promoted. I never heard of these two Gentlemen before. I mean of their being in the Army. Are they Men of Reflection? That is the Question. Honour, Spirit, and Reflection, are Sufficient to make very respectable Officers, without extensive Genius, or deep Science, or great Literature. Yet all these are necessary to form the great Commander. You Say there are Several other young Officers of Parts and Spirit in that Regiment, I wish you had mentioned their Names and Characters. You Say they will never “basely cringe.” I hope not: but I also hope, that they will distinguish between Adulation and Politeness: between Servility and Complaisance: between Idolatry and Obedience: A manly, firm attachment to the General, as far as his Character and Conduct are good, is a Characteristic of a good Officer, and absolutely necessary to establish Discipline in an Army.
I have a great Character of Lt. Coll. Shepherd and Major Brooks. I wish you would write me a History of their Lives. I know nothing of them. If Brooks is my old Friend Ned of Mistick,1 as Mr. Hancock this Evening gave me some Reasons to suspect, and if he deserves the { 491 } Character I have received of him, as I doubt not he does, if he is not promoted before long, it shall be because I have no Brains nor Resolution. I never, untill this Evening Suspected that he was in the Army. Pray tell me what Regiment he is in.
The Articles of War, are all passed but one—that remains to be considered. But I fear, they will not be made to take Place, yet. Gentlemen are afraid, the Militia, now in such Numbers in the Army, will be disquieted and terrified with them. The General must quicken this Business, or I am afraid it will be very slow. Every Body seems convinced of the Necessity of them, yet many are afraid to venture the Experiment. I must intreat you to write me, by every Post.
Let me intreat you, Mr. Tudor, to exert yourself, among the young Gentlemen of your Acquaintance in the Army, to excite in them, an Ambition to excell: to inspire them, with that Sense of Honour, and Elevation of sentiment without which they must, and ought to remain undistinguished. Draw their Attention to those Sciences, and those Branches of Literature, which are more immediately Subservient to the Art of War. Cant you excite in them a Thirst for military Knowledge? Make them inquisitive after the best Writers, curious to know, and ambitious to imitate the Lives and Actions of great Captains, ancient and modern. An Officer, high in Rank, should be possessed of very extensive Knowledge of Science, and Literature, Men and Things. A Citizen of a free Government, he Should be Master of the Laws and Constitution, least he injure fundamentally those Rights which he professes to defend. He Should have a keen Penetration and a deep Discernment of the Tempers, Natures, and Characters of Men. He Should have an Activity, and Diligence, Superiour to all Fatigue. He should have a Patience and Self Government, Superiour to all Flights and Transports of Passion. He Should have a Candour and Moderation, above all Prejudices, and Partialities. His Views should be large enough to comprehend the whole System of the Government and the Army, that he may accommodate his Plans and Measures to the best good, and the essential Movements of those great Machines. His Benevolence and Humanity, his Decency, Politeness and Civility, Should ever predominate in his Breast. He should be possessed of a certain masterly, order, Method, and Decision, Superiour to all Perplexity, and Confusion in Business. There is in Such a Character, whenever and wherever it appears, a decisive Energy, which hurries away before it, all Difficulties, and leaves to the World of Mankind no Leisure, or opportunity to do any Thing towards it, but Admire, it.
There is nothing perhaps upon which the Character of a General So { 492 } much depends, as the Talent of Writing Letters. The Duty of a constant Correspondence with the Sovereign, whether King or Congress, is inseparable from a Commander in any Department, and the Faculty of placing every Thing, in the happiest Point of Light is as usefull as any, he can possess. I fear this is too much neglected by our young Gentlemen. I know it is by you, who can write but will not.
Geography is of great Importance to a General. Our Officers should be perfect Masters of American Geography. Nothing is less understood. Sensible of this, Since I have belonged to the Board of War I have endeavoured to perswade my Colleagues of its Importance and We are making a Collection of all the Maps, extant, whether of all America or any Part of it, to be hung up in the office, So that Gentlemen may know of one Place in America where they may Satisfy their Curiosity, or resolve any doubt. I should be obliged to you, if you would inquire at every Print sellers shop in New York, and of every Gentleman, curious in this Way concerning American Maps, in the Whole or Part and send me an Account of them. Mr. Hazard2 is as likely to know as any Man, in New York. I should never find an End of Scribbling to you, if I had nothing else to do.3 I am, yours &c.,
[signed] John Adams
RC (MHi: Tudor Papers); docketed: “Phila. Augt 24th. 1776”; LbC (Adams Papers).
1. Tudor referred to Maj. John Brooks. JA's friend was Rev. Edward Brooks (1734–1781), Harvard graduate, ardent whig, and, following his joining the U.S.S. Hancock in 1777, the first American navy chaplain (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 14:146–149). Brooks became the paternal grandfather of Abigail Brown Brooks, future wife of Charles Francis Adams (Adams Family Correspondence, 1:6, note 1).
2. Ebenezer Hazard (1744–1817), bookseller and postmaster of New York city, later surveyor general and postmaster general of the Continental post office (DAB). For a more particular account of the maps, see JA to AA, 13 Aug. (Adams Family Correspondence, 2:90–92).
3. This final sentence has more substance than is apparent from the RC. The LbC reveals that JA had meant to end the letter after discussing the Articles of War, where he made the notation: “Coll Tudor.” Two paragraphs later JA again tried to stop, writing, “I should never, find an End of Scribbling . . . I am,” and adding the notation: “Coll Tudor.” Then he added the paragraph on geography and maps and the final notation: “Sent. Aug. 24.”

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0232

Author: Lincoln, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-24

From Benjamin Lincoln

[salute] My dear Sir

Mrs. Adams mentioned to me last evening that you wanted to know the state of our forts, the number of men we have to support the lines and the number of cannon in the town and vicinity of Boston. She desired I would write upon those matters.1
{ 493 }
We have on Fort Hill in Boston a square fort about an hundred feet Curtin with four Bastions, a good ditch with pickets therein; a small fort at Charlestown point, near where the regular troops landed on that ever memorable day—June 17th. 1775; an oblong fort at Noddles Island with four bastions, the internal square 125 by 100 feet, fraised at the foot of the parapet; a small Hexagon on Governor's Island, with a block-house in the center of it, thrown up rather with design to keep possession of this height, than from any expectation we have of annoying the enemy therefrom; not finished; a square fort at Dorchester Point about 125 feet Curtin with a Redan in the center of each Curtin, fraised as that on Noddles Island; two small works are raising on Dorchester Heights, it is thought necessary to keep possession of these posts, which are considered as a key to the town of Boston.
Much time hath been spent in removing the ruins at Castle William, we are throwing up a line to encircle the whole height of the Island, within which a Citadel may be built. We have laid out, and are now erecting a fort on the east head of Long Island 180 by 90 feet, one bastion, in the center of the curtin fronting Ship Channel, two demi-bastions to clear the short curtins and a redan in the center of the curtin fronting Nantasket-Road. We have on the height of Hull, N.E. of the town, a pentagon with five bastions, sufficient to contain 1000 men. The parapets are nearly finished, the people are now employed in the ditch and glacis; also an out work at the north point of the town, next to the channel, open in the rear to the fort on the hill and will be commanded by it. In addition to these it will be necessary for us to raise a small redoubt on Point Alderton [Allerton], in order to keep possession of that height; should the Enemy possess themselves of it, they might greatly annoy us in our fort at Hull, and cut of[f] our communication by land with the main. It may be necessary also that a work of the same kind be thrown up on Pettix Island.
We suffer greatly for want of tents and are under the necessity of building barracks enough at the several posts to cover all the men necessary to be employed in the works, who are more than sufficient to garrison them when finished, or to transport them by water daily, which is at the expence of most of their time, for we have to conform to the winds, tide &c., &c.,
All the continental troops are ordered from this State, most of them have left it. We have two regiments in the pay of this State, one commanded by Col: Whitney, the other by Col: Marshall of Boston, there are about six hundred men in each of these, they want about one hundred men each to make up their complement. We have seven { 494 } companies of Artillery, fifty men in each, commanded by Col: Crafts, and we have four companies, called independents, they are from Braintree, Weymouth and Hingham and make about two hundred men in the whole.
Upon an application from Congress for the last 1500 men for the Nothern service, the Court ordered that every 25th. man in this State as well those born on the alarm list as those of the train-band should be drawn out and two regiments formed for the service aforesaid, beginning at the western line of this State and extending eastward so far as to complete the two regiments; the remainder were ordered to the lines at Boston.
On the removal of the continental troops the Council ordered, the General Court not then setting, another draught of every 25th. man born on both the lists as aforsaid to be made, formed into companies, and marched to Dorchester Heights, there to be formed into regiments; these are to serve on the continental establishment, and untill the first day of December next, six or eight hundred of those are in, the remainder are soon expected; there has been great delay. I imagine it hath not arisen from a backwardness in the people to man the lines, but from there being so many men already absent that they have been constrained to gather in their harvest. When the whole, which are ordered are collected, with the three regiments and four companies aforesaid, they will make about 4000 men round the harbor of Boston. Is not this a number far insufficient to make any tolerable stand, should we be attacked, considering the extent and number of our works, how difficult it will be to reinforce the garrisons on the Islands, or remove men from one of them to another, how greatly our Militia have been thinned, how many of them disarmed last winter when they left the continental service, and that the men in this town are most of them without arms? Sometime past by order of the Council an account of ordnance was taken, 321 pieces of cannon were found, good and bad, in and near Boston; since the return, the Court have ordered to the different parts of this State and on board the Vessels about 100. 85 have been claimed as private property and carried off including those that have failed in proving. We have now about 136 pieces in this town and at the several forts, 58 of them from 18 to 42 pounders; most of the remainder are quite small, the greatest part of whole are without trunnions, many of them have been stocked, and others that are worth doing will be finished in a short time. This mode of repairing them will undoubtedly answer our purpose.
Mr. Cushing wants 24 9 and 12 pounders for Capt. M'Niels Ship2 { 495 } 14 of them I suppose will be spared him. I am Sir with great regard & esteem your Honor's most obedt. humble Servt:
[signed] Benja: Lincoln
PS Cant we be supplied with some large Cannon from the Southward soon.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “General Lincoln Aut 24. 1776.”
1. See AA to JA, 25 Aug. and JA to AA, 4 Sept. (Adams Family Correspondence, 2:106–108, 117–118).
2. Capt. Hector McNeill was named on 15 June commander of the Continental frigate Boston (JCC, 5:444; see also Gardner Weld Allen, “Captain Hector McNeill, Continental Navy,” MHS, Procs., 55 [1921–1922]: 46–54, and accompanying documents, including McNeill's autobiography, p. 54–152).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0233

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Hawley, Joseph
Date: 1776-08-25

To Joseph Hawley

[salute] Dear Sir

It is So long Since I had the Pleasure of Writing to you, or the Honour of receiving a Letter from You, that I have forgotten, on which side the Ballance of the Account lies, at least which wrote the last letter.1 But Ceremonies of this Kind ought not to interrupt a free Communication of sentiments, in Times So critical and important as these.
We have been apt to flatter ourselves, with gay Prospects of Happiness to the People Prosperity to the State, and Glory to our Arms, from those free Kinds of Governments, which are to be erected in America.
And it is very true that no People ever had a finer opportunity to settle Things upon the best Foundations. But yet I fear that human Nature will be found to be the Same in America as it has been in Europe, and that the true Principles of Liberty will not be Sufficiently attended to.
Knowledge is among the most essential Foundations of Liberty. But is there not a Jealousy or an Envy taking Place among the Multitude of Men of Learning, and, a Wish to exclude them from the public Councils and from military Command? I could mention many Phenomena, in various Parts of these States, which indicate such a growing Disposition. To what Cause Shall I attribute the Surprizing Conduct of the Massachusetts Bay? How has it happened that such an illiterate Group of General and Field Officers, have been thrust into public View, by that Commonwealth which as it has an indisputable Superiority of Power to every other, in America as well as of Experience and Skill in War, ought to have set an Example to her sisters, by sending into the Field her best Men. Men of the most Genius Learn• { 496 } ing, Reflection, and Address. Instead of this, every Man you send into the Army as a General or a Collonell exhibits a Character, which nobody ever heard of before, or an aukward, illiterate, ill bred Man. Who is General Fellows? and who is General Brickett? Who is Coll. Holman, Cary, Smith?
This Conduct is Sinking the Character of the Province, into the lowest Contempt, and is injuring the service beyond description. Able Officers are the Soul of an Army. Good Officers will make good Soldiers, if you give them human Nature as a Material to work upon. But ignorant, unambitious, unfeeling unprincipled Officers, will make bad soldiers of the best Men in the World.
I am ashamed and grieved to my inmost Soul, for the disgrace brought upon the Massachusetts, in not having half its Proportion of General Officers. But there is not a Single Man among all our Collonells that I dare to recommend for a General Officer, except Knox and Porter, and these are So low down in the List, that it is dangerous promoting them over the Heads of so many. If this is the Effect of popular Elections it is but a poor Pangyrick, upon such Elections. I fear We shall find that popular Elections are not oftener determined, upon pure Principles of Merit, Virtue, and public Spirit, than the Nominations of a Court, if We dont take Care. I fear there is an infinity of Corruption in our Elections already crept in. All Kinds of Favour, Intrigue and Partiality in Elections are as real, Corruption in my Mind, as Treats and Bribes. A popular Government is the worse Curse, to which human Nature can be devoted when it is thoroughly corrupted. Despotism is better. A Sober, conscientious Habit, of electing for the public good alone must be introduced, and every Appearance of Interest, Favour, and Partiality, reprobated, or you will very soon make wise and honest Men wish for Monarchy again, nay you will make them introduce it into America.
There is another Particular, in which it is manifest that the Principles of Liberty have not sufficient Weight in Mens Minds, or are not well understood.
Equality of Representation in the Legislature, is a first Principle of Liberty, and the Moment, the least departure from such Equality takes Place, that Moment an Inroad is made upon Liberty. Yet this essential Principle is disregarded, in many Places, in several of these Republicks.2 Every County is to have an equal Voice altho some Counties are six times more numerous, and twelve times more wealthy. The Same Iniquity will be established in Congress. R.I. will have an equal Weight with the Mass. The Delaware Government with Pensil• { 497 } vania and Georgia with Virginia. Thus We are sowing the Seeds of Ignorance Corruption, and Injustice, in the fairest Field of Liberty, that ever appeared upon Earth, even in the first Attempts to cultivate it. You and I have very little to hope or expect for ourselves. But it is a poor Consolation, under the Cares of a whole Life Spent in the Vindication of the Principles of Liberty, to See them violated, in the first formation of Governments, erected by the People themselves on their own Authority, without the poisonous Interposition of Kings or Priests. I am with great Affection your Friend & Sert.
1. JA had last written Hawley on 25 Nov. 1775, and Hawley had replied on 18 Dec. (both above).
2. At the time JA wrote, New Jersey and Virginia had completed constitutions that gave equal representation to counties. Maryland had begun its deliberations, but JA could not have known that it too would provide for such equal representation (Thorpe, Federal and State Constitutions, 5:2595; 7:3815–3816; 3:1691).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0234

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Knox, Henry
Date: 1776-08-25

To Henry Knox

[salute] Dear Sir

Your Favour of the 21. is before me. I agree that We ought to have an hundred more of Mortars, Howitzers, and Field Pieces, And if I knew where to procure the Brass, I should be glad to promote the Manufacture of that Number. You Say that Copper can be purchased at a little advanced Price. I wish I knew, where, and at what Price. We have contracted with a Gentleman in Maryland, for a large Quantity of Iron Cannon.1
Able Officers, are the Soul of an Army. Gentlemen of Sense, and Knowledge, as well as valour, must be advanced. I wish you would give me in Confidence a List of the best Officers from the Massachusetts, with their Characters. This may be delicate, but it will be safe. Pray write me the Characters of Coll. Shepherd, Coll. Henshaw, and Major Brooks. Does Austin merit Promotion, or not? I am much distressed for Want of a List of all the Massachusetts Officers, in their Ranks, as they now Stand. I have Sought it, a long time but never could obtain it. Will you favour me with one. I am determined to find out the Characters of our Officers, by Some means or other. If a Second Battallion of Artillery, is formed, who are the Officers, of it? Would not Austin make a good Lt. Coll. of Artillery? Pray give me, your Sentiments frankly, and candidly, We have been delicate too long. Our Country, is too much interested, in this Subject. Men of Genius and Spirit, must be promoted, wherever they are. If you have { 498 } no Lt. Coll., who shall We put in that Place? I wish Austin was in the Artillery, because I know him to have a Capacity equal to any Thing,2 and I conjecture he would turn his Thoughts to those Sciences, which an Officer of Artillery ought to be Master of.
I am a constant Advocate for a regular Army, and the most masterly Discipline, because, I know, that without these We cannot reasonably hope to be a powerfull, a prosperous, or a free People, and therefore, I have been constantly labouring to obtain an handsome Encouragement for inlisting a permanent Body of Troops. But have not as yet prevailed, and indeed, I despair of ever Succeeding, unless the General, and the Officers from the Southward, Should convince Gentlemen here; or unless two or three horrid Defeats, Should bring a more melancholly Conviction, which I expect and believe will one day, or other be the Case.3 I am, your humble Servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (MHi: Knox Papers); LbC (Adams Papers).
1. Probably a reference to a contract made with Daniel and Samuel Hughes of Frederick, Md., on or about 19 July 1776 (JCC, 4:55–56, note 2; 5:593, 599).
2. LbC originally had “Genius capable of any Thing,” the phrase in the RC being interlined.
3. Knox replied to JA on 25 Sept. (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0235

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Palmer, Joseph
Date: 1776-08-27

To Joseph Palmer

[salute] Dear sir

Your Favour of July 1. ought not to have lain by me, so long unanswered. But the old Apology of Multiplicity of Avocations is Threadbare.
You Say you have been obliged to attend much upon the Fortifications. I am glad of it. I wish I could obtain Information what Fortifications have been erected, on the Islands in the Harbour, and on the Eminencies round it, of what Kind those Fortifications are, what Number of Cannon are mounted on them, what Number of Men are appointed to garrison them, and who are their Officers. I am afraid that Boston Harbour is not yet impregnable. If it is not, it ought to be made so. Boston has not grown into favour with King George, Lord North or General Howe. It is no peculiar Spight against N. York, which has induced the Fleet and Army to invade it. It is no peculiar Friendship, Favour, or Partiality to Boston, which has induced them to leave it. Be upon your Guard. Hesitate at no Expence, no Toil, to fortify that Harbour against all its Enemies. You ought to suppose the whole British Empire to be your Enemy, and prepare your plans against its Malice and Revenge. How's Army must have Winter Quarters Some• { 499 } where, and will at all Hazards. They may try at Boston—there they lost their Honour. There they would fain regain it, if they could.
They have a hard Bone to pick, at N. York, according to present appearances. They are creeping on. Moments are now of Importance. They are landed on Long Island.1 If they attack our Forts in Columns they may carry them, but, if We do our Duty, they will loose the Worth of them in Blood. A few days will disclose more of their Designs.
The Bearer, Mr. Hare, is a Brother of the celebrated Porter Brewer of this City.2 He wants to see the World. He means and will do no Harm. If you can show him, any Part of the Curiosities of our Countries, you will oblige him, and me, your worn out Friend and Servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (NNPM); docketed: “J Adams Esqr. [ . . . ] 1776.”
1. On 22 Aug. 15,000 British troops landed at Gravesend (Johnston, Campaign around New York and Brooklyn, p. 138–141).
2. Robert Hare (1752–1812) became a prominent Philadelphia merchant, but the name of his brother has not been ascertained (PMHB, 4:177; 24:387; JA to Samuel Cooper, 4 Sept., Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0236

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-28

From Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

The Bearer Mr. Measam was a Merchant of good Reputation at Montreal; but having engag'd warmly in the American Cause, has been oblig'd to abandon that Country, to the great Detriment of his Affairs. He was appointed by Gen. Wooster a Commissary of Stores there; and apprehending Such an Officer to be at this time necessary in our Northern Army, he has apply'd to Congress for a Continuance in that Office. I understand that his Memorial is referred to the Board of War. As I have had occasion to know Mr. Measam as a good Accomptant, a Man of Method, and very correct in Business, I cannot but think that if such an Officer is wanting, he is extremely well qualify'd for the Employ; and as such beg leave to recommend him to the Favour of the Board.1 With great Respect, I have the Honour to be Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant
[signed] B. Franklin
RC (PCC, No. 42, V, f. 23, 26); addressed: “Honourable John Adams, Esqr”; docketed: “Dr Franklins Letter concerning Mr Measam.”
1. The effect of this letter, which appears in the PCC between George Measam's nearly identical petitions dated 2 and 25 Aug. (f. 19–22, 27–30), is unknown. The Board of War, to which the petitions were referred, recommended on 27 Aug., however, that the question of compensation be sent to the Treasury Board and on 29 Aug. that Measam “be continued in the office of superinten• { 500 } dent, commissary of stores, except artillery stores, for the northern army” (JCC, 5:636, 700, 706, 717). On 16 Oct. Measam was elected commissary of clothing for the Northern Army (same, 6:880).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0237

Author: Smith, Jonathan Bayard
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-28

From Jonathan Bayard Smith

[salute] Respectd Sir

As I1 find that Mr. Christopher Ludwig2 is about setting off for Philadelphia in the morning, I think it a duty I owe to trouble you with a line or two by him. The troops have complaind much of their provisions, the bread in particular; tho' they may have exaggerated matters in some instances, yet they have not been without good grounds in others. And I am glad that, by ingaging Mr. Ludwig to deliver this to you with his own hands, I have an opportunity of procuring you the fullest information concerning an article of the utmost consequence in our camps. That he is disinterested, except for the public good I am fully confident. If he has any ambition I believe it is to be found, and known to be, in serving the public. That he is very able his neighbors in the City have long known, and I believe this Camp will fully testify. Indeed the alterations here in the article of bread is truely great. It is not surprizing that every circumstance does not meet the particular attention which it possibly may deserve as the different objects are so many and so novel, but I dare say you'd think this of bread to be very essential. An instance was yesterday afforded of its importance; for it was intirely accidental, as the Commissary told me himself, that the troops, ordered to proceed, were provided from Trenton.
The accounts from Long Island you'd receive more authentic, and more early than we have it in our power to give you. I have the pleasure to be with the greatest esteem & regard, very gratefully Dr Sir Yr. m. ob. h. st
[signed] Jona. B Smith
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honble Mr. Adams Philadelphia”; docketed: “Mr Jona. B. Smith Aut 28. 1776.”
1. Smith (1742–1812), Princeton graduate, officer in the Associators, and later member of the Continental Congress, had been named mustermaster general of the Flying Camp on 9 July (DAB; JCC, 5:529).
2. Christopher Ludwick (1720–1801), a native of Hesse-Darmstadt, came as a baker to Philadelphia in 1754. In the summer of 1776 he volunteered, refusing either pay or rations, for service with the Flying Camp and while there went into the Hessian camp in disguise in an effort to encourage Hessian troops to desert, an endeavor that met with some success. In 1777 he was made superintendent of bakers, a position that brought him the honorary title of “Baker General” (DAB; JCC, 7:323).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/