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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 5

Docno: ADMS-06-05-02-0160

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress, Board of War
Date: 1777-08-15

Board of War Resolutions

Resolved that a Copy of that Part of Coll Richardson's Letter1 which relates to Thomas Cockayne and George Walton and Thos Lightfoot2 of Sussex County in the State of Delaware be transmitted to <Governor> President McInlay,3 and that <the Governor><Presidt> he be desired forthwith to take order for the Apprehension and Confinement of the said Cockayne and Walton, and Lightfoot and that Coll Richardson be ordered to afford every assistance in his Power to <Governor> President McInlay and the officers whom he shall employ in this necessary Service.4
Resolved that Peter and Burton Robinson be remanded to the Delaware State, whenever <Governor> Presidt McInlay shall order or request it.5
MS in JA's hand (PCC, No. 147, I, f. 345).
1. Col. William Richardson of the 5th Maryland Regiment had been ordered from his state into Delaware as a result of the congress' receiving information about disaffection in Delaware's Sussex co. In a letter of 9 Aug. to the Board of War, Richardson reported that one of his officers had seized a sloop from New York with papers on board revealing correspondence between men unfriendly to the United States setting forth an apparent intention to distribute 199 allegedly counterfeit Continental bills of the $30 denomination. Among the seized papers were letters from a Thomas Robinson to his brother Burton, mentioning another brother Peter, and to George Walton, Thomas' sentiments being plainly anti-American. There was also a letter from Walter Franklin of New York to his agent Thomas Cockayne, both men Quakers, instructing the agent to purchase lands from one George Adams. Cockayne was seized with the counterfeit bills in his possession. Although nothing in Franklin's letter suggests that the bills were fraudulent, the fact that they were all of one denomination may have aroused suspicion. According to Richardson, Thomas Lightfoot received and furnished the bills to Cockayne. Richardson, believing that Peter and Burton Robinson could get no proper trial in tory-infected Sussex co., packed the two men off to the congress for its disposition of them (JCC, 8:528–531; PCC, No. 78, XIX, f. 143–160).
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2. “And Thomas Lightfoot” was inserted above the line in a hand unknown to the editors. The same hand substituted in both resolutions the term “president” for “governor.”
3. President John McKinly had been chosen by the General Assembly in Feb. 1777 (John A. Munroe, Federalist Delaware, 1775–1815, New Brunswick, N.J., 1954, p. 91).
4. Preceding this resolution in the Journals is one that called for sending Richardson's letter to the Executive Council of Pennsylvania and suggesting that the council have Lightfoot arrested. In response, the council pointed out that Lightfoot was not a resident of Pennsylvania (JCC, 8:643; Penna. Colonial Records, 11:269). It is likely that Lightfoot's name was written into JA's draft when the response of the council became known; it acted on the day the congress passed its resolutions—15 Aug.
5. Preceding this resolution in the Journals is one drafted by Samuel Chase which would have remanded the Robinsons to Delaware at once. When it failed to pass, JA's resolution was offered as a substitute. Another resolution noting the prevalence of tories in Sussex co. and permitting the trial of such persons in any other county failed to pass (PCC, No. 147, I, f. 346; JCC, 8:643–644).

Docno: ADMS-06-05-02-0161

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1777-08-18

To James Warren

[salute] My dear sir

The inclosed Copies, you will see must not be made public.1 You will communicate them in Confidence to such Friends as have Discretion. When you have made such prudent Use of them as you shall judge proper, be pleased to send them to the Foot of Pens Hill, because I have no other Copies and should be glad to preserve them.
It is in vain for me to write any Thing of the Northern Department, because you have all the Intelligence from thence, sooner than We have. The G[eneral] W[ashington] has ordered Morgans Riflemen and two or three more Regiments there. There has been a smart Action near Fort Schuyler, in which, our People were successfull, but with a severe Loss.2
I hope, the Mass. will exert itself now, for the support of Gates and the Humiliation of the blustering Burgoine. It is of vast Importance to our Cause that the Mass. should be exemplary upon this Occasion.
Howes Fleet and Army, are still incognito. When or where We shall hear of them, know not.
We are in deep Contemplation upon the state of our Currency. We shall promise Payment in the Loan offices of the Interest in Bills of Exchange on our Ministers in France.3 But Taxation My dear sir, Taxation, and Oeconomy, are our only effectual Resources. The People this Way are convinced of it and are setting about it with spirit.
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RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “Mr J Adams. Lettr Augt 77.”
1. See Intelligence from London, 31 Jan., descriptive note (above).
2. The Battle of Oriskany of 6 Aug., in which New York militiamen under Gen. Nicholas Herkimer were ambushed by tories and Indians as they were marching to the support of the garrison at Fort Schuyler (Stanwix), on the present site of Rome, N.Y. The Indians gave up after hard fighting, but in proportion to the numbers engaged, American losses made this one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolution. Herkimer died a few days after the fighting (Ward, War of the Revolution, 2:484–488, 491). JA gained his information about the battle from letters read in the congress, two from Schuyler of 8 and 10 Aug. and one from Gov. Clinton of 13 Aug., which Washington had copied and forwarded (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 9:75; JCC, 8:647, 649–650; PCC, No. 153, III, f. 234–235, 242–243; No. 152, IV, f. 497–498).
3. A letter of 12 March – 9 April from the commissioners in France first made mention of paying interest on loans through bills drawn on them. The loan of two million livres made such payment possible (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:284, 286). On 9 Sept. JA was part of a small minority that opposed such payment of interest on loan certificates yet to be issued; the next day he favored using bills of exchange to pay interest on loan certificates already authorized (JCC, 8:725, 730).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.