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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 5

Docno: ADMS-06-05-02-0017

Author: Warren, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-19

From James Warren

[salute] My dear Sir

I wrote you in my last1 that we were about raising every fifth Man of our Alarm and Train Band List2 to go to the Aid of the Army at New York. Except from some remote Counties and Seaport Towns. We have now Concluded that Business. The orders are gone out and they are now Executeing, only one Regiment of them are to be taken to go to Rhode Island. That there should be no failure in this Business we were last Night Adjourned to the 9th. of Octr. that every Member might go into his Town, and give his Assistance to Spirit and Encourage the Men. The House Chose Me as A Major General to Lead this Detachment but I thought I could not at this time support the fatigue. They Excused me and Chose Lincoln. We have in the Course of this Session which has been Unusually Short Attended as much as we could to the Capital Articles of Manufacturing Cannon, small Arms, saltpetre, Lead &c. and laid An Embargo on the Exportation of Lumber even from one port to Another till the first of Nov. least it should fall into the Enemys hands and furnish them Materials for Winter Quarters.
I Received yours of the 4th Instant by Mr. Hare but have not had an opportunity of seeing him, and am now Just seting out for Home. If he tarrys till I return shall take Care to see him. We have not yet made an Addition to our Delegates.3 No Body seems to be against it. Many are Indifferent about it, and those that wish to have it done, are at a loss where to find the men. So it is procrastinated and left to the next setting. I can easily Conceive this is such A Juncture as you would not like to leave Philadelphia. I hope such Physicians as we most depend on wont leave us at this time. Tho' I am Anxiously Concerned for your Health, I could wish to have you stay A little longer. I have A great Curiosity to know what the Message Carried by Sullivan was. We have had reports that Congress had Chose A Committee to treat with Ld. and Genl. Howe and tho' we liked the Committee you being one of them we did not Approve the Measure and it has made more sober Faces than the Advantages gained by our Enemies at Long Island &c. My Company are ready to set out and I must Conclude Your Friend &c.
I shall Call on Mrs. Adams this day.
{ 34 }
1. The last letter from Warren known to the editors is that of 11 Aug., too early to contain news of Massachusetts' sending one-fifth of its militia to New York. That letter does, however, mention the draft of one twenty-fifth of the militia (vol. 4:445). Either Warren is confused, or a later letter written by him is missing.
2. By law the train band consisted of all able-bodied men, with stated exceptions, between 16 and 50 years old, who were to be mustered regularly for training. The alarm list had fewer exceptions and included men between 16 and 65; they were called out only in response to an alarm (Mass., Province Laws, 5:445, 449–451).
3. On 25 July, JA had proposed that the size of the delegation be increased to nine with rotation of service among the members (vol. 4:411–412).

Docno: ADMS-06-05-02-0018

Author: Sullivan, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-22

From James Sullivan

[salute] Dear Sir

Since I received your favour of the 27th of May1 on the Subject of Representation I have heard of a Letter being in the post office in Boston for me which I flattered myself was from you in reply to my answer to yrs above mentioned2 but some body has taken that with one other out of the office and embezzled them.
In my answer to yours of the 27th of May I let you know that I was convinced, that as the qualification of Voters was the first Step from a State of Nature to civil Government it would probably be of dangerous tendency to attempt an Alteration but there is a large Committee out on the Subject and I have no doubt but they will alter the qualification of Voters.
You have doubtless had the intelligence of our sending one 5th part of our Militia under the command of General Lincoln to reinforce General Washington. I wish they may not be too late. We have been a long Time lulled with the Story of a Conferrence3 but are now awakened by the loss of New York which we apprehend is a Most Alarming Stroke. It is said that the Enemy may send their largest Ships up N River4 near Sixty Miles—that General Washington has nothing to build Barracks with—and many reports of that kind—and what is worse than all—that our Army retired from N York in the greatest confusion some throwing away their Arms &c. Surely Sir if this is the State of their Minds we have but Little to hope and our Enemies but Little to fear.
The Capture of General Sullivan is the Most disagreeable circumstance I have met with in my whole Life. I am extreemly anxious about him,5 had he died in Battle then I should have done with him but the Idea of his Captivation has ever been dis• { 35 } agreeable to me. And since I have been here it is reported that though he has been to the Congress with proposals of exchange he is not in any probable way to be released, this Suggest to me something unfavourable to his Character and has affected my nerves so that I am Scarcely capable of writing. Pray rob the World of one moment and write me plainly on this matter and either by confirming or dispelling my fears give me a moments rest.
The Superior Court Sat at Braintree on the 2d Teusday of Sepr. and had the honour of dining with your Lady. At this Court the privateer Company of Philadelphia Moore Mercer and others had a prize Tried.6 The opinion of the Court was for discharging a part of her but the jury did not agree and the Cause is continued. I understand that the Captors are Much disatisfied with the Court. It seems she was taken on the 12th May brot in the 16th of June and Libelled the 22d part British part West India and part Spanish property. The Spanish property was in money. The Captors urged that on the Day of Lexington Battle there was a War begun between Britain and America that each Individual in Either State had a Right from that Time to Seize the property of any Individual of or Subject to the other State whereby the property of the West Indians became Liable to Seizure by Americans—that the Resolve of the 24th of July7 for extending that of the 24th of April to Seizure of West Indian property had a Retrospect and that it Justified the taking this Ship on the 12th of May. The Court was not of that opinion. Why the Captors did not withdraw their Libel and make a new Seizure and declare de novo on that I Cannot tell but that might have healed the difficulty at once. I trouble you with this that the Congress or Pensilvanians may not Suppose that Massachusetts is unwilling to Condemn prizes but I should wish the world to know that we will not pervert Justice on any account. I am Dr Sir with the greatest Esteem & Respect Your Most obedient Humble Servan
[signed] Ja Sullivan
PS Should write a line please to direct for me at Watertown.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “J. Sullivan Sept 22. 1776.”
1. Sullivan wrote a 7 over the 2; actually JA's letter was dated the 26th (vol. 4:208).
2. Not found.
3. The first news of the Howe peace commission had arrived in March 1776 (vol. 4:46, note 2).
4. North River.
5. Gen. Sullivan was James Sullivan's elder brother.
6. Probably the Reynolds, taken by two Pennsylvania privateers, the Congress and the Chance, working in concert. The prize { 36 } was taken to Massachusetts (Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 5:154–155, 428).
7. On the broadening of the right of American privateers to seize enemy vessels, see vol. 4:240, note 4. Sullivan erred in referring to the resolve of 24 April. The congress passed the original resolve on 3 April (JCC, 4:253).
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.