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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 5

Docno: ADMS-06-05-02-0038

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1777-01-31

Intelligence from London

[salute] Dr Sir

I flatter myself with the Pleasure of hearing from you Soon, and in the mean Time, I wish to convey to you a Piece of important Secret Intelligence, relative to the Situation of this Court with Spain and which I procured in Such a Way, as I gave my Honour I would not repeat it to any one, on this Side of the Water. During the latter Part of the Administration of Lord Dartmouth1 a Scheme was formed, for establishing a Colony on the Lands of the Musquito Indians, and Seven or Eight of that Tribe came hither, and gave Assurance that they would Sell a Part of their Territory to the English.2 Dr. Ervin and Captn. Blair, were the Persons, who undertook to carry the Project into Execution, and accordingly loaded a Vessell and Sailed with a Cargo of Goods, Implements of Husbandry, servants &c. to the Musquito shore. A legislative Council, and Justices of Peace were appointed from hence, for the Government of the Colony. The Spaniards were alarmed at the Settlement, and in Consequence Seized the Vessell and Cargo:3 and about Ten Weeks ago Captn. Blair came home to Seek Redress. Lord Weymouth,4 immediately Sent orders to the British Ambassadors at Madrid to demand the Restoration of the Vessell and Cargo. That Court peremptorily refused it, unless it was declared that Captn. Blair did not Act by Authority of the British Court. Lord Weymouth refuses to say so, and has told the Cabinet, he dare not do it (which will Account for his threatned Resignation, as was mentioned in one of my former Letters)5 altho it was a Plan adopted and carried into Execution before he came into Office, and therefore he alledges he is bound to protect and Support the Colony, { 73 } and more especially as the Musquito Indians disclaim all Subordination to the Court of Spain, and on the contrary upon the Arrival of each new Governor at Jamaica their King or Sachem, has for many Years made it an invariable Custom to go to that Island and pay a Sort of Homage to its Governor, as the Representative of the Crown of England. The Substance of the last answer from Spain was, that if the British Court made it a Serious Matter, the Court of Madrid was determined to do the Same. I shall not trouble you with any Observations upon this Intelligence. You will make your own Use of it. Lord Weymouth, I am assured will not flinch from it, as he considers himself in a very delicate situation.
The Indians in the above Letter returned in the Ship with Dr. Ervin and Capt. Blair to the Musquito shore. One of them was a Prince.
If I had two or three Aid de Camps and a secretary, as the great Men of the Age have, I would present you with a fairer Copy. But We small Folks are obliged to do our own Drudgery, and We have so much of it to do, that We must do it in Haste.6
MS copy in JA's hand (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “Letts from Londo Jany. & Feby. 77.” JA enclosed this and another piece of unsigned intelligence dated 3 Feb. (below) in his letter to James Warren of 18 Aug. (below).
1. Dartmouth resigned as Secretary of State for the American Colonies in Nov. 1775 (DNB).
2. English settlement along the eastern coast of Central America had begun in the early 17th century without government support. Seeking to exploit logwood and grow sugar cane, immigrants flowed there from Jamaica for some time without the knowledge of Spanish authorities and managed to ally themselves with the Sambo-Miskito Indians. One of the Indians who went to England was Prince George, later George II, king of the Sambo Indians. One of his reasons for going was to complain that Robert Hodgson, from 1763 superintendent of the coast, allowed Indians to be enslaved (Troy S. Floyd, The Anglo-Spanish Struggle for Mosquitia, [Albuquerque, N. Mex.], 1967, p. 17–19, 55–57, 125).
3. The Indians returned late in 1775 or early 1776 to Black River (in Honduras) on board the Morning Star with Dr. Charles Irving. He was to have responsibility for settling 700 English families in the Black River area, but first he had to obtain permission from the king of the Sambos and open the way for land grants. The Mosquito Shore or Coast was technically the eastern coast of Nicaragua, but the English used the term to cover part of the coast extending into Honduras. Spaniards received advance notice of the settlement scheme from Spain's ambassador to Britain and alerted Spanish outposts to be on their guard and to prevent the scheme if possible. The Morning Star was captured on 30 April 1776, just before it arrived at Black River. Discovering no colonists on board, Juan Antonio Gastehu, commanding the Spanish force, put Irving and the English crew on shore and took Prince George (later king) and his party to New Grenada, where they were offered gifts to wean them from the English. Then King George was allowed to return to his seat at Cabo Gracias a Dios at the mouth of the Wanks River (same, p. 125–126). Capt. Blair has not been identified.
4. Thomas Thynne (1734–1796), third viscount Weymouth and first marquis of { 74 } Bath, was Secretary of State for the Southern Department (DNB).
5. Not found.
6. The final paragraph, written at the top of a third page of four, may be JA's own addition.

Docno: ADMS-06-05-02-0039

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1777-02-03

To James Warren

[salute] Dear Sir

After a very tedious Journey, through the severist Weather, and over very bad Mountains, in one Part of it, and perfect Mortar, in the other Part,1 I am arrived in good Health, and Spirits at Baltimore.
Congress is Sitting, and by the best Information I can obtain from our Friends, are very well united and much more Spirited than ever.
The Recruiting Service goes on, as every Body tells me, from Boston to Baltimore, very well, and it is here said, in Virginia. I cannot Sufficiently express the Sense I have of the indispensible Importance that our State Should be the earliest and most exemplary in compleating our Quota.2
It may be depended upon, that our State is the Barometer At which every other Looks. If the <Spirit> Mercury rises, there, it will rise in every other Part of the Continent, if it falls there, it will fall every where.
By all that I can gather, the British Ministry, have Sollicited for Cossacks. The Success is doubtfull. But it is the opinion of a Man in England, whose Intelligence has heretofore proved extreamly exact, that the Ministry will be able to obtain near Twenty thousand Recruits in England Scotland and Ireland and Germany. If this Conjecture is right there is great Reason to Suppose that they will not Venture upon So dangerous a Step as that of procuring Siberians. Their late great Successes will in their opinion render them unnecessary.
But in all Events, it is our Wisdom, our Prudence our Policy our Cunning, our Duty, our every Thing to destroy, those who are now in America. They are compleatly in our Power and if We do not embrace the opportunity, We shall not only in dust and Ashes repent of our sloth, but it will be but Justice that We should Suffer the wretched Consequences of it. I am Sure, our brave New Englandmen can break the Force at Newport. And even the main Body at Brunswick May be imprisoned. But an Army is wanting. Dont let it be wanting long.
{ 75 }
Congress will do and have done what they can but if the States will not execute the Plans and Resolutions of Congress, what is to be expected?
New England, I find is now in higher Estimation than it has been. Our Troops, have behaved nobly, and turned the Fortune of the War.3 Pray let us keep up our Credit, as I am sure We can. Adieu, my dear Friend.
RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); addressed: “For The Hon. James Warren Esqr Speaker of the House Boston”; docketed: “Mr J A. Lettr Feby. 3. 1777.”
1. A list of the towns JA and his traveling companions passed through, giving the armies in the field a wide berth, is furnished in Adams Family Correspondence, 2:144–145, note 1.
2. In addition to the fifteen battalions expected from Massachusetts for the new army for 1777, the congress on 24 Dec. 1776 requested 2500 troops from Massachusetts, as well as troops from Connecticut and New Hampshire to reinforce Fort Ticonderoga (JCC, 5:762; 6:1038).
3. New England units participated effectively in the Battles of Trenton and Princeton (Johnston, Campaign around New York and Brooklyn, p. 289, 295).
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.