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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0117-0016

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Calkoen, Hendrik
Date: 1780-10-26

15. To Hendrik Calkoen

Letter 15th.

[salute] Sir

Your fifteenth Quaere is “Does not the English Army, lay out its Pay, in America? at how much can the Yearly benefit be calculated? Are not the Prisoners, provided for in America? Who has the Care of their Maintenance? How was Burgoines Army supplied?”

When the English Army, was in Boston, they bought all that they could, and left considerable Sums there in silver and Gold. So they did at Rhode Island. Since they have been in New York, they have purchased every Thing they could of Provisions and Fuel, on Long Island, staten Island, New York Island, and in those Parts of the states of New York and New Jersey where they have been able to carry on any clandestine Trafick.
When they were in Philadelphia, they did the Same, and General How tells you, that he suspects that General Washington from Political Motives connived at the Peoples supplying Philadelphia, in order essentially to serve his Country, by insinuating into it, large { 239 } sums of silver and Gold.1 They are doing the Same now, more or less in South Carolina and Georgia, and they cant go into any Part of America, without doing the Same.
The British Prisoners, in the Hands of the Americans, receive their Cloathing chiefly from the English, and Flaggs of Truce are permitted to come out from their Lines, for this Purpose. They receive their Pay also from their Master, and Spend the most of it where they are. They also purchase Provisions in the Country and pay for it in hard Money.
I am not able to ascertain exactly the Yearly Benefit, but it must be considerable, and the Addition now of a French Fleet and Army, to supply will make a great Addition of Cash and Bills of Exchange, which will facilitate Commerce and Privateering.
And the more Troops and ships Great Britain and France send to America the greater will this Resource, necessarily be to the Americans.
I have the Honour to be &c.
[signed] John Adams
1. Howe, Narrative, p. 43.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0117-0017

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Calkoen, Hendrik
Date: 1780-10-26

16. To Hendrik Calkoen

Letter 16

[salute] Sir

The Sixteenth, Inquiry is, “Who looses most by desertion? Do the English and German Deserters, Serve voluntarily and well in the American Army? How, can those who do not enter into the Army subsist?”

These Questions, I answer with great Pleasure. There has been, from the Beginning of the War to this day, Scarcely an Example of a native Americans deserting from the Army to the English. There have been in the American Army Some Scattering Scotch, Irish, and german soldiers, Some of these have deserted but never in great Numbers. And among the Prisoners they have taken it is astonishing how few they have ever been able to perswade, by all their Flatteries, Threatnings, Promisses and even Cruelties to enlist into their Service.
The Number of Deserters from them, has been all along Consid• { 240 } | view erably more. Congress have generally prohibited their officers from inlisting Deserters. For some particular services Permission has been given, and they have served well.
Those who do not inlist, into the Army, have no Difficulty to subsist. Those of them who have any Trades, as Weavers, Tailors, Smiths, shoemakers, Tanners, Curriers, Carpenters, Bricklayers, in short any trade whatsoever, enter immediately into better Business than they ever had in Europe, where they gain a better subsistance and more Money, because Tradesmen of all denomination are now much wanted. Those who have no Trade, if they are capable of any Kind of Labour, are immediately employed, in Agriculture &c., labour being much wanted and very dear.
I am not able to tell the precise Numbers that have deserted, but if an hundred thousand were to desert they would find no difficulty in Point of subsistence or Employment, if they can and will work.
Sir yours
[signed] John Adams
Dft (Adams Papers); notation: “Letter 16.”
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.