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John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776
sheet 15 of 53, 1773 - 1774

many of them as he pleased. There stood the State Tryals on the Shelf which were full of them, of all sorts good and bad. I shewed him Seldens Works in which is a Treatise on Judicature in Parliament, and gave it him to read. That Judicature in Parliament was as ancient as common Law and as Parliament itself; that without this highAuthority Jurisdiction it was thought impossible to defend the Constitution against Princes and Nobles and great Ministers, who might commit high Crimes and Misdemeanors which no other Authority would be powerfull enough to prevent or punish. That our Constitution was a Miniature of the British: that the Charter had given Us every Power, jurisdiction and right which could within our Limits which could be claimed by the People or Government of England, with no other exceptions than those in the Charter expressed. We looked into the Charter together, and after a long conversation and a considerable Research he said he knew not how to get rid of it. In a Day or two another Lawyer in the House came to me, full of doubts and difficulties, He said he heard I had shown Major Hawley some Books relative to the Subject and desired to see them. I shewed them to him and made nearly the same comment upon them. It soon became the common Topick and research of the Bar. Major Hawley had a long Friendship for Judge Trowbridge and a high Opinion of his Knowledge of Law which was indeed extensive: he determined to converse with the judge upon the Subject, went to Cambridge on Saturday and staid with the Judge till monday. On this Visit he introduced this subject, and appealed to Lord Coke and Selden, as well as to the Charter, and advanced all the Arguments which occurred to him. The judge although he had renounced the Salary We may suppose was not much delighted with the Subject, on Account of his Brothers. He did however declare to the Major that he could not deny, that the Constitution had given the Power to the House of Representatives, the Charter was so full and express,

but that the Exercise of it, in this Case would be vain as the Council would undoubtedly acquit the judges even if they heard and tryed the Impeachment.Hawley was not so much concerned about that as he was to ascertain the Law. The first time I saw judge Trowbridge, he said to me, I see Mr. Adams you are determined to explore the Constitution and bring to Life all its dormant and latent Powers, in defence of your Liberties as you understand them. I answered I should be very happy if the Constitution could carry Us safely through all our difficulties without having recourse to higher Powers not written. The Members of the House,becoming becoming soon convinced that there was something for them to do, appointed a Committee to draw up Articles of Impeachment against the Chief Justice Oliver.Major Hawley who was one of this Committee, would do nothing without me, and insisted on bringing them to my house, to examine and discuss the Articles paragraph by Paragraph, which was readily consented to by the Committee. Several Evenings were spent in my Office, upon this Business, till very late at night. One Morning, meeting Ben. Gridley, he said to me Brother Adams you keep late Hours at your House: as I passed it last night long after midnight, I saw your Street door vomit forth a Crowd of Senators. The Articles when prepared were reported to the House of Representatives, adopted by them and sent up to the Council Board. The Council would do nothing and there they rested. The Friends of Administration thought they had obtained a Tryumph but they were mistaken. The Articles were printed in the Journals of the House and in the Newspapers, and the People meditated on them at their Leisure. When the Superiour Court came to sit in Boston, the Grand Jurors and Petit jurors as their names were called over refused to take the Oaths. When examined and demanded

their reasons for this extraordinary Conduct, they answered to a Man, that the Chief justice of that Court stood impeached of high Crimes and Misdemeanors, before his Majestys Council, and they would not sit as Jurors while that Accusation was depending.Att the Charlestown Court the jurors unanimously refused in the same manner: They did so at Worcester and all the other Counties. The Court never sat again untill a new one was appointed by the Council exercising the Powers of a Governor under the Charter after the Battle of Lexington on the .
, The General Court appointed Mr. Bowdoin and me to draw a State of the Claim of this Province to the Lands to the Westward of New York.Mr. Bowdoin left it wholly to me: and I spent all my Leisure time in the Fall, Winter and Spring in Collecting all the Evidence and Documents: I went to Mr. John Moffat, who had made a large Collection of Records, Pamphlets and Papers, and examined his Treasures: then to Dr. Samuel Mathers Library which descended to him from his Ancestors Dr. Increase Mather, and Dr. Cotton Mather who had been Agent of the Province: and then to the Balcony of Dr. Sewalls Church, where Mr. Prince had deposited the amplest Collection of Books, Pamphlets, Records and Manuscripts relative to this Country which I ever saw, and which as I presume ever was made, Mr. Prince having pursued thro his whole Life a plan which he began at Colledge. I spent much time in that elevated Situation, and found some things of Use in my Investigation, but I found a greater Gratification to my Curiosity, and cannot but lament that this invaluable Treasure was dispersed and ruined by the British Army, when they afterwards converted this venerable Temple into a Stable and a riding School. Having compleated my State of the Claim of the Province, and confuted the Pretensions of New York, I reported it to Mr. Bowdoin who after

taking Time to read it, for it was very long, told me, that he approved it, and thought it wanted no Addition or correction. He Accordingly reported it to the Senate where it was read and sent down to the House, where it was read again. Mr. Samuel Adams was then Clerk of the House, and in the Confusion which soon afterwards happened at Salem, when the Governor dissolved the General Court for choosing Members to go to Congress, he lost it. But several Years afterwards it was found, and delivered to the Agents for Massachusetts, who attended the Settlement of the dispute with New York. Mr. King has repeatedly told me, that without that Statement, none of them would have understood any Thing of the Subject, and the Claim would have been lost. The Decision was much less favourable to Massachusetts than it ought to have been, and the State have very unoeconomically alienated all the Land since that time for a very inadequate sum of Money. I wish they had first given me a Township of the Land. It would have been much more prudently disposed of than any of the rest of it was, and more justly. I never had any thing for my half Years service, not even Credit nor Thanks.
As I have written hitherto, wholly from my memory, without recurring to any Books or Papers, I am sensible I have made several Anachronisms, and particularly in some things immediately preceeding. It was I believe in1772 [i.e. Jan. 1773] that Governor Hutchinson, in an elaborate Speech to both Houses of Congress endeavoured to convince them, their Constituents and the World that Parliament was our Sovereign Legislature, and had a Right to make Laws for Us in all Cases whatsoever, to Lay Taxes on all things external and internal, on Land as well as on Trade. The House appointed a Committee to answer this Speech. An Answer was drawn prettily written, I never knew certainly by whom, whether Mr. Samuel Adams or Dr. Joseph Warren or both togetheror Dr. Church, or all three together. Major Hawley was pleased with the Composition but was not satisfied with all the Principles, nor with all the Reasoning.

Cite web page as: John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776, sheet 15 of 53 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
Original manuscript: Adams, John. John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776. Part 1 is comprised of 53 sheets and 1 insertion; 210 pages total. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
Source of transcription: Butterfield, L.H., ed. Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. Vol. 3. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1961.
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