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John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776
sheet 31 of 53, February 1776

Simplicity of this motion: but was quite ready knew very well what to do with it. I rose from my Seat with great coolness and deliberation: So far from expressing or feeling any resentment, I really felt gay, though as it happened I preserved an unusual Gravity in my countenance and manAir, and said Mr. President I will second the Gentlemans Motion, and I recommend it to the Honourable Gentleman to second another, which I should make, vizt. that No Gentleman who holds any Office under the Old or present Government, should be admitted to vote on any such question, as they were interested Persons. The moment when this was pronounced, it flew like an Electric Stroke through every Countenance in the Room: for the Gentleman who made the Motion, held as high an Office under the old Government, as I did under the new, and many other Members present held Offices under the Royal Government. My Friends accordingly were delighted with my retaliation, and The Friends of my Antagonist were mortified at his Indiscretion in exposing himself to such a retort. Finding the house in a good disposition to hear me, I added I would go farther and chearfully consent to a Self denying Ordinance, that every Member of Congress before We proceeded to any question respecting Independence should take a solemn Oath never to accept or hold any Office of any kind in America, after the Revolution. Mr. Wythe of Virginia rose here and said Congress had no Right to exclude any of their Members from voting on these questions. Their constituents only had a right to restrain them. And that no Member had a right to take, nor Congress to prescribe any Engagement not to hold Offices after the Revolution or before. Again I replied that whether the Gentlemans Opinion was well or ill founded, I had only said that I was willing to consent to such an Arrangement. That I knew very well what these Things meant. They were personal Attacks upon me, and I was glad that at length they had been made publickly where I could defend myself. That I knew very well, that they had been made secretly, and circulated in Whispers not only in the City of Philadelphia and State of Pensilvania, but in the Neighbouring States particularly Maryland, and very probably in private Letters throughout

the Union. I now took the Opportunity to declare in Public, that it was very true, the unmerited and unsolicited, though unanimous good Will of the Council of Massachusetts had appointed me to an important Office, that of Chief Justice. That as this Office was a very conspicuous station and consequently a dangerous one, I had not dared to refuse it, because it was a Post of Danger, though by the Acceptance of it, I was obliged to relinquish another Office, meaning my Barristers Office which was more than four times so profitable. Thatit was a Sense of Duty, and a full conviction of an honest cause, and not any motives of Ambition or hopes of honor or profit which had drawn me into my present course. That I had seen enough already in the course of my own Experience, that to know that the American Cause was not the most promising road, to Profits, honours, Power or Pleasure. That on the Contrary a man must renounce all these and devote himself to labour, danger and death, and very possibly to disgrace and Infamy, before he was fit, in my judgment in the present State and future prospect of the Country, for a Seat in that Congress. This whole Sc ne was a Comedy to Charles Thompson whose countenance was in raptures all the time. When all was over he told me he had been highly delighted with it, because he had been witness to many of their Conversations in which they had endeavoured to excite and propagate Prejudices against me, on Account of my Office of Chief Justice. But he said I had cleared and explained the thing in such a manner that he would be bound I should never hear any more Reflections on that head. No more indeed were made in my presence, but the Party did not cease to abuse me in their secret Circles, on this Account as I was well informed.
Not long afterwards, hearing that the Supream Court in Massachusetts was organized and proceeding very well on the Business of their Circuits, I wrote my Resignation of the Office of Chief justice toCongre. the Council, very happy to get fairly rid of an Office that I knew to be burthensome, and whose Emoluments with my small fortune would not support my family.

The day on which Mr. Gerry and I took our Seats for this Year, sundry Letters from General Washington,General Schuyler, Governor Trumbull, with Papers enclosed were read, and referred to Mr. Chase, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Penn, Mr. Wythe and Mr. Rutledge.
sundry Letters from General Schuyler, General Wooster and General Arnold were read and referred with the Papers enclosed, to Mr. Wythe, Mr. J. Adams and Mr. Chase. On the same day Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole House, to take into Consideration the Report of the Committee on the regulations and Restrictions, under which the Ports should be opened after the first day of March next, and after some time spent thereon the President resumed the Chair and Mr. Ward reported that the Committee had taken into consideration the matter referred to them, but not having come to a resolution conclusion desired leave to sit again, which was granted for tomorrow.
Sundry other Letters from General Lee, General Schuyler and General Wooster were referred to the Committee to whom the Letters received Yesterday were referred. On the same day Congress took into Consideration the Report from the Committee of the whole house, and after debate resolved that it be recommitted. Resolved that Congress will tomorrow morning resolve itself into a Committee of the whole, to take into Consideration, the Propriety of Opening the Ports, and the Restrictions and regulations of Trade of these Colonies after the first of March next.
Agreable to the order of the day, the Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole, to take into consideration the Propriety of Opening the Ports &c. After some time spent Mr. Ward reported, that not having come to a conclusion, The Committee asked leave to sit again. Granted.
The Committee to whom the Letters from Generals Arnold, Wooster, Schuyler and Lee were referred brought in their report, which was agreed to in the several Resolutions detailed in page 67. and 68 of this Volume of the Journals.
Same day Resolved that Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Wythe and Mr. Sherman

be a Committee to prepare Instructions for the Committee appointed to go to Canada.
Resolved that Congress will on Tuesday next resolve itself into a Committee of the whole, to take into Consideration the Propriety of Opening the Ports &c.
This Measure of Opening the Ports, &c. laboured exceedingly, because it was considered as a bold step to Independence. Indeed I urged it expressly with that View and as connected with the Institutions of Government in all the States and a Declaration of National Independence. The Party against me had Art and Influence as yet, to evade, retard and delay every Motion that We made. Many Motions were made and argued at great Length and with great Spirit on both Sides, which are not to be found in the Journals. When Motions were made and debates ensued, in a Committee of the whole house, no record of them was made by the Secretary, unless the Motion prevailed and was reported to Congress and there adopted. This Arrangement was convenient for the Party in Opposition to Us, who by this means evaded the Appearance of any Subject on the Journals, of any Subject they disliked.
Congress attended an Oration in honour of General Montgomery, and the Officers and Soldiers who fell with him.
Means were contrived to elude the Committee of the whole House.
Two Letters from General Washington, were referred to the a Committee of the whole house. Accordingly Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole, and after some time, Mr. Ward reported that the Committee had come to no Conclusion, and Congress resolved that Tomorrow they would again resolve themselves into a Committee of the whole, to take into their farther consideration the Letters from General Washington.
Resolved that Congress will on Monday next resolve itself into a Committee of the whole, to take into Consideration the Letters from General Washington.
arrived, and a Letter from General Lee, was referred

Cite web page as: John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776, sheet 31 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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