Papers of John Adams, volume 1

Editorial Note

II. Humphrey Ploughjogger to Philanthrop

I. To J Philanthrop, 9 December 1766 JA Sewall, Jonathan Philanthrop


I. To J Philanthrop, 9 December 1766 Adams, John Sewall, Jonathan Philanthrop
I. To J Philanthrop
ante 9 December 1766 1
To J Phylanthrop

I confess I was in Hopes, that after the Repeal of the ever memorable Stamp Act, The People of this Province would have had a little Respite from the Teasings of that restless grasping turbulent Crew of Villains who have been for many Years past planning their Destruction.—This infamous set of Banditti, in the Course of the glorious 177Struggles of America for her Freedom received So many Mortifications and Disappointments, that for my own Part I felt myself much disposed to commisserate their Distresses, and to let them all sink into a peaceful and perpetual oblivion.—But it seems they now think themselves out of Danger, that the people are settling into Tranquility, and are grown innatentive to their Machinations, and that they may now set about their old Work, of fretting, teasing, lying, vapouring, and deceiving. And for these purposes they have hired their old Trumpeter J. Philanthrop, to start forth. A Champion, forsooth for Truth, Peace, order, Justice, and Civility the supporter of good Government, and the Vindicator of injured Innocence! And is it not very modest in this Author, to begin, with so many pious Lamentations about Party Spirit, Political Jealousies, undue Prejudices &c and to declaim so warmly against, throwing Dirt at respectable Characters, when he begins his Lucubrations with his venemos Bilingsgate upon a Character than which there is none more respectable in this Province,2 and with black malicious, impudent slander upon a Paper,3 without which the People of this Province, would have been ruind and enslaved by his Friends Patrons, Masters and Clients before they would have known or suspected their Danger. This is the very fellow, who but a few years ago, drew the Characters of Bluster, Thwackum, Gamut, Adjutant Trowel, Justice Gripe and Captn. Bluff4 —nay the very Rascall who drew the Character of the reverend Chaplain to the Junto, in which he bespatered with Dirt and Filth falsely and maliciously slanderd one of the politest Gentlemen, accomplished Scholars, and able Divines upon this Continent,5 with unparrallelled Virulence and Effrontery. A Gentleman to whom that very Rascall was under particular and very strong obligations for his Friendship and Charity to him in his needy Circumstances.

I have no more to say at present, but that I know you perfectly well, I know your Name, Character Descent Circumstances, Alliances, your Patrons, Prompters, Views, Temper and Designs,—further I know every syllable you have Scribbled from the first of your Productions which contained the Character of Bluster to the last of them, which appeard in last Mondays Ev. Post, and that unless you desist I will develop the whole black scene—and will expose the whole Faction and all their Views and Designs, from the Time they raised the villanous Clamour against Govr. Pownal6 to this Time that they are endeavouring to preserve, another Govr. of a very different and much worse Character.


MS (Adams Papers); microfilmed as part of a 27-page cluster of MSS under the date Aug. – Sept. 1763 and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles, signed U. 1763” (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 343); but for its actual provenance and date, see Editorial Note, above, and note 1, below.


The fact that specific references to Philanthrop's words are all to those found in the first of his letters, published in the Boston Evening-Post, 1 Dec. 1766, and that JA refers to “last Mondays Ev. Post” means that this letter had to have been written before 9 Dec.


James Otis Jr., whom Philanthrop referred to as “Tertullus haranguing in the Senate” (Boston Evening-Post, 1 Dec. 1766).


The Boston Gazette, which Philanthrop alluded to as “the dirty channel” of popular criticism of Bernard (same).


Nicknames used by Jonathan Sewall in his “J” series of letters published in the Post in 1763 (Editorial Note, 3 March – 5 Sept. 1763, above).


Samuel Cooper (1725–1783), pastor at the Brattle Street church (1746–1783) and ardent whig, “became the moral validation of the policies of the Whigs” (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 11:197). It was his father, William Cooper, however, who helped Sewall financially (same, 12:306).


Thomas Pownall, successor to William Shirley, was Governor of Massachusetts, 1757–1759 ( DNB ).