Papers of John Adams, volume 2


To James Warren

vii Descriptive List of Illustrations Descriptive List of Illustrations
Descriptive List of Illustrations

[Note: for permissions reasons, not all illustrations from the letterpress volumes are available in this digital edition.]

James Warren, by John Singleton Copley, 1761–1763 4[unavailable]

James Warren (1726–1808) and his wife Mercy were good friends of the Adamses, the two men sharing political confidences and a joy in the countryside whenever they could escape from the heavy demands of officeholding. Their extant correspondence begins about the time of the Boston Tea Party in 1773, although they were certainly known to each other well before then. Warren was an ardent whig, democratic in manner and attitude.

Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Bequest of Winslow Warren.

Peter Oliver, by William Williams, 1781 12[unavailable]

Peter Oliver (1713–1791), Chief Justice of Massachusetts, was impeached by the House of Representatives in early 1774 because he was willing to accept his salary from the Crown. John Adams, although he was not a member of the House at the time, provided the legal underpinning for the bill of impeachment. When Gov. Thomas Hutchinson refused to preside at a Council meeting to hear the charges, thus thwarting the effort to get Oliver removed, jurors refused to participate whenever Oliver was on the bench, claiming his impeachment made him unfit. The closing of the courts in the province in protest against British measures caused Oliver to wait out events in Boston under the protection of British troops. When General Howe evacuated Boston in March 1776, Oliver went with the troops and loyalists to Nova Scotia. Within a few months he was in England (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 8:737–763).

The portrait painter, William Williams (1727–1791), an Englishman, went to Philadelphia at the age of twenty and spent over thirty years there. He returned to his homeland in 1780, where he painted Oliver. See Linda Ayres, Harvard Divided, Cambridge, 1976, p. 20–21. This publication is the catalogue of a Bicentennial exhibit at the University.

Courtesy of the Oliver Family.

The Able Doctor, or America Swallowing the Bitter Draught, by Paul Revere, 1774 89 [page] [image]

Revere's copy of an engraving in the London Magazine, 43: opposite p. 185 (April 1774), appeared in the Royal American Magazine for June 1774. The only change Revere made was to put a label on the teapot. Lord North, with the Port Act in his pocket, is pouring tea down America's throat, while Lord Mansfield, in judicial wig and robe, holds the victim down. America, typically represented as an Indian, spews the tea back into Lord North's viiiface. Lord Sandwich is holding America's ankles while he peers under her skirt, and Lord Bute, dressed in a kilt, stands by with a sword labeled “Military Law.” France and Spain, the two by-standers who are showing some concern, are identified by their dress. Behind America stands a sorrowing Britannia. On the horizon are the spires of a town designated “Boston cannonaded,” and in the foreground is a torn and obviously neglected petition (British Museum, Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires, ed. Mary Dorothy George, London, 1935, 5:No. 5226). John Adams expressed himself on the Port Act in a letter to William Woodfall, 14 May 1774, below.

Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Broadside, Boston Town Meeting, 17 June 1774 94 [page] [image]

Boston town meetings in the summer of 1774 were scenes of drama, for the town had to come to grips with the Intolerable Acts. The issue of what steps to take divided the town into those who wanted to support the economic boycott called for by the Boston Committee of Correspondence and those who wanted a more cautious and conciliatory approach. When an adjourned session gathered on 17 June, it had to choose a moderator because the usual one, Samuel Adams, was in Salem at the General Court. When the services of neither James Bowdoin nor John Rowe could be obtained, the citizens turned to John Adams, who readily accepted. The town voted to publish two of its key votes in a broadside. The prominence given to the name of the moderator indicates the esteem in which he was held and perhaps was meant to lend weight to the town's approval of the conduct of the Committee of Correspondence.

Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Thomas Gage, by John Singleton Copley, 1768–1769 97[unavailable]

Gen. Thomas Gage, who returned to Massachusetts in May 1774 as a replacement for Gov. Thomas Hutchinson, was certain to be the object of scorn and abuse, for he arrived after the passage of the Intolerable Acts. He had to oversee the implementation of the Port Act and the Massachusetts Government Act, as well as to command the hated royal troops. He was one of the few British generals who did not underestimate the military threat that the colonists posed, but his pleas to the British government for adequate reinforcements were unsuccessful. He sent the royal troops to Lexington and Concord and had to assume the responsibility for the fiasco of the British victory at Bunker Hill. Gen. William Howe replaced him in the fall of 1775. John Adams referred to Gage contemptuously as “Alva Gage,” recalling the savagery of the Spanish Duke of Alva, who in the sixteenth century repressed the Netherlanders (JA to James Burgh, 28 Dec. 1774, below).

Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, from their Collection.

The Rev. Samuel Cooper, by John Singleton Copley 115[unavailable]

Samuel Cooper (1725–1783), pastor of the Brattle Street Church from 1746 to his death, was a vigorous supporter of the whig cause ixand a friend of some of the leading patriots. In the early Revolutionary period John Adams thought so highly of him that in a letter to a budding attorney, he urged his former law clerk William Tudor to use Adams' pew when Adams was away, rather than continue to hear the sermons of Ebenezer Pemberton. “You will be seen by more People, and those of more Weight and Consequence, and this will be of no Disservice to you. Besides you will certainly be entertained more according to your Taste, and your Soul will be edifyed full as well” (JA to Tudor, 24 July 1774). Over the years Cooper and Adams exchanged a number of letters. The date of this portrait is uncertain, but is probably about the time of two other Cooper portraits, 1767–1771, listed by Jules David Prown, John Singleton Copley, 2 vols., Cambridge, 1966, 1:212.

Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

The Mitred Minuet, by Paul Revere, 1774 148 [page] [image]

Paul Revere's copy of an engraving in the London Magazine, 43: opposite p. 312 (July 1774), appeared in the Royal American Magazine for October 1774. Four bishops in full ecclesiastical dress dance cross-handed around a copy of the Quebec Act, while other bishops look on. To the left a man dressed as a Scottish bagpiper, representing Lord Bute, supplies music for the dance. Next to him stands Lord North. As he points approvingly at the dancers, a flying devil points at him. Next to North stands another man wearing a ribbon like that of North's. See British Museum, Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires, 5:No. 5228.

The original cartoon was accompanied by a short account of a vision, in which the writer attacked the bishops' approval of the Quebec Act and the “apostacy of the church.” Americans included the Quebec Act among the Intolerable Acts, seeing in it a threat to the Protestant religion. John Adams was one of those who wanted the Quebec Act among the grievances listed by the First Continental Congress.

Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Carpenters' Hall, North and Front Elevation, and Floor Plan, 1786 151[unavailable]

The First Continental Congress, of which John Adams was one of four members from Massachusetts, met in this brick building at the end of a court off Chestnut Street in Philadelphia during September and October 1774. This engraving of the hall and its floor plan was done for the rulebook of the Carpenters' Company, published by Hall and Sellers in 1786. According to architect Charles E. Peterson, the urns on the roof were never put in place, and the decorative doorway was not added until several years after 1786 and in somewhat modified form. The dotted lines in the floor plan indicate that the partitions were to be removed or had already been removed. Aside from these differences, the building looked as it had in Adams' day (“Carpenters' Hall, in Historic Philadelphia, xfrom the Founding until the Early Nineteenth Century,” Amer. Philos. Soc., Trans. , 43 [1953]: pt. 1).

Courtesy of the Carpenters' Company of Philadelphia.

The Bostonians in Distress, Attributed to Philip Dawe, 1774 202[unavailable]

This bizarre representation of the effect of the Port Act on Boston was published 19 November 1774 by R. Sayer and J. Bennett, map and print sellers of Fleet Street, London. It is one of a series attributed to mezzotint engraver Philip Dawe. It is also found in mirror-image form in a number of American collections.

Citizens of Boston, caged and hanging from the Liberty Tree, are being fed fish through the bars by three men in a boat. The British press had noted that fish had been sent to Boston by Marblehead, but the artist deliberately leaves blank his paper in the fish basket, which reads, “To —— from the Committee of ——.” He perhaps wished to suggest that supplies came from many different places in the colonies. The men in the boat are obviously workingmen. The one at the left wears the striped trousers and flat hat of a sailor, and the man in the middle wears the apron symbolic of a craftsman. Again, the artist shows his knowledge, for contributions did come from all sorts of humble people.

It is apparent from the bands he wears that the central figure in the cage is a minister. He holds in his hand a paper reading, “They cried unto the Lord in their Trouble and he saved them out of their Distress Psal cvii.13.” The men eat in ravenous fashion, and those waiting their turn have their mouths open, begging for food. Two are engaged in a struggle over who will have the fish that one holds with both hands. The punishment depicted was that meted out to slaves for capital crimes—starvation in a cage.

On the peninsula from which the tree grows, cannons are emplaced aimed at the tree and the cage, and in the background British troops drive off a flock of goats. On the water in the distance are four warships. See British Museum, Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires, 5:No. 5241.

John Adams served as a member of the Boston Ways and Means Committee, established to find sources of relief for the Boston poor and to receive donations that came from every direction. Letters from Virginia counties noting the shipment of grain were addressed to Samuel and John Adams, even though both were at the First Continental Congress. Adams was the only name in Massachusetts that these distant, but concerned, citizens knew.

Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society.

The Dissolution of Parliament, 1774 207 [page] [image]

This cartoon appeared as an engraving in the London Magazine, 43: opposite p. 464 (November 1774). It illustrated a lead article on the likelihood that the new Parliament would be as wretched as the last, which had been suddenly dissolved in September 1774. xiThe writer roundly criticizes the campaign speeches and the general corruption of the country. His pessimism was soon shared by John Adams, who punctured the optimism of his friend James Warren on this score (Warren to JA, 19 Dec. 1774; JA to Warren, 2 3 Jan. 1775, both below).

The engraving shows corrupt ministerial candidates riding in comfort in a coach labeled, “For the Corupted Boroughs.” Behind, honest patriots are jolted in an attached basket, on which is written, “We are honest though poor; or who would be jolted thus for his Country!” The driver exclaims, “I will not overset Ye, if Ye dont overset Yourselves.” On the roof, one of the riders shouts, “May the Patriots ride uppermost.” One of the bystanders, a double amputee with one of his wooden legs broken, curses, “Ah, rot such Members, my Members are better.” Others shout, “You have Starved me, and my Children”; “There they go, & the D——l go with them”; “What a litter they have left behind them.” The last refers to the litter of Parliamentary enactments in the street-general warrants, the Port Act, the Quebec Act, an enclosures bill, and so on. The lead horse, labeled “Galloping Liberty,” is going past the shop of John Wilkes, which advertises “Neat Post Chaises.” See British Museum, Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires, 5: No. 5236.

Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Daniel Leonard 218[unavailable]

John Adams said of Daniel Leonard (1740–1829) that he was one of “three of the most intimate Friends I ever had” whom Thomas Hutchinson had seduced away. An able lawyer from Taunton, Leonard had begun his career in the House of Representatives as a supporter of the whigs, but after the Tea Party he became ever more convinced that the whigs were leading the country to destruction. And he said so at length in his newspaper pieces signed Massachusettensis. His apparent persuasiveness led Adams to reply as Novanglus—also at length. Not until many years later, however, did Adams learn the true identity of his opponent. The picture is taken from Ralph Davol, Two Men of Taunton, Taunton, Mass., 1912, opposite p. 34. Nothing about the provenance of the original has been found.

America in Distress, by Paul Revere, 1775 308[unavailable]

Paul Revere adapted this cartoon for the Royal American Magazine (March 1775) from one called “Britannia in Distress,” which appeared in the Oxford Magazine in February 1770. Revere added the words “& America” to the petition lying at the feet of a fainting America and replaced the shield of Britannia with a bow, a quiver of arrows, and an Indian headdress to identify America. The petition is directed against “evil Physicians corrupt Members and wicked Councellors.” He made other changes as well. For the Duke of Grafton, fourth figure from the left among those ministering to America, Revere substituted Lord North, who exclaims, “She is Mad & must be Chained!” Behind North stands xiiLord Bute, who warns, “Secure Her now, or it is all over with Us.” Revere drew in Bute in place of Sir Fletcher Norton. Next to Bute stand Lord Mansfield in judicial costume and Thomas Hutchinson, whom Revere substituted for a bishop. Mansfield advises that “She must lose more Blood. Petitions are Rebellious”; and Hutchinson concurs, “Right my Lord. Penalties of that kind seem best adapted.”

The other figures, grouped behind America, are the Marquis of Rockingham, who, raising an axe toward Lord North, says, “This is the proper fee for such a Physician”; the Earl of Chatham, crying, “Poor America!”; and Earl Temple, remarking, “They will ruin her Constitution.” Temple was Pitt's brother-in-law and a close associate, who had spoken out against government in 1770 ( DNB ; British Museum, Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires, ed. Frederic George Stephens and Edward Hawkins, London, 1883, 4: No. 4368; Clarence S. Brigham, Paul Revere's Engravings, Worcester, Mass., 1954, p. 91).

Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society.