Papers of John Adams, volume 2

From Jonathan Williams, 28 June 1774 Williams, Jonathan JA


From Jonathan Williams, 28 June 1774 Williams, Jonathan Adams, John
From Jonathan Williams
Sir Boston June 28th 1774

We yesterday received your Letter directed to us, with those for Braintree,1 immediately on the Receipt of it, I went to Mr Cranch's to seek a Conveyance for them but no Opportunity offered there or at the Markets. After my return to the Office, I thought it probable that we might send them from Edes and Gill's Shop. Accordingly I run in, I very luckily met with Mr Allens Servant who promised to deliver them as soon as he got home.

Yesterday a town meeting was held in the Morng at the Hall, but it being a very warm day, and many People just idle enough to attend, the Room was much crowded; those People at the farther End of the Room were continually crying out a little louder, and the Speakers finding themselves fatigued by heat, and obliged to exert themselves to be heard, thought best to adjourn, and a Motion was made for an adjournment to the Old South, which after a faint opposition was carried. J Quincy moved to adjourn to one o clock and then observed, in his flourishing way, that Some might think this wou'd interfear with their Dinners, but he thought the present alarming 103state was of too great importance, to think of dinners, however they cou'd not be perswaded to adjourn to one notwithstanding the importance of the day. At three in the Afternoon there was a very respectable Meeting. There was nigh as many torys I believe as Wigs, Lechmere, Irving Erving, the Amorys Greens Hubards and all that sett attended.2 Amory had a long speech in writing in which he concluded with a Motion to remove Censure and annihilate the Committee of Correspondence. This was seconded by many Voices and occasion'd a debate for the whole Afternoon and is not yet finish'd. The Meeting stands adjourned to nine this Morning.3 There was a liberal flow of Sentiments and much Severity from the Tories upon the Committee without any ill treatment. Mr. Francis Green in the morning was hiss'd for descenting to a motion for reading some public Letters but they were silenced. I am told there were several other Speeches in Writing; but I return'd to the Office and Mr. Tudor who attended all the Afternoon promises to give you a particular account of the whole.4 Mr. Hill went to Braintree on Saturday to attend your Business there. Mrs Adams and Family were then well. There is very little Business to be done. Every body seems engaged in the Politicks of the day—the Bells are now ringing for the meeting and a very full one is expected. I should not send this off till the result is known if it was not likely a letter wrote by this opportunity will reach you one or two days sooner than one sent tomorrow. I am with the greatest Respect Sir your Most Obedient,

Jona. Williams5

I am sensible this ought to be transcribed, but I expect your Client will call immediately.

RC (Adams Papers).


The letter to his law clerks has not been found, but one to AA of 23 June is in Adams Family Correspondence , 1:108–109.


Richard Lechmere (1727–1814), John (1727–1816) or George (1738–1806) Erving, Thomas (1722–1784) and John (1728–1805) Amory, Francis (1742–1809) and Joseph (1706–1780) Green, and probably Daniel Hubbard, who signed the protest against the Solemn League and Covenant (Sabine, Loyalists , 1:162–163, 2:8; Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 8:42–53, 11:4–7, 12:152–156, 14:151–157, 610–617; MHS, Procs. , 1st ser., 11 [1869–1870]: 394–395)


The two-day town meeting climaxed the intense controversy over the actions taken and proposed by the Boston Committee of Correspondence in regard to the Port Act, the Massachusetts Government Act, and the Administration of Justice Act. In reacting to the first, the committee had proposed, after seeking support from the committees of other towns, a cutting off of trade with Great Britain; but the town meeting favored such action only if supported by similar action in other colonies. When the news arrived in June of the other acts passed by Parliament, the Committee of Correspondence felt Boston had to take the leadership and declare not only non-104importation, but nonconsumption and a boycott of those who continued importation and purchasing of any British goods. The furthest the town had been willing to go was nonconsumption of such British goods as could be “obtained among Ourselves.” In advocating unilateral action, the Committee had moved faster than the town wished, and opposition was particularly strong among merchants, whether loyalist or whig in sympathy. Thus, the stage was set for the meetings of 27 and 28 June. Although in his letter Williams shows some doubt about the outcome and the future of the Committee of Correspondence in the face of a motion of “censure and annihilation,” he need not have worried: the committee won an overwhelming vote of confidence. Nevertheless, the town did refuse to approve the Solemn League and Covenant. Clearly, for the moment, the Committee had gone too far. (See Boston Record Commissioners, 18th Report , p. 177–178, and Brown, Revolutionary Politics , p. 185–199.)


Although JA wrote him the next day (see next document), no known record of William Tudor's account of the meeting of 28 June is extant.


Williams (1754?–1780) was JA's law clerk from Sept. 1772 to Oct. 1774. He died in Boston on 1 May 1780, soon after returning from France, where he had gone for his health. See JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:228, note.

To William Tudor, 29 June 1774 JA Tudor, William


To William Tudor, 29 June 1774 Adams, John Tudor, William
To William Tudor
Dr Sir1 June 29. 1774

I am determined to amuse my self with my Pen, whenever I am at Leisure, that I may not rust, upon the Circuit, and I dont know, who I can write to with more Pleasure, than to you.

General Brattle has lately made a Jaunt to Portsmouth and the Country round about it, and has made a most Shining figure in the political Way. A Gentleman of Portsmouth informs me, that he intimates to the Piscataqua People, that he undertook this Excursion at the Instigation of Governor Gage, in order to acquaint them with the State of Things, with the Views of Administration, &c in order to quiet their fears, and remove their Apprehensions. Grievances they had none, he said. Ld D——h Dartmouth, had acquainted G. Gage, in Person and by Letters that all they wished was that the Dispute might Subside, that the Idea of Taxation might be waived, that the Tea might be paid for, and the Right not denyed, tho they did not expect that nor desire that it should be acknowledged. This Gentleman says the General was indefatigable, Soliciting all Sorts of Persons high and low. Went into the Markett, and made it his Business to talk to the Country People, of all Sorts and to exhort them to Peace, and not to take any Measures, upon this occasion but to trust to the Administration, and go on with their Trade, taking Care to let them know that he was General Brattle, that he might make them Stare, and that his Warnings might have more Weight. At Newbury Port, I was told that the Genl. had Spent some Time on his Tour, at Haver-105hill, and there indulged his Rage, Malice and Revenge for the late Loss of his Election, in a most virulent, outragious and profane Invictive against the Whiggs: glorying in his Rejection from the Council, as the greatest Honour, that could have been conferr'd upon him, and especially boasting that he had no more than Eighteen Votes.

This is the Man who in the Year 1765 declared in a Cambridge Town Meeting as it is said, that every Word of the Constitutional Courant,2 in which it is expressly averred that the British Parliament have no Authority over Us, was as true as St. Johns Gospell. This is the Man who quarrelled for Years with Governor Bernard, upon American Principles, and this is the Man who placed himself on a Foot with Captn. McIntosh,3 and led the Horse in the Cart, with the Effigies of the Stamp Master tho he was the Secretary of the Province.

This Man has now the Modesty to expect a Mandamus, and to be cherrished as a favourite Friend of Government.

Proteus4 flowed like Water, burnt like fire, mewed like a Cat and barked like a Dog &c: Yet Proteus would be distinguished for his Constancy and self Consistency in Comparison.

Yours, John Adams

RC (MHi:Tudor Papers); addressed: “To William Tudor Boston”; endorsed: “June 29, 1774.”


William Tudor (1750–1819) was a frequent correspondent of JA's and had served as his law clerk from Aug. 1769 to July 1772, when he was admitted to the bar. In 1775 General Washington made him judge advocate with a captain's rank. Later a prominent Boston attorney, Tudor was a founder of the Massachusetts Historical Society and a member of charitable and other organizations (MHS, Colls. , 2d ser., 8 [1826]:285–325; Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 17:252–265).


The Constitutional Courant, printed by Andrew Marvel, appeared only once, in Sept. 1765, and attacked the Stamp Act and its supporters so vigorously that it had to be printed secretly. Brought from New Jersey to New York and sold on the streets there, it was carried to the other colonies by post for reprinting (Merrill Jensen, The Founding of a Nation, N.Y., 1968, p. 130–131).


Ebenezer McIntosh (1737–1816), a Boston shoemaker who led the mob during the Stamp Act riots, and who, in company with Brattle, escorted Andrew Oliver to the Liberty Tree to formally resign his commission as stamp agent (Morgan, Stamp Act , p. 138, 190–191; George P. Anderson, “Ebenezer Mackintosh: Stamp Act Rioter and Patriot,” and “A Note on Ebenezer Mackintosh,” Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns. , 26 [1927]:15–64, 348–361).


Proteus became the name for Brattle in Mrs. Warren's farce The Group (Worthington C. Ford, “Mrs. Warren's 'The Group'” MHS, Procs. , 62 [1928–1929]:17).