Papers of John Adams, volume 2

To Mercy Otis Warren, 3 January 1775 JA Warren, Mercy Otis To Mercy Otis Warren, 3 January 1775 Adams, John Warren, Mercy Otis
To Mercy Otis Warren
Madam Braintree Jany 3. 17745 1

I remember, that Bishop Burnet in a Letter he once wrote to Lady Rachell Russell the virtuous Daughter of the great Southampton, and unfortunate Wife of Lord Russell who died a Martyr to English 210Liberties, Says “Madam I never attempt to write to you but my Pen conscious of its Inferiority falls out of my Hand.” The polite Prelate did not write to that excellent Lady in so bold a figure with half the sincerity, that I could apply it to myself when writing to Mrs. Warren.

I will however Strive to grasp, my Pen hard enough, to write one Line in Answer to her kind Billet Deer 30.2

Mr. Adams assures Mrs. Warren, that nothing would have given him greater Pleasure than a Visit to Plymouth at the late anniversary, but it was out of his Power. He thanks Mr. and Mrs. Warren however, most heartily for their very kind and repeated Invitations. He shall think himself happy if he can find an opportunity, before the Month of May to make a Visit to his Friends at Plymouth, but it has been his Misfortune to have been so often and so long absent from home, for these twelve Months past, that he really thinks his Duty to his family oblige him, to leave it as little as possible.

Mrs. Warren is pleased to mention Mr. Adams's needfull Application to public, and his close Attention to private Business.” His private Business, Madam, has been totally annihilated, These twelve months past and more, by the inauspicious Course of public Affairs, and he has no kind of Prospect of its ever, coming into Existence again. He has therefore, learnt the important Lesson of Resignation to what he cannot alter, and should be very happy the remainder of his Days, to get his Bread by his Labour and Attention to a Farm. He thinks he could shine as an industrious Farmer, but he is too old to make a Figure in Arms the Profession to which We must for the future perhaps be obliged for our Safety and our Liberty as much as formerly we were to that of the Law. If the Standards should be erected, and A Camp formed, however, ten to one but he flies to it, but whether it will be for shelter, or as a volunteer, Time alone must discover.

He thanks Mrs. Warren most kindly for her friendly Wishes for his Peace, Health, and Prosperity, and especially, when she wishes that he may return Laden with the Applauses of his Country, but most of all where she wishes he may return with a self approving Mind. Of the last he is Sure, if plain, direct, Simple and sincere Intentions to do what the Cause of Truth Justice, Liberty and Humanity, according to his Conceptions require of him, at whatever Hazard it may be can insure it. And as long as he shall act upon these Principles, he does not doubt of enjoying that sweetest Music to an honest Ear the Approbation of his Country, for this is seldom refused 211to Integrity of Heart, how inconsiderable soever the Abilities, that direct it. I am Madam, with more Esteem than I have Power in words to expend, your Friend and Sert

Your humbl Sert, John Adams

RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); addressed: “To Mrs. Mercy Warren Plymouth”; docketed in an unknown hand: “J Adams Esqr Jany 3d 1774 Braintree.”


An obvious inadvertence at the turn of the year.


Not found.

From Edward Dilly, 13 January 1775 Dilly, Edward JA From Edward Dilly, 13 January 1775 Dilly, Edward Adams, John
From Edward Dilly
Dear Sir London Jany 13th 1775

I Wrote to you the 24th of Septr last in answer to your Obliging favor of the first of August, at the same Time I sent you the Second Volume of Mr. Burgh's Political Disquisitions,1 which I presume will afford you every great satisfaction, as that volume treats pretty largely on the Taxation of America and the Importance of the Colonies to Great Britain, but in Case that Volume or Letter should have miscarried, I have embraced the opportunity of sending you (under the care of Mr. Henry Bromfield) the 2d Vol. and also all the sheets which are Printed, of the 3d and last Volume of the said Work, except the Title Page Preface and Index, which I will send you by some Other Conveyance, in the mean Time these Sheets may afford you some entertainment Instruction, or hints, which may tend to the General Good. If the Second Volume should have come to your Hand, be so kind as to send this duplicate Volume to John Dickenson Esqr of Philadelphia as he is already Possessed of the first Volume. I have also sent you 4 Copies of Mr. Robinson's Considerations on the Measures carrying on with respect to the British Colonies in America.2 The 2d Edition with considerable Additions, also 4 Copies of a small Pamphlet, Published this Day by Mrs. Macaulay on the present Important Crisis of Affairs,3 this Lady though in a very infirm State of Health could not refrain throwing in her Mite into the Public Treasury. Addressed to the People of England Scotland and Ireland. I have likewise inclosed you Mr. Burke's Speech in the House of Commons on American Taxation,4 and the Public Advertiser of this Day giving a circumstantial account of the Proceedings of the American Merchants and Traders of the City of London, in Preparing a Petition to the House of Commons which will be presented next Thursday, and 212it is expected the Example will be followed by Liverpool, Birmingham Bristol Manchester Leeds, and other Manufacturing Towns.5

The Proceedings of the American Congress give great satisfaction, to all the friends of Civil and Religious Liberty in this Country. Every honest and Independant Man must applaud the Congress for the Wisdom of their Proceedings—their Unanimity, and Manly firmness, and the Resolutions which they have Passed; which are Agreeable to Reason and Justice. The effects of these Resolutions Are already experienced in this Country, the Stoppage of our American Commerce, the decline of the Manufactures, and consequently a heavy draw back upon the Revenue. These are alarming Circumstances. Poverty will soon stare us in the face and unless the Grievances are redressed, who knows, but that a (the most dreadful of all Calamities) Civil War may close the Scene. But I hope your proceedings will be a means of awakening us out of our Lethargy, and shew us a sight of our danger, and upon seeing that danger we may be led to a speedy remedy. I make no doubt you will have that firmness, Unanimity, and Virtue of Perseverance, as to secure your invaluable Rights, and hand them down to Posterity inviolate.

I could write you many Pages but I am in haste as the Bag is just going away; you have the Hearts of the English Nation, and Mr. Robinson in his present Publication says “you do us wrong in not thinking so,” and I thoroughly agree with this Author, in what he affirms “that there would not be hurt the hair of the Head of an American, were it to be Voted by all our Country.” 6 Wishing you fortitude under your present severe Trials and that every good may result to North America from the Proceedings of the Congress.

I am Dear Sir Your Affectionate friend and most Obedt Servant, Edwd Dilly

PS I shall be very happy to hear from you when Opportunity Offers7 and shall esteem it a favor if you will transmit to me by the earliest conveyance, any Pamphlet or Paper that may be published relative to your Provincial Congress. I am now Printing the Whole Proceedings of the American Congress, some Extracts never Published before.

RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Edwd Dilly Jany 13 1775”; note on back of last page in Dilly's hand: “The Packet is sent by The Paul Capt Gordon for Salem.” But see Alexander McDougall to ?, 14 April 1775, below.


Dilly to JA, 24 Sept. 1774, note 3, above.


Matthew Robinson-Morris, Second Baron Rokeby, Considerations on the Measures Carrying on with respect to the British Colonies in North America, 213London, 1774 (T. R. Adams, American Independence , 134a–k). A reproduction of the titlepage is in Adams Family Correspondence , 1:facing 241.


Catharine Macaulay, An Address to the People of England, Scotland, and Ireland, on the Present Important Crisis of Affairs, London, 1775 (T. R. Adams, American Independence , 169 a–e).


Edmund Burke, Speech of E. Burke, Esq. on American Taxation, April 19, 1774, London, 1775 (same, 156a–h).


Between 23 and 27 Jan. 1775, petitions were presented to the House of Commons by London, Bristol, Glasgow, Norwich, Dudley, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, and Wolver-hampton merchants or manufacturers involved in the American trade and desirous of a solution to the crisis. Parliament debated the petitions from 23 to 31 January, and, as might be expected considering the strength of the ministry, its debates had little if any effect on British policy ( Parliamentary Hist. , 18:168–198).


Robinson-Morris, Considerations, p. 155.


AA answered this letter for JA on 22 May 1775 ( Adams Family Correspondence , 1:200–202).