Papers of John Adams, volume 3

To James Warren

From James Warren

To James Warren, 20 October 1775 JA Warren, James


To James Warren, 20 October 1775 Adams, John Warren, James
To James Warren
Octr. 20. 1775 Dr sir

The Bearer of this is John McPherson Esq.1 He is a Genius—an old Sea Warriour, Nine or ten Times wounded in Sea Fights.

He has a son in the Service—Aid de Camp to Schuyler—a very sensible Man.

Of Mr. McPhersons Errand to the Camp ask no Questions and I will tell you no false News. It will make a Noise, in Time—but for the present for Gods sake let not a Word be said.

I hope all our Friends who have Opportunity will show him Respect.

RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); addressed: “Hon James Warren Esq Watertown favoured by John McPherson Esq.”; docketed: “Mr J: A Lettr Octr. 20. 1775.”


On 20 Oct. the congress sent McPherson to Cambridge to consult with Gen. Washington. He was the originator, according to a JA Diary entry, of a plan to “take or burn every Man of War, in America.” At the camp, Washington and others who heard the plan found it to be based on unsound principles and prevailed upon McPherson to return to Philadelphia to use his energies on row galleys. The exact nature of the plan remained a secret, for those who were given its details took an oath not to divulge it (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:176; JCC , 3:296, 300, 301; Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 4:71–72; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 1:238, notes; Clark, Washington's Navy , p. 65–66).