Papers of John Adams, volume 4

From Joseph Frye

From James Warren

To John Thomas, 7 March 1776 JA Thomas, John


To John Thomas, 7 March 1776 Adams, John Thomas, John
To John Thomas
Dr sir Philadelphia March 7, 1776

The Congress, have determined to send you to Canada. They have advanced you one Step, by making you a Major General, and have made an handsome Establishment for a Table.1

Your Friends the Delegates from your native Province were much embarrassed, between a Desire to have you promoted and placed in so honourable a Command, on the one Hand, and a Reluctance at loosing your Services at Roxbury or Cambridge on the other. But all agreed that you ought to be placed where you could do the most service, and Canada was thought by all to be very important and by some the most important Post in America.

You will have excellent Advice and Assistance in the Committee we are sending Dr. Franklin, Mr. Chase Mr. Carroll and his Relation.2

Mr. Walker, Mr. Price and Mr. Bondfield,3 will be in Canada too, as soon as you. General Wooster and Arnold will give you, the best Information. The Department to which you are destined has been in Great Confusion, and every Gentleman who has come from thence has given a different account.

General Schuyler, who is an honest Man and a good Patriot, has had a Politeness about him towards Canadian and British Prisoners, which has enabled them and their ministerial Friends to impose upon him in some Instances. This has occasioned some Altercation between him and Wooster. But Wooster has done that in Canada which Schuyler could not have done. He has kept up an Army there through the Winter.

Schuylers head Quarters will be at Albany, I suppose and he will be 44of vast service, in procuring and forwarding Supplies, and in many other Ways in promoting the service, but his Health will not permit him to go into Canada.

I wish I could write you a Volume,—for to give you the Characters of Persons in Canada of whom we have heard, and some of whom We have seen, and to explain to you every Thing which has been opened here relative to that Province would fill one. But these Hints must suffice. Your huml. sert.,

John Adams

Let me beg of you to write me, if you can Spare the Time. It is of great Importance that the Delegates from New England should be truly informed, of the Course of Things in Canada.

RC (MHi:John Thomas Papers); addressed: “The Hon. John Thomas Esq. Major General in the Continental Army Roxbury”; docketed: “Letter J. Adams to J. Thomas March 7. 1776.”


Thomas, who on 4 March had led the successful assault on Dorchester Heights, was chosen on 6 March to replace Gen. Lee, the original choice to command in Canada. Lee had been appointed on 1 March to command the southern forces. Thomas arrived at Quebec on 1 May, found a hopeless situation, and almost immediately ordered a retreat, in the course of which he died of smallpox and was buried near Fort Chambly ( DAB ; JCC , 4:180–181, 186).


See JA to James Warren, 18 Feb. and notes (above).


Thomas Walker, James Price, and John Bondfield were Canadians who supported the American cause. See numerous references to them in Justin H. Smith, Our Struggle for the Fourteenth Colony, 2 vols., N.Y., 1907.