Papers of John Adams, volume 4

From Benjamin Kent

To Benjamin Hichborn

From Samuel Cooper, 27 May 1776 Cooper, Samuel JA From Samuel Cooper, 27 May 1776 Cooper, Samuel Adams, John
From Samuel Cooper
27. May. 1776

I find by your Letter of 16th. Instant1 that you had no Expectation of the disagreable News from Canada. Our Accounts from thence are not very perfect. According to these, A Reinforcement for Quebec came up the River before the City on 6th. of this Month. Our Army suddenly retir'd, leaving good Part at least, of Cannon Baggage, and their sick. They had determin'd it is said, in a Council of War, before they saw the Reinforcement, (sent most probably by Howe) to raise the Seige, having many sick, but a few hundred effective Men, and but few days Provision. Our Succors to that Army it seems have proceeded slowly: The Season and the Climate must have occasion'd great Difficulties. Arnold's Firmness and Perseverance in what He had to encounter are astonishing. No one here blames the Retreat; it is suppos'd absolutely unavoidable. I hope our Army there will soon collect together, and make an effectual Stand: Ev'ry Thing must be done to keep the Enemy from Possession of that Country. It seems likely to become the chief Seat of War; and what now appears against us, may in the End turn out in our Favor.

I wrote Mr. S. A. about a Fortnight past, What our House had done respecting Independence. They afterwards reconsider'd their Vote and threw it into the Form you have no doubt seen.2 I knew not of this Alteration when I wrote.

The Repulse given by our two little Vessells of War to the Men of War's Boats here, grows more important the more Circumstances are known. It was a most gallant Action, and a great Proportion of the Assailants must have been wounded, drown'd, and slain.

I imagin'd the Account of Saltpetre made here would appear almost incredible to you. You may rely, I think, that there is no Fraud—216good Part is superior in Quality to much that is imported. I made particular Inquiry some Days ago, and 14 Tons had then been taken into the Province Store, and the Bounty paid. Has any Colony exceeded this?

You have, doubtless, been made acquainted with the Steps leading to the Enlargement of our House of Representatives. Boston sends 12, Salem 6, Newbury Port 5, &c. A Gentleman gave me this Moment a List I enclose you.3

The Resolve of Congress you sent me is highly important and greatly acceptable here.4 It is impossible long to defer Confederation. And the Difficulties may be less, and sooner surmounted than is imagin'd. May Heaven still conduct your Councils. With much Esteem and Affection. Your obedt. hum. Servt.

RC (Adams Papers); docketed in CFA's hand: "from Dr. Cooper."


Not found.


On 9 May the House passed the following resolution: “That it be, and hereby is recommended to each Town in this Colony, who shall send a Member or Members to the next General Assembly, fully to possess him or them with their Sentiments relative to a Declaration of Independency of the United Colonies on Great-Britain, to be made by Congress, and to instruct them what Conduct they would have them observe with Regard to the next General Assembly's instructing the Delegates of this Colony on that Subject.” When the Council nonconcurred on the following day, the House passed a substitute: “Resolved, As the Opinion of this House that the Inhabitants of each Town in this Colony, ought in full Meeting warned for that Purpose, to advise the Person or Persons who shall be chosen to Represent them in the next General Court, whether that if the honorable Congress should, for the Safety of the said Colonies, declare them Independent of the Kingdom of Great-Britain, they the said Inhabitants will solemnly engage with their Lives and Fortunes to Support the Congress in the Measure” (Mass., House Jour. , 1775–1776, 4th sess., p. 269, 274, 276). The revised resolution appeared in the Boston Gazette on 13 May. Obviously the second resolve left the initiative wholly to the congress.

Despite publication of the House resolution, some members arrived at the next General Court without their towns' having expressed their sentiments on independence. When this failure became known to the new House, it ordered that copies of the resolution be distributed in handbills and that those towns which had not complied with it call special meetings to ascertain the sentiments of their inhabitants (same, 1776–1777, 1st sess., p. 21).


Enclosure not found, but the list was printed in the Boston Gazette on 3 June.


Almost certainly the resolution of 15 May calling upon the colonies to form independent governments.