Papers of John Adams, volume 5

From James Warren

To James Bowdoin

To Unknown, 28 April 1777 JA UNKNOWN


To Unknown, 28 April 1777 Adams, John UNKNOWN
To Unknown
Dear Sir Philadelphia April 28. 1777

We are now very near the Month of May, and the Enemy, are in the Midst of Us. They have an Army, in Canada, another in Rhode Island another in New York and the Jersies, which will enable them to take the Field, much earlier, than they did last Year.

Where is our Army, to oppose them? General Washington, has but a Small one, with him. At Ticonderoga, by Letters received this day from General Waine who commands there, We have not a Thousand Men.1

We have been continually flattered, with Assurances that many Men were inlisted, and marched and marching to Ti. and to Morristown. But none of them, or next to none arrive. What Purpose can it answer to deceive Us? If the Massachusetts is exhausted, if it is discouraged, if it neither can nor will afford its Quota of Troops, in the Name of Truth and Candor let Us know it.

The Lassitude of that State, has a most pernicious Effect, upon all others. Our Weakness in every Quarter, encourages the Tories every where, induces Numbers to fly to How and inlist with him. It has a dismal gloomy Effect upon the Whiggs. It is transmitted to England, and encourages the Ministerial People, and disheartens opposition. It is transmitted all over Europe, by our Enemies, and cannot be contradicted by our Friends, and has a pernicious Influence upon our Affairs abroad.

We are gaping at France and Spain for Support, and are behaving in Such a manner, as to discourage them from attempting our Relief. Depend upon it they will never Aid Us, While they think We are despairing of our own Affairs.


Not a Single Company from our state at Head Quarters. What are We to think?

LbC (Adams Papers). Lack of the usual designation “sent” probably means that JA did not post this letter. Very likely it was meant for someone holding an influential position, perhaps James Warren in his capacity as speaker. JA may have decided that its tone was too sharp for mailing.


Named commander at Ticonderoga by Gen. Schuyler after Gens. Gates and St. Clair left to join Washington, Wayne had written to the congress on 2 April, assessing his situation. JA's letter may have been provoked by Wayne's saying that he had written directly to the Massachusetts Council urging it to forward the state's quota of troops (Glenn Tucker, Mad Anthony Wayne and the New Nation, Harrisburg, Penna., 1973, p. 44, 47; PCC, No. 161, f. 205).