Papers of John Adams, volume 5

Motion on Gunning Bedford

To James Warren

From Apollos Morris, 14 June 1777 Morris, Apollos JA


From Apollos Morris, 14 June 1777 Morris, Apollos Adams, John
From Apollos Morris
Sir Philadelphia June 14 1777

Centinels are again Posted at my Lodgings.1 This I suppose a mistake L: Col: Parke2 having inform'd me as from you, that there was a second resolution of Congress respecting me3 that I was to apply for it and go in Consequence to give my Parole.


I did by Mr. Wade yesterday even: apply for it but could find no other but the first. I went to your Lodgings, your Servant told me you were abroad.

I was prevented from repeating my visit to you this morn: Col: Parke offer'd to go to speak to you or some other member of the Congress; so long ago that he seems to have neglected it. I beg to be heard when and where you please and am Sir with all respect Your most humble & obedt. servt.

Apollos Morris

RC (Adams Papers).


Maj. Apollos Morris, who had served in the 27th Infantry of foot in Ireland, had been considered for Washington's adjutant general when Gates was reluctant to return to that position. But Morris' ambiguous feelings about the American cause ruled him out (A List of the General and Field-Officers . . . on the British and Irish Establishments . . . the Whole Complete for 1774, London, [1775?], p. 81; Freeman, Washington , 4:392). Morris had come to the United States, according to his memorial to the congress, to “share in the distresses and to take up arms for Its Peace, Liberty and Safety.” By the last, Morris meant restoring the country to the state it had enjoyed before 1763. Believing himself a friend to both countries, he had arrived to find independence declared and himself in the awkward position of having recently said in print that independence was not in the best interest of the colonies. In the spring of 1777, he made inquiry about the latest proclamation of the Howes to learn whether it offered any more than submission and pardon. According to Washington, Morris had said that he would take an active part in the struggle if the ministry had nothing more to offer. According to Morris' memorial, he decided to keep his opinions to himself, but he felt that he could not act as an officer. Feeling that Morris was dangerous because he knew too much about American military secrets, Washington suggested to the congress that he be returned to the West Indies or Europe. The general wrote an unsealed letter to Morris in which he expressed his surprise that Morris then felt that without independence an adjustment might have been reached by the two countries. When Washington's letter and the unsealed one to Morris arrived in the congress, it ordered Benedict Arnold immediately to arrest him (PCC, No. 41, VI, f. 15–18; Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 8:191–193; JCC , 8:428).


Lt. Col. John Parke of the additional Continental regiment commanded by Col. John Patton (Heitman, Register Continental Army , p. 26, 424).


On 10 June the congress heard a resolution to permit Morris to leave under parole restrictions for Europe, by way of France or the French West Indies, but the resolution was tabled. On the 14th, Morris, under house arrest, wrote to the president of the congress enclosing the memorial referred to above, which he had written before he knew that he was being sent to Virginia, as he said. Nothing in the printed Journals mentions this disposition of his case. His letter and the memorial were turned over to a committee for consideration. The final action came on 20 June, when the substance of the tabled resolution was adopted with the further proviso that Morris remain in Philadelphia until he could take passage ( JCC , 8:450, 468, 489; PCC, No. 78, XV, f. 221–224).