Papers of John Adams, volume 5

From Henry Marchant

To the President of the Congress

366 To Elbridge Gerry, 23 December 1777 JA Gerry, Elbridge


To Elbridge Gerry, 23 December 1777 Adams, John Gerry, Elbridge
To Elbridge Gerry
My dear Sir Braintree Decr. 23d. 1777

On my Return from Portsmouth, to which Place I made an Excursion upon a certain maritime Cause,1 I Yesterday met your kind Letter of Decr. 3. from the Camp at White Marsh. I thank you Sir for the assurances you give me of your Attention to Mr. Smiths Concern, with which I acquainted him, upon my first Reading of your Letter.

Am much pleased with your Account of the Strength of the Army, and I hope that Cloathing will not be wanting. Large Quantities are purchasing here for its use and a fine Collection was yesterday, conveyed into the Continental store in Kings Street.

You wish for the Concurrence of a certain Lady, in a certain Appointment. This Concurrence, may be had upon one Condition, which is that her Ladyship become a Party in the Voyage, to which She has a great Inclination. She would run the Risque of the Seas and of Enemies, for the Sake of accompanying her humble servant. But I believe it will not be expedient.

The Committee have reported a Constitution, and the Confederation is arrived. So that I suppose our Lawgivers will have Work enough for the Winter.

I have one little Favour to ask of you: it is to take the first opportunity of conveying, by some public or private Waggon, my Chest to Boston, to the Care of Mr. Isaac Smith. Mrs. Clymer has the Key.

I have another Chest in N. Jersey, in the Care of Mr. Sprout. If this can be sent to Boston too I should be glad. I owe Mr. Sprout £4 Pennsylvania Currency for a Weeks Board.2 If you will be so good as to pay this, and send Word of it by a Line to my Partner she will remit you the Money.

One other Favour of more Importance: it is that, wherever I may be, I may enjoy the Benefit of your constant Correspondence, which will now become more necessary and more acceptable, than ever, both upon public and private Considerations to &c.

LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent.”


When JA returned to Braintree, he found that a number of persons wished to employ him at once as attorney. What turned out to be his last case was argued before the New Hampshire Maritime Court, Penhallow and Treadwell v. Brig Lusanna and Cargo. JA was involved in only the preliminary stages of this cele-367brated legal contest, which grew out of the seizure of the Lusanna by a privateer on the grounds that the ship's owner, Elisha Doane, JA's client, was trafficking with the enemy. For a brief discussion of the case, see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:2–3, and for a full analysis with accompanying documents, see JA, Legal Papers , 2:352–395.


Apparently the British occupation of Philadelphia forced the Sproat family to flee to New Jersey. JA was to hear no further about his chest until long afterward (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:118; James Lovell to JA, 8 Feb. 1778, below; James Lovell to JA, 13 June 1779, Adams Papers).