Papers of John Adams, volume 10

From Thomas Digges

To Benjamin Franklin

367 From James Warren, 22 November 1780 Warren, James JA


From James Warren, 22 November 1780 Warren, James Adams, John
From James Warren
My Dear Sir Boston Nov. 22d. 1780

Two days ago I received your favour of the 18th. March, without ever hearing before of, or seeing since the Gentleman there recommended.1 When I have an opportunity I shall most certainly pay proper respect to your recommendations, by takeing proper Notice of him.

My last to you was by a French frigate from Newport with a Copy of what went by Capt. Hayden from here to Amsterdam.2 I beleive I gave you a General State of our Affairs here, and as you will doubtless get one of them, I shall not trouble you with repetitions. Since that our New Goverment has taken place. The Papers will tell you, who are the Governing Powers, that Compose the Administration, it is only necessary for me to tell you that it is now perfectly Systematic. The Influence here is as Uniform and Extensive as in England, and the Criterion to determine the Qualifications for Office much the same as in the most Arbitrary Goverments, or in the most servile Nations. How long this will last I dont know. Whether Pisistratus3 will be able to Establish himself Perpetual Archon, or whether he will be Able to Convey that Honor and rank to his Family by hereditary right Time must determine. He has no Guards, yet Established, but he has unbounded Adulation, and Submission and that may Effect here all the purposes for which Guards were necessary at Athens. It is certain there is a greater Influence and a more unlimited Confidence here than is Consistent with a Republican Goverment. That Influence has already Effected here what Hutchinson was never Able to do, it has not only removed S. A. from all Share in the Govt. but taken from him his Bread, and given the Secretaryship to Mr. Avery Son in Law to the Leut. Govr.4—Your Friend Gerry is the next Object and who among you that at Congress Committed the unpardonable Sin, of opposeing or not submitting to his Measures, is uncertain. Perhaps the Extent of the Atlantic may secure you and Mr. Dana for a while. We have no public News. Our Troops have gained some Advantages in Carolina, but there is no prospect of any great and decisive Strokes. Clinton is Landed in Virginia with about 3500 Troops.5 What will be the Issue is uncertain. Chesepeak is a fine Trap, if policy and spirit should dictate to the French in the W. Indies an Expedition there. The State of Vermont as they stile themselves grow Troublesome. I beleive it is certain they have made a Truce with the Gov. of 368Canada for a Number of days, and it is said they are on this Occasion makeing peremptory demands on Congress, to Acknowledge their Independence, within a certain Time.6 The French Fleet and Army still at Newport, and the several States Employed in ways and means to fill up their Army dureing the War and in Arrangeing their finances to pay and supply them. If any Body asks how long the War is to Continue, I shall refer them to you, who can tell much better than I can. Mrs. Warren writes to you,7 and may make her own Acknowledgements for the Compliment you make her. My Compliments to Mr. Dana and the Young Gentlemen.

I am Your Friend & Humbl. Servt.

J Warren

P.S. We hear that Mr. Laurence is taken and carried to Newfoundland, and that you are at Amsterdam. I wish you success and Happiness whereever you are.

No Advice yet of the Trunk Committed to Doctr. Winship, and perhaps never will unless you Catch him in France.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “Genl. Warren 22d. Novr. 1780.”


Jean Baptiste Petry, see note 1 to the letter of 18 March (above).


Warren's last letter was of 12 Oct. (above); the duplicate, sent under a covering letter of 18 Oct. (Adams Papers), has not been found.


John Hancock, see Mercy Otis Warren's letter of 15 Nov., and note 4 (above).


John Avery, former deputy secretary of the Council of the Provincial Congress, was elected secretary of the commonwealth on 27 October. Warren clearly believed that the job should have gone to Samuel Adams, clerk of the House of Representatives from 1766 to 1775 and provincial secretary since 1775, but Adams, himself, apparently bore Avery no illwill over his election. Avery's father-in-law, Thomas Cushing, had been elected lieutenant governor on 14 November. What Warren does not reveal in the course of his criticism of John Hancock is that on 7 Nov., following James Bowdoin's refusal to serve, he, Warren, had been elected lieutenant governor, but on the 10th had declined the office (E. M. Bacon, ed., Supplement to the Acts and Resolves of Massachusetts, Boston, 1896, p. 54–59; Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 10:420–465; 14:384–389; John C. Miller, Sam Adams, Boston, 1936, p. 105; Warren-Adams Letters , 2:144–145, 148–149; William M. Fowler Jr., Baron of Beacon Hill, Boston, 1980, p. 244).


This force of 2,500 troops was led by Gen. Alexander Leslie; Lt. Gen. Sir Henry Clinton remained at New York. See Thomas Digges' letter of 14 Nov., note 3 (above).


Vermont declared its independence in 1777, but did not become a state until 1791. Congress' indecisiveness toward Vermont during the revolution was owing to the claims of New York, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts to all or part of the state and to large-state fears that statehood for Vermont would set a precedent that a state might be dismembered by congressional action. The matter had not been resolved when debate ended in early October because the powers of Vermont's agents had expired. During the debates, Vermont had threatened to go over to the British and in 1781 did confer with British authorities, but the rapprochement ended with Cornwallis' surrender (Charles T. Morrissey, Vermont, A History, N.Y., 1981, p. 89–98; Larry R. Gerlach, “Connecticut, the Continental Congress, and the Independence of Vermont, 1777–1782,” Vermont History, 34:188–193 [July 1966]; JCC , 18:908–909; James Duane to George Clinton, [7 Oct.], Smith, ed., Letters of Delegates , 16:160–161; Ira Allen and Stephen Bradley to the president of Congress, 2 Oct., PCC, No. 40, I, f. 579).


On 15 Nov. (above).