Adams Family Correspondence, volume 1

Mercy Otis Warren to Abigail Adams, 9 August 1774 Warren, Mercy Otis AA


Mercy Otis Warren to Abigail Adams, 9 August 1774 Warren, Mercy Otis Adams, Abigail
Mercy Otis Warren to Abigail Adams
Plimouth August 9th 1774

I Returned yesterday from a Visit to my Venerable Father, and on our arival at our own Habitation we met the tidings that the Royal signet was affixed to those acts which are designed to perpetuate the thraldom of America: and perticulerly the Massachusets.

I think the appointment of the new counsel is the last comic scene we shall see Exhibite'd in the state Farce which has for several years been playing off.1 I fear the Tragic part of the Drama will hastely Ensue, and that Nothing but the Blood of the Virtuous Citizens Can repurchase the Rights of Nature, unjustly torn from us by the united arms of treachery and Violence. Every Circumstance Contributes to Lead this people to Look with more impatient Expectation for the result of the approaching Congress. The persons Deputed to that purpose have an important part to act, a part on which depends in a great measure the Future Fredom and Happiness of a Wide Extended Empire. Mr. Adams has justly Compared them to the Amphyctiones of Grece, and as their work is not less arduous, may they aquit themselves in such a manner as that their Names may stand as high on the Records of Fame as those of any of that Respected Body. May they be Endowd with Virtue and judgment, Wisely to deliberate and Resolve, and Fortitude and Vigour to Execute whatever may be thought Necessary to Reestablish the Welfare and Tranquility of their much injured Country.


Tell Mr. Adams that my best Wishes will Attend him through his journey both as A Friend and as a patriot. May he return with satisfaction to himself and the applauses of his Constituants.2

I hope they will have no uncommon Dificulties to surmount, or Hostile Movments to impede them, but if the Locrians should interrupt them, tell him I hope they will beware that no future annals may say they Chose an ambitious Philip for their Leader, who subverted the Noble order of the American Amphyctiones: and Built up a Monarchy on the Ruins of the Happy institution.

I never doubted but my Friend Mrs. Adams Would Virtuously adhere to the queen street agrement.3 As to myself since I left the City the Dishable of External appearance has Comported with the solicitude of Mind I feel for the Calamities of my Country, and shall I own to you that the Woman and the Mother daily arouse my fears and fill my Heart with anxious Concern for the decission of the Mighty Controversy between Great Britain and the Colonies. For if the sword must finally terminate the dispute besides the feelings of Humanity for the Complicated distress of the Comunity: no one has at stake a larger share of Domestic Felicity than myself. For not to mention my fears for him with whom I am most tenderly Connected: Methinks I see no Less than five sons who must Buckle on the Harness And perhaps fall a sacrifice to the Manes of Liberty Ere she again revives and spreads her Chearful Banner over this part of the Globe. But I quit the painful Revire and desire to Leave all my Cares in his Hand who wills the universal Happiness of his Creatures, and who I trust if we Look to him in the Manner we ought will, while he secures the Welfare of the upright individual, Restore to the society our judges as at the first and our Councelers as at the beginning.

I will add no more to this lengththy Epistle but an Enquiry whether you know the Reason why I hear not from my amiable Friend Miss Smith. My Love to her Concludes from yours unfeignedly,

Mercy Warren
August 15.

When the above was wrote I Expected a ready conveyance, nor did I know that the Gentlemen of the Congress proposed seting out so Early, but doubt not it is best. If you and Miss Betsey would make a Visit in the absence of Mr. Adams you would Give great pleasure to your Plimouth Friends.

RC (Adams Papers).

140 1.

Under the terms of the Massachusetts Government Act (14 George III, ch. 45), recently received in America, the House was no longer to elect the Council but its members were to be appointed directly by the crown. The instructions to Gage of 20 May named 36 of these “mandamus” councilors. Those who accepted were sworn in at Salem on 8 and 16 Aug., but a considerable number of these were obliged under popular pressure to resign during the next few weeks, and the remnants of this last royal Council in Massachusetts met only a few times in the course of the next year. See Albert Matthews, “Documents Relating to the Last Meetings of the Massachusetts Royal Council, 1774–1776,” Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns. , 32 (1937):460–504.


JA had returned to Braintree about 15 July and thereafter for several weeks quietly tended his farm, read, and reflected on his forthcoming mission to Philadelphia. On 25 July he wrote James Warren:

“It would do your Heart good to see me, mowing, raking, carting, and frolicking with my Workmen, as unconcernd as if No Port Bill, or regulating Bill, or Murder Bill, had ever existed.

“I catch myself however, now and then, among the Hay Cocks bestowing most hearty Execrations, on a few Villains, who have dignified themselves by Superlative Mischief to their native Country, the British Empire and the World” (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.).

On 10 Aug. JA and his colleagues Thomas Cushing, Samuel Adams, and Robert Treat Paine (James Bowdoin having excused himself from serving), set off together for Philadelphia, proceeding that day as far as Framingham (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:97–98). John Andrews reported concerning their departure from Boston: “Am told they made a very respectable parade, in sight of five of the Regiments encamp'd on the Common, being in a coach and four, preceded by two white servants well mounted and arm'd, with four blacks behind in livery, two on horseback and two footmen” (MHS, Procs. , 1st ser., 8 [1864–1865]: 339).


The Adamses' Boston house was in Queen (now Court) Street, but what this “agrement” was does not appear.

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 15 August 1774 AA JA


Abigail Adams to John Adams, 15 August 1774 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
Braintree August th 15 1774

I know not where this will find you whether upon the road, or at Phylidelphia, but where-ever it is I hope it will find you in good Health and Spirits. Your Journey I immagine must have been very tedious from the extreem heat of the weather and the dustiness of the road's. We are burnt up with the drouth, having had no rain since you left us, nor is there the least apperance of any. I was much gratified upon the return of some of your Friends from Watertown who gave me an account of your Scocial Dinner, and friendly parting. May your return merrit, and meet with the Gratefull acknowledgments of every well wisher to their Country. Your task is difficult and important. Heaven direct and prosper you. I find from Mr. A——r of B——r1 that the chief Justice is determined to take his Seat, and that the court shall proceed to Buisness if posible, even tho the Sheriff should be obliged to return no other but the late addressers.2 He talks as he always used to—sometimes one thing sometimes an other, pretends the money would not have been collected in that town for the congress if 141he had not exerted himself, tho it seems he staid till the eleventh hour, and it did not get to town before you left it. I found by a hint he dropd that he used all his influence to surpress the Nonconsumption agreement which some of them had drawn up to sign, and that he has in-listed himself intirely under the influence of the chief Justice. He also expresses great Bitterness against Colonel Warren of Plymouth for encourageing young Morton to setle there3—seem's gratified with the thought of his loosing his place, &c.—So much for politicks—now for our own Domestick affairs. Mr. Rice came this afternoon. He and Mr. Thaxter are setled over at the office.4 Crosby has given up the School,5 and as it is to move to the other parish Mr. Rice cannot have it. I must therefore agree with them to take the care of John, and school him with them, which will perhaps be better for him than going to the Town School. I shall reckon over every week as they pass, and rejoice at every Saturday evening. I hope to hear from you by Mr. Cunningham when he returns tho I know not when that will be but he was so kind as to send me word that he was going and would take a letter for me.

Our little ones send their Duty to their Pappa, and the Gentlemen their respects—and that which at all times and in all places evermore attends you is the most affectionate regard of your

Abigail Adams

RC (Adams Papers); docketed in an unidentified hand: “August 25 15 1774.”


Mr. Angier of Bridgewater; see JA to AA, May 1772, note 4.


Chief Justice Peter Oliver did indeed take his seat on the first day (30 Aug.) of the new term of Suffolk Superior Court, but both the grand and petit juries unanimously refused to be sworn, on the ground that Oliver had been impeached by the House and never acquitted. After vainly attempting to do business on the three following days the Court adjourned sine die. “Thus ended the Superior Court and is the last common Law Court that will be allowed to sit in this or any other County of the Province” (William Tudor to JA, 3 Sept. 1774, Adams Papers). See also Gage to Dartmouth, 2 Sept. 1774 (Gage, Corr. , 1:371). The formal statements by the two juries were printed in Mass. Spy, 1 September.


Perez Morton (1750–1837), Harvard 1771, a young attorney who soon left Plymouth and became very active in the patriotic cause. He served as deputy secretary of the Revolutionary Council of State, 1775–1776; representative in the General Court from Boston, 1794–1796; from Dorchester, 1800–1811; speaker, 1806–1808, 1810–1811; attorney general of Massachusetts, 1811–1832. In 1781 he married Sarah Wentworth Apthorp (1759–1846), briefly but not very appropriately known as the “American Sappho” because of her numerous poetical effusions, one of which was a pleasant tribute to JA during his years of retirement at Quincy (“Stanzas. Written on a Social Visit to ... John Adams, Late President of the United States,” in her My Mind and Its Thoughts ..., Boston, 1823, p. 194). Despite Morton's Jeffersonian politics, the Mortons and Adamses were for many years family friends. See a sketch of Perez Morton by John Noble in Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns. , 5 (1902): 282–293; DAB article on Mrs. Morton; Emily Pendleton 142and Milton Ellis, Philenia: The Life and Works of Sarah Wentworth Morton, Orono, Maine, 1931, passim.


Both of these young men had recently entered JA's office as law clerks; see an entry in the Suffolk Bar Book, 26 July 1774, approving their engagement by JA (MHS, Procs. , 1st ser., 19 [1881–1882]:152). Nathan Rice (1754–1834), of Sturbridge, Harvard 1773, joined the army in May 1775 and wrote letters to AA and JA from camps at Dorchester and Ticonderoga, 1775–1776; he served through the war, during a good part of it as major and aide-de-camp to Gen. Benjamin Lincoln (information from Harvard Univ. Archives; Heitman, Register Continental Army ). John Thaxter Jr. (1755–1791), of Hingham, Harvard 1774, was first cousin to AA; he accompanied JA to Europe in 1779 as private secretary, returning in 1783, and is often mentioned in JA's Diary and Autobiography ; see, further, Adams Genealogy.


Probably Joseph Crosby (1751–1783), Harvard 1772 ( Harvard Quinquennial Cat. ).