Adams Family Correspondence, volume 1

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 16 September 1774 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 16 September 1774 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Phyladelphia Septr. 16. 1774

Having a Leisure Moment, while the Congress is assembling, I gladly embrace it to write you a Line.

When the Congress first met, Mr. Cushing made a Motion, that it should be opened with Prayer. It was opposed by Mr. Jay of N. York and Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina, because we were so divided in religious Sentiments, some Episcopalians, some Quakers, some Aanabaptists, some Presbyterians and some Congregationalists, so that We could not join in the same Act of Worship.—Mr. S. Adams arose and said he was no Bigot, and could hear a Prayer from a Gentleman of Piety and Virtue, who was at the same Time a Friend to his Country. He was a Stranger in Phyladelphia, but had heard that Mr. Duchè (Dushay they pronounce it) deserved that Character, and therefore he moved that Mr. Duchè, an episcopal Clergyman, might be desired, to read Prayers to the Congress, tomorrow Morning. The Motion was seconded and passed in the Affirmative. Mr. Randolph our President, waited on Mr. Duchè, and received for Answer that if his Health would permit, he certainly would. Accordingly next Morning he appeared with his Clerk and in his Pontificallibus, and read several Prayers, in the established Form; and then read the Collect for the seventh day of September, which was the Thirty fifth Psalm.1—You must remember this was the next Morning after we heard the horrible Rumour, of the Cannonade of Boston.—I never saw a greater Effect upon an Audience. It seemed as if Heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on that Morning.

After this Mr. Duche, unexpected to every Body struck out into an extemporary Prayer, which filled the Bosom of every Man present. I must confess I never heard a better Prayer or one, so well pronounced. Episcopalian as he is, Dr. Cooper2 himself never prayed with such fervour, such Ardor, such Earnestness and Pathos, and in Language so elegant and sublime—for America, for the Congress, for The Province of Massachusetts Bay, and especially the Town of Boston. It has had an excellent Effect upon every Body here.

I must beg you to read that Psalm. If there was any Faith in the sortes Virgilianae, or sortes Homericae, or especially the Sortes biblicae, it would be thought providential.

It will amuse your Friends to read this Letter and the 35th. Psalm to them. Read it to your Father and Mr. Wibirt.—I wonder what our Braintree Churchmen would think of this?—Mr. Duchè is one of the 157most ingenious Men, and best Characters, and greatest orators in the Episcopal order, upon this Continent—Yet a Zealous Friend of Liberty and his Country.3

I long to see my dear Family. God bless, preserve and prosper it. Adieu.

John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree To be left at Mr. Adams's office in Queen Street Boston”; endorsed: “C 1 No 4.”


Not the collect actually, “but a portion of the psalter for the seventh day of the month, morning prayer, namely, the thirty-fifth Psalm” (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 1:19, note).


Samuel Cooper (1725–1783), Harvard 1743, minister of the Brattle Street Church, which the Adamses attended when they lived in Boston. Cooper was renowned as a pulpit orator, but as a political parson and member of the junto of Boston patriot leaders, he emerges from Mr. Shipton's recent and extended sketch with little of his earlier reputation intact (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 11:192–213).


Jacob Duché (1737–1798) was at this time assistant rector of Christ Church and St. Peter's in Philadelphia. The resolution respecting prayers in Congress was adopted on 6 Sept., and Duché's dramatic performance occurred next day ( JCC , 1:26, 27; James Duane's Notes of Proceedings, Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 1:13, 15–16; JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:126). Two years later, after the British took Philadelphia, Duché apostatized, wrote George Washington urging him to have the Declaration of Independence rescinded, and fled at the end of 1777 to England ( DAB ; W. C. Ford, ed., The Washington-Duché Letters, Brooklyn, 1890; JA to AA, 25 Oct. 1777, below).

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 18 September 1774 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 18 September 1774 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My Dear Phyladelphia Septr. 18. 1774

I received your very agreable Letter, by Mr. Marston, and have received two others, which gave me much Pleasure. I have wrote several Letters, but whether they have reached you I know not. There is so much Rascallity in the Management of Letters, now come in Fashion, that I am determined to write nothing of Consequence, not even to the Friend of my Bosom, but by Conveyances which I can be sure of.

The Proceedings of the Congress, are all a profound Secret, as yet, except two Votes which were passed Yesterday, and ordered to be printed. You will see them from every Quarter. These Votes were passed in full Congress with perfect Unanimity.1

The Esteem, the Affection, the Admiration, for the People of Boston and the Massachusetts, which were expressed Yesterday, And the fixed Determination that they should be supported, were enough to melt an Heart of Stone. I saw the Tears gush into the Eyes of the old, grave, pacific Quakers of Pensylvania.


You cannot conceive my Dear, the Harry of Business, Visits and Ceremonies which we are obliged to go through.

We have a delicate Course to steer, between too much Activity and too much Insensibility, in our critical interested situation. I flatter myself however, that We shall conduct our Embassy in such a manner as to merit the Approbation of our Country.

It has taken Us much Time to get acquainted with the Tempers, Views, Characters, and Designs of Persons and to let them into the Circumstances of our Province. My dear2 do, intreat every Friend I have to write me. Every Line which comes from our Friends is greedily enquired after, and our Letters have done us vast service.

Middlesex and Suffolk have acquired unbounded Honour here.3

There is No Idea of Submission, here in any Bodies head.

Thank my dear Nabby for her Letter4—tell her it has given me great Spirits. Kiss all my sweet ones for me.

Adieu. John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree”; endorsed: “C 1 No 5.” This and JA's other letters of this date were conveyed by Paul Revere, who had brought the Suffolk Resolves to Philadelphia; see JA to Cranch, 18 Sept., below.


These were resolutions approving the proceedings of the Suffolk co. convention held at Dedham and Milton, 6–9 Sept. (the well-known “Suffolk Resolves”), and calling on all the Colonies for continued contributions to alleviate “the distresses of our brethren at Boston.” The Suffolk Resolves and the resolutions thereupon were entered in the Journal, 17 and 18 Sept. ( JCC , 1:31–40), and the latter were ordered to be printed in the newspapers. See also JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:134–135.


Here JA wrote and then for reasons of his own heavily inked out a word which may be “Charmer.”


The Middlesex co. convention held at Concord on 30–31 Aug. had communicated its proceedings to the Massachusetts delegates in Congress, who presented them to Congress on 14 Sept. ( JCC , 1:31). The Middlesex Resolves were printed in Boston Gazette, 12 Sept., suppl., and a broadside text is in MHi (Evans 13439).


Not found, but see JA's answer, 19 Sept., below.