Early Diary of John Adams, volume 1

[On a Petition from Braintree Troops Enlisted for the Expedition against Canada, December 1758–January 1759.] <a xmlns="http://www.tei-c.org/ns/1.0" href="#EJA01d058n1" class="note" id="EJA01d058n1a">1</a> JA [On a Petition from Braintree Troops Enlisted for the Expedition against Canada, December 1758–January 1759.] Adams, John
On a Petition from Braintree Troops Enlisted for the Expedition against Canada, December 1758–January 1759. 1

The general Court agreed to raise 7000 men, to cooperate with his Majesties Forces, for the Reduction of Canada. Agreed, consented by a Vote an Order not by a Law an Act.2 They make Acts to raise money and clothe the soldiers when raised. But the King, in the british Constitution, and of Consequence the Governor in ours, has the sole Direction of Peace and War. Inlisting men, sending them out, proclaiming War, negociating Peace, concluding Peace, are all with the sovereign’s Power. But the Parliament must raise supplies.

The Court direct and impower the Treasurer to borrow £28,000, and they enact that the said £28,000 whensoever borrowed, shall be104 issued by the Governor, with Advice of Council, for the levying and cloathing the said 7000 men, pursuant to the Order of this Court, and for no other use.—By Order of Court, and with Advice of Councill.3

Cur i.e. Court will grant these Petitions, that People may be encouraged to list next Spring, even after the time limited for Inlistments, when the officers are impowered to impress, and not to be so obstinate as some were last Spring. Some refused to the last to inlist, and were dragged into the Service at last. If Money was issued by the Governor to the Officers of this Company or Regiment, to be given as a Bounty to these men, who inlisted after the 2d of May as well as to those before, and the Officers have defrauded them of it, should not this Petition represent the fraud and pray an Order on the officers to make Satisfaction?4—Is the Governor, or Coll. Lincoln or Coll. Quincy or Captain Bracket5 to blame in this Affair. If there was an Order of the Generall Court that such as should inlist after the 2d of May should have the Bounty, as well as those who inlisted before, and the Governor paid Money accordingly, one of them is to blame.


From evidence set forth in note 4, below, the latest possible date that this, physically the last entry in the Diary Fragment, could have been written was the first week or so in Jan. 1759. It was probably written in Dec. 1758, when, as we must suppose, JA was called on to help draft the petition from Joseph Nightingale and others of Braintree that is the subject of these notes.


The General Court on 11 March 1758 “Voted, That Seven Thousand Men, inclusive of Officers be raised on the part of this Government, by inlistment for the Intended Expedition against Canada, to be formed into Regiments, and Officer’d by such of the Inhabitants of this Province as His Excellency the Capt. General shall be pleased to appoint: The said Men to be continued in the service for a time not exceeding the first Day of November next, and to be dismissed as much sooner as his Majesty’s Service will admit” (Mass., Province Laws , 16:153).

This force was recruited to join the army under Gen. James Abercromby at Albany which in the summer of 1758 undertook an amphibious assault on the French stronghold of Fort Carillon (later Fort Ticonderoga) in order to clear the way to Canada. Abercromby’s army of 15,000 suffered a disastrous defeat at the hands of Montcalm with a much smaller force. The remains of some of the “inland fleet” in which the British and colonial troops had ascended Lake George were being recovered for reconstruction and preservation in the summer of 1965. See Edward P. Hamilton, The French and Indian Wars, N.Y., 1962; New York Times, 27 June 1965, p. 1, 55.


JA is here abstracting an Act of 25 March 1758 (Mass., Province Laws , 4:76).


On 17 March 1758 the General Court had voted “That each able bodied effective Man who shall voluntarily inlist himself into the intended Expedition against Canada before the fifteenth day of April next shall be intitled to Thirty shillings and upon his passing Muster shall receive a good Blanket and Fifty shillings more for furnishing himself with Cloaths” (same, 16:160). On 21 April—eloquent testimony on how recruiting was progressing—the time for enlistment “upon the same Bounty” was extended until 2 May (same, p. 176).

Among those who failed to meet the later date but enlisted soon afterward in order to avoid being “dragged into the Service at last” by officers with power to impress, was a neighbor of JA’s named Joseph Nightingale; see JA, Diary and105 Autobiography , 1:303. On 10 Jan. 1759 the House of Representatives received and considered the following petition, which JA is discussing here and had presumably helped Nightingale draft:

“A Petition of Joseph Nightingale, and others, of Braintree, . . . praying, that they may be allowed the Bounty voted for those that should inlist into the Service the last Year, for the Expedition against Canada before the 2d Day of May last, they having inlisted into said Service within a very few Days after the Time assigned, and marched to Fort-Edward by Direction of their proper Officers, and served faithfully during the whole Campaign.

“Read and Ordered, That this Petition be dismiss’d.”

(Mass., House Jour. , 35:158.)

The original of the Braintree petition has not been found in M-Ar.


Col. Benjamin Lincoln (Sr.), of Hingham (the father of Dr. Bela Lincoln, mentioned frequently above), and Col. Josiah Quincy and Capt. Richard Brackett of Braintree, the principal local militia officers.