Papers of John Adams, volume 3

From Joseph Palmer

To Joseph Palmer

To George Washington, 19 June 1775; 20 June 1775 JA Washington, George To George Washington, 19 June 1775; 20 June 1775 Adams, John Washington, George
To George Washington
Phyladelphia 19 or 20 June 17751 Dear Sir

In Complyance with your Request, I have considered of what you proposed, and am obliged to give you my Sentiments, very briefly, and in great Haste.

In general, Sir, there will be three Committees, either of a Congress, or of an House of Representatives,2 which are and will be composed of our best Men, Such, whose Judgment and Integrity may be most relyed on. I mean the Committee on the State of the Province, the Committee of Safety, and the Committee of Supplies.

But least this should be too general, I beg leave to mention particularly James Warren Esqr. of Plymouth, Joseph Hawley Esqr. of Northampton, John Winthrop Esqr. L.L.D. of Cambridge, Dr. Warren, Dr. Church, Coll. Palmer of Braintree, Elbridge Gerry Esqr. of Marblehead. Mr. Bowdoin, Mr. Sever, Mr. Dexter, lately of the Council will be found to be very worthy Men, as well as Mr. Pitts who I am Sorry to hear is in ill Health.3

The Recommendations, of these Gentlemen, may be rely'd on. Our President was pleased to recommend to you, Mr. William Bant for one of your Aid du Camps.4 I must confess, I know not where to find a Gentleman, of more Merit, and better qualified for Such a Place.

Mr. Paine was pleased to mention to you Mr. William Tudor a young Gentleman of the Law, for a Secretary to the General—and all the rest of my Brothers, you may remember, very chearfully concurr'd with him. His Abilities and Virtues are such as must recommend him to every Man who loves Modesty, Ingenuity, or Fidelity: but as 31I find an Interest has been made in behalf of Mr. Trumbull of Connecticut,5 I must Submit the Decision to your further Inquiries, after you shall arrive at Cambridge. Mr. Trumbulls Merit is Such that I dare not Say a Word against his Pretensions. I only beg Leave to Say that Mr. Tudor is an Exile from a good Employment and fair Prospects in the Town of Boston, driven by that very Tyranny against which We are all contending. There is another gentleman of liberal Education and real genius, as well as great Activity, who I find is a Major in the Army; his Name is Jonathan Williams Austin.6 I mention him, Sir, not for the Sake of recommending him to any particular Favour, as to give the General an opportunity of observing a youth of great abilities, and of reclaiming him from certain Follies, which have hitherto, in other Departments of Life obscured him.

There is another Gentleman, whom I presume to be in the Army either as a Captain, or in Some higher Station, whose Name is William Smith: as this young Gentleman is my Brother in Law, I dont recommend him for any other Place, than that in which the voice of his Country has placed him. But the Countenance of the General, as far as his Conduct shall deserve it, which in an Army is of great Importance, will be gratefully acknowledged as a particular obligation by his Brother.

With great Sincerity, I wish you, an agreeable Journey, and a Successfull, a glorious Campaign: and am with great Esteem, Sir, your most obedient Servant.

John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To General Washington Present.” Although the MS was folded for sending, there is no evidence that it was sealed, and it may not have been sent. JA may have communicated his suggestions orally; but the first half of the letter with its mention of province leaders is repeated in the joint letter to Washington from the Massachusetts delegates (22 June, below). It is possible JA was persuaded that a joint effort was preferable.


That this letter was written before 21 June is evident from JA to James Warren, 20 June (below), in which JA says he has mentioned Warren's name to the general.


JA's uncertainty here comes from his not knowing whether Massachusetts had yet acted upon the advice of the congress respecting its government. See JA to James Warren, 27 June, note 3 (below).


James Bowdoin, William Sever, Samuel Dexter, and James Pitts were all elected to the Council in May 1774, but Gage rejected Bowdoin and Dexter, along with JA and ten others (Council Members Vetoed by Gage, 25 May 1774, JA, Papers , 2:96). Pitts had first been elected to the Council in 1766; Sever began service in the Council in 1769. Sever became a member of the Council again in 1775 and acted as president of that body in rotation with Bowdoin and James Warren until the implementation of the Constitution of 1780. Pitts refused election to the Council in 1775 and died in 1776. On Pitts and Sever, see Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 9:76–81; 11:575–578.


William Bant, a Boston merchant 32who acted as business agent for John Hancock, was probably the son of the merchant of the same name who died in 1754 (Thwing Catalogue, MHi). The son served on a couple of town committees, but refused the office of warden (Boston Record Commissioners, 18th Report, passim; 26th Report, passim). Bant died in early 1779, and his widow, Mary Anna, married Caleb Davis, who undertook the complicated business of handling the settlement of accounts against Bant's estate (MHi: Caleb Davis Papers, passim). One letter refers to him as “Colo. William Bant,” but the only record of military service is his being listed as a member of a Boston independent company in 1776 (same, Ebenezer Geary to Mrs. Bant, 26 Aug. 1783; Mass. Soldiers and Sailors , 1:582). On Bant and Hancock, see William T. Baxter, The House of Hancock, Cambridge, 1945 p. 241–242, 287–288.


Joseph Trumbull, son of Gov. Jonathan Trumbull of Connecticut. See Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 1:128, 133. Actually, Joseph became commissary general on 19 July ( JCC , 2:190).


A former law clerk for JA; for a brief sketch, see JA, Legal Papers , 1:xcvi.