Papers of John Adams, volume 3

From William Tudor

To Mercy Otis Warren

262 From James Warren, 28 October 1775 Warren, James JA From James Warren, 28 October 1775 Warren, James Adams, John
From James Warren
My dear Sir Watertown Octr. 28th: 1775

I did not hear till Yesterday in the Afternoon that Coll. Reed had any Intention to leave us so soon and begin his Journey to Philadelphia on this day. The first reflection on this Occasion was that he would be missed here. I have formed an Excellent opinion of him as a Man of Sense, Politeness, and Ability for Business. He has done us great service. He is I might add strongly Attached to the public Cause of America, but all this you know and perhaps more of his Character than I do. I shall therefore only say that I regret his leaving us and shall wish for his return.1 The next reflection was that I must Embrace the opportunity and write to you. For that purpose I assigned the Evening but Unluckily the House set till 8 O Clock, and prevented me. Church had a hearing before us Yesterday which took us nearly the whole day. After he withdrew there was a Motion for a Suspension of any Judgement upon him, least it might Influence his Court or Jury upon his Trial. Another Motion that we should Accept a Resignation he had made by Letter, and accompany it with a resolve that should save our honour, and not Injure him in his Trial. The End of the whole matter was Appointing a Committee to report how to proceed. I have now only time to thank you for your kind Letters by Mr. Tracy which I received a few days ago, and those by Capt. Mcpherson which came to hand Yesterday.2 You have Obliged me Extreemly. They have Edifyed, Comforted, strengthened, and Encouraged. I feel like a New Man. I have not seen the Bearer of the last, shall try to see him this afternoon. We have no kind of News. Time wont permit me to say anything, on the Important subject of your Letters, but to Compensate for any Observations of mine I shall Inclose what I Guess will be much more Agreable. The Author has stole an hour now and then since we came to Town to proceed so far as you'll see, on purpose to Unbend your mind a little, by Amusements of a Poetical kind well knowing you have a Taste for them. You have the two Acts in Print you wrote for last Summer, and two Subsequent ones and the Epilogue. The whole are at your disposition.3 I shall send Mrs. Adams's Letters &c. this day. I wrote you a long Scroll by Mr. Lynch, and Just as it was going received some Letters from Mrs. Adams which I Inclosed.4 I have received none from her since. I have not Time to Add a word more, and therefore must Conclude, that you may ever be happy is the wish of your Friend,

I forgot to tell you that the powder arrived in our Vessel at the East-263ward has got from 90 Tons by various Gradations to 7 1/2 which I think I gave you as the true account being what I thought I might rely on, and from thence to 15 hundred, and from thence to 6 hundred, which I believe is the true one, tho' I cant say that it wont descend to 3 ct.5

RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Octr. 28. 1775 Warren.” The main body of this letter takes up two pages and four lines of a third page. The final paragraph is written on a separate strip of paper, torn from what may have been an address sheet, for on the reverse appear an “Esqr” and a final “n.” Why Warren should have written his concluding words on a scrap rather than using the ample space of his barely used third page is not clear. A possible explanation is that he wrote his afterthought on the back of a cover sheet carrying the address and covering this letter and others, as well as enclosures; but if this is true, he did not do so because a seal prevented him from adding his concluding words on his own letter. JA might, then, in filing Warren's letter have torn off the strip. An alternative explanation is that someone (CFA?) mistakenly attached this scrap to the wrong letter, although no other extant letter of Warren to Adams in this period is so full that it could not have accommodated these lines.


Joseph Reed, Washington's secretary, did not return to Massachusetts but remained in Philadelphia, where he was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly in Jan. 1776 and was appointed adjutant general by the congress in June 1776 ( DAB ; JCC , 5:419).


Those of 12 and 13 Oct. carried by Tracy and the two first and second letters of 20 Oct. carried by McPherson (above).


Warren's enclosure has not been found, and his reference here is unclear. He seems to be saying that Mrs. Warren has completed two more acts and an epilogue for her poetic play The Group, which appeared as two acts of four scenes in the version printed by Edes and Gill in the spring of 1775 (see JA, Papers , 2:214, note 2). Yet that version has a concluding speech that, although it is not labeled as such, could be an epilogue. JA had complained in May that he had been unable to get a complete version of the play, the Philadelphia edition, copied from the first version in the Boston Gazette, containing only two scenes. In reply to JA, Warren mentioned an advertisement of the play appearing in the New York press, but the New York edition also had only two scenes (to JA, 27 June, above). It may be that Warren is confusing “acts” and “scenes” and is merely furnishing JA with a complete copy of the play, for the siege of Boston so soon after its publication may have made the Edes and Gill edition unavailable. Still, Warren's mention of Mrs. Warren's activity in Watertown suggests work on something new. If Warren did send an enclosure, JA does not acknowledge receipt of it in any extant letter to either of the Warrens.


Warren had last written to JA on 20 Oct. (above) and, if Lynch did not leave at once, probably included two letters from AA to JA, those of 21 and 22 Oct. ( Adams Family Correspondence , 1:305–308, 309–311). “Mrs. Adams's Letters,” which Warren says he will send on, were probably those of JA to AA of 21 and 23 Oct. (same, 1:309, 311–312).


Warren is probably referring to the arrival at Sheepscot of a “very Considerable quantity of Powder, Cannon and Arms” (to JA, 20 Oct., above). It should be understood that he is shifting from tons to pounds; that is, 1,500 pounds, etc. The “ct,” very carelessly written after the 3, is arguable, but this abbreviation for hundredweight seems logical.