Papers of John Adams, volume 4

To Richard Lee

The General Court to the Massachusetts Delegates

From James Warren, 5 June 1776 Warren, James JA From James Warren, 5 June 1776 Warren, James Adams, John
From James Warren
My Dear Sir Watertown June 5th: 1776

The Inclosed Letter was sealed to go by the last Post, but I Unluckily missed it.1 I have now An Opportunity to Inclose one from Braintree.2 Doctr. Church is Arrived here. Is not your resolve relative to him somewhat Extraordinary. I fear the People will kill him if at large. The Night before last he went to Lodge at Waltham was saved by the Interposition of the selectmen but by Jumping out of A Chamber Window and flying. His Life is of no great Consequence but such A Step has a tendency to lessen the Confidence of the People in the doings of Congress.

A large Sugar Ship from Jamaica with 300 hhds. sugar 80 Puncheons rum some Madeira wine &c. &c. is taken and got into the Vineyard in her way to Bedford. It is said that 4 or 5 others are taken by two Privateers who took this. What Privateers they are I cant learn.3

Must not something be done to prevent British Property being Covered by the West Indians. We shall loose our Labour, and discourage our Seamen. Why should not all English property going to Britain be liable to Capture.4 This matter must be Considered. We should fight them on equal Terms.

We have A Number of Seamen here supported at your Expence.5 If your Generosity and Civilized sentiments prevent, wont good policy dictate recourse to the Lex talionis. They are wanted. You will fine the want of them when you man your Ships.

RC (Adams Papers).


A reference to Warren's letter of 2 June (above).


AA to JA, 3 June ( Adams Family Correspondence , 2:4–5).


The Reynolds, one of three sugar ships seized by the privateers Congress and Chance, which were from Pennsylvania ( Naval Docs. Amer. Rev. , 5:380).


On 3 April the congress had made liable to seizure ships belonging to inhabitants of Great Britain with two exceptions: ships bringing settlers to the United Colonies and those bringing war materials for the use of Americans. Not until 24 July did the congress broaden its resolution to include subjects of the British Crown with the exception of inhabitants of Bermuda and the Bahama Islands ( JCC , 4:253; 5:606).


By this cryptic reference Warren may have meant captured British sea men, whom Warren wanted to see forced to serve in American vessels. The congress had voted on 21 May that prisoners were not to be enlisted in Continental forces, although on 5 Aug. the congress changed its mind ( JCC , 4:372; 5:630). Two Continental frigates were being built at Newburyport, the Boston and the Hancock, the former being launched on 3 June ( Naval Docs. Amer. Rev. , 5:159, 448, 449).