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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 3

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0014

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-14

August 14. 1796. Sunday.

The Weather hot and dry.
One great Advantage of the Christian Religion is that it brings the great Principle of the Law of Nature and Nations, Love your Neigh• { 241 } bour as yourself, and do to others as you would that others should do to you, to the Knowledge, Belief and Veneration of the whole People. Children, Servants, Women and Men are all Professors in the science of public as well as private Morality. No other Institution for Education, no kind of political Discipline, could diffuse this kind of necessary Information, so universally among all Ranks and Descriptions of Citizens. The Duties and Rights of The Man and the Citizen are thus taught, from early Infancy to every Creature. The Sanctions of a future Life are thus added to the Observance of civil and political as well as domestic and private Duties. Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude, are thus taught to be the means and Conditions of future as well as present Happiness.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0015

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-15

August 15. 1796. Monday.

My Team met the Abington Team at the Bars, and plough'd the Baulk between Burrells Corn and the great Wall, with the great Plough.
Ploughed on the North Side of the Wall from the Road to the rocky Vally with the small breaking up plough. Trask mowing Bushes and burning. At Night both Teams came home with both Ploughs.
Mrs. Adams went with Mrs. Otis to Situate and Plymouth.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0016

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-16

August 16. 1796. Tuesday.

Mr. Reed and Mr. Gurney with Billings ploughing below the lower Garden with 9 Cattle, and the small breaking up plough. It took a long time to fix the Plough with a Wheel &c. In the Afternoon ploughed upon Stony field Hill.
Sullivan with one Yoke of oxen, the Steers and Mare gone to cart Salt Hay for my Tenants French and Vinton.
Tirrell and Thomas still threshing. James and Prince, idle as usual.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0017

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-17

August 17. 1796. Wednesday.

Seven Yoke of Oxen and a Horse, Mr. Reed, Mr. Gurney, Mr. Billings, Mr. Brisler, Sullivan and Thomas Lothrop and black James, Seven hands ploughing with the great Plough in the Meadow below the lower Garden. Prince gone to Mill. The Weather dry, fair and cool. The Wind Easterly.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0018

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-18

August 18. 1796. Thursday.

Ten Yoke of Oxen and ten Men ploughing in the Meadow below my House.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0019

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-19

August 19. 1769 [i.e. 1796]. Fryday.

Ten Yoke of Oxen and twelve hands ploughing in the meadow. It is astonishing that such a Meadow should have lain so long in such a State. Brakes, Hassock Grass, Cramberry Vines, Poke or Skunk Cabbage, Button Bushes, alder Bushes, old Stumps and Roots, Rocks, Turtles, Eels, Frogs, were the Chief Things to be found in it. But I presume it may be made to produce Indian and English Grain, and English Grass, especially Herdsgrass in Abundance. At least the Beauty of the Meadow and the Sweetness of it and the Air over it will be improved. Brackets, Vintons and My Brothers oxen added to mine and those from Abington.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0020

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-20

August 20. 1796. Saturday.

Bracket and Vinton left me. We procured Captn. Baxters Oxen and William Field Junr. and went on with Eight Yoke including my red Steers, and ploughed as well as ever.
Paid Reed £11. 2s. in full for the Weeks Work of two Men, three Yoke of Oxen and a Horse.
The Men I allowed 6s. a day, tho I found them,1 being one Shilling more than the Agreement. The Oxen I allowed 7s. 6d. a Day, as they found them, which was according to Agreement. The Horse I allowed four shillings a Day for the Days he worked, or rather danced, which were three, and I allowed them one shilling a Day for his Keeping, when he was idle. Making in the whole £11 2s: od.
The[y] left a miserable Dogs Ear in the Meadow unploughed, which mortifies me. In other Respects I am satisfied. I allowed them however a very extravagant sum for keeping their Cattle, and a shilling a Man a Day more than they asked for their Labour.
Mrs. Adams returned with Mr. and Mrs. Otis and Miss Harriot about 9 O Clock at night.
1. That is, furnished them with food; see OED under Find, verb, 18.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0021

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-21

August 21. 1796. Sunday.

The hottest day. Unwell.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0022

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-22

August 22. 1796 Monday.

Mr. Otis and Family went to Boston. Mr. C. Storer and Mr. Storrow breakfasted.
{ 243 }
Billings and Sullivan began the Wall against the Road opposite the Corner of the Garden.
Very hot but the Wind springs up. Unwell.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0023

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-23

August 23. 1796 Tuesday.

All hands and Tirrell, upon the Wall—carting Stones and Earth &c. Went down to Mr. Quincys and up to our Tenants with Mrs. Adams. Unwell. Brisler and the two black Boys picking Apples.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0024

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-24

August 24. 1796. Wednesday.

Billings, Bass and the Lothrops upon the Wall. The blacks going to pick Apples. I took Rhubarb and Salt of Wormwood.
Bathing my Feet and drinking balm Tea, last night composed me somewhat, and I hope the Rhubarb and Salt of Wormwood I took this Morning will carry off my Complaints: but the Pain in my head and the burnings in my hands and feet were so like the Commencement of my Fevers of 1781 at Amsterdam and of 1783 at Paris and Auteuil, that I began to be allarmed.
Mr. and Mrs. Norton dined with Us.
Old Mr. Thomas Adams of Medfield, the Father of Hannah Adams, the Author of The View of Religions, came in to return a Volume he borrowed last Spring of Bryants Analysis of the ancient Mythology, and to borrow the other two Volumes which I lent him.1
Brisler and the black Boys picking Apples.
1. Thomas Adams of Medfield was a distant cousin of JA; considered eccentric because he doted on books, he acquired the name “Book Adams.” However, he returned all three volumes of Jacob Bryant's New System, or an Analysis of Ancient Mythology, 2d edn., London, 1775–1776, for they may be found among JA's books in the Boston Public Library.
His daughter Hannah Adams (1755–1831) was “probably the first woman in America to make writing a profession” (DAB), and was accordingly much patronized by literary Boston. Her View of Religions, in Two Parts, an enlargement of an earlier work, was published in Boston, 1791, and was dedicated to JA, who subscribed for three copies. Though a mere compilation, this is still a useful book. See Hannah Adams to JA, 21 Feb. 1791, Adams Papers; and JA's reply, 10 March, LbC, Adams Papers; also the engaging Memoir of Miss Hannah Adams, Written by Herself. With Additional Notices, by a Friend, Boston, 1832.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0025

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-25

August 25. 1796. Thursday.

Billings, Bass and the two Lothrops all this Week upon the Wall over the Way. They make about a Rod and a half a day. Captn. Beale began Yesterday to clear his Brook. So much for the Exemplary Influence of ploughing my Meadow.
{ 244 }
The Benediction of Ulysses to The Pheacians, B. 13. 1. 60. “Sure fix'd on Virtue may your nation stand and public Evil never touch the Land” comprehends the Essence and Summary of Politicks. A Nation can stand on no other Basis, and standing on this it is founded on a Rock. Standing on any other Ground it will be washed away by the Rains or blown down by the Winds.
This Day has been intolerably hot. But about 9 O Clock in the Evening it began to rain with Thunder and Lightening and continued to rain very steadily for an hour or two.
My Men complained of the heat more than at any time, they accomplished never the less about a rod and an half of the Wall.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0026

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-26

August 26. 1796. Fryday.

Cloudy. Wind. N.E. but not rainy. The shower last night has refreshed Us. The Corn, the Gardens, the Pastures, The After feed, the Fruit trees all feel it.
Sullivan gone for a Load of Seaweed. The other Men upon the Wall. In digging a Trench for the Wall We find Stones enough, in Addition to the old Wall to compleat the New one. Four hands with a Yoke of Oxen have done Six Rods in four days Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Brisler went Yesterday a plovering with a Party who killed about an hundred.
”Inflexible to preserve, virtuous to pursue, and intelligent to discern the true Interests of his Country.” Flattering expressions of a Toast, the more remarkable as they originated in N. York.—God grant they may never be belied, never disproved.
Mr. Sedgwick and Mr. Barrell came up to see me, and gives a sanguine Account of the future Elections of Senators and Representatives.
Sullivan brought up a Load of Seaweed for the Swine. Trask at Work the 3d day mowing Bushes in the old Plain.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0027

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-27

August 27. 1796. Saturday.

Sullivan carting Seaweed, spread one Load among the red Loam in the Cavity in the Yard. Trask mowing Bushes in the meadow below the Garden. James cutting the Trees. Billings, Bass and Thomas, about the Wall. Brisler absent on Account of his sick Child.
The Wall, the Alterations of the Road, and the Carting of the Earth, Soil, Loam, Gravel and Stones, out of the Way, whether We { 245 } spread them on the Meadow, lay them in heaps for Compost in the Yard, or deposit them in Parts of the Road where they may be wanted, will in the most frugal Course We can take consume much labour at a great Expence.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0028

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-28

August 28. 1796. Sunday.

Hot. Went not out. Mr. Strong preached. Reading Bryants Analysis of ancient Mythology.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0029

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-29

August 29. Monday. 1796.

Warm. Billings, Bass and two Sullivans1 with James on the Wall. Carted 9 or 10 Load of excellent Soil into an heap, below the lower Garden Wall, and put it to two Loads of Seaweed and some Lime, for manure for the Corn in the Meadow next Year. Carted besides, 3 Loads into the Hollow in the Cowyard. An extream hot day. Reading Bryant. Wrote to Phila. to Wolcot and Pickering.2
1. Probably an error for the “two Lathrops” (or Lothrops).
2. The letter to Oliver Wolcott Jr., secretary of the treasury (CtHi), requested “a Quarters Salary.” The letter to Timothy Pickering has not been found, but Pickering's reply of 5 Sept. (Adams Papers) shows that JA had inquired about the health of TBA, secretary of legation to his brother JQA at The Hague.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0030

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-30

August 30. Tuesday. 1796.

Prospect of another hot day. Pursuing the Wall. Tirrell worked with our Men. Trask cutting Bushes on the ploughed Meadow at the other Place. Wind shifted to the North and then to the N.E. and the Air became very cold. Rode up to see Trask. Carted Mould into the Yard all Day.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0003-0031

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-08-31

August 31. 1796. Wednesday.

Wind north and Air cold. Working on the high Ways. Carried a great Part of my gravel and spread it on the Road to the Meeting House.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0004-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-09-01

September 1. 1796. Thursday.

The Summer is ended and the first day of Autumn commenced. The Morning is cold tho the Wind is West. To Work again on the high Ways. Billings out upon his Wall a little after Sunrise. Captn. Hall Surveyor of High Ways finished the Road between my Garden and new Wall.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0004-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-09-02

September 2. 1796. Fryday.

To work again on the high Ways. They have taxed me this Year between forty nine and fifty days Works on the Roads besides the other Farm in Quincy and the farm in Braintree. This is unjust, more than my Proportion, more than Mr. Black or Mr. Beale.1
Stumbled over a Wheelbarrow in the dark and hurt my Shin.
1. Moses Black, an Irishman who had acquired the house and farm formerly owned by Col. Edmund Quincy (the “Dorothy Q.” house), and Squire Benjamin Beale were both at this time prominent in town affairs and among the largest property owners in Quincy. See the tax list for 1792, when Quincy was taken off from Braintree, in Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy, p. 623 ff., and numerous references to both men in the same work.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0004-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-09-03

September 3. 1796. Saturday.

Pursuing the Wall. Tirrell is here and We expect French with his Team. Some soft warm Showers in the night and this morning. French came not, because it rained.
Anniversary of Peace, which has lasted 13 Years.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0004-0004

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-09-04

September 4. 1796. Sunday.

Fair. No Clergyman to day.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0004-0005

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-09-05

September 5. 1796. Monday.

The Anniversary of The Congress in 1774.
Sullivan brought a good Load of green Seaweed, with six Cattle, which We spread and limed upon the heap of Compost in the Meadow. Carted Earth from the Wall to the same heap. Tirrell here. Stetson opening the Brook three feet wider, Two feet on one Side and three feet on the other, at 9d. Pr. rod. Billings has never laid up more than a Rod and a half a day, of the Wall, till Yesterday when he thinks he laid up 28 feet.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0004-0006

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-09-06

Sept. 6. 1796. Tuesday.

Walked up to Trask mowing Bushes.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0004-0007

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-09-07

Sept. 7. 1796. Wednesday.

Belcher, Bass and Sullivan gone to mow the Marsh and get out the Thatch at Penny ferry.1
Billings laying Wall. Thomas, carting Earth. Stetson, widening the Brook to seven feet at 9d. Pr. Rod and a dinner. Brisler and James { 247 } preparing, Yesterday and to day, the Cyder Mill, Press, and Casks.
Yesterday Jackson Field came to offer me Mount Arrarat at Three hundred Dollars. I could not agree. He fell to 275. I could not agree. He fell to 250 reserving the Right to work in Stone with one hand, for Life. I agreed at length to this extravagant Price and have drawn the Deed this Morning.
This Afternoon He came and took the Deed to execute and acknowledge.2
“In 1823, ex-President John Adams was asked whether Judge Edmund Quincy of Braintree, went to Boston over Milton Hill? He replied, 'No, Judge Quincy would have thought it unsafe to venture as far inland as Milton Hill, for fear of the Indians; he was accustomed to go to Boston by the way of Penny's Ferry;'—a ferry so called because passengers paid a penny a piece to be rowed over the Neponset” (Quincy Patriot, 25 Dec. 1875, as quoted in Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy, p. 69, note).
2. Mount Ararat was part of the old Braintree North Commons (now in West Quincy), divided and sold as lots in 1765 under the management of a town committee of which JA was a member (Braintree Town Records, p.406–407). On 9 June of the present year JA had acquired from Neddie Curtis 20 acres of this land, which was to prove valuable for its granite quarries, and he now acquired 20 more (information from Mr. Ezekiel S. Sargent, Quincy, Mass., in a letter to the editors from Mr. H. Hobart Holly, president of the Quincy Historical Society, 13 March 1960). In 1822 JA held still more granite-producing land in this neighborhood, and one of his gifts to the town toward building a new church and an academy comprised “fifty four acres more or less, commonly known by the name of the Lane's Pasture, or the Mount Ararat Pasture, near the seat of the Hon. Thomas Greenleaf” ([Quincy, Mass.,] Deeds and Other Documents ..., Cambridge, 1823, p. 3–5).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0004-0008

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-09-08

Septr. 8. 1796. Thursday.

Sullivan gone for Seaweed. Bass and Thomas carting Manure from the Hill of Compost in the Yard. Billings and Prince laying Wall. Brisler and James picking Apples and making Cyder. Stetson widening the Brook.
I think to christen my Place by the Name of Peace field, in commemoration of the Peace which I assisted in making in 1783, of the thirteen Years Peace and Neutrality which I have contributed to preserve, and of the constant Peace and Tranquility which I have enjoyed in this Residence.1
Carted 6 Loads of slimy Mud from the Brook to the heap of Compost.
Jackson Field brought me his Deed of Mount Arrarat executed by himself and his Wife and acknowledged before Major Miller. I received it, and gave him my Note for 250 dollars. I then gave him my Consent, without his asking it, to pasture his Cow as usual the Remainder of this Season, for which he expressed Gratitude, and en• { 248 } gaged to keep off Geese, Sheep, Hogs and Cattle. Received Letters from my Son at the Hague as late as 24. June.2
1. “Peacefield” (variously written) was the first of several names JA used for his Quincy homestead; they varied according to his mood. Following his unhappy return from Washington in March 1801, he headed his letters “Stony Field, Quincy,” a name he drew from Stony Field Hill, the eminence that he owned and farmed across the road from his house and that later acquired the more elegant name Presidents Hill. After resuming his correspondence with Jefferson in 1812, JA whimsically adopted an Italianate name, “Montezillo,” which he cryptically explained to Richard Rush as follows: “Mr. Jefferson lives at Monticello the lofty Mountain. I live at Montezillo a little Hill” (24 Nov. 1814, PHi:Gratz Coll.). This name persisted until JA's last years, though he used it irregularly, and occasionally varied it by employing the English form, “Little Hill.”
2. At the end of May JQA had returned to The Hague after a stay of nearly seven months in London. He had gone there on what turned out to be a superfluous diplomatic errand, but in the course of his visit he had become engaged to Louisa Catherine Johnson; see his Diary, 11 Nov. 1795–31 May 1796; JQA to AA, 5 May 1796, Adams Papers; Bemis, JQA, 1:68–69. The letters JA mentions as receiving were doubtless those dated 6 and 24 June 1796, both in Adams Papers and both in large part printed in JQA's Writings, 1:490–493. 497–508.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0004-0009

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-09-09

Septr. 9. 1796. Fryday.

Appearances of Rain.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0013-0004-0010

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1796-09-10

September 10. 1796. Saturday.

Walked, with my Brother to Mount Arrarat, and find upon Inquiry that Jo. Arnold's Fence against the New Lane begins at the Road by the Nine mile Stone. My half is towards Neddy Curtis's Land lately Wm. Fields. The Western Half of the Fence against Josiah Bass, or in other Words that Part nearest to Neddy Curtis's is mine. Against Dr. Greenleaf my half is nearest to Josiah Bass's Land.1
1. The tempo of electioneering increased rapidly after the publication of Washington's Farewell Address on 19 Sept., but JA stayed quietly on at Quincy for two months longer, pushing his program of farm improvements into severely cold weather. On 23 Nov. he left for Philadelphia, passing a day on the way with his daughter in East Chester and another with CA in New York (JA to AA, 27 Nov., 1 Dec, both in Adams Papers). He arrived in Philadelphia on 2 Dec., in ample time for the opening of the second session of the Fourth Congress three days later. The city was seething with politics on the eve of the voting by Presidential electors in the sixteen states, and so indeed was the country; but JA wrote much more calmly of the prospects of both himself and his rivals, not to mention the maneuvers of party understrappers and the libels of journalists, than AA could. “I look upon the Event as the throw of a Die, a mere Chance, a miserable, meagre Tryumph to either Party,” he told JQA in a letter of 5 Dec. (Adams Papers). What he meant was that, since the contest was bound to be very close, the new President, whoever he might be, would have so small a majority that he would “be very apt to stagger and stumble” in discharging his duties (to AA, 7 Dec, Adams Papers). The result of the electors' balloting was not perfectly certain until late that month. By the 27th JA { 249 } could write his wife: “71 is the Ne plus ultra—it is now certain that no Man can have more and but one so many”; and though he did not yet know beyond all doubt whether Jefferson or Thomas Pinckney would be Vice-president he discussed with AA their imminent problems respecting “House, Furniture, Equipage, Servants,” and the like (Adams Papers). At length, on 8 Feb., as he was bound to do, he presided over a joint meeting of the two houses in which the votes were unsealed and counted, and announced the result as 71 votes for himself (one more than the necessary majority of 70), 68 for Jefferson, 59 for Pinckney, and the rest scattered among ten others, so that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were elected President and Vicepresident respectively, to serve for four years beginning on 4 March 1797 (Annals of Congress, 4th Cong., 2d sess., col. 2095–2098).
Four years later, on 11 Feb. 1801, Vice-president Jefferson found himself obliged to perform a similar duty and announced that Jefferson and Burr had each received 73 electoral votes, JA 65, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney 64, and John Jay 1 vote (same, 6th Cong., 2d sess., col. 743–744). The tie vote for the two Democratic-Republican candidates led to complications, but JA was out of the running, and early on the day of his successor's inauguration he left the new seat of government in Washington, and public life, for good.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0014-0001-0001

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1804-07 - 1804-08

[July–August] 1804.1

July   2d.   Mowed, over vs. Yard and Garden    
  3   One Load, from the road to the ditch and from the cart path to the pasture Lane   1  
  4   Four Loads, over the Way and between the ditch and orchard   4  
  5   One Load from Chris Webbs House Lott   1  
  6   One from the 10 Acre Lot on the hill   1  
  7   Two in Cranchs Barn and two from the 10 Acre Lott   4  
Sunday   8      
  9   Two load one from Mr. Cranchs and 1 from 10 Acre Lot   2  
Wed.   11.   4 Load from about the Hancock Cellar   4  
T.   12.   6 Load five from about Hancocks Cellar and one from the Walnut Lot   6  
F.   13   6 Load. 3 from Walnut Lot and three from about Hancocks Cellar and one Jag2   7  
S.   14.   Six Loads from Chris. Webbs farm   6  
Sunday   15      
Monday   16      
Tuesday   17      
Wednesday   18   Seven Loads 3 from the orchard and 4 into Mr. Cranches Barn of Clover—Jaggs all.   7  
{ 250 }
Thursday   19      
F.   20      
S.   21   5 Load from the Wire Grass Hill   5  
Sunday   22      
Monday   23   Three Loads from the ten Acre hill   3  
Tuesday   24   Three Loads from the orchard and beyond it   3  
Wednesday   25   Two Loads from the Ditch   2  
Thursday   26   Three Loads in Mr. Cranchs Barn   3  
Fryday   27   Three, fresh and all into Mr. C. Barn   3  
Saturday   28   One Load from the Beech Meadow part black grass   1  
Sunday   29      
Monday   30   One Load Salt [hay] from the Coves   1  
August   17   Fryday 5 loads of Salt Hay from the Coves   5  
Saturday   18   3 loads, one from the Coves and two from Mount Wollaston at the Salt pond   3  
Sunday   19      
Monday   20   3 Loads from the Meadows on this and the other side the Causey   3  
Tuesday   21   2 Loads from the Causey at Mount Wollaston   2  
Wednesday   22   Four loads from the beach   4  
Thursday   23   Two loads from the Beach Salt Hay   2  
1. This tabular record of JA's haying operations and the homely entry immediately following, the final scraps of JA's Diary, were not printed by CFA.
2. Jag, substantive, 2 (origin unknown): “dial, and U.S. ... 1. A load (usually a small cartload) of hay, wood, etc.” (OED).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0014-0001-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1804-08

1784 [i.e. 1804]. Aug.

The last Week in August We ploughed a ditch and brought the Earth into the Yard and 32 loads of Mud from the Cove.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1802-10-05

John Adams.1


Begun Oct. 5. 1802.
As the Lives of Phylosophers, Statesmen or Historians written by them selves have generally been suspected of Vanity, and therefore few People have been able to read them without disgust; there is no reason to expect that any Sketches I may leave of my own Times would be received by the Public with any favour, or read by individuals with much interest. The many great Examples of this practice will not be alledged as a justification, because they were Men of extraordinary Fame, to which I have no pretensions.2 My Excuse is, that having been the Object of much Misrepresentation, some of my Posterity may probably wish to see in my own hand Writing a proof of the falsehood of that Mass of odious Abuse of my Character, with which News Papers, private Letters and public Pamphlets and Histories have been disgraced for thirty Years. It is not for the Public but for my Children that I commit these Memoirs to writing: and to them and their Posterity I recommend, not the public Course, which the times and the Country in which I was born and the Circumstances which surrounded me compelled me to pursue: but those Moral Sentiments and Sacred Prin• { 254 } ciples, which at all hazards and by every Sacrifice I have endeavoured to preserve through Life.
The Customs of Biography require that something should be said of my origin.3 Early in the Settlement of the Colony of Massachusetts, a Gentleman from England arriving in America with Eight Sons, settled near Mount Wollaston and not far from the ancient Stone Building erected for the double Purpose of Public Worship and Fortification against the Indians. His House, Malthouse and the Lands belonging to them still remain in the Possession of his Posterity.4
Of the Eight Sons, one returned to England: four removed to Medfield: two are said to have removed to Chelmsford: One only Joseph remained at Braintree.5 He had three sons Joseph, Peter and John. Joseph and Peter remained in Braintree: John removed to Boston and { 255 } was the Father of Samuel Adams and Grandfather of the late Governor of the State of Massachusetts.
Joseph my Grandfather had ten Children, five sons and five daughters, all named in his Will which I now have in my Possession.6
John my Father had three Sons, John, Peter Boylston, and Elihu. Peter Boylston is still living my Neighbour, my Friend and beloved Brother.7 Elihu died at an early Age in 1775. His Life was a Sacrifice to the Cause of his Country, having taken, in our Army at Cambridge in which he commanded a Company of Volunteers from the Militia, a contagious distemper, which brought him to his Grave leaving three young Children John, Susanna and Elisha.
In 1629 October the twentieth, a Choice was made, at a General Court of the Company in London, of Governor and Assistants, consisting of such Persons as had determined to go over to America, with the Patent of the Massachusetts Colony, and Thomas Adams was chosen as one of the Assistants. By this it appears that Thomas Adams had declared his intention of removing to the new World, and We are informed in Mr. Prince's Chronology, that this Gentleman was one of the most active and zealous in promoting the design to transport the Patent across the Seas: Yet it does not appear that he ever arrived in America. It is not improbable that his Brother, or some other Relation, with his numerous Family, might be sent over, to reconnoitre the Country and prepare a Situation: and that death, or some unfavourable report brought back by the Eighth Son who returned to England, might prevent his pursuing his former intention of following the Charter to this Country. But this is mere Conjecture.8
[ . . . ]9 engaged and while [ . . . ] him in his Writings learned his { 256 } Trade. My Father by his Industry and Enterprize soon became a Person of more Property and Consideration in the Town than his Patron had been. He became a Select Man, a Militia Officer and a Deacon in the Church. He was the honestest Man I ever knew. In Wisdom, Piety, Benevolence and Charity In proportion to his Education and Sphere of Life, I have never seen his Superiour. My Grandmother was a Bass of Braintree: but as she died many Years before I was born, I know little of her History except that I have been told by an ancient Lady the Relict of our ancient Minister Mr. Marsh a Daughter of our more ancient Minister Mr. Fiske, that she was a Person possessed of more Litterature than was common in Persons of her Sex and Station, a dilligent Reader and a most exemplary Woman in all the Relations of Life. She died of a Consumption and had Leisure to draw up advice to her Children, which I have read in her handwriting in my Infancy, but which is now lost. I know not that I have seen it for si[x]ty Years, and the Judgment of a Boy of seven Years old is not <worth much> to be recollected, but it appeared to me then wonderfully fine. From his Mother probably my Father received an Admiration of Learning as he called it, which remained with him, through Life, and which prompted him to his unchangeable determination to give his first son a liberal Education.
My Mother was Suzanna Boylston a Daughter of Peter Boylston of Brooklyne, the oldest son of Thomas Boylston a Surgeon and Apothecary who came from London in 1656, and married a Woman by the Name of Gardner of that Town, by whom he had Issue Peter my Grandfather, Zabdiel the Physician, who first introduced into the British Empire the Practice of Inocculation for the Small Pox, Richard, Thomas and Dudley and several Daughters.10
[My Grand]father married Ann [White, a daughter of Benjamin] White who lived on the South Side of the Hill in Brooklyne as you go to little Cambridge, known by the name of Whites Hill, which he owned.11 My Grandmother was the Sister of Edward White Esqr. the { [facing 256] } { [facing 257] } { 257 } Father of Benjamin White, a Councillor and Representative for several Years, both of whom possessed in succession the Family Estate. She had several Sisters, one of whom married a Minister of Rochester of the name of Ruggles, by whom she had Timothy Ruggles a Lawyer, Judge, Member of the Legislature and a Brigadier General in the Army in the War with the French of 1755 in which he conducted with Reputation. Another of her Sisters married a Mr. Sharp and was the Mother of Mrs. Sumner of Roxbury the Mother of the late Governor Sumner, whose praises are justly celebrated in this State.
1. This is JA's own title for the first part of his Autobiography, dealing with his life up to the beginning of Oct. 1776. For a description of the MS as a whole, an account of its composition, and the editorial treatment now given it, see the Introduction to the present work. As preserved by the family, the MS of the Autobiography is preceded by two undated holograph fragments. The first, entitled “The Life of John Adams,” is a two-page folio MS that was undoubtedly composed earlier than the Autobiography as it now stands; it is a false start or rough draft, much crossed out and interlined, that summarizes the early history of the Adams family in America and breaks off after a paragraph or two on JA's boyhood; see notes 2 and 3 immediately below. The second fragment, entitled “Sketch,” consists of three quarto pages in JA's later hand, and is a very condensed summary of JA's whole life, ending: “On the [] day of blank in the Year [] he died, and is buried <on Shepards Hill heretofore called Mount Wollaston. What Fortune had he pray? His own and his Fathers.>
2. In the rough draft this sentence begins: “The Examples of De Thou, Clarendon, Hume, Gibbon &c., will not be alledged....” The entire sentence was subsequently crossed out.
3. In the rough draft JA added here the following sentences:
“Although this Investigation will present nothing on the one hand to excite the pride of my Successors or the Envy of others, Yet on the other, it will discover no causes for blushes or regret. My Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, and Great Great Grandfather all lived and died in this Town of Quincy, for so many Years the First Parish in the Ancient Town of Braintree, and are buried in the Congregational Church Yard. They were all in the middle rank of People in Society: all sober, industrious, frugal and religious: all possessed of landed Estates, always unincumbered with debts, and as independent as human nature is, or ought to be in the World.”
4. The immigrant was Henry Adams (ca. 1583–1646), a farmer and maltster of Barton St. David and Kingweston, Somersetshire, who married Edith Squire in 1609 and came with a numerous family to Massachusetts Bay in 1638 (Bartlett, Henry Adams of Somersetshire, p. 46–72). In an epitaph composed for the progenitor of his line in America, JA said that Henry Adams “took his flight from the Dragon persecution in Devonshire” (Wilson, Where Amer. Independence Began, p. 301). He was mistaken about Henry Adams' place of origin (though it was not until the publication of Bartlett's researches in 1927 that the true place of origin was known), and there is only family tradition to support the belief that the Adamses were driven from Somersetshire to the Bay Colony by “the Dragon persecution.” On 24 Feb. 1639/40 Henry Adams was granted forty acres, for a family of ten heads, “at the mount” (Mount Wollaston), and he settled there in what became in 1640 the town of Braintree (Boston Record Commissioners, 2nd Report, p. 49). The site of his farm and malthouse is on the north side of present Elm Street about opposite the head of South Street in modern Quincy, which was taken off from Braintree in 1792 (HA2, Birthplaces, p. 1). The occupation and the property stayed with the family into the 19th century; for JA's recollections of boyhood visits to his “Great Uncle, Captain and Deacon Peter Adams,” at the malthouse, see JA to Benjamin Rush, 19 July 1812 (MB; Biddle, Old Family Letters, p. 413). Henry Adams' highly revealing will and inventory are printed from the Suffolk co. Probate Records in Bartlett, Henry Adams of Somersetshire, p. 67–68.
5. Joseph Adams (1626–1694), seventh son of Henry Adams and great-grandfather of JA, inherited his father's property and trade in Braintree, married in 1650 Abigail Baxter of Roxbury, and served from time to time as selectman, constable, and surveyor of highways (Bartlett, Henry Adams of Somersetshire, p. 80, 90–93; Braintree Town Records, p. 13, 14, 27, 28). A copy of his will, 18 July 1694, with comments by JA, is in the Adams Papers, Wills and Deeds (Microfilms, Reel No. 607).
6. The second Joseph Adams of Braintree (1654–1737), eldest son and second child of the first Joseph, married three times; his second wife was Hannah Bass of Braintree, a granddaughter of John and Priscilla Alden of Plymouth, whom he married in 1688 and by whom he had eight of his eleven children, including Deacon John, father of JA (Bartlett, Henry Adams of Somersetshire, p. 93, 94–95). He served in the same town offices his father had held ( Braintree Town Records, p. 39, 46, 83, 87, 90, 99). A copy of a draft of his will dated 23 July 1731, with comments by JA, is in the Adams Papers, Wills and Deeds (Microfilms, Reel No. 607).
7. Born in 1738, Peter Boylston Adams died in 1823 (Quincy, First Church, MS Records).
8. No evidence is known indicating that the Thomas Adams who was one of the proprietors of the Massachusetts Bay Company under its royal charter of 4 March 1629, but who did not come to America, was connected with the Henry Adams of Somersetshire who came to Boston in 1638.
9. At least half a line of text is missing here. The missing matter occurs at the top of a second folded sheet of the MS which is larger than the preceding and following sheets and has thus become brittle and is worn away. Several other oversize sheets in the Autobiography have suffered similar damage, but the present passage is the only one the text of which is not wholly recoverable by one means or another.
10. For a brief genealogy of the Boylston family of Muddy River (later Brookline) and Boston, see NEHGR, 7 (1853): 145–150.
11. By “little Cambridge” JA meant what is now Brighton (formerly part of Cambridge). The house on White's Hill, built before 1736, rebuilt by Dr. Zabdiel Boylston after he purchased it in 1737, and owned successively by Boylstons, Hyslops, Lees, and Richardsons, still stands on Boylston Street in Brookline, overlooking the Reservoir; see Nina Fletcher Little, Some Old Brookline Houses, Brookline, 1949, p. 115–118; Frances R. Morse, Henry and Mary Lee: Letters and Journals, Boston, 1926, p. 297 ££.). In a letter to Ward Nicholas Boylston, 15 Sept. 1820 (Tr, Adams Papers), JA recalled his childhood visits to his mother's Brookline homestead.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0002

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1734 - 1735
Date: 1802

[Parents and Boyhood]

My Father married Susanna Boylston in October 1734, and on the 19th of October 17351 I was born. As my Parents were both fond of reading, and my father had destined his first born, long before his birth to a public Education I was very early taught to read at home and at a School of Mrs. Belcher the Mother of Deacon Moses Belcher, who lived in the next house on the opposite side of the Road. I shall not consume much paper in relating the Anecdotes of my Youth. I was sent to the public School close by the Stone Church, then kept by Mr. Joseph Cleverly, who died this Year 1802 at the Age of Ninety. Mr. Cleverly was through his whole Life the most indolent Man I ever knew <excepting Mr. Wibirt> though a tolerable Schollar and a Gentleman. His inattention to his Schollars was such as gave me a disgust to Schools, to books and to study and I spent my time as idle Children do in making and sailing boats and Ships upon the Ponds and Brooks, in making and flying Kites, in driving hoops, playing marbles, playing Quoits, Wrestling, Swimming, Skaiting and above all in shooting, to which Diversion I was addicted to a degree of Ardor which I know not that I ever felt for any other Business, Study or Amusement.2
My Enthusiasm for Sports and Inattention to Books, allarmed my Father, and he frequently entered into conversation with me upon the Subject. I told him [I did not?] love Books and wished he would lay aside the thoughts of sending me to Colledge. What would you do Child? Be a Farmer. A Farmer? Well I will shew you what it is to be a Farmer. You shall go with me to Penny ferry tomorrow Morning and help me get Thatch. I shall be very glad to go Sir.—Accordingly next morning he took me with him, and with great good humour kept me all { 258 } day with him at Work. At night at home he said Well John are you satisfied with being a Farmer. Though the Labour had been very hard and very muddy I answered I like it very well Sir. Ay but I dont like it so well: so you shall go to School to day. I went but was not so happy as among the Creek Thatch. My School master neglected to put me into Arithmetick longer than I thought was right, and I resented it. I procured me Cockers3 I believe and applyd myself to it at home alone and went through the whole Course, overtook and passed by all the Schollars at School, without any master. I dared not ask my fathers Assistance because he would have disliked my Inattention to my Latin. In this idle Way I passed on till fourteen and upwards, when I said to my Father very seriously I wished he would take me from School and let me go to work upon the Farm. You know said my father I have set my heart upon your Education at Colledge and why will you not comply with my desire. Sir I dont like my Schoolmaster. He is so negligent and so cross that I never can learn any thing under him. If you will be so good as to perswade Mr. Marsh to take me, I will apply myself to my Studies as closely as my nature will admit, and go to Colledge as soon as I can be prepared. Next Morning the first I heard was John I have perswaded Mr. Marsh to take you, and you must go to school there to day. This Mr. Marsh was a Son of our former Minister of that name, who kept a private Boarding School but two doors from my Fathers. To this School I went, where I was kindly treated, and I began to study in Earnest.4 My Father soon observed the relaxation of my Zeal for { 259 } my Fowling Piece, and my daily encreasing Attention to my Books. In a little more than a Year Mr. Marsh pronounced me fitted for Colledge. On the day appointed at Cambridge for the Examination of Candidates for Admission I mounted my horse and called upon Mr. Marsh, who was to go with me. The Weather was dull and threatened rain. Mr. Marsh said he was unwell and afraid to go out. I must therefore go alone. Thunder struck at this unforeseen disappointment, And terrified at the Thought of introducing myself to such great Men as the President and fellows of a Colledge, I at first resolved to return home: but foreseeing the Grief of my father and apprehending he would not only be offended with me, but my Master too whom I sincerely loved, I arroused my self, and collected Resolution enough to proceed. Although Mr. Marsh had assured me that he had seen one of the Tutors the last Week and had said to him, all that was proper for him to say if he should go to Cambridge; that he was not afraid to trust me to an Examination and was confident I should acquit my self well and be honourably admitted; yet I had not the same confidence in my self, and suffered a very melancholly Journey. Arrived at Cambridge I presented myself according to my directions and underwent the usual Examination by the President Mr. Holyoke and the Tutors Flint, Hancock, Mayhew and Marsh.5 Mr. Mayhew into whose Class We were to be admitted, presented me a Passage of English to translate into Latin. It was long and casting my Eye over it I found several Words the latin for which did not occur to my memory. Thinking that I must translate it without a dictionary, I was in a great fright and expected to be turned by, an Event that I dreaded above all things. Mr. Mayhew went into his Study and bid me follow him. There Child, said he is a dictionary, there a Gramar, and there Paper, Pen and Ink, and you may take your { 260 } own time.6 This was joyfull news to me and I then thought my Admission safe. The Latin was soon made, I was declared Admitted and a Theme given me, to write on in the Vacation. I was as light when I came home as I had been heavy when I went: my Master was well pleased and my Parents very happy. I spent the Vacation not very profitably chiefly in reading Magazines and a British Apollo. I went to Colledge at the End of it and took the Chamber assigned me and my place in the Class under Mr. Mayhew. I found some better Schollars than myself, particularly Lock, Hemmenway and Tisdale.7 The last left Colledge before the End of the first Year, and what became of him I know not. Hemmenway still lives a great divine, and Lock has been President of Harvard Colledge a Station for which no Man was better qualified. With these I ever lived in friendship, without Jealousy or Envy. I soon became intimate with them, and began to feel a desire to equal them in Science and Literature. In the Sciences especially Mathematicks, I soon surpassed them, mainly because, intending to go into the Pulpit, they thought Divinity and the Classicks of more Importance to them. In Litterature I never overtook them.
Here it may be proper to recollect something which makes an Article of great importance in the Life of every Man. I was of an amorous disposition and very early from ten or eleven Years of Age, was very fond of the Society of females. I had my favorites among the young Women and spent many of my Evenings in their Company and this disposition although controlled for seven Years after my Entrance into College returned and engaged me too much till I was married. I shall draw no Characters nor give any enumeration of my youthfull flames.8 It would be considered as no compliment to the dead or the living: This I will say—they were all modest and virtuous Girls and always maintained this Character through Life. No Virgin or Matron ever had cause to blush at the sight of me, or to regret her Acquaintance with me. No Father, Brother, Son or Friend ever had cause of Grief or Resentment for any Intercourse between me and any Daughter, { 261 } Sister, Mother, or any other Relation of the female Sex. My Children may be assured that no illegitimate Brother or Sister exists or ever existed. These Reflections, to me consolatory beyond all expression, I am able to make with truth and sincerity and I presume I am indebted for this blessing to my Education. My Parents held every Species of Libertinage in such Contempt and horror, and held up constantly to view such pictures of disgrace, of baseness and of Ruin, that my natural temperament was always overawed by my Principles and Sense of decorum. This Blessing has been rendered the more prescious to me, as I have seen enough of the Effects of a different practice. Corroding Reflections through Life are the never failing consequence of illicit amours, in old as well as in new Countries. The Happiness of Life depends more upon Innocence in this respect, than upon all the Philosophy of Epicurus, or of Zeno without it. I could write Romances, or Histories as wonderfull as Romances of what I have known or heard in France, Holland and England, and all would serve to confirm what I learned in my Youth in America, that Happiness is lost forever if Innocence is lost, at least untill a Repentance is undergone so severe as to be an overballance to all the gratifications of Licentiousness. Repentance itself cannot restore the Happiness of Innocence, at least in this Life.
1. According to the “old style” calendar. According to the “new style,” his birth date was 30 Oct. 1735, which, after the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in England in 1752, JA always regarded as his birthday. See his Diary entry of 19 Oct. 1772.
2. This sentence and that which follows are partly worn away in the MS, but the missing matter has been supplied from JA's rough draft, which has virtually identical phraseology (and ends at this point).
3. JA's own copy of (Edward) Cocker's Decimal Arithmetick ..., 3d edn., London, 1703, has survived and is among his books in the Boston Public Library. It bears the marks of hard use, if not abuse, and its magnificently descriptive titlepage is John Adams' Arithmetic Book facing page 289reproduced as an illustration in the present volume.
4. Fragments of the text now worn away in the two preceding sentences have been restored from the text of JA's narrative of his entrance to Harvard contributed by CFA2 to MHS, MHS, Procs., 2d ser., 14 (1900–1901):200–201.
Some fragmentary notes taken down by Harriet Welsh from JA's conversations in 1823 slightly amplify JA's recollections of his school days. (The Welsh notes survive chiefly in the form of a copy by CFA in his literary miscellany, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 327. Suspension points in the passages quoted below indicate omissions by the present editors.)
JA loquitur.... I was about nine or ten years old at that time and soon learn'd the use of the gun and became strong enough to lift it. I used to take it to school and leave it in the entry and the moment it was over went into the field to kill crows and squirrels and I tried to see how many I could kill: at last Mr. Cleverly found this out and gave me a most dreadful scolding and after that I left the gun at an old woman's in the neighborhood. I soon became large enough to go on the marshes to kill wild fowl and to swim and used to beg so hard of my father and mother to let me go that they at last consented and many a cold boisterous day have I pass'd on the beach without food waiting for wild fowl to go over—often lying in wait for them on the cold ground—to hide myself from them. I cared not what I did if I could but get away from school, and confess to my shame that I sometimes play'd truant. At last I got to be thirteen years of age and my life had been wasted. I told my father if I must go to College I must have some other master for I detested the one I had and should not be fitted ever if I staid with him but if he would put me to Mr. Marsh's school I would endeavor to get my lessons and make every exertion to go. He said I knew it was an invariable rule with Mr. M. not to take any boys belonging to the town—he only took eight or ten to live with him. However I said so much to him that he said he would try, and after a great deal of persuasion Master Marsh consented. The next day after he did so I took my books and went to him. I fulfill'd my promise and work'd diligently and in eighteen months was fitted for college. He lived where Hardwicke now keeps a shop opposite to where the Cleverlys live.... Mr. Marsh was a good instructor and a man of learning. The house I learn'd my letters in was opposite my father's nearly and I have pulled it down within this twenty years.”
5. Edward Holyoke, Henry Flynt, Belcher Hancock, Joseph Mayhew, Thomas Marsh.
6. Several words now missing in the MS have been supplied in this sentence from CFA2's text cited in note 64, just above.
7. All members of the class of 1755: Rev. Samuel Locke, president of Harvard, 1770–1773; Rev. Moses Hemmenway, minister at Wells, Maine, for many years; William Tisdale of Lebanon, Conn., who stayed in college only a year and then dropped from sight (Weis, Colonial Clergy of N.E.; Harvard Quinquennial Cat.; information from Harvard University Archives).
8. Several words now missing from the MS have been supplied in this sentence from CFA's text in JA's Works, 2:145. The present paragraph, with some omissions, is the earliest passage printed by CFA in his combined edition of the Diary and Autobiography.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1804-11-30
DateRange: 1751 - 1754

[Harvard College, 1751–1755]

Continued November 30. 1804.
In my own class at Collidge, there were several others, for whom I had a strong affection—Wentworth, Brown, Livingston, Sewall and Dalton all of whom have been eminent in Life, excepting Livingston an amiable and ingenious Youth who died within a Year or two after his first degree.1 In the Class before me I had several Friends, Treadwell the greatest Schollar, of my time, whose early death in the Professorship of Mathematicks and natural Phylosophy at New York American Science has still reason to deplore,2 West the eminent Divine of New Bedford,3 and Samuel Quincy, the easy, social and benevolent Companion, not without Genius, Elegance and Taste.
I soon perceived a growing Curiosity, a Love of Books and a fondness for Study, which dissipated all my Inclination for Sports, and { 262 } even for the Society of the Ladies. I read forever, but without much method, and with very little Choice. I got my Lessons regularly and performed my recitations without Censure. Mathematicks and natural Phylosophy attracted the most of my Attention, which I have since regretted, because I was destined to a Course of Life, in which these Sciences have been of little Use, and the Classicks would have been of great Importance. I owe to this however perhaps some degree of Patience of Investigation, which I might not otherwise have obtained. Another Advantage ought not to be omitted. It is too near my heart. My Smattering of Mathematicks enabled me afterwards at Auteuil in France to go, with my eldest Son, through a Course of Geometry, Algebra and several Branches of the Sciences, with a degree of pleasure that amply rewarded me for all my time and pains.
Between the Years 1751 when I entered, and 1754 [i.e. 1755] when I left Colledge a Controversy was carried on between Mr. Bryant the Minister of our Parish and some of his People, partly on Account of his Principles which were called Arminian and partly on Account of his Conduct, which was too gay and light if not immoral.4 Ecclesiastical Councils were called and sat at my Fathers House. Parties and their Accrimonies arose in the Church and Congregation, and Controversies from the Press between Mr. Bryant, Mr. Niles, Mr. Porter, Mr. Bass, concerning the five Points. I read all these Pamphlets and many other Writings on the same Subject and found myself involved in difficulties beyond my Powers of decision. At the same time, I saw such a Spirit of Dogmatism and Bigotry in Clergy and Laity, that if I should be a Priest I must take my side, and pronounce as positively as any of them, or never get a Parish, or getting it must soon leave it. Very strong doubts arose in my mind, whether I was made for a Pulpit in such times, and I began to think of other Professions. I perceived very clearly, as I thought, that the Study of Theology and the pursuit of it as a Profession would involve me in endless Altercations and make my Life miserable, without any prospect of doing any good to my fellow Men.
1. John Wentworth, last royal governor of New Hampshire; William Browne of Salem, a justice of the Superior Court of Judicature and a loyalist; Philip Livingston, reported dead in 1756; David Sewall of York, Maine, a state and federal judge and long a good friend of JA; Tristram Dalton of Newburyport, U.S. senator and correspondent of JA (Harvard Quinquennial Cat.).
2. Daniel Treadwell; see JA's Diary, Summer 1759, and note 9 there.
3. Samuel West, D.D., minister at New Bedford, 1761–1803 (Weis, Colonial Clergy of N.E.).
4. Lemuel Briant (1722–1754), Harvard 1739, was minister of the First or North Church of Braintree, 1745–1753. Like his famous friend Jonathan Mayhew, he was unorthodox in his theology, and his position as a controversialist was not strengthened by his wife's “eloping from him,” either because “she [was] distracted” or because “he did not use her well,” or both (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 10:345).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0004

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1755

[Harvard and Worcester, 1751-1755]

The two last years of my Residence at Colledge, produced a Clubb of Students, I never knew the History of the first rise of it, who invited me to become one of them. Their plan was to spend their Evenings together, in reading any new publications, or any Poetry or Dramatic { 263 } Compositions, that might fall in their Way. I was as often requested to read as any other, especially Tragedies, and it was whispered to me and circulated among others that I had some faculty for public Speaking and that I should make a better Lawyer than Divine. This last Idea was easily understood and embraced by me. My Inclination was soon fixed upon the Law: But my Judgment was not so easily determined. There were many difficulties in the Way. Although my Fathers general Expectation was that I should be a Divine, I knew him to be a Man of so thoughtful and considerate a turn of mind, to be possessed of so much Candor and moderation, that it would not be difficult to remove any objections he might make to my pursuit of Physick or Law or any other reasonable Course. My Mother although a pious Woman I knew had no partiality for the Life of a Clergyman. But I had Uncles and other relations, full of the most illiberal Prejudices against the Law. I had indeed a proper Affection and veneration for them, but as I was under no Obligation of Gratitude to them, which could give them any colour of Authority to prescribe a course of Life to me, I thought little of their Opinions. Other Obstacles more serious than these presented themselves. A Lawyer must have a Fee, for taking me into his Office. I must be boarded and cloathed for several Years: I had no Money; and my Father having three Sons, had done as much for me, in the Expences of my Education as his Estate and Circumstances could justify and as my Reason or my honor would allow me to ask. I therefore gave out that I would take a School, and took my Degree at Colledge undetermined whether I should study Divinity, Law or Physick. In the publick Exercises at Commencement, I was somewhat remarked as a Respondent, and Mr. Maccarty of Worcester who was empowered by the Select Men of that Town to procure them a Latin Master for their Grammar School engaged me to undertake it. About three Weeks after commencement in 1755, when I was not yet twenty Years of Age, a horse was sent me from Worcester and a Man to attend me. We made the Journey about Sixty miles in one day and I entered on my Office. For three months I boarded with one Green at the Expence of the Town and by the Arrangement of the Select Men. Here I found Morgans Moral Phylosopher,1 which I was informed had circulated, with some freedom, in that Town and that the Principles of Deism had made a considerable progress among several Persons, in that and other Towns in the County. Three months after this the { 264 } Select Men procured Lodgings for me at Dr. Nahum Willards. This Physician had a large Practice, a good reputation for Skill, and a pretty Library. Here were Dr. Cheynes Works, Sydenham and others and Van Sweetens Commentaries on Boerhave. I read a good deal in these Books and entertained many thoughts of Becoming a Physician and a Surgeon: But the Law attracted my Attention more and more, and Attending the Courts of Justice, where I heard Worthington, Hawley, Trowbridge, Putnam and others, I felt myself irresistably impelled to make some Effort to accomplish my Wishes. I made a Visit to Mr. Putnam, and offered myself to him: He received me with politeness and even Kindness, took a few days to consider of it, and then informed me that Mrs. Putnam had consented that I should board in his House, that I should pay no more, than the Town allowed for my Lodgings, and that I should pay him an hundred dollars, when I should find it convenient. I agreed to his proposals without hesitation and immediately took Possession of his Office. His Library at that time was not large: but he had all the most essential Law Books: immediately after I entered with him however he sent to England for a handsome Addition of Law Books and for Lord Bacons Works. I carried with me to Worcester, Lord Bolingbrokes Study and Use of History, and his Patriot King. These I had lent him, and he was so well pleased with them that he Added Bolingbrokes Works to his List, which gave me an Opportunity of reading the Posthumous Works of that Writer in five Volumes. Mr. Burke once asked, who ever read him through? I can answer that I read him through, before the Year 1758 and that I have read him through at least twice since that time: But I confess without much good or harm. His Ideas of the English Constitution are correct and his Political Writings are worth something: but in a great part of them there is more of Faction than of Truth: His Religion is a pompous Folly: and his Abuse of the Christian Religion is as superficial as it is impious. His Style is original and inimitable: it resembles more the oratory of the Ancients, than any Writings or Speeches I ever read in English.
In this Situation I remained, for about two Years Reading Law in the night and keeping School in the day. At Breakfast, Dinner, and Tea, Mr. Putnam was commonly disputing with me upon some question of Religion: He had been intimate with one Peasley Collins, the Son of a Quaker in Boston, who had been to Europe and came back, a Disbeliever of Every Thing: fully satisfied that all Religion was a cheat, a cunning invention of Priests and Politicians: That there would be no future State, any more than there is at present any moral Govern• { 265 } ment. Putnam could not go these whole Lengths with him. Although he would argue to the extent of his Learning and Ingenuity, to destroy or invalidate the Evidences of a future State, and the Principles of natural and revealed Religion, Yet I could plainly perceive that he could not convince himself, that Death was an endless Sleep. Indeed he has sometimes said to me, that he fully believed in a future Existence, and that good Conduct in this Life, would fare better in the next World than its contrary. My Arguments in favor of natural and revealed Religion, and a future State of Rewards and Punishments, were nothing more than the common Arguments and his against them may all be found in Lucretius, together with many more.
There were two other Persons in the Neighbourhood, Doolittle and Baldwin, who were great Readers of Deistical Books, and very great Talkers.2 These were very fond of conversing with me. They were great Sticklers for Equality as well as Deism: and all the Nonsense of these last twenty Years, were as familiar to them as they were to Condorcet or Brissot. They were never rude however or insolent to those who differed from them. Another excentric Character was Joseph Dyer, who had removed from Boston and lived on a Farm of Mr. Thomas Hand-cock, Uncle of the late Governor, and kept a Shop.3 He had Wit and learning of some Sorts, but being very sarcastic, and very bitter against almost every body, but especially the Clergy, he was extreamly unpopular. An Arian by profession, he was far more odious among the People than the Deists. He had written many Manuscripts especially upon the Athanasian Doctrine of the Trinity, which he lent me: but though I read them all, having previously read Dr. Clark and Emlin as well as Dr. Waterland, I found nothing new. He was also a very profound Student in the Prophecies, and had a System of his own. According to him Antichrist signified all Tyranny and Injustice through the World. He carried his Doctrine of Equality, to a greater Extremity, or at least as great as any of the wild Men of the French Revolution. A perfect Equality of Suffrage was essential to Liberty. I stated to him the Cases of Women, of Children, of Ideots, of Madmen, of Criminals, of Prisoners for Debt or for Crimes. He could not give me any sensible Answer to these Objections: but still every limitation of the right of { 266 } Suffrage, every qualification of freehold or any other property, was Antichrist. An entire Levell of Power, Property, Consideration were essential to Liberty and would be introduced and established in the Millenium. I spent the more Evenings with these Men, as they were readers and thinking Men, though I differed from them all in Religion and Government, because there were no others in Town who were possessed of so much litterature, Mr. Maccarty and Mr. Putnam excepted. With Mr. Maccarty I lived in Harmony and social Conversation. The Family of the Chandlers, were well bred and agreable People and I as often visited them as my School and my Studies in the Lawyers office would Admit, especially Colonel Gardiner Chandler with whom I was the most intimate. The Family of the Willards of Lancaster, were often at Worcester, and I formed an Acquaintance with them, especially Abel Willard who had been one Year with me at Colledge, who had studied the Law under Mr. Pratt in Boston. With him I lived in Friendship and once made him a Visit in Lancaster in the Lifetime of his venerable Mother, with whom he then lived. The Family of the Greens in Boston, connected with the Chandlers, were often at Worcester where I became acquainted with many of them of both Sexes. They were then a Family of considerable Wealth and agreable manners. Their descendants, who have generally pursued the same mercantile Employments are now become numerous, have formed powerful connections and have accumulated Riches.
While I was at Worcester, three great Personages from England passed through that Town: Lord Loudoun was one. He travelled in the Winter from New York to Boston and lodged at Worcester in his Way. The Relations We had of his manners and Conduct on the Road gave Us no great Esteem of his Lordships qualifications to conduct the War and excited gloomy Apprehensions. The Young Lord Howe, who passed from Boston to New York, was the very reverse and spread every where the most sanguine hopes, which however were too soon disappointed by his melancholly but Heroic Death. The third was Sir Geoffery Amherst, afterward Lord Amherst and Commander in Chief of the English Army. Amherst who had arrived at Boston from the Conquest of Louisbourg, marched with his Army of four thousand Men, across the Country, and halted a few days at Worcester, having encamped his Army on the hill behind the present Court house. Here We had an opportunity of seeing him, his officers and Army. The officers were very social, spent their Evenings and took their Suppers with such of the Inhabitants as were able to invite, and entertained Us with their Music and their dances. Many of them were Scotchmen { 267 } in their plaids and their Music was delightfull; Even the Bagpipe was not disagreable. The General Lodged with Coll. Chandler the elder and was very inquisitive concerning his farm insisting on rambling over the whole of it. The excellent order and discipline observed by these Troops, revived the hopes of the Country, which were ultimately fully satisfied by the entire conquest of Canada, with the help of the Militia of the Country, which was sent on to their Assistance with great confidence.
1. [Thomas Morgan,]The Moral Philosopher. In a Dialogue between Philalethes a Christian Deist, and Theophanes a Christian Jew .. ., London, 1737–1740; 3 vols. (Catalogue of JA's Library).
2. Ephraim Doolittle, a merchant and military officer; Nathan Baldwin, register of deeds, “an ardent politician, and the author of many of the addresses and documents of our revolutionary annals” (Lincoln, Worcester, p. 176, note).
3. Dyer mixed trade and an irregular practice as an attorney, and was the town crank. In 1759 he was jailed for refusing to pay a fine, spent his three years in jail compiling a dictionary, and had to be forcibly ejected when friends collected the sum necessary to release him; his first act thereafter was to sue the keeper for false imprisonment (Lincoln, Worcester, p. 226–227).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0005

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1757


At the time when Fort William Henry was besieged,1 there came down almost every day dispatches from the General to the New England Collonies urging for Troops and Assistance. Col. Chandler the Younger had sent so many Expresses that he found it difficult to get Persons to undertake the Journeys. Complaining of this Embarrassment one Evening, in company, I told him, I had so long led a sedendary Life that my health began to fail me, and that I had an inclination to take a Journey on Horseback. The next Morning by Day break he was at my Chamber Door, with Dispatches for the Governor of Rhode Island. He said a Horse was ready. Without hesitation I arose and was soon mounted. Too much dispatch was necessary for my comfort and I believe for my health, for a Journey so fatiguing, to a Man who was not on horseback more than once a Year on a short visit to his Parents, I cannot think callculated to relieve a valetudinarian. Arrived at Providence I was informed that the Governor Mr. Green [William Greene] was at Newport with the General Assembly. I had then to ride through the Narragansett Country and to cross over Conannicutt to Rhode Island. In the Woods of Narragansett I met two Gentlemen on Horse back, of whom I took the Liberty to enquire whether The Governor was still at Newport? One of them answered he was not: but the Gentleman with him was the Governor. My Dispatches were delivered to him and he broke the Seals and read them on the Spot. He said he believed the French were determined to have the Country: asked many questions, gave me many polite Invitations to return with him to his home, which as he said he had no answer to return by me, and as I was determined to see Newport I civilly declined. Pursuing my Journey I found a great difficulty to get over the Water, As the boat and Men were gone upon their usual Employment. One was found after a { 268 } time very tedious to me and I landed on the Island, and had a good opportunity to see the whole of it as my road to Bristol lay through the whole length of it. To Me, the whole Island appeared a most beautifull Garden: an ornamented Farm: but hostile Armies have since degarnished it of a principal Embellishment, the noble rows and plantations of Trees. Crossing over the Ferry to Bristol I spent a night with Col. Green whose Lady was a Church and Sister to Mrs. John Chandler. Here I was happy and felt myself at home. Next Morning I pursued my Journey by Land to Worcester. The whole Journey was accomplished in four days, one of which was Sunday. As I was obliged to ride all that day I had an opportunity of observing the manners of Rhode Island, much more gay and social than our Sundays in Massachusetts. At Angells in Providence I met a relation and a Neighbour Mr. John Bass, who had lost his Parish at Ashford, by the Intollerance of <orthodoxy at that time> the times and had removed his Family to Providence and begun the Practice of Physick.2 I met another Clergyman and a sensible Man at Bristol. At the Inns as usual there were Scaenes and Characters, for the Amusement of Swift or even Shakespeare.
Another Journey had well nigh proved fatal to me. Mr. Joshua Willard of Petersham, who had married Miss Ward a Niece of General Ward of Shrewsbury, invited me with many other Gentlemen of Worcester, to escort home his Wife.3 I procured the only horse that could be found to be lett. Gay and active enough but the hardest both upon the Trott and Canter, I ever mounted. We went through a Wilderness of old Rutland and New Rutland, now a garden, spent a day or two at Petersham where I conversed much and with great pleasure with Mr. [Aaron] Whitney, a very sensible, entertaining and good humoured Clergyman, the Grandfather of Mr. [Peter] Whitney the amiable, ingenious, eloquent and pious Minister of Quincy and Father of Mr. [Peter] Whitney of Northborough. On our return we rode through Number Six and other Numbers to Number two since called Westminster, a perfect Wilderness and the thickest I ever saw, but now a well cultivated and thick settled Country. We spent a night with Mr. Marsh a Clergyman at the foot of the Wachusett, a Mountain which We ascended to the Top the next morning. From this hight the whole World appeared on a level below Us excepting the Monad• { 269 } nocks. Even the blue hills, which I have since seen very distinct from Mr. Gills house, were scarce discernible. The Wind was so high and the Air so cold that We had little Inclination to remain long upon it. Descending to the foot We found it as uncomfortably warm. We mounted our Horses and returned home by the Way of Lunenbourg and Lancaster. After this Journey, whatever was the cause, whether the fatigue in general or the rude Motions of my horse in particular I know not, I found myself in very ill health. The Physicians told me that close Application to a School and to Studies by night and by Day had [thickened?] and corrupted the whole Mass of my blood and Juices, and that I must have recourse to a Milk Diet according to the Theory and Practice of Dr. Cheyne, at that time the height of the Fassion in Medicine. I had read the Writings of Dr. Cheyne and now read them again, renounced all Meat and Spirits and lived upon Bread and milk, Vegetables and Water. I found my head more at Ease and thought I pursued my Studies to more Advantage: but was tormented with a heart burn every afternoon, which nothing but large potions of Tea at Evening could extinguish. I pursued this course for Eighteen months, six or seven of which passed at my fathers house, with the Advice of Dr. Savil and Dr. Hearsey [Hersey], who were both unqualified Admirers of Cheyne's in Theory, though not in their own practice. My excellent Father at last by his tender Advice at sometimes and a little good humoured ridicule at others converted me again to the Use of a little meat and more comforting Drink, but in both of these I was extreamly sparing for many Years after, and indeed untill I became a Member of Congress and a Traveller, when long Journeys and Voyages made a more generous Regimen essential to my being.
1. Fort William Henry, on Lake George, fell to the French after a siege in Aug. 1757. In his recollections in old age recorded by Harriet Welsh, JA had more to say about the alarms in Massachusetts over the French victories during the early years of the war; he also said that he tried unsuccessfully to obtain a captain's commission for himself in 1755 or 1756 (M/CFA/31, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 327).
2. On the short and unhappy career of Rev. John Bass, Harvard 1737, of Braintree, Ashford, and Providence, see Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 10:114–120.
3. Joshua Willard married Lucretia Ward at Shrewsbury, 28 Feb. 1757 (Charles Martyn, The William Ward Genealogy, N.Y., 1925, p. 154).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0006

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1758


In 1758 my Period with Mr. Putnam expired. Doolittle and Baldwin visited me in the office, and invited me to settle in Worcester. They said as there were two Sides to a question and two Lawyers were always wanted where there was one, I might depend upon Business in my profession, they were pleased to add that my Character was fair and well esteemed by all Sorts of People in the Town and through the County: that they wished to get me chosen at the next Election which was very near, Register of Deeds, which would procure me something handsome for the present, and insure me Employment at the Bar. That as the Chandler Family had engrossed almost all the public offices and Employment in the Town and County, they wished to select some Person qualified to share with them in these honors and Emoluments. My Answer was that as the Chandlers were worthy People and discharged the Duties of their offices very well I envied not their felicity { 270 } and had no desire to sett myself in Opposition to them, and especially to Mr. Putnam who had married a beautifull Daughter of that Family and had treated me with Civility and Kindness. But there was one Motive with me, which was decisive. I was in very ill health and the Air of Worcester appeared to be unfriendly to me, to such a degree that I panted for want of the Breezes from the Sea and the pure Zephirs from the rocky mountains of my native Town: that my Father and Mother invited me to live with them, and as there never had been a Lawyer in any Country Part of the then County of Suffolk, I was determined at least to look into it and see if there was any chance for me. They replied that the Town of Boston was full of Lawyers and many of them of established Characters for long Experience, great Abilities and extensive Fame, who might be jealous of such a Novelty as a Lawyer in the Country part of their County, and might be induced to obstruct me. I returned that I was not wholly unknown to some of the most celebrated of those Gentlemen, that I believed they had too much candour and Generosity to injure a young Man, and at all Events I could but try the experiment, and if I should find no hope of Success I should then think of some other place or some other course.
An Error was committed at this time by Mr. Putnam or me or both, which I thought not of much consequence at the time, and have never been able to account for since. Mr. Putnam should have presented me, to the Court of Common Pleas in Worcester, and a Certificate of my Oath and Admission, before that Court would have been a sufficient Ground, to justify the Court of Common Pleas in Suffolk, on receiving me there. This was however omitted, and I removed to Braintree without it. Here I passed a few Weeks not without much Anxiety and Apprehension. When the October term arrived I went to Boston and attended the Tryals, full of doubts about the most prudent Steps for me to take. I determined at last to know what my fate was to be, and one Morning went early to Mr. Gridleys Office and was fortunate enough to find him alone.1 I opened to him with much frankness my Situation and my Views. He said Mr. Putnam had mentioned me to him, and he had seen me before in several Companies at Worcester: but have you been sworn? I have not Sir. You must be sworn, before you can practice. As my Master is not here, I have no One to present me to the Court.—How long have you studied Law? How long have { 271 } [you] served in your Clerkship, with Mr. Putnam? Between two and three Years? What Books have you read? Many more I fear than have done me any good. I have read too fast, much faster than I understood or remembered as I ought. I was directed to begin with Woods Institutes, and then to Hawkins's Abridgment of Coke upon Littleton, then to the Work at large, and the second, third and fourth Institute: then to Salkelds Reports and Ld. Raymonds Reports, Bacons Abridgment, &c., then to Instructor Clericalis and Rastalls and Cokes Entries. The former We used dayly for Precedent, the two latter consulted occasionally. The last Book I had read and with most pleasure, because I thought I understood it best was Hawkins's Pleas of the Crown. I mentioned also Hale's History of the Common Law, Doctor and Student2 and an Institute of the common Law in imitation of Justinians Institute....3 Do you read Latin? A little sometimes. What Books have you lately read? Cicero's Orations and Epistles, and the last Latin I read was Justinians Institute with Vinnius's Notes. Where did you find that Work? Mr. Putnam had it not I believe, and I know of no other Copy than my own, in the Country. I borrowed it, Sir, from Harvard Colledge Library, by the Aid of a Friend. Oh? I conjecture it was among the Books that Sir Harry Franklin lately presented to the Colledge. But Vinius is a Commentator more suitable for Persons, of more advanced Age and longer research, than yours: I can lend you Books better adapted to youth: follow me and I will shew you something: He lead me up a pair of Stairs into a Chamber in which he had a very handsome library of the civil and Cannon Laws and Writers in the Law of Nature and Nations. Shewing me a Number of small manuals and Compendiums of the civil Law he put one of them into my hand, and said put that in your Pocket and when you return that I will lend you any other you cho[o]se. I thanked him for his Kindness, and returned with him down Stairs, after I had taken down and looked into a number of Books he pointed out to me. When below he said what have you read upon the Law of Nature and Nations? Burlamaqui Sir and Heineccius in Turnbulls Translation, and Turnbulls Moral Phylosophy. These are good Books, said Mr. Gridley. Turnbull was a correct thinker, but a bad Writer. Have you read Grotius and Puffendorf? I cannot say I have Sir. Mr. Putnam read them, when I was with him, and as his Book lay on the Desk in the office for the most part when { 272 } he had it not in his hand, I had generally followed him in a cursory manner, so that I had some very imperfect Idea of their Contents: but it was my intention to read them both as soon as possible. You will do well to do so: they are great Writers. Indeed a Lawyer through his whole Life ought to have some Book on Ethicks or the Law of Nations always on his Table. They are all Treatises of individual or national Morality and ought to be the Study of our whole Lives. A pause ensued: after which Mr. Gridley turned towards me with the benignity of a parent in his Countenance, and said Mr. Adams permit me to give you a little Advice: I could scarcely refrain from tears when I said I shall certainly receive it as a great honor and felicity. In the first place pursue the Law itself, rather than the gain of it. Attend enough to the profits, to keep yourself out of the Briars: but the Law itself should be your great Object. In the next place, I advize you not to marry early. This was so unexpected to me that it struck up a smile in my face, that I could not conceal. Perceiving it he said Are you engaged? I assure you Sir, I am at present perfectly disengaged: but I am afraid I cannot be answerable how long I shall remain so. At this Mr. Gridley smiled in his turn, and Added, An early marriage will probably put an End to your Studies, and will certainly involve you in expence.... Looking at his Watch, You have detained me here the whole forenoon, and I must go to Court. The Court will adjourn to the last Fryday in this month, (October). Do you attend in the Morning, and I will present you to the Court to be sworn. With some expressions of gratitude I took my Leave. His Advice made so deep an Impression on my mind that I believe no Lawyer in America ever did so much Business as I did afterwards in the seventeen Years that I passed in the Practice at the Bar, for so little profit: and although my Propensity to marriage, was ardent enough, I determined I would not indulge it, till I saw a clear prospect of Business and profit enough to support a family without Embarrassment. I afterwards waited on Mr. Pratt, Mr. Thatcher and Mr. Otis. Mr. Pratt asked if I had been sworn at Worcester. This allarmed me, but I was relieved when he said that Mr. Putnam had given me a good Character.4 Mr. Thatcher, as it was Evening when I waited on him, invited me to Tea and then made me smoke Bridgwater tobacco with him, till after ten O Clock. He said nothing about Law, but examined me more severely in Metaphysicks. We had Clark and Leibnitz, Descartes, Malbranche and Lock, Baxter, Bolinbroke and Berkley, with many others on the Carpet, and Fate, foreknowledge, { 273 } Eternity, Immensity, Infinity, Matter and Spirit, Essence and Attribute, Vacuum and plenum, Space, and duration, Subjects which neither of Us understood, and which I have long been convinced, will never be intelligible to human Understanding. I had read at Colledge and afterwards a great deal on these Subjects: but would not advise any one to study longer than to convince him, that he may devote his time to more satisfactory and more usefull pursuits. We may know more in a future State: but many of these Subjects may be well suspected to be comprehensible only by the Supream Intelligence. Mr. Otis received me more like a Brother than a father, and began to descant on Homer and Horace and Latin and Greek Prosody. He was then composing a Treatise on Prosody. In answer to my request for his Countenance at the Bar, he said Mr. Putnam had mentioned me to him, and asked whether I had seen Mr. Gridley and Mr. Pratt. There were so many Lawyers in Boston he said that it was not worth my while to call upon more than three or four of them. I listened too willingly to this opinion: for I afterwards found there were several others well entitled to this respect from me: and some little offence was taken. Mr. Pratt was made Chief Justice of New York a few years after this: but with him, Mr. Gridley, Mr. Otis and Mr. Thatcher, I lived in entire Friendship till their deaths.
When the last Fryday of October arrived, I was in Boston very early and at Court before it was opened.5 Mr. Pratt presented my Friend Mr. Samuel Quincy and Mr. Gridley presented me. Some Gentleman asked, whether any one knew enough of me to satisfy the Court. Mr. Gridley said he had known me some Years, but that he had lately spent half a day in examining me, and he could say that I had made a very considerable nay “I must say to your honours” a great Proficiency in the Principles of the Law. This was a higher Character than I expected from so great a Man as Mr. Gridley: but I heard it with no small Comfort, as I had been very dubious, whether his examination of me, had not lessened me in his Esteem. Mr. Pratt, Mr. Otis and Mr. Thatcher said I had served a regular Clerkship with Mr. Putnam at Worcester, who had recommended me to them. The Court ordered the Oath to be administered to Mr. Quincy and Mr. Adams, which was done accordingly, and at night I returned to Braintree in good Spirits.
At this Time October 1758 the Study of the Law was a dreary Ramble, in comparison of what it is at this day. The Name of Blackstone had not been heard, whose Commentaries together with Sullivans { 274 } Lectures and Reeves's History of the Law, have smoothed the path of the Student, while the long Career of Lord Mansfield, his many investigations and Decisions, the great Number [of] modern Reporters in his time and a great Number of Writers on particular Branches of the Science have greatly facilitated the Acquisition of it. I know not whether a sett of the Statutes at large or of the State Tryals was in the Country. I was desirous of seeking the Law as well as I could in its fountains and I obtained as much Knowledge as I could of Bracton, Britton, Fleta and Glanville, but I suffered very much for Want of Books, which determined me to furnish myself, at any Sacrifice, with a proper Library: and Accordingly by degrees I procured the best Library of Law in the State.
Looking about me in the Country, I found the practice of Law was grasped into the hands of Deputy Sheriffs, Pettyfoggers and even Constables, who filled all the Writts upon Bonds, promissory notes and Accounts, received the Fees established for Lawyers and stirred up many unnecessary Suits. I mentioned these Things to some of the Gentlemen in Boston, who disapproved and even resented them very highly. I asked them whether some measures might not be agreed upon at the Bar and sanctioned by the Court, which might remedy the Evil? They thought it not only practicable but highly expedient and proposed Meetings of the Bar to deliberate upon it. A Meeting was called and a great Number of regulations proposed not only for confining the practice of Law to those who were educated to it and sworn to fidelity in it, but to introduce more regularity, Urbanity, Candour and Politeness as well as honor, Equity and Humanity, among the regular Professors. Many of these Meetings were the most delightfull Entertainments, I ever enjoyed. The Spirit that reigned was that of Solid Sense, Generosity, Honor and Integrity: and the Consequences were most happy, for the Courts and the Bar instead of Scenes of Wrangling, Chicanery, Quibbling and ill manners, were soon converted to order, Decency, Truth and Candor. Mr. Pratt was so delighted with these Meetings and their Effects, that when We all waited on him to Dedham in his Way to New York to take his Seat as Chief Justice of that State, when We took leave of him after Dinner, the last Words he said to Us, were, “Brethren above all things forsake not the Assembling of yourselves together.”6
1. JA obviously recorded the following interview wholly from memory, and it differs materially from the record in his Diary (entry of 25 Oct. 1758, q.v.). Nearly every author and title mentioned in the conversation will be found in the Catalogue of JA's Library as that collection survives in the Boston Public Library.
2. [Christopher Saint German,] Doctor and Student: or Dialogues between a Doctor of Divinity and a Student in the Laws of England, a 16th-century work which went through innumerable editions (LC, Catalog).
3. Suspension points, here and below in the record of this conversation, are in the MS.
4. See the more detailed and quite different account of this interview in JA's Diary entry of 26 Oct. 1758.
5. The date was probably 6 Nov. 1758; see the entry assigned to that date in JA's Diary, and note 1 there.
6. Benjamin Prat was appointed chief justice of New York Province in March 1761 and left for his new post about the beginning of November (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 10:233–235). A fuller version of his parting injunction to his colleagues at the bar is quoted in a letter from Oxenbridge Thacher to Prat evidently written in 1762 (MHS, Procs., 1st ser., 20 [1882–1883]:48). The records of this early Boston law association have not been found, although JA himself was ordered in Jan. 1770 by the organization that succeeded it to “wait on Judge Auchmuty and request of him, the Records of a former Society of the Bar, in this County” (Suffolk Bar Book, MS, MHi).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0007

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1759 - 1761

[Braintree Lawyer, 1759–1761]

The next Year after I was sworn, was the memorable Year 1759 when the Conquest of Canada was compleated by the surrender of Montreal to General Amherst. This Event, which was so joyfull to Us and so important to England if she had seen her true Interest, inspired her with a Jealousy, which ultimately lost her thirteen Colonies and made many of Us at the time regret that Canada had ever been conquered. The King sent Instructions to his Custom house officers to carry the Acts of Trade and Navigation into strict Execution. An inferiour Officer of the Customs in Salem whose Name was Cockle petitioned the Justices of the Superiour Court, at their Session in November for the County of Essex, to grant him Writs of Assistants, according to some provisions in one of the Acts of Trade, which had not been executed, to authorize him to break open Ships, Shops, Cellars, Houses &c. to search for prohibited Goods, and merchandizes on which Duties had not been paid.1 Some Objection was made to this Motion, and Mr. Stephen Sewall, who was then Chief Justice of that Court, and a zealous Friend of Liberty, expressed some doubts of the Legality and Constitutionality of the Writ, and of the Power of the Court to grant it. The Court ordered the question to be argued at Boston, in February term 1761. In the mean time Mr. Sewall died and Mr. Hutchinson then Lt. Governor, a Councillor, and Judge of Probate for the County of Suffolk &c. was appointed in his Stead, Chief Justice. The first Vacancy on that Bench, had been promised, in two former Administrations, to Colonel James Otis of Barnstable. This Event produced a Dissention between Hutchinson and Otis which had Consequences of great moment. In February Mr. James Otis Junr. a Lawyer of Boston, and a Son of Colonel Otis of Barnstable, appeared at the request of the Merchants in Boston, in Opposition to the Writ. This Gentlemans reputation as a Schollar, a Lawyer, a Reasoner, and a Man of Spirit was then very high. Mr. Putnam while I was with him had often said to me, that Otis was by far the most able, manly and commanding Character of his Age at the Bar, and this appeared to me in Boston to be the universal opinion of Judges, Lawyers and the public. Mr. Oxenbridge Thatcher whose amiable manners and pure principles, united to a very easy and musical Eloquence, made him very popular, was united with Otis, and Mr. Gridley alone appeared for Cockle the { 276 } Petitioner, in Support of his Writ. The Argument continued several days in the Council Chamber, and the question was analized with great Acuteness and all the learning, which could be connected with the Subject. I took a few minutes, in a very careless manner, which by some means fell into the hands of Mr. Minot, who has inserted them in his history. I was much more attentive to the Information and the Eloquence of the Speakers, than to my minutes, and too much allarmed at the prospect that was opened before me, to care much about writing a report of the Controversy. The Views of the English Government towards the Collonies and the Views of the Collonies towards the English Government, from the first of our History to that time, appeared to me to have been directly in Opposition to each other, and were now by the imprudence of Administration, brought to a Collision. England proud of its power and holding Us in Contempt would never give up its pretentions. The Americans devoutly attached to their Liberties, would never submit, at least without an entire devastation of the Country and a general destruction of their Lives. A Contest appeared to me to be opened, to which I could foresee no End, and which would render my Life a Burden and Property, Industry and every Thing insecure. There was no Alternative left, but to take the Side, which appeared to be just, to march intrepidly forward in the right path, to trust in providence for the Protection of Truth and right, and to die with a good Conscience and a decent grace, if that Tryal should become indispensible.
About this time, the Project was conceived, I suppose by the Chief Justice Mr. Hutchinson, of cloathing the Judges and Lawyers with Robes. Mr. Quincy and I were directed to prepare our Gowns and Bands and Tye Wiggs, and were admitted Barristers having practiced three Years at the Inferiour Courts, according to one of our new Rules.2
1. On this famous case and JA's record of the arguments therein, see his Diary entry of 3 April 1761 and note 6 there.
2. JA has here merged two separate events. He was admitted to practice in the Superior Court of Judicature on 14 Nov. 1761 (see his Diary under that date), and admitted barrister, with numerous others, in August term, 1762 (Superior Court of Judicature, Minute Book 79; see also JA, Works, 10:233, 245, and Quincy, Reports, p. 35).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0008

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1761-05-25

[Braintree Lawyer, 1761]

On the 25 of May in this Year 1761, my venerable Father died in his 71st Year, beloved, esteemed and revered by all who knew him. Nothing that I can say or do, can sufficiently express my Gratitude for his parental Kindness to me, or the exalted Opinion I have of his Wisdom and Virtue. It was a melancholly House. My Father and Mother were seized at the same time with the violent Fever, a kind of Influenza, or an Epidemick which carried off Seventeen Aged People in our Neighbourhood. My Mother remained ill in bed at my Fathers { 277 } Funeral, but being younger than my Father and possessed of a stronger constitution, she happily recovered and lived to my inexpressible Comfort, till the Year 1797, when she died at almost ninety Years of Age....1 My Father by his Will left me, what he estimated one third of his Real State, which third consisted in a House and Barn such as they were and forty Acres of Land. He also left me one third of his personal Estate.2 My house humble as it was, with a few repairs and a very trifling Addition served for a comfortable habitation for me and my family, when We lived out of Boston, till our return from Europe in 1788. The Uncertainty of Life as well as of Property, which then appeared to me, in the prospect of futurity, suppressed all thought of a more commodious Establishment. If I should fall which was very probable in a Contest which appeared to me inevitable, I thought it would be an Addition to the Misery of my Wife and Children to be turned out of a more envyable Situation. I continued to live with my Mother and my Brothers, for the first Year, when my youngest Brother, Elihu, removed to the South Parish in Braintree, now Randolph, to a Farm which my father left him, which he cultivated to Advantage, and is now possessed by his oldest Son. I continued with my Mother and my oldest Brother Peter Boylston, till my Marriage in 1764 with Miss Abigail Smith, Second Daughter of the Reverend Mr. William Smith of Weymouth and Grand Daughter of Colonel John Quincy of Mount Wollaston. Sometime after this my Brother married Miss Crosby a Daughter of Major Joseph Crosbey, sold me the House and Farm which my father left to him and went to live in a House of his Wife's.3 Sometime before this,4 in pursuance of my plan of reforming the practice of Sherriffs and Pettyfoggers in the Country I procured of all the Justices in Braintree, John Quincy, Edmund Quincy, Josiah Quincy and Joseph Crosbey a recommendation of my Brother to Stephen Greenleaf Sherriff of the County, and a Certificate of his Character, upon receiving which Mr. Greenleaff readily gave him a Deputation. He was young, loved riding and discharged his Duties { 278 } with Skill and Fidelity but his disposition was so tender, that he often assisted his Debtors, with his own Purse and Credit, and upon the whole to say the least was nothing the richer for his Office.
1. Suspension points in MS.
2. Actually Deacon John Adams' will, proved 10 July 1761, divided his property more or less equally among his three sons after one third was devised to their mother, but JA's share was somewhat smaller than his brothers' because his father had provided for him “a Libberal Education” (Tr, Adams Papers, Wills and Deeds, Microfilms, Reel No. 607). A copy of the inventory of Deacon John Adams' estate, attested by JA as one of the executors before Probate Judge Thomas Hutchinson, 9 Oct. 1761, is with the will.
3. Peter Boylston Adams married Mary Crosby in Aug. 1768 and sold the house now known as the John Adams Birthplace to JA early in 1774.
4. In 1761; see Diary entry of 11 June 1761 and note 1 there.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0009

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1759
Date: 1761

[Jonathan Sewall, 1759]

Sometime in 1761 or two1 Mr. Samuel Quincy with whom I sometimes corresponded, shewed to Mr. Jonathan Sewall, a Lawyer somewhat advanced before Us at the Bar, some juvenile Letters of mine of no consequence, which however Sewall thought discovered a Mind awake to the love of Litterature and Law and insisted on being acquainted with me and writing to me. His Acquaintance and Correspondence were readily embraced by me, and continued for many Years, till political disputes grew so warm as to seperate Us, a little before the War was commenced. His Courtship of Miss Esther Quincy, a Daughter of Edmund Quincy, brought him to Braintree commonly on Saturdays where he remained till Monday, and gave Us frequent Opportunities of Meeting, besides those at Court in Boston, Charlestown and Cambridge. He possessed a lively Wit, a pleasing humour, a brilliant Imagination, great Sub[t]lety of Reasoning and an insinuating Eloquence. His Sentiments of public Affairs were for several Years conformable to mine, and he once proposed to me, to write in concert in the public Prints to stir up the People to militia Duty and military Ardor and was fully of my Opinion that the British Ministry and Parliament would force Us to an Appeal to Arms: but he was poor, and Mr. Trowbridge and Governor Hutchinson contrived to excite him to a quarrell with Mr. Otis, because in the General Court, Col. Otis and his Son had not very warmly supported a Petition for a Grant to discharge the Debt of his Uncle the late Chief Justice who died insolvent. To this Artifice they added another which wholly converted him, by giving him the office of Solicitor General. I know not that I have ever delighted more in the friendship of any Man, or more deeply regretted an irreconcileable difference in Judgment in public Opinions. He had Virtues to be esteemed, qualities to be loved and Talents to be admired. But political Principles were to me in that State of the Country, Sacred. I could not follow him, and he could not follow me.
1. A mistake for, presumably, 1759, since JA's surviving correspondence with Jonathan Sewall begins in that year.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0010

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1763

[Town Officer, 1761–1765]

Now become a Freeholder I attended the Town Meetings, as a Member, as I had usually attended them before, from a Boy as a Spectator. In March1 when I had no suspicion, I heard my name pronounced in a Nomination of Surveyors of Highways. I was very wroth, because I { 279 } knew no better, but said Nothing. My Friend Dr. Savil came to me and told me, that he had nominated me to prevent me from being nominated as a Constable: for said the Doctor, they make it a rule to compell every Man to serve either as Constable or Surveyor, or to pay a fine. I said they might as well have chosen any Boy in School, for I knew nothing of the Business: but since they had chosen me, at a venture, I would accept it in the same manner and find out my Duty as I could. Accordingly I went to ploughing and ditching and blowing Rocks upon Penn's Hill, and building an entire new Bridge of Stone below Dr. Millars and above Mr. Wibirts. The best Workmen in Town were employed in laying the foundation and placing the Bridge but the next Spring brought down a flood, that threw my Bridge all into Ruins. The Materials remained and were afterwards relaid in a more durable manner: and the blame fell upon the Workmen not upon me, for all agreed that I had executed my Office with impartiality, Diligence and Spirit.
There had been a controversy in Town for many Years, concerning the mode of repairing the Roads. A Party had long struggled, to obtain a Vote that the High Ways should be repaired by a Tax, but never had been able to carry their point. The Roads were very bad, and much neglected, and I thought a Tax a more equitable Method and more likely to be effectual, and therefore joined this party in a public Speech, carried a Vote by a large Majority and was appointed [to] prepare a By Law to be enacted at the next Meeting. Upon Inquiry I found that Roxbury and after them Weymouth had adopted this Course: I procured a Copy of their Law and prepared a Plan for Braintree, as nearly as possible conformable to their Model, reported it to the Town and it was adopted by a great Majority.2 Under this Law the Roads have been repaired to this day, and the Effects of it are visible to every Eye.
In 1763 or 1764, The Town voted to sell their Common Lands.3 This had been a Subject of Contention for many Years. The South Parish was zealous and the middle Parish much inclined to the Sale, the North Parish was against it. The Lands in their common Situation, appeared to me of very little Utility to the Public or to Individuals: Under the care of Proprietors when they should become private Property, they would probably be better managed And more productive. My Opinion was in favour of the Sale: The Town now adopted the { 280 } Measure, appointed [Mr.] Niles, Mr. Bass and me, to survey the Lands, divide them into Lots to sell them by Auction and execute deeds of them in Behalf of the Town. This was no small Task. We procured our Surveyors and Chainmen and rambled with them over Rocks and Mountains and through Swamps and thicketts for three or four Weeks. Having made the Division and prepared the Plans, a day was appointed for the Vendue. We handled the Mallett ourselves as Vendue Masters and finished all the Sales in one Night: the Deeds were made out, the Bonds for the Money executed and the whole reported to the Town at the next Meeting. Of the original Purchasers I bought two Woodlotts in one of which is Hemlock Swamp and a Pasture in which is Rocky Run, and I should have bought much more, if the awfull Prospect of publick affairs had not discouraged me.
1. Presumably in 1761, but see the Diary entry of 3 March 1761 and note 1 there, which applies also to the next paragraph in the Autobiography.
2. This report, adopted 21 May 1764, is printed in Braintree Town Records, p. 397.
3. Actually 5 March 1765 (Braintree Town Records, p. 400). For the reports and proceedings of the committee see same, p. 401–402, 406–407.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0011

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1764 - 1765

[Marriage and Law Practice, 1764-1765]

In the Winter of 1764 the Small Pox prevailing in Boston, I went with my Brother into Town and was inocculated under the Direction of Dr. Nathaniel Perkins and Dr. Joseph Warren.1 This Distemper was very terrible even by Inocculation at that time. My Physicians dreaded it, and prepared me, by a milk Diet and a Course of Mercurial Preparations, till they reduced me very low before they performed the operation. They continued to feed me with Milk and Mercury through the whole Course of it, and salivated me to such a degree, that every tooth in my head became so loose that I believe I could have pulled them all with my Thumb and finger. By such means they conquered the Small Pox, which I had very lightly, but they rendered me incapable with the Aid of another fever at Amsterdam of speaking or eating in my old Age, in short they brought me into the same Situation with my Friend Washington, who attributed his misfortune to cracking of Walnuts in his Youth. I should not have mentioned this, if I had not been reproached with this personal Defect, with so much politeness in the Aurora. Recovered of the Small Pox, I passed the summer of 1764 in Attending Court and pursuing my Studies with some Amusement on my little farm to which I was frequently making Additions, till the Fall when on the 25th of October 1784 [i.e. 1764] I was married to Miss Smith a Daughter of the Reverend Mr. William Smith a Minister of Weymouth, Grand daughter of the Honourable John Quincy Esquire of Braintree, a Connection which has been the Source of all my felicity, Although a Sense of Duty which forced me away from her and my { 281 } Children for so many Years has produced all the Griefs of my heart and all that I esteem real Afflictions in Life. The Town of Braintree had chosen me, one of the Select Men, Overseers of the Poor and Assessors,2 which occasioned much Business, of which I had enough before: but I accepted the Choice and attended diligently to the functions of the Office, in which humble as it was I took a great deal of Pleasure. The Courts at Plymouth Tau[n]ton, Midd[l]esex and sometimes at Barnstable and Worcester, I generally attended. In the Spring of 1765, Major Noble of Boston had an Action at Pownalborough, on Kennebeck River. Mr. Thatcher, who had been his Council, recommended him to me, and I engaged in his cause, and undertook the Journey. I was taken ill on the Road and had a very unpleasant Excursion. It is unnecessary to enlarge upon the fatigue and disgust of this Journey. It was the only time in my Life, when I really suffered for want of Provisions. From Falmouth now Portland in Casco Bay, to Pounalborough There was an entire Wilderness, except North Yarmouth, New Brunswick and Long reach, at each of which places were a few Houses. In general it was a Wilderness, incumbered with the greatest Number of Trees, of the largest Size, the tallest height, I have ever seen. So great a Weight of Wood and timber, has never fallen in my Way. Birches, Beaches, a few Oaks, and all the Varieties of the Fir, i.e. Pines, Hemlocks, Spruces and Firs. I once asked Judge Cushing his Opinion of their hight upon an Avaradge, he said an hundred feet. I believe his estimation was not exaggerated. An Hemlock had been blown down across the Road. They had cutt out a logg as long as the road was wide. I measured the Butt at the Road and found it seven feet in Diameter, twenty one feet in circumference. We measured 90 feet from the Road to the first Limb, the Branches at Top were thick: We could measure no farther but estimated the Top to be about fifteen feet, from the Butt at the Road to the Root we did not measure: but the Tree must have been in the whole at least an hundred and <thirty> twenty feet. The Roads, where a Wheel had never rolled from the Creation, were miry and founderous, incumbered with long Sloughs of Water. The Stumps of the Trees which had been cutt to make the road all remaining fresh and the Roots crossing the path some above ground and some beneath so that my Horses feet would frequently get between the Roots and he would flounce and blunder, in danger of breaking his own Limbs as well as mine. This whole Country, then so rough, is now beautifully cultivated, { 282 } Handsome Houses, Orchards, Fields of Grain and Grass, and the Roads as fine as any except the Turnpikes, in the State. I reached Pownalborough alive, gained my Cause much to the Satisfaction of my Client and returned home. This Journey, painfull as it was, proved much for my Interest and Reputation, as it induced the Plymouth Company to engage me in all their Causes, which were numerous and called me annually to Falmouth Superiour Court for ten years.
1. This medical incident occurred in April-May 1764. Perkins inoculated JA, and Warren inoculated JA's brother, but which of his two brothers this was is uncertain. JA's letters at this period to his fiancée, Abigail Smith (Adams Papers), give abundant details on the method and regimen of smallpox inoculation before Jenner's discovery of vaccination.
2. On 3 March 1766; see Diary entry of that date, and Braintree Town Records, p. 408.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0012

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1765

[The Stamp Act, 1765]

This Year 1765 was the Epocha of the Stamp Act....1 I drew up a Petition to the Select Men of Braintree, and procured it to be signed by a Number of the respectable Inhabitants, to call a Meeting of the Town to instruct their Representatives in Relation to the Stamps.2 The public Attention of the whole Continent was alarmed, and my Principles and political Connections were well known.... I prepared a Draught of Instructions, at home and carried them with me: the cause of the Meeting was explained, at some length and the state and danger of the Country pointed out, a Committee was appointed to prepare Instructions of which I was nominated as one. We retired to Mr. Niles House, my Draught was produced, and unanimously adopted without Amendment, reported to the Town and Accepted without a dissenting Voice. These were published in Drapers Paper, as that Printer first applied to me for a Copy.3 They were decided and spirited enough. They rung thro the State, and were adopted, in so many Words, As I was informed by the Representatives of that Year, by forty Towns, as Instructions to their Representatives. They were honoured sufficiently, by the Friends of Government with the Epithets of inflammatory &c. I have not seen them now for almost forty Years and remember very little of them. I presume they would now appear a poor trifle: but at that time they Met with such strong feelings in the Readers, that their Effect was astonishing to me and excited some serious Reflections. I thought a Man ought to be very cautious what kinds of fewell he throws into a fire when it is thus glowing in the Community. Although it is a certain Expedient to acquire a momentary Celebrity: Yet it may produce future Evils which may excite serious Repentance. I have seen so many fire brands, thrown into the flames, <especially> not only in the worthless and unprincipled Writings of the { 283 } profligate and impious Thomas Paine and in the French Revolution, but in many others, that I think, every Man ought to take Warning. In the Braintree Instructions however, If I recollect any reprehensible fault in them, it was that they conceeded too much to the Adversary, not to say Enemy. About this time I called upon my Friend Samuel Adams and found him at his Desk. He told me the Town of Boston had employed him to draw Instructions for their Representatives: that he felt an Ambition, which was very apt to mislead a Man, that of doing something extraordinary and he wanted to consult a Friend who might suggest some thoughts to his mind. I read his Instructions and shewed him a Copy of mine. I told him I thought his very well as far as they went, but he had not gone far enough. Upon reading mine he said he was of my Opinion and accordingly took into his, some paragraphs from mine.4
On the fourteenth of August this Year, The People in Boston rose, and carried Mr. Oliver who had been appointed Distributor of Stamps, to Liberty Tree where they obliged him to take an Oath, that he would not exercise the office.5 The Merchants of Boston could not collect their debts, without Courts of Justice. They called a Town Meeting, chose a Committee of thirty Gentlemen to present a Petition to the Governor and Council, to order the Courts of Justice to proceed without Stamped Papers, upon the principle that the Stamp Act was null because unconstitutional. This Principle was so congenial to my Judgment that I would have staked my Life on the question: but had no suspicion that I should have any thing to do with it, before the Council, till a Courier arrived with a Certificate from the Town Clerk that I was elected by the Town, with Mr. Gridley and Mr. Otis, to argue the Point the next morning. With so little preparation and with { 284 } no time to look into any books for analogous Cases, I went and introduced the Argument but made a very poor figure. Mr. Gridley and Mr. Otis more than supplied all my defects. But the Governor and Council would do nothing. The Court of Common Pleas, however were persuaded to proceed and the Superiour Court postponed and continued the Question till the Act was repealed. At an Inferiour Court in Plymouth, Mr. Paine and I called a Meeting of the Bar, and We laboured so successfully with our Brothers that We brought them all to agree in an Application to the Court to proceed without Stamps, in which We succeeded.
1. Here and below in JA's account of the Stamp Act crisis, the suspension points are in the MS.
2. No text of such a petition has been found.
3. Adopted in town meeting on 24 Sept. (Braintree Town Records, p. 404–406), the Braintree Instructions were first printed in Draper's Massachusetts Gazette and Boston News Letter, 10 Oct. 1765, and later elsewhere; see note on Diary entry of 18 Dec. 1765. JA's rough draft (Adams Papers) has never been printed, and the Instructions as a whole deserve closer textual study than they have yet received.
4. Samuel Adams' biographer pointed out that this was a mistaken claim, since Boston had adopted its instructions to its representatives on 18 Sept. and published them on the 23d, whereas the Braintree Instructions were not even adopted until the 24th (Wells, Samuel Adams, 1:65, note; see also Samuel Adams, Writings, 1:7–12; Boston Record Commissioners, 16th Report, p. 155–156). Despite the argument from chronology it is perfectly possible that the cousins conferred together on this occasion. It would have been characteristic of them both to do so, and especially characteristic of JA to have been ready with a public paper, or at least wellformed ideas for it, in the expectation of being asked to write it. A comparison of the texts of the two sets of instructions shows no identical paragraphs, but the arguments and occasionally the phrasing of the Boston Instructions are enough like those from Braintree to give some color to JA's claim.
5. Andrew Oliver's house had been mobbed on 14 Aug. 1765, but it was not until the following 17 Dec. that he was forced to renounce his post as stamp distributor. On these and subsequent events alluded to here, see JA's Diary entries of 15 Aug. 1765 (and note 2 there), 19 Dec. 1765 and following.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0013

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1765-07 - 1767-12


On the 14 day of July of this Year 1765, Mrs. Adams presented me with a Daughter and in her confinement in her Chamber, I was much alone in <the Parlour below> my Office of Evenings and Mornings. The Uneasy State of the public Mind, and my own gloomy Apprehensions, turned my Thoughts to writing. Without any particular Subject to write on, my Mind turned I know not how into a Speculation or rather a Rhapsody which I sent to the Boston Gazette, and was there published without Title or Signature, but which was afterwards reprinted in London under the Title of a dissertation on the Cannon and Feudal Law. It might as well have been called an Essay upon Forefathers Rock. Writings which appear mean enough at the present day, were then highly applauded, in proportion to their Zeal rather than their Merit, and this little production had its full Share of praise.1
After the 14 of August this Year 1765, I went on a Journey to Martha's Vineyard, on the Tryal of a Cause before Referees, between Jerusha Mayhew and her Relations. The keen Understanding of this Woman, and the uncontroulable Violence of her irascible Passions, had excited a quarrell of the most invidious, inveterate and irreconcileable nature between the several Branches of the Mayhew Family, which had divided the whole Island into Parties. The Rancour of that fiend the Spirit of Party had never appeared to me, in so odious and dreadfull a Light, though I had heard much of it, in a Contest between Roland Cotton and Parson Jackson at Woburne: and had remarked enough of it in the Tryal between Hopkins and Ward at Worcester.2 { 285 } In all these cases it seemed to have wrought an entire metamorphosis of the human Character. It destroyed all sense and Understanding, all Equity and Humanity, all Memory and regard to Truth, all Virtue, Honor, Decorum and Veracity. Never in my Life was I so grieved and disgusted with my Species. More than a Week I think was spent in the Examination of Witnesses and the Arguments of Council, Mr. Paine on one Side and I on the other. We endeavoured to argue the cause on both Sides, as well as We could, but which of Us got the cause I have forgot. It was indeed no matter: for it was impossible for human Sagacity to discover on which Side Justice lay. We were pretty free with our Vituperations on both Sides and the Inhabitants appeared to feel the Justice of them. I think the Cause was compromised.3 —I forgot to mention that while We were at Falmouth waiting to be ferried over to the Island the News arrived from Boston of the Riots on the twenty fifth of August in which Lt. Governor Hutchinsons House was so much injured.
The Stamp Act was repealed, and the Declaratory Act passed: but as We expected it would not be executed, good humour was in some measure restored. In the year 1766 [1767]4 Mr. Gridley died, and to his last moment retained his kindness for me, recommending his Clients to me, with expressions of confidence and Esteem too flattering for me to repeat. For several Years before, he had insisted on my Meeting him in a little Clubb once a Week, for the Sake of Sociability, litterary Conversation and reading new publications as well as the Classicks in concert. Many Things were produced and some were read: but his { 286 } Conversation was too amusing and instructive to leave Us any very earnest Wishes for Books. He had frequently invited me to visit him at his Country Seat in Brooklyne, on Saturdays, and to remain with him till Monday. I went but once, though he urged so much and so often that I was afraid he would take offence at my Negligence. On that Visit he produced to me, the first Copy of Blackstones Inaugural oration and Analysis, which ever appeared in America I believe. Mr. Thomas Oliver had received it, very early from a Friend in England, and lent it to Mr. Gridley. It was much admired and great hopes were conceived of what was to follow, which when the History of Magna Charta and especially the Commentaries made their Appearance were not disappointed. Mr. Gridley thought the Analosis excellent, as great an Improvement on Hales, as his had been upon Noy's. The Day was spent, partly at Church, partly in conversation, and partly in Reading some passages in Puffendorf, with Barbeyrac's Notes, after We had read Blackstone. He was a great Admirer of Barbeyrac: thought him a much more sensible and learned Man than Puffendorf. I admired the facility with which he translated and criticised the Greek Passages in the Notes.5
This Year6 also died Dr. Mayhew, whose Loss I deplored, as I had but lately commenced an Acquaintance with him, which was likely to become a lasting and intimate Friendship.
In the Years 1766 and 1767 my Business increased, as my Reputation spread, I got Money and bought Books and Land. I had heard my father say that he never knew a Piece of Land run away or break, and I was too much enamoured with Books, to spend many thoughts upon Speculation on Money. I was often solicited to lend Money and sometimes complied upon Land Security: but I was more intent on my Business than on my Profits, or I should have laid the foundation of a better Estate.
1. An early, fragmentary draft of this essay appears in JA's Diary and is printed there under the assigned date of Feb. 1765, q.v., with the notes and references there.
2. The political, religious, and personal feud between Rev. Edward Jackson of Woburn and his Harvard classmate and parishioner Roland Cotton during the 1740's was long regarded as “the classic example of New England cantankerousness,” to give it no worse a name; see Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 6: 301, 322–323. On the Hopkins-Ward feud in the neighboring province of Rhode Island, see JA's Diary entry of 1 Jan. 1766 and note 3 there.
3. This passage alludes to a whole complex of cases which were in litigation for years and divided the great Mayhew clan on the island of Martha's Vineyard into warring camps. One side was endeavoring to recover a boy whose father, Abel Chase, and mother, Mercy (Mayhew) Chase, had separated; the boy himself had been put out by indenture, until he reached a certain age, to his grandmother, Bethiah (Wadsworth) Mayhew. The grandmother, her Amazonian daughter Jerusha, and others in the household succeeded for some time in foiling all attempts by the sheriff and other officers to recover the boy. But the administration of justice on the island was also in the hands of Mayhews, and Jerusha was in Oct. 1762 seized and carried off to jail, though not before numerous scuffles and some actual shooting had taken place. Jerusha now sued one of her captors for assault and battery and false imprisonment, and thus the suits multiplied almost unendingly. Jerusha finally prevailed and won a judgment for damages against JA's clients, the law-enforcing officers, in May 1766. A statement of the facts and minutes of the testimony and of R. T. Paine's arguments in two of the cases (Jerusha Mayhew v. Robert Allen; Cornelius Bassett v. Wadsworth Mayhew et al.) are among JA's legal papers (M/JA/6, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 185). See also Suffolk co. Court House, Early Court Files, &c., Nos. 83471, 85247, 86474, 144133, 144145, 144187, 144233; Quincy, Reports, p. 93 and note; R. T. Paine, Diary (MHi), 27–31 Aug. 1765.
4. The correct year, here bracketed, was inserted in the MS by JQA.
5. JA's copy of Pufendorf, Of the Law of Nature and Nations .... To Which Are Added All the Large Notes of Mr. Barbeyrac ..., 4th edn., London, 1729, folio, remains among his books in the Boston Public Library (Catalogue of JA's Library).
6. 1766.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0014

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1768

[First Residence in Boston, 1768]

In the Beginning of the Year 1768 My Friends in Boston, were very urgent with me to remove into Town. I was afraid of my health: but they urged so many Reasons and insisted on it so much that being determined at last to hazard the Experiment, I wrote a Letter to the Town of Braintree declining an Election as one of their Select Men, and removed in a Week or two, with my Family into the White House as it was called in Brattle Square, which several of the old People told { 287 } me was a good omen as Mr. Bollan had lived formerly in the same house for many Years. The Year before this, i.e. in 1767 My Son John Quincy Adams was born on the [eleventh] day of August [July],1 at Braintree, and at the request of his Grandmother Smith christened by the Name of <her Father> John Quincy on the day of the Death of his Great Grandfather, John Quincy of Mount Wollaston.
In the Course of this Year 1768 My Friend Mr. Jonathan Sewall who was then Attorney General called on me in Brattle Street, and told me he was come to dine with me. This was always an acceptable favour from him, for although We were at Antipodes in Politicks We had never abated in mutual Esteem or cooled in the Warmth of our Friendship. After Dinner Mr. Sewall desired to have some Conversation with me alone and proposed adjourning to the office. Mrs. Adams arose and chose to Adjourn to her Chamber. We were accordingly left alone. Mr. Sewall then said he waited on me at that time at the request of the Governor Mr. Bernard, who had sent for him a few days before and charged him with a Message to me. The Office of Advocate General in the Court of Admiralty was then vacant, and the Governor had made Enquiry of Gentlemen the best qualified to give him information, and particularly of one of great Authority (meaning Lt. Governor and Chief Justice Hutchinson), and although he was not particularly acquainted with me himself the Result of his Inquiries was that in point of Talents, Integrity, Reputation and consequence at the Bar, Mr. Adams was the best entitled to the Office and he had determined Accordingly, to give it to me. It was true he had not Power to give me more than a temporary Appointment, till his Majestys Pleasure should be known: but that he would give immediately all the Appointment in his Power, and would write an immediate Recommendation of me to his Majesty and transmitt it to his Ministers and there was no doubt I should receive the Kings Commission, as soon as an Answer could be returned from England: for there had been no Instance of a refusal to confirm the Appointment of a Governor in such Cases.
Although this Offer was unexpected to me, I was in an instant prepared for an Answer. The Office was lucrative in itself, and a sure introduction to the most profitable Business in the Province: and what was of more consequence still, it was a first Step in the Ladder of Royal Favour and promotion. But I had long weighed this Subject in my own Mind. For seven Years I had been solicited by some of my friends and Relations, as well as others, and Offers had been made me { 288 } by Persons who had Influence, to apply to the Governor or to the Lieutenant Governor, to procure me a Commission for the Peace. Such an Officer was wanted in the Country where I had lived and it would have been of very considerable Advantage to me. But I had always rejected these proposals, on Account of the unsettled State of the Country, and my Scruples about laying myself under any restraints, or Obligations of Gratitude to the Government for any of their favours. The new Statutes had been passed in Parliament laying Duties on Glass, Paint &c. and a Board of Commissioners of the Revenue was expected, which must excite a great fermentation in the Country, of the Consequences of which I could see no End.
My Answer to Mr. Sewall was very prompt, that I was sensible of the honor done me by the Governor: but must be excused from Accepting his Offer. Mr. Sewall enquired why, what was my Objection. I answered that he knew very well my political Principles, the System I had adopted and the Connections and Friendships I had formed in Consequence of them: He also knew that the British Government, including the King, his Ministers and Parliament, apparently supported by a great Majority of the Nation, were persevereing in a System, wholly inconsistent with all my Ideas of Right, Justice and Policy, and therefore I could not place myself in a Situation in which my Duty and my Inclination would be so much at Variance. To this Mr. Sewall returned that he was instructed by the Governor to say that he knew my political Sentiments very well: but they should be no Objection with him. I should be at full Liberty to entertain my own Opinions, which he did not wish to influence by this office. He had offered it to me, merely because he believed I was the best qualified for it and because he relied on my Integrity. I replied This was going as far in the generosity and Liberality of his sentiments as the Governor could go or as I could desire, if I could Accept the Office: but that I knew it would lay me under restraints and Obligations that I could not submit to and therefore I could not in honor or Conscience Accept it.
Mr. Sewall paused, and then resuming the Subject asked, why are you so quick, and sudden in your determination? You had better take it into consideration, and give me an Answer at some future day. I told him my Answer had been ready because my mind was clear and my determination decided and unalterable. That my Advice would be that Mr. Fitch should be appointed, to whose Views the Office would be perfectly agreable. Mr. Sewal said he should certainly give me time to think of it: I said that time would produce no change and he had better make his report immediately. We parted, and about three { [facing 288] } { [facing 289] } { 289 } Weeks afterwards he came to me again and hoped I had thought more favourably on the Subject: that the Governor had sent for him and told him the public Business suffered and the office must be filled. I told him my Judgment and Inclination and determination were unalterably fixed, and that I had hoped that Mr. Fitch would have been appointed before that time. Mr. Fitch however never was appointed. He acted for the Crown, by the Appointment of the Judge from day to day, but never had any Commission from the Crown or Appointment of the Governor.2
1. The day of the month was left blank in the MS by JA and was filled in by JQA, who also corrected the month from August to July.
2. A very different version of what must be the same incident was recorded by Thomas Hutchinson: “Mr. John Adams ... is said to have been at a loss which side to take. Mr. Sewall, who was on the side of government, would have persuaded him to be on the same side, and promised him to desire governor Bernard to make him a justice of peace. The governor took time to consider of it, and having, as Mr. Adams conceived, not taken proper notice of him, or having given him offence on some former occasion, he no longer deliberated, and ever after joined in opposition” (Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 3:213–214).
It is curious that Hutchinson seems to have first heard these details in London in 1778 from the Boston loyalists Samuel Quincy and Richard Clarke, who “agreed” with each other that they were true. (Hutchinson, Diary and Letters, 2:220). By recording them in his History Hutchinson accepted at least their plausibility and thus concurred in the view that JA opposed the royal government because it had not provided him with an office.
Sewall himself held the post of advocate general (as well as that of attorney general) at the time he transmitted this offer to JA, but having been appointed judge of the Halifax Court of Vice-Admiralty he was looking for a successor. The successor proved to be Samuel Fitch, at first by a temporary appointment, then permanently. See Carl Ubbelohde, The Vice-Admiralty Courts and the American Revolution, Chapel Hill, 1960, p. 139, 161.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0015

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1768 - 1770


This Year 1768 I attended the Superiour Court at Worcester, and the next Week proceeded on to Sprin[g]field in the County of Hampshire, where I was accidentally engaged in a Cause between a Negro and his Master,1 which was argued by me, I know not how, but it seems it was in such a manner as engaged the Attention of Major Hawley, and introduced an Acquaintance which was soon after strengthened into a Friendship, which continued till his Death. During my Absence on this Circuit, a Convention sat in Boston.2 The Commissioners of the Customs had arrived and an Army Landed.3 On my Return I found the Town of Boston full of Troops, and as Dr. Byles of punning Memory express'd it, our grievances reddressed. Through the whole succeeding fall and Winter a Regiment was excercised, by Major Small, in Brattle Square directly in Front of my house. The Spirit Stirring { 290 } Drum, and the Earpiercing fife arroused me and my family early enough every morning, and the Indignation they excited, though somewhat soothed was not allayed by the sweet Songs, Violins and flutes of the serenading Sons of Liberty, under my Windows in the Evening. In this Way and a thousand others I had sufficient Intimations that the hopes and Confidence of the People, were placed on me, as one of their Friends: and I was determined, that as far as depended on me they should not be disappointed: and that if I could render them no positive Assistance, at least I would never take any part against them. My daily Reflections for two Years, at the Sight of those Soldiers before my door were serious enough. Their very Appearance in Boston was a strong proof to me, that the determination in Great Britain to subjugate Us, was too deep and inveterate ever to be altered by Us: For every thing We could do, was misrepresent[ed], and Nothing We could say was credited.
On the other hand, I had read enough in History to be well aware of the Errors to which the public opinions of the People, were liable in times of great heat and danger, as well as of the Extravagances of which the Populace of Cities were capable, when artfully excited to Passion, and even when justly provoked by Oppression. In ecclesiastical Controversies to which I had been a Witness; in the Contest at Woburn and on Marthas Vinyard, and especially in the Tryal of Hopkins and Ward, which I had heard at Worcester, I had learned enough to shew me, in all their dismal Colours, the deceptions to which the People in their passion, are liable, and the totall Suppression of Equity and humanity in the human Breast when thoroughly heated and hardened by Party Spirit.
The danger I was in appeared in full View before me: and I very deliberately, and indeed very solemnly determined, at all Events to adhere to my Principles in favour of my native Country, which indeed was all the Country I knew, or which had been known by my father, Grandfather or Great Grandfather: but on the other hand I never would deceive the People, conceal from them any essential truth, nor especially make myself subservient to any of their Crimes, Follies or Excentricities. These Rules to the Utmost of my capacity and Power, I have invariably and religiously observed to this day 21. Feb. 1805. and I hope I shall obey them till I shall be gathered to the Dust of my Ancestors, a Period which cannot be far off. They have however cost me the torment of a perpetual Vulcano of Slander, pouring on my flesh all my life time.
I was solicited to go to the Town Meetings and harrangue there. { 291 } This I constantly refused. My Friend Dr. Warren the most frequently urged me to this: My Answer to him always was “That way madness lies.” The Symptoms of our great Friend Otis, at that time, suggested to Warren, a sufficient comment on these Words, at which he always smiled and said “it was true.” Although I had never attended a Meeting the Town was pleased to choose me upon their Committee to draw up Instructions to their Representatives, this Year 1768 and the next 1769 or in the year 1769 and the Year 1770, I am not certain which two of these Years.4 The Committee always insisted on my preparing the Draught, which I did and the Instructions were adopted without Alteration by the Town; they will be found in the Boston Gazette for those Years, and although there is nothing extraordinary in them of matter or Style, they will sufficiently shew the sense of the Public at that time.
In 1769 The House I lived in, was to be sold: I had not sufficient confidence in the Stability of any Thing, to purchase it, and I therefore removed to a house in cold Lane:5 where I lost a Child a Daughter, whose name was Susana, and where in 1770 my Son Charles was born.
1. Newport v. Billing, a case in the Superior Court of Judicature during its September term at Springfield. JA acted (and won) for the defendant, who was being sued by his slave (Superior Court of Judicature, Minute Book 83). Brief notes on the arguments are in JA's legal papers (M/JA/6, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 185).
2. 22–29 Sept. 1768.
3. 1 Oct. 1768.
4. 1768 and 1769. They were printed in the Boston Gazette, 20 June 1768, 15 May 1769, and reprinted in JA's Works, 3:501–510.
5. This street ran northward from Hanover Street to the Mill Pond and was indiscriminately called Cold and Cole Lane (Boston Streets, &c., 1910, p. 121; see also JA's Diary, second entry of 21 Nov. 1772).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0016

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770


The Year 1770 was memorable enough, in these little Annals of my Pilgrimage. The Evening of the fifth of March, I spent at Mr. Henderson Inches's House at the South End of Boston, in Company with a Clubb, with whom I had been associated for several Years. About nine O Clock We were allarmed with the ringing of Bells, and supposing it to be the Signal of fire, We snatched our Hats and Cloaks, broke up the Clubb, and went out to assist in quenching the fire or aiding our friends who might be in danger. In the Street We were informed that the British Soldiers had fired on the Inhabitants, killed some and wounded others near the Town house. A Croud of People was flowing down the Street, to the Scene of Action. When We arrived We saw nothing but some field Pieces placed before the south door of the Town house and some Engineers and Grenadiers drawn up to protect them. Mrs. Adams was in Circumstances, and I was apprehensive of the Effect of the Surprise upon her, who [was] alone, excepting her Maids and a Boy in the House. Having therefore surveyed round the Town house and seeing all quiet, I walked down Boylstons Alley into Brattle Square, where a Company or two of { 292 } regular Soldiers were drawn up in Front of Dr. Coopers old Church with their Musquets all shouldered and their Bayonetts all fixed. I had no other way to proceed but along the whole front in a very narrow Space which they had left for foot passengers. Pursuing my Way, without taking the least notice of them or they of me, any more than if they had been marble Statues, I went directly home to Cold Lane. My Wife having heard that the Town was still and likely to continue so, had recovered from her first Apprehensions, and We had nothing but our Reflections to interrupt our Repose. These Reflections were to me, disquieting enough. Endeavours had been systematically pursued for many Months, by certain busy Characters, to excite Quarrells, Rencounters and Combats single or compound in the night between the Inhabitants of the lower Class and the Soldiers, and at all risques to inkindle an immortal hatred between them. I suspected that this was the Explosion, which had been intentionally wrought up by designing Men, who knew what they were aiming at better than the Instrument employed. If these poor Tools should be prosecuted for any of their illegal Conduct they must be punished. If the Soldiers in self defence should kill any of them they must be tryed, and if Truth was respected and the Law prevailed must be acquitted. To depend upon the perversion of Law and the Corruption or partiality of Juries, would insensibly disgrace the Jurisprudence of the Country and corrupt the Morals of the People. It would be better for the whole People to rise in their Majesty, and insist on the removal of the Army, and take upon themselves the Consequences, than to excite such Passions between the People and the Soldiers [as]1 would expose both to continual prosecution civil or criminal and keep the Town boiling in a continual fermentation. The real and full Intentions of the British Government and Nation were not yet developed: and We knew not whether the Town would be supported by the Country: whether the Province would be supported by even our neighbouring States of New England; nor whether New England would be supported by the Continent. These were my Meditations in the night. The next Morning I think it was, sitting in my Office, near the Steps of the Town house Stairs, Mr. Forrest came in, who was then called the Irish Infant.2 I had some Acquaintance with him. With tears streaming from his Eyes, he said I am come with a very solemn Message from a very unfortunate Man, { 293 } Captain Preston in Prison. He wishes for Council, and can get none. I have waited on Mr. Quincy, who says he will engage if you will give him your Assistance: without it possitively he will not. Even Mr. Auchmuty declines unless you will engage....3 I had no hesitation in answering that Council ought to be the very last thing that an accused Person should want in a free Country. That the Bar ought in my opinion to be independent and impartial at all Times And in every Circumstance. And that Persons whose Lives were at Stake ought to have the Council they preferred: But he must be sensible this would be as important a Cause as ever was tryed in any Court or Country of the World: and that every Lawyer must hold himself responsible not only to his Country, but to the highest and most infallible of all Trybunals for the Part he should Act. He must therefore expect from me no Art or Address, No Sophistry or Prevarication in such a Cause; nor any thing more than Fact, Evidence and Law would justify. Captain Preston he said requested and desired no more: and that he had such an Opinion, from all he had heard from all Parties of me, that he could chearfully trust his Life with me, upon those Principles. And said Forrest, as God almighty is my Judge I believe him an innocent Man. I replied that must be ascertained by his Tryal, and if he thinks he cannot have a fair Tryal of that Issue without my Assistance, without hesitation he shall have it. Upon this, Forrest offered me a single Guinea as a retaining fee and I readily accepted it. From first to last I never said a Word about fees, in any of those Cases, and I should have said nothing about them here, if Calumnies and Insinuations had not been propagated that I was tempted by great fees and enormous sums of Money. Before or after the Tryal, Preston sent me ten Guineas and at the Tryal of the Soldiers afterwards Eight Guineas more, which were all the fees I ever received or were offered to me, and I should not have said any thing on the subject to my Clients if they had never offered me any Thing.4 This was all the pecuniary Reward I ever had for fourteen or fifteen days labour, in the most exhausting and fatiguing Causes I ever tried: for hazarding a Popularity very general and very { 294 } hardly earned: and for incurring a Clamour and popular Suspicions and prejudices, which are not yet worn out and never will be forgotten as long as History of this Period is read. For the Experience of all my Life has proved to me, that the Memory of Malice is faithfull, and more, it continually adds to its Stock; while that of Kindness and Friendship is not only frail but treacherous. It was immediately bruited abroad that I had engaged for Preston and the Soldiers, and occasioned a great clamour which the Friends of Government delighted to hear, and slyly and secretly fomented with all their Art.
The Tryal of the Soldiers was continued for one Term, and in the Mean time an Election came on, for a Representative of Boston. Mr. Otis had resigned: Mr. Bowdoin was chosen in his Stead: at the general Election Mr. Bowdoin was chosen into the Council and Mr. Hutchinson then Governor did not negative him. A Town Meeting was called for the Choice of a Successor to Mr. Bowdoin; Mr. Ruddock a very respectable Justice of the Peace, who had risen to Wealth and Consequence, by a long Course of Industry as a Master Shipwright, was sett up in Opposition to me. Notwithstanding the late Clamour against me, and although Mr. Ruddock was very popular among all the Tradesmen and Mechanicks in Town, I was chosen by a large Majority.5 I had never been at a Boston Town Meeting, and was not at this, till Messengers were sent to me, to inform me that I was chosen. I went down to Phanuel Hall and in a few Words expressive of my sense of the difficulty and danger of the Times; of the importance of the Trust, and of my own Insuffi[ci]ency to fulfill the Expectations of the People, I accepted the Choice. Many Congratulations were offered, which I received civilly, but they gave no Joy to me. I considered the Step as a devotion of my family to ruin and myself to death, for I could scarce perceive a possibility that I should ever go through the Thorns and leap all the Precipices before me, and escape with my Life. At this time I had more Business at the Bar, than any Man in the Province: My health was feeble: I was throwing away as bright prospects [as] any Man ever had before him: and had devoted myself to endless labour and Anxiety if not to infamy and to death, and that for nothing, except, what indeed was and ought to be all in all, a sense of duty. In the Evening I expressed to Mrs. Adams all my Apprehensions: That excellent Lady, who has always encouraged me, burst into a flood of Tears, but said she was very sensible of all the Danger to her and to our Children as well as to me, but she thought I had done as I ought, she was very { 295 } willing to share in all that was to come and place her trust in Providence. I immediately attended the General Court at Cambridge, to which place the Governor had removed it, to punish the Town of Boston, in Obedience however, as he said I suppose truly to an Instruction he had received from the King. The Proceedings of the Legislature, at that time and place may be seen in their Journals, if they are not lost. Among other Things will be found a laboured controversy between the House and the Governor, concerning these Words “In general Court assembled and by the Authority of the same.” I mention this merely on Account of an Anecdote which the friends of Government circulated with diligence, of Governor Shirley who then lived in retirement at his Seat in Roxbury. Having read this dispute in the public Prints, he asked who has revived these old Words. They were expressed during my Administration. He was answered the Boston Seat. “And who are the Boston Seat?” Mr. Cushing, Mr. Hancock, Mr. Samuel Adams and Mr. John Adams. Mr. Cushing I know and Mr. Hancok [I] know, replied the old Governor, but where the Devil this brace of Adams's came from, I know not. This was archly circulated by the Ministerialists, to impress the People, with the Obscurity of the original, of the par nobile fratrum, as the Friends of the Country used to call Us, by way of Retaliation.6 This was to me a fatiguing Session, for they put me upon all the Drudgery of managing all the disputes, and an executive Court had a long Session which obliged me to attend, allmost constantly there upon a Number of very disagreable Causes. Not long after the Adjournment of the General Court came on the Tryals of Preston and the Soldiers. I shall say little of these Cases. Prestons Tryal was taken down in short hand and sent to England but was never printed here.7 I told the Court and Jury in both Causes, that as I was no Authority, I would propose to them no Law from my own memory: but would read to them, all I had to say of that Nature, from Books, which the Court knew and the Council on the other Side must acknowledge to be indisputable Authorities. This Rule was carefully { 296 } observed but the Authorities were so clear and full that no question of Law was made. The Juries in both Cases, in my Opinion gave correct Verdicts. It appeared to me, that the greatest Service which could be rendered to the People of the Town, was to lay before them, the Law as it stood that the[y] might be fully apprized of the Dangers of various kinds, which must arise from intemperate heats and irregular commotions. Although the Clamour was very loud, among some Sorts of People, it has been a great Consolation to me through Life, that I acted in this Business with steady impartiality, and conducted it to so happy an Issue.
1. MS: “and.”
2. James Forrest, a native of Ireland and a prosperous Boston merchant; he became an ardent loyalist and left Boston with the British troops in 1776 (Jones, Loyalists of Mass., p. 136–137; Rowe, Letters and Diary, passim).
3. Suspension points in MS.
4. This statement cannot be readily squared with the entries for legal fees in a bill of costs of the trials forwarded by Lt. Col. William Dalrymple in a letter to Gen. Gage, 17 Dec. 1770:
To a retaining fee to C:
Prestons Lawyers   £10–   10  
To—Do.—to the mens—Do.   10–   10  
To a fee for pleading at the tryal to C: Prestons Lawyers     63  
To—Do.—to the Mens—Do.     42  
(Printed from the Gage Papers in Randolph G. Adams, “New Light on the Boston Massacre,” Amer. Antiq. Soc, Procs., 47 [1937]:354.)
There were three lawyers for the defense in each trial; see note on Diary entry of 10 Jan. 1771.
5. JA was elected on 6 June 1770 by 418 out of 536 votes cast (Boston Record Commissioners, 18th Report, p. 33).
6. See Diary entry of 9 Feb. 1772 and notes there.
7. It was never printed anywhere, and JA's assertion that Preston's trial was recorded, sent to England, and suppressed by the government (see his letter to Morse, quoted below) cannot be verified and is very doubtful indeed. The trial of the soldiers was, however, recorded and printed. Before publication
“The Court allowed [the reporter] to shew his Manuscript to the Council [counsel]. He brought it to me. Upon reading it over, I found so much inaccuracy, and so many errors, that I scratched out everything, but the legal Authorities, and the testimonies of the Witnesses. Mr. Quincy and Mr. Paine were consulted, and the results of their deliberations appear in the printed trial” (JA to Jedidiah Morse, 5 Jan. 1816, LbC, Adams Papers).
This was The Trial of William Wemms . . . Taken in Short-Hand by John Hodgson, Boston, 1770.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0017

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1771 - 1773

[Braintree and Boston, 1771–1773]

The complicated Cares of my legal and political Engagements, the slender Diet to which I was obliged to confine myself, the Air of the Town of Boston which was not favourable to me who had been born and passed allmost all my life in the Country; but especially the constant Obligation to speak in public almost every day for many hours, had exhausted my health, brought on a Pain in my Breast and a complaint in my Lungs, which seriously threatened my Life, and compelled me, to throw off a great part of the Load of Business both public and private, and return to my farm in the Country. Early in the Spring of 1771 I removed my family to Braintree, still holding however an office in Boston.1 The Air of my native Spot, and the fine Breezes from the Sea on one Side and the rocky Mountains of Pine and Savin on the other, together with daily rides on horse back and the Amusements of Agriculture always delightfull to me soon restored my health in a considerable degree. I was advised to take a Journey to the Stafford Springs in Connecticutt, then in as much Vogue as any mineral Springs have been since. I spent a few days in drinking the Waters and made an Excursion, through Somers and Windsor down to Hartford and the Journey was of Use to me, whether the Waters were or not.2 On my Return I had my Annual Journey to make on the Eastern Circuit at Ipswich, York and Falmouth, now Portland, and this Exercise continued to improve my health.
Finding my health much improved, and finding great Inconvenience in conducting my Business in Boston, in my Office there, while my family was in the Country, I began to entertain thoughts of returning. Having found it very troublesome to hire houses and be often obliged to remove, I determined to purchase a house, and Mr. Hunt offering me one in Court Street near the Scaene of my Business, opposite the Court house, I bought it and inconvenient and contracted as it was I { 297 } made it answer both for a Dwelling and an Office, till a few Weeks before the 19th of Appril 1775 when the War commenced.3
During my last Residence in Boston, two Causes occurred, of an extraordinary Character, in which I was engaged and which cost me no small Portion of Anxiety. That of the four Sailors, who killed Lieutenant Panton of the Rose Frigate. These were both before Special Courts of Admiralty held in Consequence of the Statute. The four Sailors were acquitted as their Conduct was adjudged to be in Self Defence, and the Actions justifiable Homicide.4 The other was the Tryal of Ansell Nicholson [Nickerson], for the Murder of three or four Men, on board a Vessell. This was and remains still a misterious Transaction. I know not to this day what Judgment to form of his Guilt or Innocence. And this doubt I presume was the Principle of Acquittal. He requested my Assistance and it was given. He had nothing to give me, but his promissory Note, for a very moderate Fee. But I have heard nothing of him, nor received any Thing for his note, which has been lost with many other Notes and Accounts to a large Amount, in the distraction of the times and my Absence from my Business.5
1. See Diary entry of 16 April 1771.
2. See Diary entries of 30 May 1771 and following.
3. See Diary entry of 22 Sept. 1772 and note 2 there.
4. See Diary entry of 23 Dec. 1769 and note.
5. See Diary entry of 28 [i.e. 27?] Nov. 1772 and note 4 there.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0018

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1773

[Independence of the Judges, 1773–1774]

In the Year 1773 arose a Controversy concerning the Independence of the Judges. The King had granted a Salary to the Judges of our Superiour Court and forbidden them to receive their Salaries as usual from the Grants of the House of Representatives, and the Council and Governor, as had been practiced till this time. This as the Judges Commissions were during pleasure made them entirely dependent on the Crown for Bread [as] well as office. The Friends of Government were anxious to perswade the People, that their Commissions were during good Behaviour. Brigadier General Brattle, who had been a Prac[ti]tioner of Law, and was at this time in his Majestys Council, after some time, came out with his name in one of the Gazettes, with a formal Attempt to prove that the Judges held their offices for Life. Perhaps I should not have taken any public Notice of this, if it had not been industriously circulated among the People, that the General had at a Town Meeting in Cambridge the Week before advanced this doctrine And challenged me by name, to dispute the point with him. His Challenge I should have disregarded, but as his Appeal to me was public, if I should remain silent it would be presumed that my Opinion coincided with his. It was of great Importance that the People should form a correct Opinion on this Subject: and therefore I sent { 298 } to the press a Letter in Answer, which drew me on to the Number of Eight Letters, which may be seen in the Boston Gazette for this Year.1 The Doctrine and the History of the Independence of Judges was detailed and explained as well as my time, Avocations and Information enabled me: imperfect and unpollished as they were they were well timed. The Minds of all Men were awake and every thing was eagerly read by every one, who could read. These papers Accordingly, contributed to spread correct Opinions concerning the Importance of the Independence of the Judges to Liberty and Safety, and enabled the Convention of Massachusetts in 1779 to adopt them into the Constitution of the Commonwealth, as the State of New York had done before, partially, and as the Constitution of the United States did afterwards [in] 1787. The Principles develloped in these Papers have been very generally, indeed almost universally prevalent among the People of America, from that time, till the Administration of Mr. Jefferson, during which they have been infringed and are now in danger of being lost. In such a Case, as the Ballance in our national Legislature is imperfect and very difficult to be preserved, We shall have no ballance at all of Interests or Passions, and our Lives, Liberties, Reputations and Estates will lie at the mercy of a Majority, and of a tryumphant Party.
At this Period,2 the Universal Cry, among the Friends of their Country was “What shall We do to be saved?” It was by all Agreed, As the Governor was entirely dependent on the Crown, and the Council in danger of becoming so if the Judges were made so too, the Liberties of the Country would be totally lost, and every Man at the Mercy of a few Slaves of the Governor. But no Man presumed to say what ought to be done, or what could be done. Intimations were frequently given, that this Arrangement should not be submitted to.—I understood very well what was meant, and I fully expected that if no Expedient could be suggested, that the Judges would be obliged to go where Secretary Oliver had gone to Liberty Tree, and compelled to take an Oath to renounce the Royal Salaries. Some of these Judges were men of Resolution and the Chief Justice in particular, piqued himself so much upon it and had so often gloried in it on the Bench, that I shuddered at the expectation that the Mob might put on him a Coat of Tar and Feathers, if not put him to death. I had a real respect { 299 } for the Judges. Three of them Trowbridge, Cushing and Brown3 I could call my Friends. Oliver and Ropes abstracted from their politicks were amiable Men, and all of them were very respectable and virtuous Characters. I dreaded the Effect upon the Morals and temper of the People, which must be produced, by any violence offered to the Persons of those who wore the Robes and bore the sacred Characters of Judges, and moreover I felt a strong Aversion to such partial and irregular Recurrences to original Power. The poor People themselves who by secret manoeuvres are excited to insurrection are seldom aware of the purposes for which they are set in motion: or of the Consequences which may happen to themselves: and when once heated and in full Career, they can neither manage themselves, nor be regulated by others. Full of these Reflections, I happened to dine with Mr. Samuel Winthrop at New Bost[on], who was then Clerk of the Superiour Court, in company with several Members of the General Court of both Houses and with several other Gentlemen of the Town. Dr. John Winthrop Phylosophical Professor at Colledge and Dr. Cooper of Boston both of them very much my Friends, were of the Company. The Conversation turned wholly on the Topic of the Day—the Case of the Judges. All agreed that it was a fatal Measure and would be the Ruin of the Liberties of the Country: But what was the Remedy? It seemed to be a measure that would execute itself. There was no imaginable Way of resisting or eluding it. There was lamentation and mourning enough: but no light and no hope. The Storm was terrible and no blue Sky to be discovered. I had been entirely silent, and in the midst of all this gloom, Dr. Winthrop, addressing himself to me, said Mr. Adams We have not heard your Sentiments on this Subject, how do you consider it? I answered that my Sentiments accorded perfectly with all which had been expressed. The Measure had created a Crisis, and if it could not be defeated, the Liberties of the Province would be lost. The Stroke was levelled at the Essence of the Constitution, and nothing was too dear to be hazarded in warding it off. It levelled the Axe at the Root, and if not opposed the Tree would be overthrown from the foundation. It appeared so to me at that time and I have seen no reason, to suspect that I was in an Error, to this day. But said Dr. Winthrop, What can be done? I answered, that I knew not whether any one would approve of my Opinion but I believed there was one constitutional Resource, but I knew not whether it would be { 300 } possible to persuade the proper Authority to have recourse to it. Several Voices at once cryed out, a constitutional Resource! what can it be? I said it was nothing more nor less than an Impeachment of the Judges by the House of Representatives before the Council. An Impeachment! Why such a thing is without Precedent. I believed it was, in this Province: but there had been precedents enough, and by much too many in England: It was a dangerous Experiment at all times: but it was essential to the preservation of the Constitution in some Cases, that could be reached by no other Power, but that of Impeachment. But whence can We pretend to derive such a Power? From our Charter, which gives Us, in Words as express, as clear and as strong as the Language affords, all the Rights and Priviledges of Englishmen: and if the House of Commons in England is the grand Inquest of the Nation, the House of Representatives is the Grand Inquest of this Province, and the Council must have the Powers of Judicature of the House of Lords in Great Britain. This Doctrine was said by the Company to be wholly new. They knew not how far it could be supported, but it deserved to be considered and examined. After all if it should be approved by the House, the Council would not convict the Judges.—That, I said, was an after consideration, if the House was convinced that they had the Power, and that it was their duty to exercise it, they ought to do it, and oblige the Council to enquire into their Rights and Powers and Duties. If the Council would not hearken to Law or Evidence, they must be responsible for the consequences, and the Guilt and blame must lie at their door. The Company seperated, and I knew that the Governor and the Judges would soon have Information of this Conversation, and as several Members of both Houses were present, and several Gentlemen of the Town, I was sensible that it would soon become the Talk of the Legislatures as well as of the Town. The next day, I believe, Major Hawley came to my House and told me, he heard I had broached a strange Doctrine. He hardly knew what an Impeachment was, he had never read any one and never had thought on the Subject. I told him he might read as many of them as he pleased. There stood the State Tryals on the Shelf which were full of them, of all sorts good and bad. I shewed him Seldens Works in which is a Treatise on Judicature in Parliament, and gave it him to read.4 That Judicature in Parliament was as ancient as common Law and as Parliament { 301 } itself; that without this high Jurisdiction it was thought impossible to defend the Constitution against Princes and Nobles and great Ministers, who might commit high Crimes and Misdemeanors which no other Authority would be powerfull enough to prevent or punish. That our Constitution was a Miniature of the British: that the Charter had given Us every Power, Jurisdiction and right within our Limits which could be claimed by the People or Government of England, with no other exceptions than those in the Charter expressed. We looked into the Charter together, and after a long conversation and a considerable Research he said he knew not how to get rid of it. In a Day or two another Lawyer in the House came to me, full of doubts and difficulties, He said he heard I had shown Major Hawley some Books relative to the Subject and desired to see them. I shewed them to him and made nearly the same comment upon them. It soon became the common Topick and research of the Bar. Major Hawley had a long Friendship for Judge Trowbridge and a high Opinion of his Knowledge of Law which was indeed extensive: he determined to converse with the Judge upon the Subject, went to Cambridge on Saturday and staid till monday. On this Visit he introduced this subject, and appealed to Lord Coke and Selden, as well as to the Charter, and advanced all the Arguments which occurred to him. The Judge although he had renounced the Salary We may suppose was not much delighted with the Subject, on Account of his Brothers. He did however declare to the Major that he could not deny, that the Constitution had given the Power to the House of Representatives, the Charter was so full and express, but that the Exercise of it, in this Case would be vain as the Council would undoubtedly acquit the Judges even if they heard and tryed the Impeachment. Hawley was not so much concerned about that as he was to ascertain the Law. The first time I saw Judge Trowbridge, he said to me, I see Mr. Adams you are determined to explore the Constitution and bring to Life all its dormant and latent Powers, in defence of your Liberties as you understand them. I answered I should be very happy if the Constitution could carry Us safely through all our difficulties without having recourse to higher Powers not written. The Members of the House, becoming soon convinced that there was something for them to do, appointed a Committee to draw up Articles of Impeachment against the Chief Justice Oliver.5 Major Hawley who was one of this Committee, would do nothing without me, and insisted on bringing them to my house, to examine and discuss { 302 } the Articles paragraph by Paragraph, which was readily consented to by the Committee. Several Evenings were spent in my Office, upon this Business, till very late at night. One Morning, meeting Ben. Gridley, he said to me Brother Adams you keep late Hours at your House: as I passed it last night long after midnight, I saw your Street door vomit forth a Crowd of Senators. The Articles when prepared were reported to the House of Representatives, adopted by them and sent up to the Council Board. The Council would do nothing and there they rested. The Friends of Administration thought they had obtained a Tryumph but they were mistaken. The Articles were printed in the Journals of the House and in the Newspapers, and the People meditated on them at their Leisure. When the Superiour Court came to sit in Boston, the Grand Jurors and Petit Jurors as their names were called over refused to take the Oaths. When examined and demanded their reasons for this extraordinary Conduct, they answered to a Man, that the Chief Justice of that Court stood impeached of high Crimes and Misdemeanors, before his Majestys Council, and they would not sit as Jurors while that Accusation was depending.6 Att the Charlestown Court the Jurors unanimously refused in the same manner: They did so at Worcester and all the other Counties. The Court never sat again untill a new one was appointed by the Council exercising the Powers of a Governor under the Charter after the Battle of Lexington on the 19 of April 1775.
1. Actually seven letters; see Diary entry of 4 March 1773 and note 2 there.
2. That is, during the winter of 1773–1774. The attempt by the House to impeach Chief Justice Peter Oliver because he would not renounce salary grants from the crown occurred in Feb. 1774; see Diary entry of 2 March 1774 and note.
3. William Browne was not appointed to the Superior Court until June 1774, when he succeeded Nathaniel Ropes, who had died in March (Whitmore, Mass. Civil List, p. 70).
4. The authorities referred to were, presumably, Thomas Salmon, A New Abridgement and Critical Review of the State Trials and Impeachments for High Treason ... , London, 1738, folio; and John Selden's Opera Omnia, ed. David Willkins, London, 1726, 3 vols., folio, both of which remain among JA's books in the Boston Public Library (Catalogue of JA's Library).
5. Adopted on 24 Feb. 1774 by a vote of 92 to 8 (Mass., House Jour., 1773–1774, p. 194–201).
6. Graphic accounts of the closing of the Superior Court of Judicature in Boston at the end of August and beginning of September 1774 were furnished to JA in letters from two of the young men in his office, William Tudor, 3 Sept., and Edward Hill, 4 Aug. [i.e. Sept.] 1774 (both in Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0019

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1774

[Report on Boundaries, 1773–1774]

In the Fall of the Year 1773, The General Court appointed Mr. Bowdoin and me to draw a State of the Claim of this Province to the Lands to the Westward of New York. Mr. Bowdoin left it wholly to me: and I spent all my Leisure time in the Fall, Winter and Spring in Collecting all the Evidence and Documents: I went to Mr. John Moffat, who had made a large Collection of Records, Pamphlets and Papers, and examined his Treasures: then to Dr. Samuel Mathers Library which descended to him from his Ancestors Dr. Increase Mather, and Dr. Cotton Mather who had been Agent of the Province: and then to the Balcony of Dr. Sewalls Church, where Mr. Prince had deposited the amplest Collection of Books, Pamphlets, Records and Manuscripts relative to this Country which I ever saw, and which as I presume ever was made, Mr. Prince having pursued thro his whole Life a plan which he began at Colledge. I spent much time in { 303 } that elevated Situation, and found some things of Use in my Investigation, but I found a greater Gratification to my Curiosity, and cannot but lament that this invaluable Treasure was dispersed and ruined by the British Army, when they afterwards converted this venerable Temple into a Stable and a riding School. Having compleated my State of the Claim of the Province, and confuted the Pretensions of New York, I reported it to Mr. Bowdoin who after taking Time to read it, for it was very long, told me, that he approved it, and thought it wanted no Addition or correction. He Accordingly reported it to the Senate where it was read and sent down to the House, where it was read again. Mr. Samuel Adams was then Clerk of the House, and in the Confusion which soon afterwards happened at Salem, when the Governor dissolved the General Court for choosing Members to go to Congress, he lost it. But several Years afterwards it was found, and delivered to the Agents for Massachusetts, who attended the Settlement of the dispute with New York. Mr. King has repeatedly told me, that without that Statement, none of them would have understood any Thing of the Subject, and the Claim would have been lost.1 The { 304 } Decision was much less favourable to Massachusetts than it ought to have been, and the State have very unoeconomically alienated all the Land since that time for a very inadequate sum of Money. I wish they had first given me a Township of the Land. It would have been much more prudently disposed of than any of the rest of it was, and more justly. I never had any thing for my half Years service, not even Credit nor Thanks.
1. This is one of at least three accounts by JA of this interesting episode, all differing in details that are not easily reconcilable because the principal document in question has not been found.
The earliest account, in a letter from JA to Elbridge Gerry, Braintree, 17 Oct. 1779 (LbC, Adams Papers), is doubtless the most reliable. It states that “the General Court in 1774 appointed Mr. Bowdoin and me a Committee to state our Claim to those Lands” now called Vermont but then usually spoken of as the New Hampshire Grants, meaning the territory between the Connecticut River and the New York lakes north of a western projection of New Hampshire's present southern boundary. The date of this appointment, 1 March 1774 (rather than the fall of 1773), is confirmed by copies of the votes of both houses of the General Court among JA's papers relating to his work for this committee that are now in the Huntington Library (see below in this note). JA went on to say in his letter to Gerry that after spending “most of the Winter [i.e. spring] in rummaging” through books and documents, he “wrote a very lengthy, I cannot say a very accurate State of the Massachusetts Claim to those Lands, a particular Examination, and an Attempt at a Refutation of the Claim of New York, and a similar Discussion of that of New Hampshire.—Mr. Bowdoin revised it and reported it, a few days before Gen. Gage removed the General Court to Salem” in May 1774. At Salem (as told also in the Autobiography) the report was lost in the shuffle. “There is no other Copy that I know of—the first rough blotted Draught, was left in my Table drawer in my Office in Boston, when the Regulars shut up the Town. The Table, Papers and all were carried off, when they left the Town.”
Thus far JA in 1779. The statement in his Autobiography that his report of 1774 reappeared and proved useful a decade later when Massachusetts' western claims were reasserted and eventually settled on the one hand by a cession to the United States and on the other by a compromise with New York, seems to be clearly confirmed by a letter from Tristram Dalton to JA, Newburyport, 6 April 1784 (Adams Papers). (The connection between Massachusetts' claim to Vermont and its claim to lands “to the Westward of New York” was owing to the sea-to-sea grant in the 1629 Charter of the Massachusetts Bay Company; see Paullin, Atlas, pl. 42, 47E, 97A–B, and p. 26, 36, 72–73.)
Only fragments of the once voluminous record of JA's investigation of Massachusetts' territorial claims have survived. These include some dozen folio pages of notes and drafts among his miscellaneous papers (M/JA/17, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 191), one page captioned “An Examination of the Claim of New York,” a six-page draft entitled “A State of the Title of the Massachusetts-Bay, to Lands between Connecticutt & Hudsons Rivers, at the North West Corner of the Province,” and three pages of “Additions to be made to the Title of the Massachusetts.” These, at least, were not carried off by the British from JA's Boston office. In the present century a further and very miscellaneous mass of papers assembled by JA during his work for the committee of 1774 came into the autograph market. They are listed and inaccurately described in The Library of Henry F. De Puy (Part One), Anderson Galleries, N.Y., Catalogue of Sale No. 1440, 17–18 Nov. 1919, lot 8 (now in CSmH). They consist of nearly 50 pages in various hands, including JA's, but the principal paper, which is identified in the auction catalogue as JA's “brief” for Massachusetts' claims (to Vermont), is actually, according to both internal evidence and JA's own endorsement there on, a copy by JA of “Charles Phelps's State of this Case.” Phelps was “an Inhabitant of the [New Hampshire] Grants” who favored Massachusetts' claims; see JA to Gerry, 17 Oct. 1779, cited above. Among the other papers in CSmH is a copy of James Bowdoin's report to the Massachusetts Council on the petition of Charles Phelps, undated but followed immediately by copies of the votes of the Council and House, 25, 28 Feb., 1 March 1774, appointing Bowdoin and JA “to prepare a full and clear State of the Province's Title” (JA's endorsement)—the action that led to JA's undertaking his laborious researches.
Whatever the fate of JA's elaborate but apparently irrecoverable report may have been, his interest in Massachusetts' northern and western territorial claims remained strong, and his early investigation of them later proved extremely useful in the struggle over the northeastern boundary of the United States in the preliminary peace negotiations at Paris; see his Diary entry of 10 Nov. 1782 and note 1 there; also his letters printed in the Boston Patriot, Oct.–Nov. 1811 (partly reprinted in JA, Works, 1:667–668), in which he told once more the story of his defense of Massachusetts' title to Vermont under the Charter of 1629.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0020

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1773

[Controversy with Hutchinson, 1773]

As I have written hitherto, wholly from my memory, without recurring to any Books or Papers, I am sensible I have made several Anachronisms, and particularly in some things immediately preceeding. It was I believe in 17721 that Governor Hutchinson, in an elaborate Speech to both Houses of Congress endeavoured to convince them, their Constituents and the World that Parliament was our Sovereign Legislature, and had a Right to make Laws for Us in all Cases whatso• { 305 } ever, to Lay Taxes on all things external and internal, on Land as well as on Trade. The House appointed a Committee to answer this Speech. An Answer was drawn prettily written, I never knew certainly by whom, whether Mr. Samuel Adams or Dr. Joseph Warren <or both together> or Dr. Church, or all three together. Major Hawley was pleased with the Composition but was not satisfied with all the Principles, nor with all the Reasoning. Major Hawley would do nothing without me, and without Major Hawley the Committee could do nothing. I must be invited and must be present at every Meeting. This Attachment of the Major to me, I soon perceived and often afterwards perceived was an Eye Sore to some Gentlemen. I have seen at Antwerp, an admirable Picture by one of the flemish Masters of the Saviour and his Disciples. The Saviour is represented as shewing to the beloved Disciple John, some peculiar marks of his tender Affection and Friendship for him. The Eyes of all the Disciples are turned to those two principal figures, and these Partialities are observed by them all. The Artist understood human Nature so well, that he had stamped a Jealousy on every Countenance, especially on that of St. Peter whose Eyes allmost start out of his head with it. The Painter knew that the holiest Men were Men still. I must declare that my Experience has been conformable to that of the Painter. I have never known in the Course of my whole Life any Man however exalted in Rank, Genius, Talents, Fame, Fortune or Virtue, in whom I have not seen disgusting Instances and proofs of this Passion. I will not say that I have never felt them in myself, but I will say I have been always on my guard against them and always endeavoured to suppress them and that I never took one Step to supplant any Man from such Motives. I had reason to make this Observation at the time. I saw in Mr. Hancock and Mr. Samuel Adams very visible marks of Jealousy and Envy too at this superiour Attachment of Major Hawley to me. I regarded it very little and it made no Alteration in my respectfull and friendly behaviour to them. The Draught of a Report was full of very popular Talk and with those democratical Principles which have since done so much mischief in this Country. I objected to them all and got them all expunged which I thought exceptionable, and furnished the committee with the Law Authorities, and the legal and constitutional Reasonings that are to be seen on the part of the House in that Controversy. How these Papers would appear to me or to others, at this day I know not, having never seen them since their first publication: but they appeared to me, at that time to be correct.
1. Jan. 1773. On the contest alluded to here and JA's part in it, see Diary entry of 4 March 1773 and note 1 there.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0021

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1768-06-10 - 1769-03-25

[Seizure of Hancock's Sloop, 1768–1769]

In the fall of the Year 1773, a great Uproar was raised in Boston, { 306 } on Account of the Unlading in the Night of a Cargo of Wines from the Sloop Liberty from Madeira, belonging to Mr. Hancock, without paying the Customs. Mr. Hancock was prosecuted upon a great Number of Libells for Penalties, upon Acts of Parliament, amounting to Ninety or an hundred thousand Pounds Sterling. He thought fit to engage me as his Counsell and Advocate; and a painfull Drudgery I had of his cause. There were few days through the whole Winter, when I was not summoned to attend the Court of Admiralty. It seemed as if the Officers of the Crown were determined to examine the whole Town as Witnesses. Almost every day a fresh Witness was to be examined upon Interrogatories. They interrogated many of his near Relations and most intimate Friends and threatened to summons his amiable and venerable Aunt, the Relict of his Uncle Thomas Hancock, who had left the greatest Part of his Fortune to him. I was thoroughly weary and disgusted with the Court, the Officers of the Crown, the Cause, and even with the tyrannical Bell that dongled me out of my House every Morning; and this odious Cause was suspended at last only by the Battle of Lexington, which put an End for ever to all such Prosecutions.1
1. Here JA's memory seriously misled him. This protracted admiralty case, Advocate General Jonathan Sewall v. John Hancock, occurred in 1768–1769. It followed the seizure in Boston harbor of Hancock's sloop Liberty, 10 June 1768, by members of the crew of the Romney man-of-war at the instance of the new board of customs commissioners, not for smuggling but for failing to obtain a permit for a cargo it had loaded. The Liberty was condemned in August and sold in September. The following month, after British troops had garrisoned Boston (also at the behest of the customs commissioners), a suit was filed against Hancock, not by a grand jury indictment but by an “information” and an admiralty court order, for the enormous sum of £9,000. The charge was for smuggling wine that had been brought in earlier by the Liberty. JA's notes on this case are in his “Admiralty Book” (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 184) and are printed, with introductory commentary and valuable references, in Quincy, Reports, p. 456–463.
In his stubborn and eloquent defense before Judge Auchmuty, JA questioned the validity of the legislation under which the case was tried, because it denied his client the right of a jury trial and thus, by repealing “Magna Charta, as far as America is concerned,” “degraded [Hancock] below the Rank of an Englishman.” The defense was successful. At the end of the record appears this notation, dated 25 March 1769: “The Advocate General prays leave to Retract this Information and says our Sovereign Lord the King will prosecute no further hereon. Allow'd” (Suffolk co. Court House, Records, Court of Vice Admiralty, Province of Massachusetts Bay, 1765–1772).
See also George G. Wolkins, “The Seizure of John Hancock's Sloop ‘Liberty,'”MHS, Procs., 55 (1921–1922) :239–284; Oliver M. Dickerson, The Navigation Acts and the American Revolution, Phila., 1951, p. 231–246, 260–265; and David S. Lovejoy, “Rights Imply Equality: The Case against Admiralty Jurisdiction in America, 1764–1776,”WMQ, 3d ser., 16: 459–484 (Oct. 1959), especially p. 478–482.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0022

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1774

[In Congress, September–October 1774]

It is well known that in June 1774 The General Court at Cambridge appointed Members to meet with others from the other States in Congress on the fifth of August.1 Mr. Bowdoin, Mr. Cushing, Mr. Samuel Adams, Mr. John Adams and Mr. Robert Treat Paine were appointed. After this Election I went for the tenth and last time on the Eastern Circuit: At York at Dinner with the Court, happening to sit at Table next to Mr. Justice Seward,2 a Representative of York, but of the unpopular Side, We entered very sociably and pleasantly into conversation, and among other Things he said to me, Mr. Adams you are going to Congress, and great Things are in Agitation. I recommend to you the Doctrine of my former Minister Mr. Moody.3 Upon an Occasion of some gloomy prospect for the Country, he preached a Sermon from this text “And they know not what to do.” After a customary introduction, he raised this Doctrine from his Text, that “in times of great difficulty and danger, when Men know not what to do, it is the Duty of a Person or a People to be very careful that they do not do, they know not what.” This oracular Jingle of Words, which seemed, however to contain some good Sense, made Us all very gay. But I thought the venerable Preacher when he had beat the Drum ecclesiastic to animate the Country to undertake the Expedition to Louisbourg in 1745, and had gone himself with it as a Chaplain, had ventured to do he knew not what, as much as I was likely to do in the Expedition to Congress. I told the Deacon that I must trust Providence as Mr. Moody had done, when he did his duty though he could not foresee the Consequences.
To prepare myself as well as I could, for the Storm that was coming on, I removed my Family to Braintree. They could not indeed have remained in Safety in Boston, and when the time arrived Mr. Bowdoin having declined the Appointment Mr. Cushing, Mr. Adams, Mr. Paine and myself, satt out on our Journey together in one Coach. The Anxiety and Expectation of the Country was very great, and all the Gentlemen on the Road assembled from place to place to escort Us all the Way to Philadelphia, especially in Connecticutt, New York, the Jersies and Pensilvania. On the 5th of August [September] Congress assembled in Carpenters Hall. The Day before, I dined with Mr. Lynch a Delegate { 308 } from South Carolina, who, in conversation on the Unhappy State of Boston and its inhabitants, after some Observations had been made on the Eloquence of Mr. Patrick Henry and Mr. Richard Henry Lee, which had been very loudly celebrated by the Virginians, said that the most eloquent Speech that had ever been made in Virginia or any where else, upon American Affairs had been made by Colonel Washington. This was the first time I had ever heard the Name of Washington, as a Patriot in our present Controversy, I asked who is Colonel Washington and what was his Speech? Colonel Washington he said was the officer who had been famous in the late french War and in the Battle in which Braddock fell. His Speech was that if the Bostonians should be involved in Hostilities with the British Army he would march to their relief at the head of a Thousand Men at his own expence. This Sentence Mr. Lynch said, had more Oratory in it, in his Judgment, than all that he had ever heard or read. We all agreed that it was both sublime, pathetic and beautifull.4
The more We conversed with the Gentlemen of the Country, and with the Members of Congress the more We were encouraged to hope for a general Union of the Continent. As the Proceedings of this Congress are in Print, I shall have Occasion to say little of them. A few Observations may not be amiss. After some days of general discussions, two Committees were appointed of twelve members each, one from each State, Georgia not having yet come in.5 The first Committee was instructed to prepare a Bill of Rights as it was called or a Declaration of the Rights of the Colonies: the second, a List of Infringements or Violations of those Rights. Congress was pleased to appoint me, on the first Committee, as the Member for Massachusetts. It would be endless to attempt even an Abridgment of the Discussions in this Committee, which met regularly every Morning, for many days { 309 } successively, till it became an Object of Jealousy to all the other Members of Congress. It was indeed very much against my Judgment, that the Committee was so soon appointed, as I wished to hear all the great Topicks handled in Congress at large in the first Place. They were very deliberately considered and debated in the Committee however. The two Points which laboured the most, were 1. Whether We should recur to the Law of Nature, as well as to the British Constitution and our American Charters and Grants. Mr. Galloway and Mr. Duane were for excluding the Law of Nature. I was very strenuous for retaining and insisting on it, as a Resource to which We might be driven, by Parliament much sooner than We were aware. The other great question was what Authority We should conceed to Parliament: whether We should deny the Authority of Parliament in all Cases: whether We should allow any Authority to it, in our internal Affairs: or whether We should allow it to regulate the Trade of the Empire, with or without any restrictions. These discussions spun into great Length, and nothing was decided. After many fruitless Essays, The Committee determined to appoint a Sub committee, to make a draught of a Sett of Articles, that might be laid in Writing before the grand Committee and become the foundation of a more regular debate and final decision. I was appointed on the Subcommittee, in which after going over the ground again, a Sett of Articles were drawn and debated one by one. After several days deliberation, We agreed upon all the Articles excepting one, and that was the Authority of Parliament, which was indeed the Essence of the whole Controversy. Some were for a flatt denyal of all Authority: others for denying the Power of Taxation only. Some for denying internal but admitting [ex]ternal Taxation. After a multitude of Motions had [been] made, discussed [and] negatived, it seems as if We should never agree upon any Thing. Mr. John Rutledge of South Carolina, one of the Committee, addressing himself to me, was pleased to say “Adams We must agree upon Something: You appear to be as familiar with the Subject as any of Us, and I like your Expressions the necessity of the Case and excluding all Ideas of Taxation external and internal.6 I have a great Opinion of that same Idea of the Necessity of the Case and I am determined against all taxation for revenue. Come take the Pen and see if you cant produce something that will unite Us.” Some others of the Committee seconding Mr. Rutledge, I took a sheet of paper and drew up an Article. When it was read I believe not one of the Committee { 310 } were fully satisfied with it, but they all soon acknowledged that there was no hope of hitting on any thing, in which We could all agree with more Satisfaction. All therefore agreed to this, and upon this depended the Union of the Colonies. The Sub Committee reported their draught to the grand Committee, and another long debate ensued especially on this Article, and various changes and modifications of it were Attempted, but none adopted. The Articles were then reported to Congress, and debated Paragraph by Paragraph. The difficult Article was again attacked and defended. Congress rejected all Amendments to it, and the general Sense of the Members was that the Article demanded as little as could be demanded, and conceeded as much as could be conceeded with Safety, and certainly as little as would be accepted by Great Britain: and that the Country must take its fate, in consequence of it. When Congress had gone through the Articles, I was appointed to put them into form and report a fair Draught for their final Acceptance. This was done and they were finally accepted.
The Committee of Violations of Rights reported a sett of Articles which were drawn by Mr. John Sullivan of New Hampshire: and These two Declarations, the one of Rights and the other of Violations, which are printed in the Journal of Congress for 1774, were two Years afterwards recapitulated in the Declaration of Independence on the fourth of July 1776. The Results of the Procedings of Congress for this Year remain in the Journals: and I shall not attempt any Account of the debates, nor of any thing of the share I took in them. I never wrote a Speech beforehand, either at the Bar or in any public Assembly, nor committed one to writing after it was delivered, and it would be idle to attempt a Recollection, of Arguments from day to day, through a whole session, at the distance of thirty Years. The Delegates from Massachusetts, representing the State in most immediate danger, were much visited, not only by the members of Congress but by all the Gentlemen in Phyladelphia and its neighbourhood, as well as Strangers and Occasional Travellers. We took Lodgings all together at the Stone House opposite the City Tavern then held by Mrs. Yard, which was by some Complimented with the Title of Head Quarters, but by Mr. Richard Henry Lee, more decently called Liberty Hall. We were much caressed and feasted by all the principal People, for the Allens, and Penns and others were then with Us, though afterwards some of them cooled and fell off, on the declaration of Independence. We were invited to Visit all the public Buildings and places of resort, and became pretty well acquainted with Men and things in Philadelphia.
{ 311 }
There is an Anecdote, which ought not to be omitted, because it had Consequences of some moment, at the time, which have continued to operate for many Years and indeed are not yet worn out, though the cause is forgotten or rather was never generally known.7 Governor Hopkins and Governor Ward of Rhode Island came to our Lodgings, and said to Us, that President Manning of Rhode Island Colledge and Mr. Bachus [Backus] of Massachusetts were in Town, and had conversed with some Gentlemen in Philadelphia who wished to communicate to Us a little Business, and wished We would meet them at Six in the Evening at Carpenters Hall. Whether they explained their Affairs more particularly to any of my Colleagues I know not, but I had no Idea of the design. We all went at the hour, and to my great Surprize found the Hall almost full of People, and a great Number of Quakers seated at the long Table with their broad brimmed Beavers on their Heads. We were invited to Seats among them: and informed that they had received Complaints from some Anabaptists and some Friends in Massachusetts against certain Laws of that Province, restrictive of the Liberty of Conscience: and some Instances were mentioned in the General Court and in the Courts of Justice, in which Friends and Baptists had been grievously oppressed. I know not how my Colleagues felt, but I own I was greatly surprized and somewhat indignant, being like my Friend Chase of a temper naturally quick and warm, at seeing our State and her Delegates thus summoned before a self created Trybunal, which was neither legal nor Constitutional.
Israel Pemberton a Quaker of large Property and more intrigue began to speak and said that Congress were here, endeavouring to form a Union of the Colonies: but there were difficulties in the Way, and none of more importance than Liberty of Conscience. The Laws of New England and particularly of Massachusetts, were inconsistent with it, for they not only compelled Men to pay to the Building of Churches and Support of Ministers but to go to some known Religious Assembly on first days &c. and that he and his friends were desirous of engaging Us, to assure them that our State would repeal all those Laws, and place things as they were in Pennsylvania. A Suspicion instantly arose in my Mind, which I have ever believed to have been well founded, that this artfull Jesuit, for I had been before apprized of his Character, was endeavouring to avail himself of this opportunity, to break up the Congress, or at least to withdraw the Quakers { 312 } and the Governing Part of Pensilvania from Us: for at that time by means of a most unequal Representation, the Quakers had a Majority in their House of Assembly and by Consequence the whole Power of the State in their hands. I arose and spoke in Answer to him. The Substance of what I said was, that We had no Authority to bind our Constituents to any such Proposals: that the Laws of Massachusetts, were the most mild and equitable Establishment of Religion that was known in the World, if indeed they could be called an Establishment: that it would be in vain for Us to enter into any Conferences on such a Subject, for We knew before hand our Constituents would disavow all We could do or say, for the Satisfaction of those who invited Us to this meeting. That the People of Massachusetts were as religious and Consciencious as the People of Pensylvania: that their Consciences dictated to them that it was their duty to support those Laws and therefore the very Liberty of Conscience which Mr. Pemberton invoked, would demand indulgence for the tender Consciences of the People of Massachusetts, and allow them to preserve their Laws. That it might be depended on, this was a Point that could not be carried: that I would not deceive them by insinuating the faintest hope, for I knew they might as well turn the heavenly Bodies out of their annual And diurnal Courses as the People of Massachusetts at the present day from their Meeting House and Sunday Laws.—Pemberton made no Reply but this, Oh! Sir pray dont urge Liberty of Conscience in favour of such Laws!—If I had known the particular complaints, which were to be alledged, and if Pemberton had not broke irregularly into the Midst of Things, it might have been better perhaps to have postponed this declaration. However the Gentlemen proceeded and stated the particular Cases of Oppression, which were alledged in our General and executive Courts. It happened that Mr. Cushing and Mr. Samuel Adams had been present in the General Court, when the Petitions had been under deliberation, and they explained the whole so clearly that every reasonable Man must have been satisfied. Mr. Paine and myself had been concerned at the Bar in every Action in the executive Courts which was complained of, and We explained them all to the entire Satisfaction of impartial Men: and shewed that there had been no Oppression or injustice in any of them. The Quakers were not generally and heartily in our Cause, they were jealous of Independence, they were then suspicious and soon afterwards became assured, that the Massachusetts Delegates and especially John Adams, were Advocates for that Ob[no]xious Measure, and they conceived prejudices, which were soon increased and artfully inflamed, and are { 313 } not yet worn out. In some of the late Elections for President, some of the Quakers were heard to say “Friend, the[e] must know that We dont much affect the Name of Adams.” This Sentiment was not however Universal nor General, for I have had Opportunities to know that great Numbers of the Friends in all parts of the Continent, were warmly attached to me, both when I was Vice President and President. I left Congress and Philadelphia in October 1774, with a Reputation, much higher than ever I enjoyed before or since.
1. This session of the General Court took place at Salem, and the time set for convening the Continental Congress was 1 Sept.; see Diary entry of 20 June 1774 and note.
2. Jonathan Sayward (Whitmore, Mass. Civil List, p. 111).
3. Samuel Moody, Harvard 1697, for many years minister at York and a famous eccentric. JA reported this conversation and other anecdotes of Moody in a letter to AA from York, 30 June (Adams Papers; JA-AA, Familiar Letters, p. 5–6).
4. Thomas Lynch Sr. told this apparently apocryphal anecdote to JA on 31 Aug. 1774; see Diary entry of that date and note 2 there.
5. The summary in this paragraph and the next of the work of the first Continental Congress was written by JA without consulting either the record in his own Diary of the debates in that Congress or its proceedings as printed in the Journals of Congress, of which he owned several sets of the original edition and early reprints; see Catalogue of JA's Library, p. 60–61; also note 14 at p. 338, below. With some charity CFA described JA's present summary as “substantially” consonant with official records but not “precisely accurate in the details.” In a footnote extending over several pages CFA then corrected and clarified JA's narrative, which is misleading in many if not most of its details. Pending the publication in Series III of The Adams Papers of JA's writings as a member of the first Continental Congress, the reader may be referred to CFA's careful note (JA, Works, 2:375–377) and, of course, to JA's Diary entries and notes of debates, with the editorial notes there, for the period 8 Sept.17? Oct. 1774.
6. In the fourth article of the Declaration of Rights as finally adopted (JA, Works, 2:538–539; JCC, 1:68–69).
7. On the background and aftermath of the dramatic incident related here, see Diary entry of 14 Oct. 1774 and note 3 there.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0023

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775

[Novanglus Papers, 1774–1775]

Upon our Return to Massachusetts, I found myself elected by the Town of Braintree into the provincial Congress, and attended that Service as long as it sat. About this time, Drapers Paper in Boston swarmed with Writers, and among an immense quantity of meaner productions appeared a Writer under the Signature of Massachusettensis, suspected but never that I knew ascertained to be written by two of my old Friends Jonathan Sewall and Daniel Leonard.1 These Papers were well written, abounded with Wit, discovered good Information, and were conducted with a Subtlety of Art and Address, wonderfully calculated to keep Up the Spirits of their Party, to depress ours, to spread intimidation and to make Proselytes among those, whose Principles and Judgment give Way to their fears, and these compose at least one third of Mankind. Week after Week passed away, and these Papers made a very visible impression on many Mind[s]. No Answer appeared, and indeed, some who were capable, were too busy and others too timorous. I began at length to think seriously of the Consequences and began to write, under the Signature of Novanglus, and continued every Week, in the Boston Gazette, till the 19th. of April 1775. The last Number was prevented from impression, by the Commencement of Hostilities, and Mr. Gill gave it to Judge William Cushing, who now has it in Manuscript.2 An Abridgment of the printed Numbers was made by some one in England unknown to me, and published in a Supplement to Almons Remembrancer for the Year 1775 under the Title of Prior Documents, and afterwards reprinted in a Pamphlet in 1783 under the Title of History of the Dispute with America.3 In New England they had the Effect of an Antidote to the { 314 } Poison of Massachusettinsis: and the Battle of Lexington on the 19th of April, changed the Instruments of Warfare from the Penn to the Sword. A few days after this Event I rode to Cambridge where I saw General Ward, General Heath, General Joseph Warren, and the New England Army. There was great Confusion and much distress: Artillery, Arms, Cloathing were wanting and a sufficient Supply of Provisions not easily obtained. Neither the officers nor Men however wanted Spirits or Resolution. I rode from thence to Lexington and along the Scene of Action for many miles and enquired of the Inhabitants, the Circumstances. These were not calculated to diminish my Ardour in the Cause. They on the Contrary convinced me that the Die was cast, the Rubicon passed, and as Lord Mansfield expressed it in Parliament, if We did not defend ourselves they would kill Us. On my Return home I was seized with a fever, attended with allarming Symptoms: but the time was come to repair to Philadelphia to Congress which was to meet on the fifth4 of May. I was determined to go as far as I could, and instead [of] venturing on horseback as I had intended, I got into a Sulkey attended by a Servant on horseback and proceeded on the Journey. This Year Mr. Hancock was added to our Number: I overtook my Colleagues before they reached New York.5 At Kingsbridge We were met by a great Number of Gentlemen in Carriages and on horseback, and all the Way their Numbers increased till I thought the whole City was come out to meet Us. The same Ardour was continued all the Way to Philadelphia.
1. That is, by one or the other of these two loyalist lawyers. They were actually by Leonard; see Diary entry of 30 April 1775, note 1.
2. A copy of this final, unpublished number, in the hand of William Cushing, is in MHi: Paine Papers.
3. The abridged version of the “Novanglus” letters printed by John Almon is not in the so-called “Prior Documents” (A Collection of Interesting, Authentic Papers, ... 1764 to 1775, London, 1777), but in the first volume of Almon's Remembrancer, or Impartial Repository of Public Events, London, 1775, p. 24–32, 45–54. And the “Pamphlet” edition to which JA refers was issued by John Stockdale, London, 1784, with the title History of the Dispute with America; from Its Origin in 1754. Written in the Year 1774. By John Adams, Esq. (A copy inscribed by JA to Count Sarsfield is in MHi.) JA does not mention here the Dutch edition, Geschiedenis van het geschil tusschen Groot-Britannie en Amerika, zedert deszelfs oorsprong, in den jaare 1754, tot op den tegenwoordigen tijd. Door ... John Adams, Amsterdam: W. Holtrop, 1782.
4. An error for the 10th, and an indication that JA was still writing wholly from memory.
5. See Diary entry of 30 April 1775 and note 1 there; also JA's Account with Massachusetts, April–Aug. 1775, which is included in the present edition of his Diary.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0024

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-05

[In Congress, May 1775]

Congress assembled and proceeded to Business, and the Members appeared to me to be of one Mind, and that mind after my own heart. I dreaded the danger of disunion and divisions among Us, and much more among the People. It appeared to me, that all Petitions, Remonstrances and Negotiations, for the future would be fruitless and only occasion a Loss of time and give Opportunity to the Ennemy to sow divisions among the States and the People. My heart bled for the poor People of Boston, imprisoned within the Walls of their City by a British Army, and We knew not to what Plunder or Massacres or { 315 } Cruelties they might be exposed. I thought the first Step ought to be, to recommend to the People of every State in the Union, to Seize on all the Crown Officers, and hold them with civility, Humanity and Generosity, as Hostages for the Security of the People of Boston and to be exchanged for them as soon as the British Army would release them. That We ought to recommend to the People of all the States to institute Governments for themselves, under their own Authority, and that, without Loss of Time. That We ought to declare the Colonies, free, Sovereign and independent States, and then to inform Great Britain We were willing to enter into Negotiations with them for the redress of all Grievances, and a restoration of Harmony between the two Countries, upon permanent Principles. All this I thought might be done before We entered into any Connections, Alliances or Negotiations with forreign Powers. I was also for informing Great Britain very frankly that hitherto we were free but if the War should be continued, We were determined to seek Alliances with France, Spain and any other Power of Europe, that would contract with Us. That We ought immediately to adopt the Army in Cambridge as a Continental Army, to Appoint a General and all other Officers, take upon ourselves the Pay, Subsistence, Cloathing, Armour and Munitions of the Troops. This is a concise Sketch of the Plan, which I thought the only reasonable one, and from Conversation with the Members of Congress, I was then convinced, and have been ever since convinced, that it was the General Sense, at least of a considerable Majority of that Body. This System of Measures I publicly and privately avowed, without Reserve.
The Gentlemen in Pensilvania, who had been attached to the Proprietary Interest and owed their Wealth and Honours to it, and the Great Body of the Quakers, had hitherto acquiesced in the Measures of the Colonies, or at least had made no professed opposition to them; many of both descriptions had declared themselves with Us and had been as explicit and as ardent as We were....1 But now these People began to see that Independence was approaching they started back. In some of my public Harrangues in which I had freely and explicitly laid open my Thoughts, on looking round the Assembly, I have seen horror, terror and detestation, strongly marked on the Countenances of some of the Members, whose names I could readily recollect, but as some of them have been good Citizens since and others went over afterwards to the English I think it unnecessary to record { 316 } them here. There is One Gentleman however whom I must mention in Self Defence, I mean Mr. John Dickinson then of Philadelphia, now of Delaware. This Gentleman had been appointed a Member of Congress by the Legislature of Pensilvania about a Week before the Close of the Congress of 1774 and now in 1775 made his Appearance again at the Opening of the Congress of 1775. The Quaker and Proprietary Interests in Pennsilvania now addressed themselves to Mr. Dickinson, who as well as his Wife were Quakers, and in various Ways stimulated him to oppose my designs and the Independence of the Country: and they succeeded so well that although they could not finally prevent any one of my Measures from being carried into compleat Execution, they made him and his Cousin Charles Thompson, and many others of their Friends, my Ennemies from that time to this 2 April 1805. Hence one of the most considerable Causes of Mr. Jeffersons Success in 1801. In some of the earlier deliberations in Congress in May 1775, after I had reasoned at some Length on my own Plan, Mr. John Rutledge in more than one public Speech, approved of my Sentiments and the other Delegates from that State Mr. Lynch, Mr. Gadsden and Mr. Edward Rutledge appeared to me to be of the same Mind. Mr. Dickinson himself told me afterwards, that when We first came together, the Ballance lay with South Carolina. Accordingly all their Efforts were employed, to convert the Delegates from that State. Mr. Charles Thompson, who was then rather inclined [to] our Side of the Question, told me, that the Quakers had intimidated Mr. Dickinsons Mother, and his Wife, who were continually distressing him with their remonstrances. His Mother said to him “Johnny you will be hanged, your Estate will be forfeited and confiscated, you will leave your Excellent Wife a Widow and your charming Children Orphans, Beggars and infamous.” From my Soul I pitied Mr. Dickinson. I made his case my own. If my Mother and my Wife had expressed such Sentiments to me, I was certain, that if they did not wholly unman me and make me an Apostate, they would make me the most miserable Man alive. I was very happy that my Mother and my Wife and my Brothers, My Wifes Father and Mother, and Grandfather Col. John Quincy and his Lady, Mr. Norton Quincy, Dr. Tufts, Mr. Cranch and all her near Relations as well as mine, had uniformly been of my Mind, so that I always enjoyed perfect Peace at home.... The Proprietary Gentlemen, Israel Pemberton and other principal Quakers, now united with Mr. Dickenson, addressed themselves with great Art and Assiduity to all the Members of Congress whom they could influence, even to some of the Delegates of Massachusetts: but most of all to the Delegates { 317 } from South Carolina. Mr. Lynch had been an old Acquaintance of the Penn Family particularly of the Governor. Mr. Edward Rutledge had brought his Lady with him, a Daughter of our former President Middleton. Mr. Arthur Middleton her Brother was now a Delegate in place of his Father.2 The Lady and the Gentlemen were invited to all Parties and were visited perpetually by the Party, and We soon began to find that Mr. Lynch, Mr. Arthur Middleton, and even the two Rutledges, began to waver and to clamour about Independence. Mr. Gadsden was either, from despair of success, never attempted: or if he was he received no impression from them. I became the dread and terror and Abhorrence of the Party. But all this I held in great contempt. Arthur Middleton became the Hero of Quaker and Proprietary Politicks in Congress. He had little Information and less Argument: in rudeness and Sarcasm his fort lay, and he played off this Artillery without reserve. I made it a rule to return him a Rowland for every Oliver, so that he never got and I never lost any thing from these Rencounters. We soon parted never to see each other more, I believe without a Spark of malice on either Side: for he was an honest and generous fellow with all his Zeal in this cause. The Party made me as unpopular as they could, among all their connections, but I regarded none of these Things. I knew and lamented that many of these Gentlemen, of great Property, high in Office, and of good Accomplishments, were laying the foundations, not of any Injury to me, but of their own ruin, and it was not in my Power to prevent it. When the Party had prepared the Members of Congress, for their purpose, and indeed had made no small impression on three of my own Colleagues, Mr. Dickinson made or procured to be made a Motion for a second <Address> Petition to the King to be sent by Mr. Richard Penn, who was then bound on a Voyage to England. The Motion was introduced and supported by long Speeches. I was opposed to it, of course; and made an Opposition to it, in as long a Speech as I commonly made, not having ever been remarkable for very long Harrangues, in Answer to all the Arguments which had been urged. When I satt down, Mr. John Sullivan arose, and began to argue on the same side with me, in a strain of Wit, Reasoning and fluency which allthough he was { 318 } always fluent, exceeded every Thing I had ever heard from him before. I was much delighted and Mr. Dickinson very much terrified at what he said and began to tremble for his Cause. At this moment I was called out to the State house Yard, very much to my regret, to some one who had business with me. I took my hat and went out of the Door of Congress Hall: Mr. Dickinson observed me and darted out after me. He broke out upon me in a most abrupt and extraordinary manner.3 In as violent a passion as he was capable of feeling, and with an Air, Countenance and Gestures as rough and haughty as if I had been a School Boy and he the Master, he vociferated out, “What is the Reason Mr. Adams, that you New Englandmen oppose our Measures of Reconciliation. There now is Sullivan in a long Harrangue following you, in a determined Opposition to our Petition to the King. Look Ye! If you dont concur with Us, in our pacific System, I, and a Number of Us, will break off, from you in New England, and We will carry on the Opposition by ourselves in our own Way.” I own I was shocked with this Magisterial Salutation. I knew of no Pretensions Mr. Dickenson had, to dictate to me more that I had to catechise him. I was however as it happened, at that moment, in a very happy temper, and I answered him very coolly. “Mr. Dickenson, there are many Things that I can very chearfully sacrifice to Harmony and even to Unanimity: but I am not to be threatened into an express Adoption or Approbation of Measures which my Judgment reprobates. Congress must judge, and if they pronounce against me, I must submit, as if they determine against You, You ought to acquiesce.”—These were the last Words which ever passed between Mr. Dickinson and me in private. We continued to debate in Congress upon all questions publickly, with all our usual Candor and good humour. But the Friendship and Acquaintance was lost forever by an unfortunate Accident, which must now be explained. The more I reflected on Mr. Dickinsons rude Lecture in the State house Yard the more I was vexed with it, and the determination of Congress, in favour of the Petition, did not allay the irritation. A young Gentleman from Boston, Mr. Hitchbourne, whom I had known as a Clerk in Mr. Fitch's office, but with whom I had no Particular connection or Acquaintance, had been for some days soliciting me, to give him Letters to my Friends in the Massachusetts. I was so much engaged in the Business of Congress in the day time and in consultations with the Members on Evenings and Mornings that I could not find time to write a Line. He came to me { 319 } at last and said he was immediately to sett off, on his Journey home, and begged I would give him some Letters. I told him I had not been able to write any. He prayed I would write if it were only a Line to my Family, for he said, as he had served his Clerkship with Mr. Fitch he was suspected and represented as a Tory, and this Reputation would be his ruin, if it could not [be] corrected, for nobody would employ him at the Bar. If I would only give him, the slightest Letters to any of my Friends, it would give him the Appearance of having my Confidence, and would assist him in acquiring what he truly deserved the Character of a Whigg. To get rid of his importunity, I took my Penn, and wrote a very few Lines to my Wife and about an equal Number to General James Warren. Irritated with the Unpoliteness of Mr. Dickinson and more mortified with his Success in Congress, I wrote something like what has been published. But not exactly. The British Printers made it worse, than it was in the Original. Mr. Hitchbourne was intercepted in crossing Hudsons River by the Boats from a British Man of War, and my Letters, instead of being destroyed, fell into the hands of the Ennemy, and [were] immediately printed, with a little garbling.4 They thought them a great Prize. The Ideas of Independence, to be sure were glaring enough, and they thought they should produce quarrells among the Members of Congress, and a division of the Colonies. Me they expected utterly to ruin because, as they represented, I had explicitly avowed my designs of Independence. I cared nothing for this. I had made no secret in or out of Congress of my Opinion that Independence was become indispensable; and I was perfectly sure, that in a little time the whole Continent would be of my Mind. I rather rejoiced in this as a fortunate Circumstance, that the Idea was held up to the whole World, and that the People could not avoid contemplating it and reasoning about it. Accordingly from this time at least if not earlier, and not from the publication of “Common Sense” did the People in all parts of the Continent turn their Attention to this Subject. It was, I know, considered in the same Light by others. { 320 } I met Colonel Reed soon afterwards, who was then General Washingtons Secretary, who mentioned those Letters to me and said, that Providence seemed to have thrown these Letters before the Public for our good: for Independence was certainly inevitable and it was happy that the whole Country had been compelled to turn their Thoughts upon it, that it might not come upon them presently by Surprize....5 There were a few Expressions which hurt me, when I found the Ennemy either misunderstood them or willfully misrepresented them. The Expressions were Will your Judiciary Whip and hang without Scruple. This they construed to mean to excite Cruelty against the Tories, and get some of them punished with Severity. Nothing was farther from my Thoughts. I had no reference to Tories in this. But as the Exercise of Judicial Powers without Authority from the Crown, would be probably the most offensive Act of Government to Great Britain and the least willingly pardoned, my Question meant no more than “Will your Judges have fortitude enough to inflict the severe punishments when necessary as Death upon Murderers and other capital Criminals, and flaggellation upon such as deserve it.”6 Nothing could be more false and injurious to me, than the imputation of any sanguinary Zeal against the Tories, for I can truly declare that through the whole Revolution and from that time to this I never committed one Act of Severity against the Tories. On the contrary I was a constant Advocate for all the Mercy and Indulgence consistent with our Safety. Some Acts of Treachery as well as Hostility, were combined together in so atrocious a manner that Pardon could not be indulged. But, as it happened, in none of these had I any particular concern.... In a very short time after the Publication of these Letters I received one from General Charles Lee, then in the Army in the neighbourhood of Boston, in which, after expressing the most obliging Sentiments of my Character, he said some Gentlemen had hinted to him, that I might possibly apprehend that he would take Offence at them: But he assured me he was highly pleased with what was said of him in them. The Acknowledgement from me, that he was a Soldier and a Schollar, he esteemed as an honor done to him: { 321 } and as to his Attachment to his Dogs, when he should discover in Men as much Fidelity, Honesty and Gratitude as he daily experienced in his Dogs, he promised to love Men as well as Dogs.7 Accordingly the Cordiality between him and me continued, till his Death.
1. Suspension points, here and below in the discussion of sentiment concerning independence and JA's intercepted letters, are in the MS.
2. Edward Rutledge's wife was Henrietta, daughter of Henry Middleton, who had served as president of Congress during the last few days of the session of 1774. Henry Middleton's son Arthur did not succeed his father in the Continental Congress until the spring of 1776 (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:lxiii)—a circumstance suggesting that in the present account of opinions for and against independence in 1775 JA is to some extent anticipating the events and opinions of early 1776.
3. On the quarrel between Dickinson and JA and its spectacular consequences in the summer of 1775, see Diary entry of 16 Sept. 1775 and note 1 there.
4. Hichborn was captured at Conanicut Ferry in Narragansett Bay, not on the Hudson. It cannot be shown that the British or anyone else doctored the texts of the intercepted letters unless the original letters (both dated 24 July 1775) can be found and compared with the newspaper versions. So far they have eluded searches in all likely repositories. A letter from Benjamin Harrison in Congress to George Washington in camp, also captured on Hichborn's person, was doctored when printed; see Allen French, “The First George Washington Scandal,”MHS, Procs., 65 (1932–1936): 460–474. But JA never pointed out any specific passage that was tampered with, and seems to have accepted unhesitatingly those passages in his letters that raised the greatest outcry.
5. For approving comments by Reed in letters to others at the time, see William B. Reed, Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed, Phila., 1847, 1:118, 120). But Reed agreed with JA because he believed a firm stand was the only possible means of attaining “peace and reconciliation”; he was far from an advocate of independence in the summer of 1775; and the present passage is thus another example of JA's habitual anachronism.
6. Considerations of this kind had marked bearing on JA's acceptance of the post of chief justice of Massachusetts later this year; see p. 359–363the passages describing December 1775 and spring 1776, below.
7. See Lee to JA, 5 Oct. 1775 (Adams Papers; JA, Works, 2:414, note).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0025

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1775-06 - 1775-07

[In Congress, June and July 1775]

This Measure of Imbecility, the second Petition to the King embarrassed every Exertion of Congress: it occasioned Motions and debates without End for appointing Committees to draw up a declaration of the Causes, Motives, and Objects of taking Arms, with a view to obtain decisive declarations against Independence &c.1 In the Mean time the New England Army investing Boston, the New England Legislatures, Congresses and Conventions, and the whole Body of the People, were left, without Munitions of War, without Arms, Cloathing, Pay or even Countenance and Encouragement. Every Post brought me Letters, from my Friends Dr. Winthrop, Dr. Cooper, General James Warren: and sometimes from General Ward and his Aids and General Heath and many others, urging in pathetic terms, the impossibility of keeping their Men together, without the Assistance of Congress. I was daily urging all these Things but We were embarassed with more than one Difficulty. Not only the Party in favour of the Petition to the King, and the Party who were jealous of Independence, but a third Party, which was a Southern Party against a Northern and a Jealousy against a New England Army under the Command of a New England General. Whether this Jealousy was sincere, or whether it was mere pride and a haughty Ambition, of furnishing a Southern General to command the northern Army. But the Intention was very visible to me, that Col. Washington was their Object, and so many of our staunchest Men were in the Plan that We could carry nothing without conceeding to it. Another Embarrassment which was never publickly known, and which was carefully concealed by those who knew it. The Massachusetts Delegates and other New England Delegates were divided. Mr. Hancock and Mr. Cushing hung back. Mr. Paine did not come forward, and even Mr. Samuel Adams was irresolute. Mr. Hancock himself had an Ambition to be appointed Commander in Chief. Whether he thought, An Election, a Compliment due to him and intended to have the honor of declining it or whether he would have accepted I know not. To the Compliment he had some Pretensions, for at that time his Exertions, Sacrifices and general Merit in the Cause of his Country, had been incomparably { 322 } greater than those of Colonel Washington. But the Delicacy of his health, and his entire Want of Experience in actual Service, though an excellent Militia Officer, were decisive Objections to him in my Mind. In canvassing this Subject out of Doors, I found too that even among the Delegates of Virginia there were difficulties. The Apostolical Reasonings among themselves which should be greatest, were not less energetic Among the Saints of the Ancient dominion, than they were among Us of New England. In several Conversations I found more than one very cool about the Appointment of Washington, and particularly Mr. Pendleton was very clear and full against.2 Full of Anxieties concerning these Confusions, and apprehending daily that We should he[a]r very distressing News from Boston, I walked with Mr. Samuel Adams in the State house Yard, for a little Exercise and fresh Air, before the hour of Congress, and there represented to him the various dangers that surrounded Us. He agreed to them all, but said what shall We do? I answered him, that he knew I had taken great pains to get our Colleagues to agree upon some plan that We might be unanimous: but he knew that they would pledge themselves to nothing: but I was determined to take a Step, which should compell them and all the other Members of Congress, to declare themselves for or against something. I am determined this Morning to make a direct Motion that Congress should adopt the Army before Boston and appoint Colonel Washington Commander of it. Mr. Adams seemed to think very seriously of it, but said Nothing.—Accordingly When congress had assembled I rose in my place and in as short a Speech as the Subject would admit, represented the State of the Colonies, the Uncertainty in the Minds of the People, their great Expectations and Anxiety, the distresses of the Army, the danger of its dissolution, the difficulty of collecting another, and the probability that the British Army would take Advantage of our delays, march out of Boston and spread desolation as far as they could go.3 I concluded with a Motion in form that Congress would Adopt the Army at Cambridge and appoint a General, that though this was not the proper time to nominate a General, yet as I had reason to believe this was a point of the greatest difficulty, I had no hesitation to declare that I had but { 323 } one Gentleman in my Mind for that important command, and that was a Gentleman from Virginia who was among Us and very well known to all of Us, a Gentleman whose Skill and Experience as an Officer, whose independent fortune, great Talents and excellent universal Character, would command the Approbation of all America, and unite the cordial Exertions of all the Colonies better than any other Person in the Union. Mr. Washington, who happened to sit near the Door, as soon as he heard me allude to him, from his Usual Modesty darted into the Library Room. Mr. Hancock, who was our President, which gave me an Opportunity to observe his Countenance, while I was speaking on the State of the Colonies, the Army at Cambridge and the Ennemy, heard me with visible pleasure, but when I came to describe Washington for the Commander, I never remarked a more sudden and sinking Change of Countenance. Mortification and resentment were expressed as forcibly as his Face could exhibit them. Mr. Samuel Adams Seconded the Motion, and that did not soften the Presidents Phisiognomy at all. The Subject came under debate and several Gentlemen declared themselves against the Appointment of Mr. Washington, not on Account of any personal Objection against him: but because the Army was all from New England, had a General of their own, appeared to be satisfied with him and had proved themselves able to imprison the British Army in Boston, which was all they expected or desired at that time. Mr. Pendleton of Virginia [and] Mr. Sherman of Connecticutt were very explicit in declaring this Opinion, Mr. Cushing and several others more faintly expressed their Opposition and their fears of discontent in the Army and in New England. Mr. Paine expressed a great Opinion of General Ward and a strong friendship for him, having been his Classmate at Colledge, or at least his contemporary: but gave no Opinion upon the question. The Subject was postponed to a future day. In the mean time, pains were taken out of doors to obtain a Unanimity, and the Voices were generally so clearly in favour of Washington that the dissentient Members were persuaded to withdraw their Opposition, and Mr. Washington was nominated, I believe by Mr. Thomas Johnson of Maryland, unanimously elected, and the Army adopted. The next Question was who should be the Second Officer. General Lee was nominated, and most strenuously Urged by many, particularly Mr. Mifflin who said that General Lee would serve chearfully under Washington, but considering his Rank, Character and Experience could not be expected to serve under any other. That Lee must be aut secundus, aut nullus.— To this I as strenuously objected. That it would be a great deal to { 324 } expect of General Ward that he should serve under any Man, but that under a stranger he ought not to serve. That though I had as high an Opinion of General Lees Learning, general Information and especially of his Science and experience in War, I could not advize General Ward to humiliate himself and his Country so far as to serve under him.—General Ward was elected the second and Lee the third. Gates and Mifflin, I believe had some Appointments, and General Washington took with him Mr. Reed of Philadelphia, a Lawyer of some Eminence for his private Secretary. And the Gentlemen all sett off for the Camp. They had not proceeded twenty miles from Philadelphia before they met a Courier with the News of the Battle of Bunkers Hill, the Death of General Warren, the Slaughter among the British Officers and Men as well as among ours and the burning of Charlestown. Mr. Hancock however never loved me so well after this Event as he had done before, and he made me feel at times the Effects of his resentment and of his Jealousy in many Ways and at diverse times, as long as he lived, though at other times according to his variable feelings, he even overacted his part in professing his regard and respect to me. Hitherto no Jealousy had ever appeared between Mr. Samuel Adams and me. But many Years had not passed away before some Symptoms of it appeared in him, particularly when I was first chosen to go to Europe, a distinction that neither he nor Mr. Hancock could bear. Mr. Adams however disguised it under a pretence that I could not be spared from Congress and the State. More of this Spirit appeared afterwards, when I had drawn up at his and Mr. Bowdoins desire a Constitution for Massachusetts, and it was about to be reported in my hand Writing. But after the Coalition between Mr. Hancock and him in 1788, both these Gentlemen indulged their Jealousy so far as to cooperate in dissiminating Prejudices against me, as a Monarchy Man and a Friend to England, for which I hope they have been forgiven, in Heaven as I have constantly forgiven them on Earth, though they both knew the insinuations were groundless.
1. For the papers alluded to here, adopted by Congress in July 1775, see the texts and commentary in Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, 1:187–223.
2. No evidence confirming this statement about Pendleton is known to the editors.
3. This speech and the motion that followed it must have been made on 14 June or a day or two earlier. Since they were made in a committee of the whole on “the state of America,” which had been deliberating some days, there is no record of them in the Journal. But on the 14th Congress did, in effect, “adopt the Army before Boston” (JCC, 2:89–90). On the following day “George Washington, Esq. was unanimously elected” commander in chief ( same, p. 91).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0026

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-08

[August 1775]

I have always imputed the Loss of Charleston, and of the brave Officers and Men who fell there, and the Loss of an Hero of more Worth than all the Town, I mean General Warren, to Mr. Dickinsons petition to the King, and the Loss of Quebec and Mongomery to his subsequent unceasing though finally unavailing Efforts against Independence. These impeded and parrallized all our Enterprizes. Had our Army been acknowledged in Season, which Acknowledgement ought to have been our first Step, and the measures taken to comfort and encourage it, which ought to have been taken by Congress, We { 325 } should not have lost Charleston, and if every Measure for the Service in Canady, from the first Projection of it to the final Loss of the Province, had not been opposed, and obstinately disputed by the same party, so that We could finally carry no measure but by a bare Majority.1 And every Measure was delayed, till it became ineffectual. In the fall of the Year Congress were much fatigued with the Incessant Labours, Debates, Intrigues, and heats of the Summer and agreed on a short Adjournment.2 The Delegates from Massachusetts returned home, and as the two Houses of the Legislature had chosen Us all into the Council we went to Watertown and took our Seats: for such times as We could spare before our return to Congress. I had been chosen before, two Years sucessively, that is in 1773 and 1774 and been negatived by the Governor, the first time by Hutchinson and the second by Gage. My Friend Dr. Cooper attempted to console me under the first Negative, which he called a Check: but I told him I considered it not as a Check but as a Boost, a Word of John Bunyan which the Dr. understood. These negatives were indeed no mortification to me for knowing that neither honor nor profit were to be obtained, nor good to be done in that Body in these times I had not a wish to sit there. When a Person came running to my Office to tell me of the first of them, I cryed out laughing Now I believe in my Soul I am a clever fellow, since I have the Attestation of the three Branches of the Legislature. This vulgar, familiar little Sally was caught as if it had been a prize, and immediately scattered all over the Province.
Mr. Hancock came home, but would not call upon General Washington. Dr. Cooper told me, he was so offended, that Washington was appointed instead of himself, that his friends had the utmost difficulty to appease him. I went to head Quarters and had much Conversation with General Washington, Ward, Lee, Putnam, Gates, Mifflin and others, and went with General Lee to visit the Outposts and the Centinells, nearest the Ennemy at Charleston. Here Lee found his Dogs inconvenient, for they were so attached to him that they insisted on keeping close about him, and he expected he should be known by them to the British officers in the Fort, and he expected every moment a discharge of Balls, Grape or Langredge3 about our Ears. After visiting { 326 } my friends, and the General Court, the Army and the Country, I returned to Philadelphia, but not till I had followed My youngest Brother to the Grave. He had commanded a Company of Militia all Summer at Cambridge, and there taken a fatal Dissentary then epidemic in the Camp of which he died leaving a young Widow and three Young Children, who are all still living. My Brother died greatly lamented by all who knew him and by none more than by me, who knew the excellence of his heart and the purity of his Principles and Conduct. He died as Mr. Taft, his Minister informed me exulting, as his Father had done, in the exalted hopes of [a] Christian.4
An Event of the most trifling nature in Appearance, and fit only to excite Laughter, in other Times, struck me into a profound Reverie, if not a fit of Melancholly. I met a Man who had sometimes been my Client, and sometimes I had been against him. He, though a common Horse Jockey, was sometimes in the right, and I had commonly been successfull in his favour in our Courts of Law. He was always in the Law, and had been sued in many Actions, at almost every Court. As soon as he saw me, he came up to me, and is first Salutation to me was “Oh! Mr. Adams what great Things have you and your Colleagues done for Us! We can never be gratefull enough to you. There are no Courts of Justice now in this Province, and I hope there never will be another!” ...5 Is this the Object for which I have been contending? said I to myself, for I rode along without any Answer to this Wretch. Are these the Sentiments of such People? And how many of them are there in the Country? Half the Nation for what I know: for half the Nation are Debtors if not more, and these have been in all Countries, the Sentiments of Debtors. If the Power of the Country should get into such hands, and there is great danger that it will, to what purpose have We sacrificed our Time, health and every Thing else? Surely We must guard against this Spirit and these Principles or We shall repent of all our Conduct. However The good Sense and Integrity of the Majority of the great Body of the People, came in to my thoughts for my relief, and the last resource was after all in a good Providence.—How much reason there was for these melancholly reflections, the subsequent times have too fully shewn. Opportunities enough had been presented to me to convince me that a very great Portion of the People of America were debtors: but that enormous Gulf of debt to Great { 327 } Britain from Virginia and some other States, which have since swallowed up the Harmony of all our Councils, and produced the Tryumph of Principles too nearly resembling those of my Client, was not known to me at that time in a tenth part of its extent. When the Consequences will terminate No Man can say.
1. This fragmentary sentence requires some such concluding clause as “we would not have lost Canada.”
2. Congress adjourned on 1 or 2 Aug., to meet again on 5 Sept. (JCC, 2:239; see also note on Diary entry of 1 Aug. 1775 [Mrs. Yard's Bill]).
3. Langrage: “Caseshot loaded with pieces of iron of irregular shape, formerly used in naval warfare to damage the rigging and sails of the enemy” (OED).
4. Elihu Adams had marched from Braintree as a captain in Col. Benjamin Lincoln's company during the alarm of 19 April 1775, had participated in the action at Grape Island, off Weymouth, in May, and died on 10 or 11 Aug. (Mass. Soldiers and Sailors, 1:45; CFA2, Three Episodes, 2:857; AA to JA, 10–11 Aug. 1775, Adams Papers).
5. Suspension points in MS.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0027

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1775-09 - 1776-05

[In Congress, Fall 1775–Spring 1776]

At the appointed time, We returned to Philadelphia and Congress were reassembled.1 Mr. Richard Penn had sailed for England, and carried the Petition, from which Mr. Dickenson and his party expected Relief. I expected none, and was wholly occupied in measures to support the Army and the Expedition into Canada. Every important Step was opposed, and carried by bare Majorities, which obliged me to be almost constantly engaged in debate: but I was not content with all that was done, and almost every day, I had something to say about Advizing the States to institute Governments, to express my total despair of any good from the Petition or any of those Things which were called conciliatory measures. I constantly insisted that all such measures, instead of having any tendency to produce a Reconciliation, would only be considered as proofs of our Timidity and want of Confidence in the Ground We stood on, and would only encourage our Ennemies to greater Exertions against Us. That We should be driven to the Necessity of Declaring ourselves independent States, and that We ought now to be employed in preparing a Plan of Confe[de]ration for the Colonies, and Treaties to be proposed to foreign Powers particularly to France and Spain, that all these Measures ought to be maturely considered, and carefully prepared, together with a declaration of Independence. That these three Measures, Independence, Confederation and Negotiations with foreign Powers, particularly France, ought to go hand in hand, and be adopted all together. That foreign Powers could not be expected to acknowledge Us, till We had acknowledged ourselves and taken our Station, among them as a sovereign Power, and Independent Nation. That now We were distressed for Want of Artillery, Arms, Ammunition, Cloathing and even for Flynts. That the People had no Marketts for their Produce, wanted Cloathing and many other things, which foreign Com• { 328 } merce alone could fully supply, and We could not expect Commerce till We were independent. That the People were wonderfully well united and extreamly Ardent: their was no danger of our wanting Support from them, if We did not discourage them by checking and quenching their Zeal. That there was no doubt, of our Ability to defend the Country, to support the War, and maintain our Independence. We had Men enough, our People were brave and every day improving in all the Exercises and Discipline of War. That we ought immediately to give Permission to our Merchants to fit out Privateers and make reprisals on the Ennemy. That Congress ought to Arm2 Ships and Commission Officers and lay the foundations of a Navy. That immense Advantages might be derived from this resource. That not only West India Articles, in great Abundance, and British Manufactures of all kinds might be obtained but Artillery, Ammunitions and all kinds of Supplies for the Army. That a System of Measures taken with unanimity and pursued with resolution, would insure Us the Friendship and Assistance of France. Some Gentlemen doubted of the Sentiments of France, thought She would frown upon Us as Rebells and be afraid to countenance the Example. I replied to these Gentlemen, that I apprehended they had not attended to the relative Situation of France and England. That it was the unquestionable Interest of France that the British continental Colonies should be independent. That Britain by the Conquest of Canada and their naval Tryumphs during the last War, and by her vast Possessions in America and the East Indies, was exalted to a height of Power and Preeminence that France must envy and could not endure. But there was much more than pride and Jealousy in the Case. Her Rank, her Consideration in Europe, and even her Safety and Independence was at stake. The Navy of Great Britain was now Mistress of the Seas all over the Globe. The Navy of France almost annihilated. Its Inferiority was so great and obvious, that all the Dominions of France in the West Indies and in the East Indies lay at the Mercy of Great Britain, and must remain so as long as North America belonged to Great Britain, and afforded them many harbours abounding with Naval Stores and Resources of all kinds and so many Men and Seamen ready to assist them and Man their Ships. That Interest could not lie, that the Interest of France was so obvious, and her Motives so cogent, that nothing but a judicial Infatuation of her Councils could restrain her from embracing Us. That our Negotiations with France ought however, to be conducted with great caution and with all the foresight We { 329 } could possibly obtain. That We ought not to enter into any Alliance with her, which should entangle Us in any future Wars in Europe, that We ought to lay it down as a first principle and a Maxim never to be forgotten, to maintain an entire Neutrality in all future European Wars. That it never could be our Interest to unite with France, in the destruction of England, or in any measures to break her Spirit or reduce her to a situation in which she could not support her Independence. On the other hand it could never be our Duty to unite with Britain in too great a humiliation of France. That our real if not our nominal Independence would consist in our Neutrality. If We united with either Nation, in any future War, We must become too subordinate and dependent on that nation, and should be involved in all European Wars as We had been hitherto. That foreign Powers would find means to corrupt our People to influence our Councils, and in fine We should be little better than Puppetts danced on the Wires of the Cabinetts of Europe. We should be the Sport of European Intrigues and Politicks. That therefore in preparing Treaties to be proposed to foreign Powers and in the Instructions to be given to our Ministers, We ought to confine ourselves strictly to a Treaty of Commerce. That such a Treaty would be an ample Compensation to France, for all the Aid We should want from her. The Opening of American Trade, to her would be a vast resource for her Commerce and Naval Power, and a great Assistance to her in protecting her East and West India Possessions as well as her Fisheries: but that the bare dismemberment of the British Empire, would be to her an incalculable Security and Benefit, worth more than all the Exertions We should require of her even if it should draw her into another Eight or ten Years War.—When I first made these Observations in Congress I never saw a greater Impression made upon that Assembly or any other. Attention and Approbation was marked on every Countenance. Several Gentlemen came to me afterwards to thank me for that Speech, particularly Mr. Caesar Rodney of Delaware and Mr. Duane of New York. I remember those two Gentlemen in particular because both of them said, that I had considered the Subject of foreign Connections more maturely than any Man they had ever heard in America, that I had perfectly digested the Subject, and had removed, Mr. Rodney said all, and Mr. Duane said, the greatest part of his objections to foreign Negotiations. Even Mr. Dickinson said to Gentlemen out of Doors, that I had thrown great light on the subject.
These and such as these were my constant and daily Topicks, sometimes of Reasoning and no doubt often of declamation, from the Meet• { 330 } ing of Congress in the Autumn of 1775, through the whole Winter and Spring of 1776.
Many Motions were made, and after tedious discussions lost. I received little Assistance from my Colleagues in all these Contests: three of them, were either inclined to lean towards Mr. Dickinsons System, or at least chose to be silent, and the fourth spoke but rarely in Congress, and never entered into any extensive Arguments, though when he did speak, his Sentiments were clear and pertinent, and neatly expressed. Mr. Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, Mr. Sherman of Connecticutt, and Mr. Gadsden of South Carolina, were always on my Side; and Mr. Chase of Maryland, when he did speak at all, was always powerfull, and generally with Us. Mr. Johnson of Maryland was the most frequent Speaker from that State and while he remained with Us, was inclined to Mr. Dickinson, for some time, but eer long he and all his State came cordially into our System. In the fall of 1776 his State appointed him General of Militia, and he marched to the Relief of General Washington in the Jerseys. He was afterwards chosen Governor of Maryland and he came no more to Congress.
1. JA and Samuel Adams traveled together from Watertown and arrived in Philadelphia on 12 Sept.; with a quorum present, Congress resumed its proceedings on the 13th (JCC, 2:240). In the present paragraph JA blended inextricably together measures that were proposed and debated in Congress from Sept. through Dec.1775 and others that were dealt with after his return to Congress early in Feb. 1776 following a two-month leave of absence. See the Diary entries for the corresponding periods ||(in 1775 see 22, 24, 27 Sept., and 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 13, 20, 21, 27, 30 Oct.; in 1776, 15 Feb.)|| and especially JA's Memorandum of Measures to Be Pursued in Congress, printed in his Diary under date of Feb.? 1776, with the editorial notes there.
2. MS: “Arms.”

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0028

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-02 - 1776-04

[In Congress, Spring 1776, and Thomas Paine]

In the Course of this Winter appeared a Phenomenon in Philadelphia a Star of Disaster (Disastrous Meteor),1 I mean Thomas Paine. He came from England, and got into such company as would converse with him, and ran about picking up what Information he could, concerning our Affairs, and finding the great Question was concerning Independence, he gleaned from those he saw the common place Arguments concerning Independence: such as the Necessity of Independence, at some time or other, the peculiar fitness at this time: the Justice of it: the Provocation to it: the necessity of it: our Ability to maintain it &c. &c. Dr. Rush put him upon Writing on the Subject, furnished him with the Arguments which had been urged in Congress an hundred times, and gave him his title of common Sense.2 In the latter part of Winter, or early in the Spring he came out, with his Pamphlet. The Arguments in favour of Independence I liked very well: but one third of the Book was filled with Arguments from the old Testiment, to prove the Unlawfulness of Monarchy, and another Third, in planning a form of Government, for the seperate States in One Assembly, and for the United States, in a Congress. His Arguments from the { 331 } old Testiment, were ridiculous, but whether they proceeded from honest Ignorance, or foolish Supersti[ti]on on one hand, or from will-full Sophistry and knavish Hypocricy on the other I know not. The other third part relative to a form of Government I considered as flowing from simple Ignorance, and a mere desire to please the democratic Party in Philadelphia, at whose head were Mr. Matlock, Mr. Cannon and Dr. Young.3 I regretted however, to see so foolish a plan recommended to the People of the United States, who were all waiting only for the Countenance of Congress, to institute their State Governments. I dreaded the Effect so popular a pamphlet might have, among the People, and determined to do all in my Power, to counter Act the Effect of it. My continued Occupations in Congress, allowed me no time to write any thing of any Length: but I found moments to write a small pamphlet which Mr. Richard Henry Lee, to whom I shewed it, liked4 so well that he insisted on my permitting him to publish it: He accordingly got Mr. Dunlap to print it, under the Tittle of Thoughts on Government in a Letter from a Gentleman to his Friend.5 Common Sense was published without a Name: and I { 332 } thought it best to suppress my name too: but as common Sense when it first appeared was generally by the public ascribed to me or Mr. Samuel Adams, I soon regretted that my name did not appear. Afterward I had a new Edition of it printed with my name and the name of Mr. Wythe of Virginia to whom the Letter was at first intended to have been addressed.6 The Gentlemen of New York availed themselves of the Ideas in this Morsell in the formation of the Constitution { 333 } of that State. And Mr. Lee sent it to the Convention of Virginia when they met to form their Government and it went to North Carolina, New Jersey and other States. Matlock, Cannon, Young and Paine had influence enough however, to get their plan adopted in substance in Georgia and Vermont as well as Pennsilvania. These three States have since found them, such Systems of Anarchy, if that Expression is not a contradiction in terms, that they have altered them and made them more conformable to my plan.—Paine soon after the Appearance of my Pamphlet hurried away to my Lodgings and spent an Evening with me. His Business was to reprehend me for publishing my Pamphlet. Said he was afraid it would do hurt, and that it was repugnant to the plan he had proposed in his Common Sense. I told him it was true it was repugnant and for that reason, I had written it and consented to the publication of it: for I was as much afraid of his Work [as]7 he was of mine. His plan was so democratical, without any restraint or even an Attempt at any Equilibrium or Counterpoise, that it must produce confusion and every Evil Work. I told him further, that his Reasoning from the Old Testament was ridiculous, and I could hardly think him sincere. At this he laughed, and said he had taken his Ideas in that part from Milton: and then expressed a Contempt of the Old Testament and indeed of the Bible at large, which surprized me. He saw that I did not relish this, and soon check'd himself, with these Words “However I have some thoughts of publishing my Thoughts on Religion, but I believe it will be best to postpone it, to the latter part of Life.” This Conversation passed in good humour, without any harshness on either Side: but I perceived in him a conceit of himself, and a daring Impudence, which have been developed more and more to this day....8 The third part of Common Sense which relates wholly to the Question of Independence, was clearly written and contained a tollerable Summary of the Arguments which I had been repeating again and again in Congress for nine months. But I am bold to say there is not a Fact nor a Reason stated in it, which had not been frequently urged in Congress. The Temper and Wishes of the People, supplied every thing at that time: and the Phrases, suitable for an Emigrant from New Gate, or one who had chiefly associated with such Company, such as “The Royal Brute of England,” “The Blood upon his Soul,” and a few others of equal delicacy, had as much Weight with the People as his Arguments. It has been a general Opinion, that this Pamphlet was of great Importance in the Revolution. I doubted it at the time and have { 334 } doubted it to this day. It probably converted some to the Doctrine of Independence, and gave others an Excuse for declaring in favour of it. But these would all have followed Congress, with Zeal: and on the other hand it excited many Writers against it, particularly plain Truth,9 who contributed very largely to fortify and inflame the Party against Independence, and finally lost us the Allens, Penns, and many other Persons of Weight in the Community. Notwithstanding these doubts I felt myself obliged to Paine for the Pains he had taken and for his good Intentions to serve Us which I then had no doubt of. I saw he had a capacity and a ready Pen, and understanding he was poor and destitute, I thought We might put him into some Employment, where he might be usefull and earn a Living. Congress appointed a Committee of foreign affairs not long after and they wanted a Clerk. I nominated Thomas Paine, supposing him a ready Writer and an industrious Man. Dr. Witherspoon the President of New Jersey Colledge and then a Delegate from that State rose and objected to it, with an Earnestness that surprized me. The Dr. said he would give his reasons; he knew the Man and his Communications: When he first came over, he was on the other Side and had written pieces against the American Cause: that he had afterwards been employed by his Friend Robert Aitkin, and finding the Tide of Popularity run <pretty strong> rapidly, he had turned about: that he was very intemperate and could not write untill he had quickened his Thoughts with large draughts of Rum and Water: that he was in short a bad Character and not fit to be placed in such a Situation.— General Roberdeau spoke in his favour: no one confirmed Wither-spoons Account, though the truth of it has since been sufficiently established. Congress appointed him: but he was soon obnoxious by his Manners, and dismissed.
There was one Circumstance, in his conversation with me about the pamphlets, which I could not Account for. He was extreamly earnest to convince me, that common Sense was his first born: declared again and again that he had never written a Line nor a Word that had been printed before Common Sense. I cared nothing for this but said nothing: but Dr. Witherspoons Account of his Writing against Us, brought doubts into my mind of his Veracity, which the subsequent histories of his Writings and publications in England when he was in the Custom house, did not remove.
{ 335 }
At this day it would be ridiculous to ask any questions about Tom Paines Veracity, Integrity or any other Virtue.
1. Parentheses supplied. JA interlined these two words but did not cross out the words they may have been intended to replace.
2. For Benjamin Rush's connection with Common Sense see Rush's Autobiography, p. 113–114, 323, and his Letters, 1:95–96; 2:1008. Common Sense was first advertised for sale on 9 Jan. 1776 (Richard Gimbel, Thomas Paine: A Bibliographical Check List of Common Sense, New Haven, 1956, p. 21).
3. Timothy Matlack, James Cannon, and Thomas Young, leaders of the radical party in Pennsylvania during the Revolution; see J. Paul Selsam, The Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776, Phila., 1936, passim.
4. MS: “liked it.”
5. Thoughts on Government: Applicable to the Present State of the American Colonies. In a Letter from a Gentleman to His Friend, Phila.: John Dunlap, 1776; also a reprint, Boston: John Gill, 1776. Owing to the multiple versions of this production that JA furnished in MS form to friends engaged in constitution-making in several colonies, and owing also to discrepancies in the author's own accounts of it, the facts about its genesis are still imperfectly known. What is known is merely summarized here. Fuller discussion must await the publication of Thoughts on Government and related writings in Series III of The Adams Papers.
The starting point for any inquiry is JA's letter to James Warren, 20 April 1776 (MHi; Warren-Adams Letters, 1:230–231), which originally enclosed a copy of the pamphlet as printed in Philadelphia and thus fixes the date of publication as before that date and probably very shortly before it. JA told Warren, in brief, that two delegates from North Carolina, William Hooper and John Penn, being about to go south to take their seats in a state constitutional convention, had applied separately to him for his advice on a proper constitution. JA
“concluded to borrow a little Time from his Sleep and accordingly wrote with his own Hand, a Sketch, which he copied, giving the original to Mr. Hooper and a Copy to Mr. Penn, which they carried to Carolina. Mr. Wythe getting a sight of it, desired a Copy which [JA] made out from his Memory as nearly as he could. Afterwards Mr. Serjeant of New Jersey requested another, which [JA] made out again from Memory, and in this he enlarged and amplified a good deal, and sent it to Princetown. After this Coll. Lee requested the same Favour, but [JA] having written amidst all his Engagements five Copies, or rather five sketches, for no one of them was a Copy of the other,... was quite weary of the office. To avoid the Trouble of writing any more he borrowed Mr. Wythe's Copy and lent it to Coll. Lee, who has put it under Types and thrown it into the shape you see. It is a Pity it had not been Mr. Serjeant's Copy, for that is larger and more compleat, perhaps more correct.”
JA speaks here of five versions, but he enumerates only four, and the order of their composition clearly was: that for Hooper, that for Penn, that for George Wythe of Virginia, and that for Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant of New Jersey. The only MS version in JA's hand that is now known is the one he wrote for Penn, which later came into the possession of Penn's son-in-law, John Taylor of Caroline, and is now in MHi: Washburn Coll. The date on which the North Carolinians left Philadelphia is well established as 27 March (see Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:lviii), so that the two earliest versions must have been prepared before that date. The Wythe and Sergeant versions, both “made out . . . from Memory,” must almost certainly have been written after 27 March and probably in the first week or ten days of April, since on the one hand JA sent Sergeant's copy to him in Princeton, where Sergeant arrived about 5 April (same, p. li), and on the other hand Richard Henry Lee had caused the Wythe version to be printed by 20 April (which rendered any more copying superfluous). In later reminiscences JA inverted the order of the several versions he remembered and, as so often when he reminisced, advanced the date of the event in question. See his letter to John Taylor, 9 April 1814, in which he assigned the genesis of the whole series of papers to a conversation with George Wythe one evening in “January 1776, six months before the declaration of Independence,” and, curiously, spoke of all the other versions as having been written after the letter to Wythe was put into print by Lee (MHi: Washburn Coll.; JA, Works, 10:94–96).
There is a very strong presumption that no version of this series of letters on state constitution-making was composed until within a few days of Hooper's and Penn's departure for North Carolina (27 March), for in a letter to AA of 19 March, alluding to the reception of Paine's Common Sense, JA said:
“It has been very generally propagated through the Continent that I wrote this Pamphlet. But altho I could not have written any Thing in so manly and striking a style, I flatter myself I should have made a more respectable Figure as an Architect, if I had undertaken such a Work. This Writer seems to have very inadequate Ideas of what is proper and necessary to be done in order to form Constitutions for single Colonies, as well as a great Model of Union for the whole” (Adams Papers).
The implication is almost overwhelming that JA was about to sit down to do better what he thought Paine had done badly.
The most easily available printed text of Thoughts on Government (that is to say, the “Wythe version”) is in JA's Works, 4:193–200, apparently based on the Philadelphia edition of 1776, with silent corrections by the editor of printer's errors. It is followed (p. 203–209) by a text of the “Penn version,” taken from its earliest publication, in John Taylor of Caroline's Inquiry into the Principles and Policy of the Government of the United States, Fredericksburg, 1814. A printing of what can only be supposed the “Hooper version” is also known, in the Southern Literary Messenger, 13:42–47 (Jan. 1847); it varies markedly from the “Penn version” and helps confirm JA's statement that “no one of them was a Copy of the other.”
||All three documents are now available in this project's edition of the Papers of John Adams, where they appear as JA to William Hooper, ante 27 March 1776, JA to John Penn, ante 27 March 1776, and Thoughts on Government, April 1776.||
6. No such edition has been found.
7. MS: “and.”
8. Suspension points in MS.
9. Plain Truth; Addressed to the Inhabitants of America ...., Phila., 1776, a reply to Common Sense by “Candidus,” a pseudonym for James Chalmers (Richards Gimbel, Thomas Paine: A Bibliographical Check List of Common Sense, New Haven, 1956, p. 116.)

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0029

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-04
DateRange: 1776-05 - 1776-07

[In Congress, May–July 1776]

I was incessantly employed, through the whole Fall, Winter and Spring of 1775 and 1776 in Congress during their Sittings and on Committees on mornings and Evenings, and unquestionably did more business than any other Member of that house. In the Beginning of May I procured the Appointment of a Committee, to prepare a resolution recommending to the People of the States to institute Governments. The Committee of whom I was one requested me to draught a resolve which I did and by their Direction reported it. Opposition was made to it, and Mr. Duane called it a Machine to fabricate independence but on the 15th of May 1776 it passed. It was indeed on all hands considered by Men of Understanding as equivalent to a declaration of Independence: tho a formal declaration of it was still opposed by Mr. Dickinson and his Party.1
Not long after this the three greatest Measures of all, were carried. Three Committees were appointed, One for preparing a Declaration of Independence, another for reporting a Plan of a Treaty to be proposed to France, and a third to digest a System of Articles of Confederation to be proposed to the States.—I was appointed on the Committee of Independence, and on that for preparing the form of a Treaty with France: on the Committee of Confederation Mr. Samuel Adams was appointed. The Committee of Independence, were Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston. Mr. Jefferson had been now about a Year a Member of Congress, but had attended his Duty in the House but a very small part of the time and when there had never spoken in public: and during the whole Time I satt with him in Congress, I never heard him utter three Sentences together. The most of a Speech he ever made in my hearing was a gross insult on Religion, in one or two Sentences, for which I gave him immediately the Reprehension, which he richly merited.2 It will naturally be enquired, how it happened that he was appointed on a Committee of such importance. There were more reasons than one. Mr. Jefferson had the Reputation of a masterly Pen. He had been chosen a Delegate in Virginia, in consequence of a very handsome public Paper which he had written for the House of Burgesses, which had given him the Character of a { 336 } fine Writer. Another reason was that Mr. Richard Henry Lee was not beloved by the most of his Colleagues from Virginia and Mr. Jefferson was sett up to rival and supplant him. This could be done only by the Pen, for Mr. Jefferson could stand no competition with him or any one else in Elocution and public debate. Here I will interrupt the narration for a moment to observe that from all I have read of the History of Greece and Rome, England and France, and all I have observed at home, and abroad, that Eloquence in public Assemblies is not the surest road, to Fame and Preferment, at least unless it be used with great caution, very rarely, and with great Reserve. The Examples of Washington, Franklin and Jefferson are enough to shew that Silence and reserve in public are more Efficacious than Argumentation or Oratory. A public Speaker who inserts himself, or is urged by others into the Conduct of Affairs, by daily Exertions to justify his measures, and answer the Objections of Opponents, makes himself too familiar with the public, and unavoidably makes himself Ennemies. Few Persons can bare to be outdone in Reasoning or declamation or Wit, or Sarcasm or Repartee, or Satyr, and all these things are very apt to grow out of public debate. In this Way in a Course of Years, a Nation becomes full of a Mans Ennemies, or at least of such as have been galled in some Controversy, and take a secret pleasure in assisting to humble and mortify him. So much for this digression. We will now return to our Memoirs. The Committee had several meetings, in which were proposed the Articles of which the Declaration was to consist, and minutes made of them. The Committee then appointed Mr. Jefferson and me, to draw them up in form, and cloath them in a proper Dress. The Sub Committee met, and considered the Minutes, making such Observations on them as then occurred: when Mr. Jefferson desired me to take them to my Lodgings and make the Draught. This I declined and gave several reasons for declining. 1. That he was a Virginian and I a Massachusettensian. 2. that he was a southern Man and I a northern one. 3. That I had been so obnoxious for my early and constant Zeal in promoting the Measure, that any draught of mine, would undergo a more severe Scrutiny and Criticism in Congress, than one of his composition. 4thly and lastly and that would be reason enough if there were no other, I had a great Opinion of the Elegance of his pen and none at all of my own. I therefore insisted that no hesitation should be made on his part. He accordingly took the Minutes and in a day or two produced to me his Draught. Whether I made or suggested any corrections I remember not. The Report was made to the Committee of five, by them examined, { 337 } but whether altered or corrected in any thing I cannot recollect. But in substance at least it was reported to Congress where, after a severe Criticism, and striking out several of the most oratorical Paragraphs it was adopted on the fourth of July 1776, and published to the World.3
1. See Diary entries (Notes of Debates), 13–15 May 1776, and editorial notes there; also the entries in the Autobiography dated 10, 11, 14, 15 May 1776, below.
2. CFA omitted this sentence from his text of the Autobiography. Nothing beyond what JA says here is known to the present editors concerning such an incident.
3. This casual account of the drafting and adoption of the Declaration of Independence, 11 June – 4 July 1776, was elaborated, though not contradicted in any essential way, by JA in a letter to Timothy Pickering written at the latter's request and dated 6 Aug. 1822 (LbC, Adams Papers; Works, 2:512, note). Pickering quoted passages from JA's letter in remarks he made at a Fourth of July celebration in Salem the following year; they were printed in Col. Pickering's Observations Introductory to Reading the Declaration of Independence . .., Salem, 1823, and thus soon came to Jefferson's attention (Pickering and Upham, Pickering, 4:335, 463–469). In a letter to Madison, 30 Aug. 1823, Jefferson gave a very different account of the composition of his great state paper from that which JA had furnished Pickering. He denied both that there had been any subcommittee and that it was JA who had urged him to draft the document. It was rather, said Jefferson, the committee of five as a whole that “unanimously pressed on myself alone to undertake the draught,” though before reporting back to the full committee, Jefferson added, he communicated the text separately to both Franklin and JA, “because they were the two members of whose judgments and amendments I wished most to have the benefit” (Jefferson, Writings, ed. Ford, 10:267). Exhaustive textual study and the discovery of further documents have greatly amplified both JA's and Jefferson's accounts and corrected them in some respects, but the principal points on which they disagreed have not been and may never be resolved.
See, further, the entries in JA's Autobiography dated 7, 11 June, 1 July 1776, below.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0030

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-06 - 1776-08

[In Congress, June–August 1776]

The Committee for preparing the Model of a Treaty to be proposed to France consisted of1[] When We met to deliberate on the Subject, I contended for the same Principles, which I had before avowed and defended in Congress, viz. That We should avoid all Alliance, which might embarrass Us in after times and involve Us in future European Wars. That a Treaty of commerce, which would opperate as a Repeal of the British Acts of Navigation as far as respected Us and Admit France into an equal participation of the benefits of our commerce; would encourage her Manufactures, increase her Exports of the Produce of her Soil and Agriculture, extend her navigation and Trade, augment her resources of naval Power, raise her from her present deep humiliation, distress and decay, and place her on a more equal footing with England, for the protection of her foreign Possessions, and maintaining her Independence at Sea, would be an ample Compensation to France for Acknowledging our { 338 } Independence, and for furnishing Us for our money or upon Credit for a Time, with such Supplies of Necessaries as We should want, even if this Conduct should involve her in a War. If a War should ensue, which did not necessarily follow, for a bare Acknowledgement of our Independence after We had asserted it, was not by the Law of Nations an Act of Hostility, which would be a legitimate cause of War. Franklin although he was commonly as silent on committees as in Congress, upon this Occasion, ventured so far as to intimate his concurrence with me in these Sentiments, though as will be seen hereafter he shifted them as easily as the Wind ever shifted: and assumed a dogmatical Tone, in favour of an Opposite System. The Committee after as much deliberation upon the Subject as they chose to employ, appointed me, to draw up a Plan and Report. Franklin had made some marks with a Pencil against some Articles in a printed Volume of Treaties, which he put into my hand. Some of these were judiciously selected, and I took them with others which I found necessary into the Draught and made my report to the Committee at large, who after a reasonable Examination of it, agreed to report it. When it came before Congress, it occupied the Attention of that Body for several days. Many Motions were made, to insert in it Articles of entangling Alliance, of exclusive Priviledges, and of Warrantees of Possessions: and it was argued that the present Plan reported by the Committee held out no sufficient temptation to France, who would despize it and refuse to receive our Ambassador. It was chiefly left to me to defend my report, though I had some able Assistance, and We did defend it with so much Success, that the Treaty passed without one Particle of Alliance, exclusive Priviledge, or Warranty.2
1. Here two-thirds of a line was left blank in the MS, doubtless indicating that JA intended to consult the Journals of Congress (which were on his shelves) and fill in the names. The members of “the committee to prepare a plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign powers,” appointed on 12 June, were Dickinson, Franklin, JA, Harrison, and Robert Morris (JCC, 5:433). JA himself listed the names of the committee members when he went over this ground later in his Autobiography with the Journals in hand; see a later entry under 12 June 1776, below.
2. JA's draft of the “Plan of Treaties,” a document which “furnished the model for all, except one, of the eighteenth century treaties of the United States, and may be regarded as a charter document of early American maritime practice” (Bemis, Diplomacy of the Amer. Revolution, p. 46), is in PCC, No. 47, and is printed, with appended forms of passports, &c., also drafted by JA, in JCC, 5:576–589, under date of 18 July 1776, when it was reported to Congress. On 20 July Congress ordered it printed for the use of the members; on 22 and 27 Aug. it was debated in committee of the whole and on the latter date, after amendments, referred back to the original committee for the purpose of drawing up instructions to agents to be sent to France. On 17 Sept. it was adopted in its final form as a “plan of a treaty [to] be proposed to His Most Christian Majesty” (same, p. 768–779; see also p. 594, 696, 709–710, 718, and entry No. 121 in “Bibliographical Notes,” same, 6:1124). JA's present summary of his arguments for the Plan probably pertains to the debates in committee of the whole late in August.
||JA's draft, the committee report, and the plan as adopted by Congress, with instructions, are now available in the Papers of John Adams, volume 4.||

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0031

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1775-09-18 - 1775-11-08

[Committee on the Importantion of Gunpowder, September–November 1775.]

I have omitted some things in 1775 which must be inserted.1 On { 339 } the 18th of September 1775. It was resolved in Congress, that a Secret Committee be appointed to contract for the Importation and delivery of any quantity of Gunpowder, not exceeding five hundred Tons. That in case such a quantity of Gunpowder cannot be procured to contract for the Importation of so much Saltpetre, with a proportionable quantity of Sulphur, as with the Powder procured will make five hundred tons. That the Committee be impowered to contract for the importation of forty brass field Pieces, six pounders, for 10,000 Stand of Arms and twenty thousand good plain double bridle musket Locks. That the said Committee be impowered to draw on the Treasurers to answer the said Contract. That the said Committee consist of nine members, any five of whom to be a quorum. The Members chosen Mr. Willing, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Livingston, Mr. Alsop, Mr. Deane, Mr. Dickinson, Mr. Langdon, Mr. McKean and Mr. Ward. On the Eig[h]th of November 1775. On Motion resolved That the Secret Committee appointed to contract for the Importation of Arms, Ammunition &c. be impowered to export to the foreign West Indies, on Account and risque of the Continent, as much provision, or any other produce (except horned Cattle, Sheep, hogs and Poultry) as they may deem necessary for the Importation of Arms, Ammunition, Sulphur and Saltpetre. See the Journals of Congress for 1775. Page 238. Wednesday November 8. 1775 and the Note.
1. JA was reminded of these omissions by picking up a copy of the Journals of Congress. Containing the Proceedings from Sept. 5. 1774. to Jan. 1. 1776.... Volume I, Phila.: R. Aitken, 1777, which he had long owned but until now had not consulted for autobiographical purposes. From this point through his departure from Congress in Oct. 1776, the Autobiography consists almost entirely of a series of extracts from the Journals, chosen rather unsystematically but with emphasis on JA's own activities, copied without benefit of quotation marks, and amplified by a running commentary. CFA in his edition distinguished matter drawn from the Journals by a smaller size of type (JA, Works, 3:3–88), but direct quotations, paraphrased passages, and comments are so inextricably woven together that CFA sometimes erred in trying to disentangle them and thus proved his method unfeasible. The present editors follow JA's MS.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0032

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1775-11-29 - 1776-01-16

[Committees of Correspondence and Commerce, November 1775–January 1776]

On Wednesday November 29. 1775. (See Journals of Congress for the Year 1775 page 272. and 273.) It was resolved that a Committee of five be appointed for the sole purpose of corresponding with our Friends in Great Britain, Ireland and other parts of the World, and that they lay their Correspondence before Congress when directed. Resolved that Congress will make provision to defray all such Expenses as may arise by carrying on such a Correspondence and for the payment of such Agents as they may send on this Service. The Members chosen Mr. Harrison, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Dickinson and Mr. Jay.
{ 340 }
This last provision for an Agent was contrived I presume for Mr. Deane who had been left out of the Delegation by the State, but instead of returning home to Connecticutt, remained in Philadelphia, soliciting an Appointment under the two foregoing Committees, as an Agent of theirs first in the West Indies and then in France. Unfortunately Mr. Deane was not well established at home. The good People of Connecticutt thought him a Man of Talents and Enterprize, but of more Ambition than Principle. He possessed not their Esteem or Confidence. He procured his first Appointment in 1774 to Congress by an Intrigue. Under the pretext of avoiding to committ the Legislature of the State in any Act of Rebellion, he got a Committee <of three> appointed with some discretionary Powers, under which they undertook to appoint the Members to Congress. Mr. Deane being one <of the three> was obliged to Vote for himself, to obtain a Majority of the Committee. On the 3 of November 1774 The Representatives indeed chose Mr. Deane among others, to attend Congress the next May. But on the second Thursday of October 1775 The General Assembly of Governor and Company left him out. On the 16. of Jan. 1776 The New Delegates appeared in Congress. See the Journal Vol. 2. page 24 and 25.1 To the two Secret Committees, that of Commerce and that of Correspondence, Mr. Deane applied, and obtained of them Appointments as their Agent. Dr. Franklin also gave him private Letters one to Dr. Dubourg of Paris a Physician who had translated his Works into French and Mr. Dumas at the Hague, who had seen him in England. With these Credentials, Mr. Deane went first to the West Indies and then to France. The Use he made of his Powers We shall hereafter see. He was a person of a plausible readiness and Volubility with his Tongue and his Pen, much addicted to Ostentation and Expence in Dress and Living but without any deliberate forecast or reflection or solidity of Judgment, or real Information. The manner in which he made Use of his Powers We shall see hereafter. I had hitherto, however, thought well of his Intentions and had acted with him on terms of entire Civility.
Within a day or two after the Appointment in Congress of the Committee of Correspondence, Mr. Jay came to my Chamber to spend an Evening with me. I was alone, and Mr. Jay opened himself to me, with great frankness. His Object seemed to be, an Apology to me, for my being omitted in the Choice of the two great Secret Com• { 341 } mittees of Commerce and Correspondence. He said in express terms, “that my Character stood very high with the Members, and he knew there was but one Thing which prevented me from being universally acknowledged to be the first Man in Congress, and that was this, there was a great Division in the House, and two Men had effected it, Samuel Adams and Richard Henry Lee, and as I was known to be very intimate with those two Gentlemen, many others were jealous of me.”.. .2 My Answer to all this was, that I had thought it very strange, and had imputed it to some secret Intrigue out of Doors, that no Member from Massachusetts had been elected on either of those Committees. That I had no Pretensions to the distinction of the first Man in Congress: and that if I had a clear title to it, I should be very far from assuming it, or wishing for it. It was a Station of too much responsibility and danger in the times and Circumstances in which We lived and were destined to live. That I was a Friend very much Attached to Mr. Lee and Mr. Adams, because I knew them to be able Men and inflexible in the cause of their Country. I could not therefore become cool in my friendship for them, for the sake of any distinctions that Congress could bestow. That I believed that too many commercial Projects and private Speculations were in contemplation by the composition of those Committees: but even those had not contributed so much to it, as the great division in the House on the Subject of Independence and the mode of carrying on the War. Mr. Jay and I however parted good Friends and have continued such without interruption to this day 8 of March 1805. There is a Secret in this Business, that ought to be explained. Mr. Arthur Lee in London, had heard some insinuations against Mr. Jay as a suspicious Character, and had written to his Brother Richard Henry Lee or to Mr. Samuel Adams or both: and although they were groundless and injurious, as I have no doubt, my Friends had communicated them too indiscreetly, and had spoken of Mr. Jay too lightly. Mr. Lee had expressed doubts whether Mr. Jay had composed the Address to the People of Great Britain and ascribed it to his Father in Law Mr. Livingston afterwards Governor of New Jersey. These Things had occasioned some Words, and Animosities which Uniting with the great Questions in Congress, had some disagreable Effects. Mr. Jays great Superiority to Mr. Livingston in the Art of Composition would now be sufficient to decide the question if the latter had [not] expressly denyed having any share in that Address.3
1. This reference is to Journals of Congress. Containing the Proceedings from January 1, 1776, to January 1, 1777. . . . Volume II, York-Town [York, Penna.]: John Dunlap, 1778.
2. Suspension points in MS.
3. The negative in this sentence was inadvertently omitted by the diarist. Thirteen years later JA exchanged letters with John Jay on the authorship of the Address to the People of Great Britain, written by Jay and issued by Congress in Oct. 1774; see JA to Jay, 9 Jan. 1818, LbC, Adams Papers; Jay to JA, 31 Jan. 1818, Adams Papers; both printed in Jay, Correspondence and Public Papers, 4:395–402.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0033

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-06-12 - 1777-11-11

[Wednesday June 12. 1776]

On Wednesday June 12. 1776 Congress resolved, That a Committee of Congress be appointed by the name of a board of War and Ordinance to consist of five members, with a secretary, Clerks &c. and their extensive Powers are stated, Vol. 2. page 209 of the Journals1 On the 13th. Congress having proceeded to the Election of a Committee to form the board of War and ordinance, the following Members were chosen Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Wilson and Mr. E. Rutledge, and Richard Peters Esq. was elected Secretary. The Duties of this Board kept me in continual Employment, not to say Drudgery from this 12 of June 1776 till the Eleventh of November 1777 when I left Congress forever. Not only my Mornings and Evenings were filled up with the Croud of Business before the Board, but a great Part of my time in Congress was engaged in making, explaining and justifying our Reports and Proceedings. It is said there are Lawyers in the United States who receive five thousand Guineas a Year and many are named who are said to receive to the Amount of ten thousand dollars. However this may be I dont believe there is one of them who goes through so much Business, for all his Emoluments as I did for a Year and a half nearly that I was loaded with that office. Other Gentlemen attended as they pleased, but as I was Chairman, or as they were pleased to call it President, I must never be absent.
1. Farther on in his Autobiography, in a more intensive review of the record in the Journals, JA copied “the Constitution, Powers and Duties of this Board” into his narrative in extenso; see a later entry dated 12 June 1776, below.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0034

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-10-05

[Thursday October 5. 1775].

On Thursday October 5. 1775. See the Journals. Sundry Letters from London were laid before Congress and read, and a motion was made, that it be resolved that a Committee of three be appointed to prepare a Plan for intercepting two Vessells which are on their Way to Canada, laden with Arms and Powder, and that the Committee proceed on this Business immediately. The Secretary has omitted to insert the Names of this Committee on the Journals. But as my Memory has recorded them, they were Mr. Deane, Mr. Langdon and myself, three Members who had expressed much Zeal, in favour of the Motion. As a considerable part of my time, in the Course of my profession, had been spent upon the Sea coast of Massachusetts, in Attending the Courts and Law Suits at Plymouth, Barnstable, { 343 } Marthas Vineyard, to the Southward and in the Counties of Essex, York and Cumberland to the Eastward, I had conversed much with the Gentlemen, who conducted our Cod and Whale Fisheries, as well as the other Navigation of the Country, and had heard much of the Activity, Enterprize, Patience, Perseverance, and daring Intrepidity of our Seamen, I had formed a confident Opinion that if they were once let loose upon the Ocean, they would contribute greatly to the relief of our Wants as well as to the distress of the Ennemy. I became therefore at once, an Ardent Advocate for this motion, which We carried, not without great difficulty. The Opposition to it was very loud and vehement. Some of my own Colleagues, appeared greatly allarmed at it: and Mr. Edward Rutledge never displayed so much Eloquence as against it. He never appeared to me to discover so much Information and Sagacity, which convinced me that he had been instructed out of Doors, by some of the most knowing Merchants and Statesmen in Philadelphia. It would require too much time and space to give this debate at large, if any memory could Attempt it. Mine cannot. It was however represented as the most wild, visionary mad project that ever had been imagined. It was an Infant, taking a mad Bull by his horns. And what was more profound and remote, it was said it would ruin the Character, and corrupt the morals of all our Seamen. It would make them selfish, piratical, mercenary, bent wholly upon plunder, &c. &c. &c. These formidable Arguments and this terrible Rhetoric, were answered by Us by the best Reasons We could alledge, and the great Advantages of distressing the Ennemy, supplying ourselves, and beginning a System of maritime and naval Opperations, were represented in colours as glowing and animating. The Vote was carried, the Committee went out, and returned very soon,1 brought in the Report, in these Words, The Committee appointed to prepare a plan for intercepting the two Vessells bound to Canada, brought in a Report which was taken into Consideration; whereupon
Resolved, That a Letter be sent to General Washington to inform him that Congress having received certain Intelligence of the Sailing of two north Country built Briggs, of no force, from England, on the eleventh of August last, loaded with Arms, Powder and other Stores for Quebec, without Convoy, which, it being of importance to intercept, desire that he apply to the Council of Massachusetts Bay { 344 } for the two armed Vessells in their service, and dispatch the same, with a sufficient number of People, Stores &c. particularly a number of Oars, in order, if possible, to intercept the two Briggs and their Cargoes, and secure the same for the Use of the Continent; also any other Transports, laden with Ammunition, Cloathing, or other Stores, for the Use of the Ministerial Army or Navy in America, and secure them in the most convenient places for the purpose abovementioned; that he give the Commander or Commanders such Instructions as are necessary, as also proper Encouragement to the marines and Seamen, that shall be sent on this Enterprize, which Instructions are to be delivered to the Commander or Commanders sealed up, with orders not to open the same, untill out of sight of Land on Account of Secrecy.
That a Letter be written to the said honourable Council, to put the said Vessells under the Generals Command and Direction, and to furnish him instantly with every necessary in their Power, at the Expence of the Continent.
That the General be directed to employ the said Vessells and others, if he judge necessary, to effect the purposes aforesaid; and that he be informed that the Rhode Island and Connecticutt Vessells of Force, will be sent directly to their Assistance.
That a Letter be written to Governor Cooke, informing him of the above, desiring him to dispatch one or both the Armed Vessells of the Colony of Rhode Island on the same Service, and that he Use the Precautions above mentioned.
That a Letter be written to Governor Trumbull, requesting of him the largest Vessell in the Service of the Colony of Connecticutt, to be sent on the Enterprize aforesaid, acquainting him with the above particulars, and recommending the same precautions.
That the said Ships and Vessells of War be on the Continental Risque and pay, during their being so employed.
1. On the very same day (5 Oct.). Concerning this and the succeeding actions that JA records here and that initiated the Continental Navy, see his Diary entry (Notes of Debates) of 7 Oct. 1775 and note 1 there.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0035

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-10-06

[Fryday October 6. 1775.]

Fryday October 6. 1775. The Committee appointed to prepare a Plan &c. brought in a further report which was read. Ordered to lie on the Table for the Perusal of the Members.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0036

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-10-13

[Fryday October 13. 1775.]

Fryday October 13. 1775. The Congress taking into Consideration the report of the Committee appointed to prepare a Plan &c. after some debate
Resolved That a swift sailing Vessell to carry ten Carriage Guns, and a proportionable Number of Swivells, with Eighty Men, be fitted with all possible dispatch, for a Cruize of three months, and that the Commander be instructed to cruize eastward, for intercepting such { 345 } Transports as may be laden with warlike Stores, and other Supplies for our Ennemies, and for such other purposes as the Congress shall direct. That a Committee of three be appointed to prepare an Estimate of the Expence, and lay the same before Congress, and to contract with proper Persons to fit out the Vessell.
Resolved that another Vessell be fitted out for the same purpose, and that the said Committee report their Opinion of a proper Vessel, and also an Estimate of the Expence. The following Members were chosen to compose the Committee. Mr. Deane, Mr. Langdon and Mr. Gadsden.
Resolved that the further consideration of the Report be referred to Monday next.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0037

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-10-30

[Monday October 30th. 1775.]

Monday October 30th. 1775. The Committee appointed to prepare an Estimate, and to fit out the Vessells, brought in their report, which being taken into Consideration. Resolved that the second Vessell ordered to be fitted out on the 13th. instant, be of such a Size as to carry fourteen Guns, and a proportionate number of Swivels and Men. Resolved that two more Vessels be fitted out with all expedition; the one to carry not exceeding twenty Guns and the other not exceeding thirty six Guns, with a proportionable number of Swivells and Men, to be employed in such manner for the protection and defence of the United Colonies, as the Congress shall direct. Resolved that four Members be chosen and added to the former Committee of three, and that these seven be a Committee to carry into Execution, with all possible Expedition, as well the Resolutions of Congress passed the thirteenth Instant, as those passed this day for fitting our armed Vessells. The Members chosen, Mr. Hopkins, Mr. Hewes, Mr. Richard Henry Lee and Mr. John Adams. This Committee immediately procured a Room in a public house in the City, and agreed to meet every Evening at six o Clock in order to dispatch this Business with all possible celerity.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0038

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-11-02

[Thursday November 2. 1775]

On Thursday November 2. 1775 Congress resolved that the Committee appointed to carry into Execution the Resolves of Congress for fitting out four armed Vessells, be authorized to draw on the Continental Treasurers from time to time, for as much cash as shall be necessary for the above Purpose, not exceeding the Sum of one hundred thousand dollars, and that the said Committee have Power to agree, with such Officers and Seamen as are proper to man and command said Vessells, and that the Encouragement to such Officers and Seamen be, One half of all Ships of War made prize of by them, and one third of all transport Vessels, exclusive of Wages.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0039

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-11-08

[8th of November 1775]

On the 8th of November 1775 Congress resolved, that the Bills of Sale of the Vessells ordered to be purchased, be made to the Continental Treasurers, or those who shall succeed them in that Office, in trust never the less for the Use of the Continent or their Representatives, in Congress met.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0040

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-11-10

[10th of November 1775]

On the 10th of November 1775 Congress resolved that two Battalions of Marines be raised, consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors, and other Officers as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal Number of privates with other Battalions; that particular care be taken, that no Person be appointed to Officers, or inlisted into said Battalion[s], but such as are good Seamen or so acquainted with maritime Affairs, as to be able to serve to Advantage by Sea when required: that they be inlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present War between Great Britain and the Colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; that they be distinguished by the names of the first and second Battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the Continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of. Ordered that a Copy of the above, be transmitted to the General.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0041

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-11-17

[17th of November 1775.]

On the 17th of November 1775. A Letter from Gen. Washington, inclosing a Letter and Journal of Colonel Arnold, and sundry papers being received, the same were read, whereupon
Resolved that a Committee of seven be appointed to take into Consideration so much of the Generals Letter, as relates to the disposal of such Vessells and Cargoes belonging to the Ennemy, as shall fall into the hands of, or be taken by the Inhabitants of the United Colonies. The Members chosen Mr. Wythe, Mr. E. Rutledge, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. W. Livingston, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Johnson.1
1. Washington's letter, 8 Nov. 1775, is printed in his Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 4:71–75. The report of this committee, recommending the establishment of prize courts, was brought in on 23 Nov., debated the next day, and adopted on the next (JCC, 3:364–365, 368–369, 371–375). JA copied it into his Autobiography under 25 Nov. but did not assert his authorship.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0042

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-11-23

[Thursday. November 23. 1775.]

Thursday. November 23. 1775. The Committee for fitting out armed Vessells laid before Congress, a draught of Rules for the Government of the American Navy and Articles to be signed by the Officers and Men employed in that Service, which were read and ordered to lie on the Table for the Perusal of the Members.1
1. This “draught” was the work of JA. It was debated, probably amended, and adopted by Congress on 28 Nov., and was printed (with some last-minute changes) as Rules for the Regulation of the Navy of the United Colonies of North-America . . . , Phila.: William and Thomas Bradford, 1775. See JCC, 3:364, 375–376, 378–387, 393, 513. A facsimile reprint of this exceedingly rare founding document of the United States Navy was issued by the Naval Historical Foundation, Washington, 1944.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0043

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-11-25

[Saturday November 25. 1775.]

Saturday November 25. 1775. Congress resumed the consideration of the report of the Committee on General Washingtons Letter, and the same being debated by Paragraphs, was agreed to as follows:
Whereas it appears from undoubted information, that many Vessells which had cleared at the respective Custom houses in these Colonies, agreable to the regulations established by Acts of the British Parliament, have in a lawless manner, without even the semblance of just Authority, been seized by his Majestys Ships of War, and carried into the harbour of Boston and other Ports where they have been rifled of their Cargoes, by orders of his Majestys naval and military officers there commanding, without the said Vessells having been proceeded against, by any form of Tryal, and without the charge of having offended against any Law.
And whereas orders have been issued in his Majestys name, to the Commanders of his Ships of War, “to proceed as in the case of actual rebellion, against such of the Sea port Towns and places being accessible to the Kings Ships, in which any Troops shall be raised, or military Works erected,” under colour of which said orders the Commanders of his Majesty's said Ships of War have already burned and destroyed the flourishing and populous Town of Falmouth, and have fired upon and much injured several other Towns within the United Colonies, and dispersed, at a late Season of the Year, hundreds of helpless Women and Children, with a savage hope that those may perish under the approaching rigours of the Season, who may chance to escape destruction from Fire and Sword, a mode of Warfare long exploded among civilized Nations.
And whereas the good People of these Colonies, sensibly affected by the destruction of their property, and other unprovoked Injuries, have at last determined to prevent as much as possible a repetition thereof, and to procure some reparation for the same, by fitting out armed Vessels and Ships of Force; in the Execution of which commendable designs it is possible that those, who have not been instrumental in the unwarrantable violences abovementioned may suffer, unless some Laws be made to regulate, and Trybunals erected competent to determine the Propriety of Captures. Therefor Resolved.
1. That all such Ships of War, Frigates, Sloops, Cutters, and armed Vessels as are or shall be employed in the present cruel and unjust War against the united Colonies, and shall fall into the { 348 } hands of, or be taken by the Inhabitants thereof, be seized and forfeited to and for the purposes herein after mentioned.
2. Resolved, That all Transport Vessels in the same Service, having on board any Troops, Arms, Ammunition, Cloathing, Provisions, or military or naval stores of what kindsoever, and all Vessels to whomsoever belonging, that shall be employed in carrying provisions or other necessaries to the British Army or Armies, or navy, that now are or hereafter may be, within any of the United Colonies, or any Goods, Wares, or Merchandizes for the Use of such fleet or Army, shall be liable to seizure, and with their Cargoes shall be confiscated.
3. That no Master or commander of any Vessel shall be intitled to cruize for, or make prize of any Vessel or cargo before he shall have obtained a Commission from the Congress, or from such Person or Persons as shall be for that purpose appointed in some one of the United Colonies.
4. That it be, and is hereby recommended to the several Legislatures in the United Colonies as soon as possible, to erect Courts of Justice, or give Jurisdiction to the Courts now in being, for the purpose of determining concerning the Captures to be made as aforesaid, and to provide that all Tryals in such case be had by a Jury under such qualifications as to the respective Legislatures shall seem expedient.
5. That all Prosecutions shall be commenced in the Court of that Colony in which the Captures shall be made, but if no such Court be, at that time erected in the said Colony, or if the Capture be made on open Sea, then the prosecution shall be in the Court of such Colony as the Captor may find most convenient, provided that nothing contained in this resolution shall be construed so as to enable the Captor to remove his prize from any Colony competent to determine concerning the Seizure, after he shall have carried the Vessel so seized, within any harbour of the same.
6. That in all Cases an Appeal shall be allowed to the Congress, or such Person or Persons as they shall appoint for the Tryal of Appeals, provided the Appeal be demanded within five days after definitive Sentence, and such Appeal be lodged with the Secretary of Congress, within forty days afterwards, and provided the Party appealing shall give Security to prosecute the said Appeal to effect, and in case of the death of the Secretary during the Recess of Congress, then the said Appeal to be lodged in Congress within twenty days after the meeting thereof.
{ 349 }
7. That when any Vessel or Vessels shall be fitted out at the Expence of any private Person or Persons, then the Captures made, shall be to the Use of the owner or owners of the said Vessel or Vessels; and where the Vessels employed in the capture shall be fitted out at the Expence of any of the United Colonies, then one third of the Prize taken shall be to the Use of the Captors, and the remaining two thirds to the Use of the said Colony, and where the Vessel so employed, shall be fitted out at the continental charge, then one third shall go to the Captors, and the remaining two thirds to the Use of the United Colonies, provided nevertheless, that if the Capture be a Vessel of War, then the Captors shall be entitled to one half of the Value, and the Remainder shall go to the Colony or Continent as the case may be, the necessary charges of the condemnation of all Prizes, being deducted before distribution made.
8. That the Captures heretofore made by Vessels fitted out at the Continental Charge were justifiable, and that the distribution of the Captors Share of the Prizes by General Washington be confirmed, which is as follows. A Captain or Commander 6 shares. First Lieutenant 5. Second Lieutenant 4. Surgeon 4. Master 3. Steward 2. Mate one and a half. Gunner, Boatswain, Gunners Mate, Serjeant, one and a half each. Privates one Share.
Resolved that, that Part of General Washingtons Letter of the 11th. instant respecting the capture of a Vessell by the Inhabitants of New Hampshire be referred to the committee, who brought in the forgoing Report.1 Congress next took into Consideration the Rules and Orders for the Fleet of the United Colonies, but not having Time to finish them Resolved that the farther consideration of them be deferred till Monday next. I have been particular in transcribing the Proceedings of this day 25. of November 1775, because, the[y] contain the true Origin and Formation of the American Navy, and as I had at least as great a share in producing them as any Man living or dead, they will shew that my Zeal and Exertions afterwards in 1798. 1799. and 1800, at every hazard and in Opposition to a more powerfull Party than that against me in 1775, was but a perseverance in the same Principles, Systems and Views of the public Interest.
1. Washington's letter of 11 Nov. is printed in his Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 4: 81–84. Congress did not act on it until 20 Dec., after JA had taken leave of absence (JCC, 3:439).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0044

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1775-11 - 1775-12

[In Congress, November and December 1775.]

On Tuesday November 28. 1775. The Congress resumed the Consideration of the Rules and Orders for the Navy of the United Colonies, { 350 } and the same being debated by Paragraphs were agreed to as follows: These Regulations are to be found in the 262. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11th. Pages of the Journals of Congress for 1775. They are too long to transcribe. They were drawn up in the Marine Committee1 and by my hand, but examined, discussed and corrected by the Committee. In this place I will take the Opportunity to observe, that the pleasantest part of my Labours for the four Years I spent in Congress from 1774 to 1778 [i.e. 1777] was in this naval Committee. Mr. Lee, Mr. Gadsden, were sensible Men, and very chearful: But Governor Hopkins of Rhode Island, above seventy Years of Age kept us all alive. Upon Business his Experience and Judgment were very Usefull. But when the Business of the Evening was over, he kept Us in Conversation till Eleven and sometimes twelve O Clock. His Custom was to drink nothing all day nor till Eight O Clock, in the Evening, and then his Beveredge was Jamaica Spirit and Water. It gave him Wit, Humour, Anecdotes, Science and Learning. He had read Greek, Roman and British History: and was familiar with English Poetry particularly Pope, Tompson [Thomson] and Milton. And the flow of his Soul made all his reading our own, and seemed to bring to recollection in all of Us all We had ever read. I could neither eat nor drink in those days. The other Gentlemen were very temperate. Hopkins never drank to excess, but all he drank was immediately not only converted into Wit, Sense, Knowledge and good humour, but inspired Us all with similar qualities.
This Committee soon purchased and filled five Vessells. The first We named Alfred in honor of the founder of the greatest Navy that ever existed. The second Columbus after the Discover[er] of this quarter of the Globe. The third Cabot, for the Discoverer of this northern Part of the Continent. The fourth Andrew Doria in memory of the Great Genoese Admiral and the fifth Providence, for the Town where she was purchased, the Residence of Governor Hopkins and his Brother Eseck whom We appointed first Captain. We appointed all the officers of all the Ships. At the Solicitation of Mr. Deane We appointed his Brother in Law Captain Saltonstall.2
Sometime in December, worn down with long and uninterrupted Labour I asked and obtained Leave to visit my State and my Family. Mr. Langdon did the same, Mr. Deane was left out of the Delegation { 351 } by his State and some others of the naval Committee were dispersed, when Congress appointed a Committee of twelve one from each State, for naval Affairs,3 so that I had no longer any particular Charge relative to them: but as long as I continued a Member of Congress I never failed to support all reasonable measures reported by the new Committee.
It is necessary that I should be a little more particular, in relating the Rise and Progress of the new Governments of the States.
1. More correctly, the Naval Committee, which was absorbed and replaced by the standing Marine Committee early in 1776.
2. See the Journal, 30 Oct. (JCC, 3:311–312); JA's Diary entry (Notes of Debates) of the same date and note; and his List of Persons Suitable for Naval Commands, printed in the Diary under date of Nov. 1775.
3. Appointed 14 Dec. (JA having left Philadelphia on the 9th), this became the permanent Marine Committee (JCC, 3:428; Charles O. Paullin, The Navy of the American Revolution, Cleveland, 1906, p. 86–87).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0045

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-06-02

[Fryday June 2. 1775.]

On Fryday June 2. 1775. Journals of Congress, page 112. The President laid before Congress a Letter from the Provincial Convention of Massachusetts Bay dated May 16. which was read, setting forth the difficulties they labour under, for want of a regular form of Government, and as they and the other Colonies are now compelled to raise an Army to defend themselves from the Butcheries and devastations of their implacable Enemies, which renders it still more necessary to have a regular established Government, requesting the Congress to favour them with explicit Advice respecting the taking up and exercising the Powers of civil Government, and declaring their readiness to submit to such a general Plan as the Congress may direct for the Colonies, or make it their great Study to establish such a form of Government there, as shall not only promote their Advantage but the Union and Interest of all America.
This Subject had engaged much of my Attention before I left Massachusetts, and had been frequently the Subject of Conversation between me and many of my Friends Dr. Winthrop, Dr. Cooper, Colonel Otis, the two Warrens, Major Hawley and others besides my Colleagues in Congress and lay with great Weight upon my Mind as the most difficult and dangerous Business that We had to do, (for from the Beginning I always expected We should have more difficulty and danger, in our Attempts to govern ourselves and in our Negotiations and connections with foreign Powers, than from all the Fleets and Armies of Great Britain). It lay therefore with great Weight upon my mind: and when this Letter was read, I embraced the Opportunity to open myself in Congress, and most earnestly to intreat the serious Attention of all the Members and of all the Continent to the measures which the times demanded. For my Part I thought there was great Wisdom in the Adage when the Sword is drawn throw away the Scabbard. Whether We threw it away voluntarily or not, it was useless now and { 352 } would be useless forever. The Pride of Britain, flushed with late Tryumphs and Conquests, their infinite Contempt of all the Power of America, with an insolent, arbitrary Scotch Faction with a Bute and Mansfield at their head for a Ministry, We might depend upon it, would force Us to call forth every Energy and resource of the Country, to seek the friendship of Englands Enemies, and We had no rational hope but from the Ratio Ultima Regum et Rerum publicarum. These Efforts could not be made without Government, and as I supposed no Man would think of consolidating this vast Continent under one national Government, We should probably after the Example of the Greeks, the Dutch and the Swiss, form a Confederacy of States, each of which must have a seperate Government. That the Case of Massachusetts was the most urgent, but that it could not be long before every other Colony must follow her Example. That with a View to this Subject I had looked into the Ancient and modern Confederacies for Examples: but they all appeared to me to have been huddled up in a hurry by a few Chiefs. But We had a People of more Intelligence, Curiosity and Enterprize, who must be all consulted, and We must reallize the Theories of the Wisest Writers and invite the People, to erect the whole Building with their own hands upon the broadest foundation. That this could be done only by Conventions of Representatives chosen by the People in the several Colonies, in the most exact proportions. That it was my Opinion, that Congress ought now to recommend to the People of every Colony to call such Conventions immediately and set up Governments of their own, under their own Authority: for the People were the Source of all Authority and Original of all Power. These were new, strange and terrible Doctrines, to the greatest Part of the Members, but not a very small Number heard them with apparent Pleasure, and none more than Mr. John Rutledge of South Carolina and Mr. John Sullivan of New Hampshire.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0046

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-06-03

[Saturday June the 3d 1775.]

Saturday June the 3d 1775. Congress however ordered the Letter to lie <under> on the Table for farther Consideration. On Saturday June the 3d 1775. The Letter from the Convention of the Massachusetts Bay dated the 16th. of May, being again read, the Subject was again discussed, and then Resolved That a Committee of five Persons be chosen, to consider the same and report what in their Opinion is the proper Advice to be given to that Convention. The following Persons were chosen by ballot, to compose that Committee, viz. Mr. J. Rutledge, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Jay, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Lee. These Gentlemen had several Conferences with the Delegates from our State, in the course of which I suppose the hint was suggested that they adopted in their report.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0047

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-06-07

[Wednesday June 7. 1775.]

On Wednesday June 7. 1775. On motion resolved, that Thursday the 20th. of July next be observed throughout the twelve united Colonies, as a Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer; and that Mr. Hooper, Mr. J. Adams and Mr. Paine, be a Committee to bring in a resolve for that purpose.1
The Committee appointed to prepare Advice in Answer to the Letter from the Convention of Massachusetts Bay, brought in their report, which was read and ordered to lie on the Table for Consideration.
1. This committee reported a proclamation on 12 June, which was adopted (apparently with some changes) and ordered to be “published in the newspapers, and in hand bills” (JCC, 2:87–88; 3:507 [”Bibliographical Notes,” Nos. 47–48]). A draft, perhaps but not certainly in the hand of William Hooper, is in the Adams Papers under date of June 1775; it contains some but not much of the language eventually used.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0048

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-06

[Fryday June 9th. 1775.]

On Fryday June 9th. 1775. The report of the Committee on the Letter from the Convention of Massachusetts Bay being again read, the Congress came into the following Resolution:
Resolved, That no Obedience being due to the Act of Parliament, for altering the Charter of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, nor to a Governor or Lieutenant Governor who will not observe the directions of, but endeavour to subvert that Charter, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of that Colony are to be considered as absent and their Offices vacant; and as there is no Council there and the Inconveniences arising from the Suspension of the Powers of Government are intollerable, especially at a time when General Gage hath actually levyed War, and is carrying on Hostilities against his Majestys peaceable and loyal Subjects of that Colony; that in order to conform as near as may be to the Spirit and Substance of the Charter, it be recommended to the provincial Convention to write Letters to the Inhabitants of the several Places, which are intituled to representation in Assembly, requesting them to chuse such Representatives, and that the Assembly when chosen, do elect Councillors; and that such Assembly or Council exercise the Powers of Government, untill a Governor of his Majestys Appointment will consent to govern the Colony according to its Charter.
Ordered That the President transmit a Copy of the Above to the Convention of Massachusetts Bay.
Although this Advice was in a great degree conformable, to the New York and Pensilvania System, or in other Words to the System of Mr. Dickinson and Mr. Duane, I thought it an Acquisition, for it was a Precedent of Advice to the seperate States to institute Gov• { 354 } ernments, and I doubted not We should soon have more Occasions to follow this Example. Mr. John Rutledge and Mr. Sullivan had frequent Conversations with me upon this subject. Mr. Rutledge asked me my Opinion of a proper form of Government for a State. I answered him that any form, that our People would consent to institute would be better than none. Even if they placed all Power in a House of Representatives, and they should appoint Governors and Judges: but I hoped they would be wiser, and preserve the English Constitution in its Spirit and Substance, as far as the Circumstances of this Country required or would Admit. That no hereditary Powers ever had existed in America, nor would they or ought they to be introduced or proposed. But that I hoped the three Branches of a Legislature would be preserved, an Executive, independent of the Senate or Council and the House and above all things the Independence of the Judges. Mr. Sullivan was fully agreed with me in the necessity of instituting Governments and he seconded me very handsomely in supporting the Argument in Congress. Mr. Samuel Adams was with Us in the Opinion of the Necessity and was industrious in Conversation with the Members out of Doors: but he very rarely spoke much in Congress, and he was perfectly unsettled in any Plan to be recommended to a State, always inclining to the most democratical forms, and even to a single Sovereign Assembly: untill his Constituents, afterwards in Boston compelled him to vote for three branches. Mr. Cushing was also for one Sovereign Assembly, and Mr. Paine were1 silent and reserved upon the Subject at least to me.
Not long after this Mr. John Rutledge returned to South Carolina, and Mr. Sullivan went with General Washington to Cambridge: so that I lost two of my able Coadjutors. But We soon found the Benefit of their Co-operations at a distance.
1. Thus in MS.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0049

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-10

[Wednesday October 18. 1775.]

On Wednesday October 18. 1775. The Delegates from New Hampshire laid before the Congress a part of the Instructions delivered to them by their Colony, in these Words:
”We would have you immediately Use your utmost Endeavours, to obtain the Advice and direction of the Congress, with respect to a Method for our Administering Justice, and regulating our civil Police. We press you not to delay this matter, as its being done speedily will probably prevent the greatest confusion among Us.”
This Instruction might have been obtained by Mr. Langdon or Mr. Whipple but I always supposed it was General Sullivan, who suggested the measure because he left Congress with a stronger im• { 355 } pression upon his mind of the importance of it, than I ever observed in either of the others. Be this however as it may have been, I embraced with Joy the opportunity of harranguing on the Subject at large, and of urging Congress to resolve on a general recommendation to all the States to call Conventions and institute regular Governments. I reasoned from various Topicks, many of which perhaps I could not now recollect. Some I remember as 1. The danger of the Morals of the People, from the present loose State of Things and general relaxation of Laws and Government through the Union. 2. The danger of Insurrections in some of the most disaffected parts of the Colonies, in favour of the Enemy or as they called them, the Mother Country, an expression that I thought it high time to erase out of our Language. 3. Communications and Intercourse with the Ennemy, from various parts of the Continent could not be wholly prevented, while any of the Powers of Government remained, in the hands of the Kings servants. 4. It could not well be considered as a Crime to communicate Intelligence, or to Act as Spies or Guides to the Ennemy, without assuming all the Powers of Government. 5. The People of America, would never consider our Union as compleat, but our Friends would always suspect divisions among Us, and our Ennemies who were scattered in larger or smaller Numbers not only in every State and City, but in every Village through the whole Union, would forever represent Congress as divided, and ready to break to pieces, and in this Way would intimidate and discourage multitudes of our People who wished Us well. 6. The Absurdity of carrying on War, against a King, When so many Persons were daily taking Oaths and Affirmations of Allegeance to him. 7. We could not expect that our Friends in Great Britain would believe Us United and in earnest, or exert themselves very strenuously in our favour, while We acted such a wavering hesitating Part. 8. Foreign Nations particularly France and Spain would not think Us worthy of their Attention, while We appeared to be deceived by such fallacious hopes of redress of Grievances, of pardon for our Offences, and of Reconciliation with our Enemies. 9. We could not command the natural Resources of our own Country; We could not establish Manufactories of Arms, Cannon, Salt Petre, Powder, Ships &c. Without the Powers of Government, and all these and many other preparations ought to be going on in every State or Colony, if you will, in the Country.
Although the Opposition was still inveterate, many Members of Congress began to hear me with more Patience, and some began to ask me civil questions. How can the People institute Governments? { 356 } My Answer was by Conventions of Representatives, freely, fairly and proportionally chosen.—When the Convention has fabricated a Government, or a Constitution rather, how do We know the People will submit to it? If there is any doubt of that, the Convention may send out their Project of a Constitution, to the People in their several Towns, Counties or districts, and the People may make the Acceptance of it their own Act. But the People know nothing about Constitutions. I believe you are much mistaken in that Supposition: if you are not, they will not oppose a Plan prepared by their own chosen Friends: but I believe that in every considerable portion of the People, there will be found some Men, who will understand the Subject as well as their representatives, and these will assist in enlightening the rest....1 But what Plan of a Government, would you advise? A Plan as nearly resembling the Governments under which We were born and have lived as the Circumstances of the Country will admit. Kings We never had among Us, Nobles We never had. Nothing hereditary ever existed in the Country: Nor will the Country require or admit of any such Thing: but Governors, and Councils We have always had as Well as Representatives. A Legislature in three Branches ought to be preserved, and independent Judges. Where and how will you get your Governors and Councils? By Elections. How, who shall elect? The Representatives of the People in a Convention will be the best qualified to contrive a Mode.
After all these discussions and interrogations, Congress was not prepared nor disposed to do any thing as yet. The[y] must consider farther.
Resolved that the Consideration of this matter be referred to Monday next. Monday arrived and Tuesday and Wednesday passed over, and Congress not yet willing to do any thing.
1. Suspension points in MS.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0050

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1775-10-26 - 1775-11-03

[Thursday October 26. 1775.]

On Thursday October 26. 1775. The Subject again brought on the Carpet, and the same discussions repeated, for very little new was produced. After a long discussion in which Mr. John Rutledge, Mr. Ward, Mr. Lee, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Gadsden, Mr. Dyer, and some others had spoken on the same Side with me, Congress resolved that a Committee of five members be appointed to take into Consideration, the Instructions given to the Delegates of New Hampshire, and report their Opinion thereon. The Members chosen Mr. John Rutledge, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Ward, Mr. Lee and Mr. Sherman.
Although this Committee was entirely composed of Members, as well disposed to encourage the Enterprize as could have been found { 357 } in Congress, yet they could not be brought to agree upon a Report, and to bring it forward in Congress till Fryday November 3. 1775. When Congress taking into Consideration the Report of the Committee on the New Hampshire Instructions, after another long deliberation and debate, Resolved That it be recommended to the provincial Convention of New Hampshire, to call a full and free representation of the People, and that the Representatives if they think it necessary, establish such a form of Government, as in their Judgment will best produce the happiness of the People, and most effectually secure Peace and good Order in the Province, during the Continuance of the present dispute between Great Britain and the Colonies.
By this Time I mortally hated the Words “Province” “Colonies” and Mother Country and strove to get them out of the Report. The last was indeed left out, but the other two were retained even by this Committee who were all as high Americans, as any in the House, unless Mr. Gadsden should be excepted. Nevertheless I thought this resolution a Tryumph and a most important Point gained.1
Mr. John Rutledge was now compleatly with Us, in our desire of revolutionizing all the Governments, and he brought forward immediately, some representations from his own State, when Congress then taking into consideration, the State of South Carolina, and sundry papers relative thereto, being read and considered
Resolved that a Committee of five be appointed to take the same into Consideration and report what in their Opinion is necessary to be done. The Members chosen Mr. Harrison, Mr. Bullock, Mr. Hooper, Mr. Chase and Mr. S. Adams.2
1. The authorship of the report on the New Hampshire Instructions is unknown. JA's account of the debates on the subject must have been drawn entirely from his own memory, for there is no known contemporary record of those debates in Congress or in committee. But in forwarding the resolution of Congress to the New Hampshire Provincial Congress, the delegates of that colony said: “The arguments on this matter .. . were truly Ciceronial, the eminent Speakers did honour to themselves and the Continent; carried by a very great majority” (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:246).
2. This was also on 3 Nov.; see JCC, 3:319.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0051

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1775-11-04 - 1775-12-05

[November 4th. 1775]

On November 4th. 1775 The Committee appointed to take into Consideration the State of South Carolina, brought in their report, which being read a number of Resolves were passed, the last of which will be found in page 235 of the Journals at the bottom.
Resolved that if the Convention of South Carolina, shall find it necessary to establish a form of Government in that Colony, it be recommended to that Convention to call a full and free Representation of the People, and that the said Representatives, if they think { 358 } it necessary, shall establish such a form of Government as in their Judgment will produce the happiness of the People, and most effectually secure Peace And good Order in the Colony, during the continuance of the present dispute between Great Britain and the Colonies.
Although Mr. John Rutledge united with me and others in persuading the Committee to report this Resolution, and the distance of Carolina made it convenient to furnish them with this discretionary Recommendation, I doubt whether Mr. Harrison or Mr. Hooper were as yet, sufficiently advanced to agree to it.—Mr. Bullock, Mr. Chace and Mr. Samuel Adams were very ready for it. When it was under Consideration, I laboured afresh to expunge the Word Colony and Colonies, and insert the Words States and State, and the Word Dispute to make Way for that of War, and the Word Colonies for the Word America or States. But the Child was not yet weaned.—I laboured also to get the Resolution enlarged and extended into a Recommendation to the People of all the States to institute Governments, and this Occasioned more Interrogations from one part and another of the House. What Plan of Government would you recommend? &c. Here it would have been the most natural to have made a Motion that Congress should appoint a Committee to prepare a Plan of Government, to be reported to Congress and there discussed Paragraph by Paragraph, and that which should be adopted, should be recommended to all the States: but I dared not make such a Motion, because I knew that if such a Plan was adopted it would be if not permanent, yet of long duration: and it would be extreamly difficult to get rid of it. And I knew that every one of my friends, and all those who were the most zealous for assuming Government, had at that time no Idea of any other Government but a Contemptible Legislature in one assembly, with Committees for Executive Magistrates and Judges. These Questions therefore I answered by Sporting off hand, a variety of short Sketches of Plans, which might be adopted by the Conventions, and as this Subject was brought into View in some Way or other, almost every day and these Interrogations were frequently repeated, I had in my head and at my Tongues End, as many Projects of Government as Mr. Burke says the Abby Seieyès [Sieyès] had in his Pidgeon holes, not however constructed at such Length nor laboured with his metaphysical Refinements. I took care however always to bear my Testimony against every plan of an unballanced Government.
I had read Harrington, Sydney, Hobbs, Nedham and Lock, but with very little Application to any particular Views: till these Debates { 359 } in Congress and these Interrogations in public and private, turned my thoughts to those Researches, which produced the Thoughts on Government, the Constitution of Massachusetts, and at length the Defence of the Constitutions of the United States and the Discourses on Davila, Writings which have never done any good to me though some of them undoubtedly contributed to produce the Constitution of New York, the Constitution of the United States, and the last Constitutions of Pensylvania and Georgia. They undoubtedly also contributed to the Writings of Publius, called the Federalist, which were all Written after the Publication of my Work in Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Whether the People will permit any of these Constitutions to stand upon their Pedastals, or whether they will throw them all down I know not. Appearances at present are unfavourable and threatening. I have done all in my Power, according to what I thought my Duty. I can do no more.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0052

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1775-12 - 1776-02

[Sixth of December 1775]

About the sixth of December 1775, I obtained Leave of Congress to visit my Family and returned home.1 The General Court satt at Watertown, Our Army was at Cambridge and the British in Boston. Having a seat in Council, I had opportunity to Converse with the Members of both Houses, to know their Sentiments and to communicate mine. The Council had unanimously appointed me, in my Absence, without any Solicitation or desire on my Part, Chief Justice of the State. I had accepted the Office, because it was a Post of danger, but much against my Inclination. I expected to go no more to Congress, but to take my Seat on the Bench.2 But the General Court would not { 360 } excuse me from again attending Congress and again chose me a Member with all my former Colleagues except Mr. Cushing who I believe declined, and in his room Mr. Gerry was chosen, who went with me to Philadelphia, and We took our Seats in Congress on Fryday 9. February 1776. In this Gentleman I found a faithfull Friend, and an ardent persevering Lover of his Country, who never hesitated to promote with all his Abilities and Industry the boldest measures reconcileable with prudence. Mr. Samuel Adams, Mr. Gerry and myself, now composed a Majority of the Massachusetts Delegation, and We were no longer vexed or enfeebled by divisions among ourselves, or by indecision or Indolence. On the 29 of Feb. 1776 William Whipple Esq. appeared as one of the Delegates from New Hampshire, another excellent Member in Principle and Disposition, as well as Understanding.
1. JA asked for leave on 8 Dec. and departed on the following day for Braintree, where he arrived on 21 Dec.; see Diary entry of 9 Dec. 1775. The principal reason for his requesting leave—his need to know whether he was expected to stay on in Congress at this critical time or to assume the duties of chief justice of Massachusetts (see the following note)—is ably discussed by CFA (JA, Works, 1:191–192).
2. On 11 Oct. 1775 the new Massachusetts Council, acting on the legal fiction that the governor was “absent,” nominated JA “a Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature” (M-Ar: Council Records, 17:128), and on 28 Oct. Deputy Secretary Perez Morton notified him that he had been elected “first or Chief Justice,” to serve with William Cushing, William Read, Robert Treat Paine, and Nathaniel Peaslee Sargeant, “who are to hold their Seats in the Order therein arranged,” as associate justices (Adams Papers; see also James Warren to JA, 5 Nov. 1775, Adams Papers, printed in Warren-Adams Letters, 1:178). After some deliberation JA accepted, stating that in view of the “Hazards and Embarrassments” of such a post at such a time he dared not decline it and would return to take his seat “as soon as the Circumstances of the Colonies will admit of an Adjournment of the Congress” (to Perez Morton, 24 Nov., Dft, Adams Papers; Works, 3:23, note). As for the “Hazards” of the post, see JA's defense of a much criticized passage in his intercepted letter to James Warren of 24 July 1775, p. 320, above.
||This last document is now available in the Papers of John Adams, volume 3, which presents the letter as printed in the Massachusetts Gazette in August 1775.||

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0053

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-01 - 1776-06

[In Congress, January–June 1776]

I returned to my daily routine of Service in the Board of War,1 and a punctual Attendance on Congress, every day, in all their hours. I returned also to my almost dayley exhortations to the Institutions of Governments in the States and a declaration of Independence. I soon found there was a Whispering among the Partisans in Opposition to Independence, that I was interested, that I held an office under the New Government of Massachusetts, and that I was afraid of loosing it, if We did not declare Independence; and that I consequently ought not to be attended to. This they circulated so successfully that they got it insinuated among the Members of the Legislature in Maryland where their Friends were powerfull enough to give an Instruction to their Delegates in Congress, warning them against listening to the Advice of Interested Persons, and manifestly pointing me out, to the Understanding of every one. This Instruction was read in Congress.2 { 361 } It produced no other effect upon me than a laughing Letter to my Friend Mr. Chace, who regarded it no more than I did.3 These Chuckles I was informed of and witnessed for many Weeks, and at length they broke out in a very extraordinary Manner. When I had been speaking one day on the Subject of Independence, or the Institution of Governments which I always considered as the same thing, a Gentleman of great Fortune and high Rank arose and said he should move, that No Person who held any Office under a new Government should be admitted to vote, on any such Question as they were interested Persons. I wondered at the Simplicity of this motion: but knew very well what to do with it. I rose from my Seat with great coolness and deliberation: So far from expressing or feeling any resentment, I really felt gay, though as it happened I preserved an unusual Gravity in my countenance and Air, and said Mr. President I will second the Gentlemans Motion, and I recommend it to the Honourable Gentleman to second another, which I should make, vizt. that No Gentleman who holds any Office under the Old or present Government, should be admitted to vote on any such question, as they were interested Persons. The moment when this was pronounced, it flew like an Electric Stroke through every Countenance in the Room: for the Gentleman who made the Motion, held as high an Office under the old Government, as I did under the new, and many other Members present held Offices under the Royal Government. My Friends accordingly were delighted with my retaliation, and The { 362 } Friends of my Antagonist were mortified at his Indiscretion in exposing himself to such a retort. Finding the house in a good disposition to hear me, I added I would go farther and chearfully consent to a Self denying Ordinance, that every Member of Congress before We proceeded to any question respecting Independence should take a solemn Oath never to accept or hold any Office of any kind in America, after the Revolution. Mr. Wythe of Virginia rose here and said Congress had no Right to exclude any of their Members from voting on these questions. Their constituents only had a right to restrain them. And that no Member had a right to take, nor Congress to prescribe any Engagement not to hold Offices after the Revolution or before. Again I replied that whether the Gentlemans Opinion was well or ill founded, I had only said that I was willing to consent to such an Arrangement. That I knew very well what these Things meant. They were personal Attacks upon me, and I was glad that at length they had been made publickly where I could defend myself. That I knew very well, that they had been made secretly, and circulated in Whispers not only in the City of Philadelphia and State of Pensilvania, but in the Neighbouring States particularly Maryland, and very probably in private Letters throughout the Union. I now took the Opportunity to declare in Public, that it was very true, the unmerited and unsolicited, though unanimous good Will of the Council of Massachusetts had appointed me to an important Office, that of Chief Justice. That as this Office was a very conspicuous station and consequently a dangerous one, I had not dared to refuse it, because it was a Post of Danger, though by the Acceptance of it, I was obliged to relinquish another Office, meaning my Barristers Office which was more than four times so profitable. That it was a Sense of Duty, and a full conviction of an honest cause, and not any motives of Ambition or hopes of honor or profit which had drawn me into my present course. That I had seen enough already in the course of my own Experience, to know that the American Cause was not the most promising road, to Profits, honours, Power or Pleasure. That on the Contrary a man must renounce all these and devote himself to labour, danger and death, and very possibly to disgrace and Infamy, before he was fit, in my Judgment in the present State and future prospect of the Country, for a Seat in that Congress. This whole Scaene was a Comedy to Charles Thompson whose countenance was in raptures all the time. When all was over he told me he had been highly delighted with it, because he had been witness to many of their Conversations in which they had endeavoured to excite and propagate Prejudices against me, { 363 } on Account of my Office of Chief Justice. But he said I had cleared and explained the thing in such a manner that he would be bound I should never hear any more Reflections on that head. No more indeed were made in my presence, but the Party did not cease to abuse me in their secret Circles, on this Account as I was well informed.
Not long afterwards, hearing that the Supream Court in Massachusetts was organized and proceeding very well on the Business of their Circuits, I wrote my Resignation of the Office of Chief Justice to the Council, very happy to get fairly rid of an Office that I knew to be burthensome, and whose Emoluments with my small fortune would not support my family.4
1. A mistake of memory. The Board of War and Ordnance was not established until 12 June 1776, and JA was appointed chairman of it next day (JCC, 5:434, 438).
2. On 11 Jan. 1776 the Maryland Convention sitting at Annapolis voted instructions to its delegates in Congress of a very conservative character. They declared that the sole purpose for which the Colonies were “associated” was “the redress of American grievances,” that reconciliation should therefore be aimed at, and that no proposition looking toward independence, foreign alliances, or confederation should be assented to by the delegates of that colony before recurring to the Convention itself. All this ran directly counter to the program of JA and the independence party in Congress. And a further instruction required the Maryland delegates to move and try to obtain “a resolve of Congress, that no person who holds any military command, . . . nor any person who holds or enjoys any office of profit under the Continental Congress, or any Government assumed since the present controversy with Great Britain began, ... or who directly or indirectly receives the profits of such command or office, shall, during the time of his holding or receiving the same, be eligible to sit in Congress” (Force, Archives, 4th ser., 4:653–654).
On 30 Jan. Robert Alexander, a member of the Maryland delegation, acknowledged these instructions, declared himself “much pleased with them,” and reported that “the Farmer [i.e. John Dickinson] and some others to whom in Confidence they were shown” also highly approved of them (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:334). Just when the instruction that JA believed was aimed at him personally was read in Congress is unknown. But a motion to prohibit members from holding lucrative offices was introduced late in April; see William Whipple to John Langdon, 29 April (same, p. 434–435 and notes). The immediate occasion of it was the nomination of John Langdon, a New Hampshire delegate in Congress, as a naval agent of Congress, and although it was undoubtedly the same motion that JA says below he seconded and foiled (and so prevented its being entered in the Journal), it could have been only indirectly aimed at him. JA's sensitivity being what it was (he had been a very vocal critic of the Hutchinsons' and Olivers' pluralism in office), he immediately resigned his seat on the Massachusetts Council (JA to James Otis Sr., 29 April 1776, printed, from a MS not found, in Works, 9:374; see also JA to James Warren, 12 May 1776, MHi, printed in Warren-Adams Letters, 1:242–243).
3. JA to Samuel Chase, 14 June 1776, which briefly relates JA's brush with an unidentified Maryland delegate in terms similar to those in the following account (LbC, Adams Papers; JA, Works, 9: 396–398).
4. As JA predicted, it proved extremely difficult to find persons willing to serve on the Superior Court of Judicature. But at length in June 1776 the Court held a session in Ipswich with three justices (William Cushing, Jedidiah Foster, James Sullivan) on the bench; in September it sat in Braintree to try Suffolk cases; and at the beginning of 1777 a fourth justice, Nathaniel Peaslee Sargeant, who had previously declined to serve, joined the others (Quincy, Reports, p. 340, note; AA to JA, 15 Sept. 1776, available in Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3, and previously printed in JA-AA, Familiar Letters, p. 227). On 10 Feb. JA submitted his resignation as chief justice in a letter to the Massachusetts Council, appending the following note to his retained copy: “Wrote another Letter the same day to Portia [i.e. his wife], ... informed her of the above Resignation [and] that I was determined that whilst I was ruining my Constitution both of Mind and Body, and running daily Risques of Life and Fortune in defence of the Independency of my Country, I would not knowingly resign my own” (JA to Deputy Secretary Avery, enclosing a letter to the Council, ||letter and enclosure|| both dated 10 Feb. 1777, letterbook copies, Adams Papers; enclosure printed in JA, Works, 3:25).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0054

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-02-09

[9th. of Feb. 1776]

On the 9th. of Feb. 1776 The day on which Mr. Gerry and I took our Seats for this Year, sundry Letters from General Washington, General Schuyler, Governor Trumbull, with Papers enclosed were read, and referred to Mr. Chase, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Penn, Mr. Wythe and Mr. Rutledge.1
1. For these letters see JCC, 4:123 and note. The committee reported on 16 Feb.; the report is in Samuel Chase's hand and was tabled (same, p. 154–155). On 5 and 6 March further letters from Washington were referred to the same committee; see under those dates below.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0055

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-02-14

[14th. of Feb. 1776]

On the 14th. of Feb. 1776 sundry Letters from General Schuyler, General Wooster and General Arnold were read and referred with the Papers enclosed, to Mr. Wythe, Mr. J. Adams and Mr. Chase.1 On the same day Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole House, to take into Consideration the Report of the Committee on the regulations and Restrictions, under which the Ports should { 364 } be opened after the first day of March next, and after some time spent thereon the President resumed the Chair and Mr. Ward reported that the Committee had taken into consideration the matter referred to them, but not having come to a conclusion desired leave to sit again, which was granted for tomorrow.
1. For these letters see JCC, 4:147 and note. Next day further letters from general officers were referred to the same committee of three (see the following paragraph), which reported on 17 Feb., and Congress thereupon adopted a number of resolutions (same, p. 151, 157–159). The authorship of this report is not known.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0056

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-02-15

[15th of Feb. 1776.]

On the 15th of Feb. 1776. Sundry other Letters from General Lee, General Schuyler and General Wooster were referred to the Committee to whom the Letters received Yesterday were referred. On the same day Congress took into Consideration the Report from the Committee of the whole house, and after debate resolved that it be recommitted. Resolved that Congress will tomorrow morning resolve itself into a Committee of the whole, to take into Consideration, the Propriety of Opening the Ports, and the Restrictions and regulations of Trade of these Colonies after the first of March next.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0057

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-02-16

[Fryday Feb. 16. 1776.]

Fryday Feb. 16. 1776. Agreable to the order of the day, the Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole, to take into consideration the Propriety of Opening the Ports &c. After some time spent Mr. Ward reported, that not having come to a conclusion, The Committee asked leave to sit again. Granted.1
1. See Diary entry (Notes of Debates), 16 Feb. 1776.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0058

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-02-17

[Saturday Feb. 17. 1776.]

Saturday Feb. 17. 1776. The Committee to whom the Letters from Generals Arnold, Wooster, Schuyler and Lee were referred brought in their report, which was agreed to in the several Resolutions detailed in page 67. and 68 of this Volume of the Journals.
Same day Resolved that Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Wythe and Mr. Sherman be a Committee to prepare Instructions for the Committee appointed to go to Canada.1
Resolved that Congress will on Tuesday next resolve itself into a Committee of the whole, to take into Consideration the Propriety of Opening the Ports &c.
This Measure of Opening the Ports, &c. laboured exceedingly, because it was considered as a bold step to Independence. Indeed I urged it expressly with that View and as connected with the Institutions of Government in all the States and a Declaration of National Independence. The Party against me had Art and Influence as yet, { 365 } to evade, retard and delay every Motion that We made. Many Motions were made and argued at great Length and with great Spirit on both Sides, which are not to be found in the Journals. When Motions were made and debates ensued, in a Committee of the whole house, no record of them was made by the Secretary, unless the Motion prevailed and was reported to Congress and there adopted. This Arrangement was convenient for the Party in Opposition to Us, who by this means evaded the Appearance on the Journals, of any Subject they disliked.2
1. See Diary entry of Feb.? 1776 (3d under that date) and note; also the entries in JA's Autobiography, 9, 11, 12, and 20 March below. According to Richard Smith's Diary, 23 Feb., “J. Adams presented a Sett of Instructions for [the commissioners going to Canada] which were recom[itte]d that some Matter may be added” (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:361); but this action does not appear in the Journal. The text of these important instructions, as adopted on 20 March after debate and amendment, is in JCC, 4:215–219.
2. JA frequently complained in his Autobiography (as historians have later) of the meagerness of the record in the MS Journals of Congress, and consequently in the published Journals. But his charges that Secretary Thomson's omissions (or, as JA thought them, “suppressions”) sprang from his partiality for the anti-independence party in Congress cannot be substantiated: Thomson simply confined the Journal record to motions that “prevailed,” i.e. resolutions actually adopted. This practice (in force until 2 Aug. 1777; see below) excluded the names of movers and seconders of motions, the texts of all motions eventually negatived, all debates on and amendments (as such) to motions and reports, all enumeration of votes, and all business done in committees, including committees of the whole house—except committee reports or recommendations that were ultimately adopted, and then always in the form agreed on by Congress, which was of course by no means always the form reported. It hardly needs to be said that the Secretary's method bore precisely as hard on one faction in Congress as it did on another. But it should be pointed out that Thomson's docketings on the motions and committee reports that have been preserved are usually much more revealing than the bare entries of action recorded in the Journal, the latter being considered from the outset a record that would be made public.
From time to time members complained that the proceedings were too secret and that, for instance, they had no way of making their dissents on measures they disapproved known to their constituents; see especially Thomas Burke's Abstract of Debates, 27 Feb. 1777 (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 2:285), and Samuel Chase's motion of the same date, which, since it failed, was not entered in the Journal (JCC, 7:164). But Thomson's narrow interpretation of his duties as secretary persisted until 2 Aug. 1777, when Congress resolved “That all proceedings of Congress, and all questions agitated and determined by Congress, be entered on the journal, and that the yeas or nays of each member, if required by any State, be taken on every question as stated and determined by the house”(same, 8:599).
Thomson's engaging justification of his practice will be found in recollections attributed to him by an anonymous writer in 1827. It concludes: “what congress adopted, I committed to writing; with what they rejected, I had nothing farther to do; and even this method led to some squabbles with the members, who were desirous of having their speeches and resolutions, however put to rest by the majority, still preserved upon the minutes” (Amer. Quart. Rev., 1:31). Thomson's statement is printed in full in Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:10, note.
See, further, entries below dated 23 March, 2, 6 April, 10 May, 7 June, 20 Aug., and 17 Sept. 1776, and notes thereunder.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0059

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-02-19

[Monday Feb. 19. 1776]

On Monday Feb. 19. 1776 Congress attended an Oration in honour of General Montgomery, and the Officers and Soldiers who fell with him.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0060

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-02-20 - 1776-02-21

[Tuesday Feb. 20. 1776. and Wednesday Feb. 21.]

OnTuesday Feb. 20. 1776. and on Wednesday Feb. 21. Means were contrived to elude the Committee of the whole House.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0061

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-02-22

[Thursday Feb. 22. 1776.]

Thursday Feb. 22. 1776. Two Letters from General Washington, were referred to a Committee of the whole house. Accordingly Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole, and after some time, Mr. Ward reported that the Committee had come to no Conclusion, and Congress resolved that Tomorrow they would again resolve themselves into a Committee of the whole, to take into their farther consideration the Letters from General Washington.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0062

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-02-23

[Fryday Feb. 23. 1776.]

Fryday Feb. 23. 1776. Resolved that Congress will on Monday next resolve itself into a Committee of the whole, to take into Consideration the Letters from General Washington.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0063

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-02-26

[Monday Feb. 26. 1776]

Monday Feb. 26. 1776 arrived, and a Letter from General Lee, was referred to Mr. McKean, Mr. John Adams and Mr. Lewis Morris,1 but no Resolution of Congress into a Committee of the whole.
1. Lee's letter, dated 22 Feb., is in PCC, No. 158. A “Report [thereon] was delivered in by J Adams” on 28 Feb.; action was deferred until 1 March and then quashed (Richard Smith, Diary, Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:367, 371).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0064

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-02-27

[Tuesday Feb. 27. 1776.]

On Tuesday Feb. 27. 1776. The order of the day was renewed, but nothing done.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0065

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-02

[Wednesday Feb. 28. 1776.]

Wednesday Feb. 28. 1776. The Committee to whom the Letters from General Lee &c. were referred brought in their report. Resolved that the Consideration of it be postponed till tomorrow.
Mr. William Whipple from New Hampshire appeared: an excellent Member and a valuable Addition to our Phalanx.1
A Letter of the 14th. from General Washington, inclosing a Letter from Lord Drummond to General Robinson,2 and sundry other Papers were read. Agreable to the order of the day, the Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole, to take into consideration the Letter from General Washington of the 9th. instant and the Trade of the Colonies after the first of March. After some time Mr. Ward reported that the Committee not having come to a conclusion desired leave to sit again. Granted. Resolved That this Congress will, tomorrow, resolve itself into a Committee of the whole to take into farther con• { 367 } sideration, the Letter from General Washington and the Trade of the Colonies.
The very short Sketch, which is here traced, is enough to show that Postponement was the Object of our Antagonists, and the Journals for these days will shew the frivolus importance of the Business transacted in them, in comparison of the great Concerns which were before the Committees of the whole House. There was however still a Majority of Members who were either determined against all Measures preparatory to Independence, or yet too timorous and wavering to venture on any decisive Steps. We therefore could do nothing but keep our Eyes fixed on the great Objects of free Trade, new Governments and Independence of the United States: and seize every Opening Opportunity of advancing Step by Step in our progress. Our Opponents were not less vigilant in seizing on every excuse for delay. The Letter from Lord Drummond, which seemed to derive Importance from the transmission of it, by General Washington, was a fine Engine to play cold Water on the fire of Independence. They set it in Operation with great Zeal and Activity. It was indeed a very airy Phantom, and ought not to have been sent Us by the General who should only have referred Lord Drummond to Congress. But there were about head Quarters some who were as weak and wavering as our Members and the General himself had chosen for his private confidential Correspondent a Member from Virginia, Harrison, who was still counted among the cold Party. This was an indolent, luxurious, heavy Gentleman, of no Use in Congress or Committees, but a great Embarrassment to both. He was represented to be a kind of Nexus utriusque Mundi, a corner Stone in which the two Walls of Party met in Virginia. He was descended from one of the most ancient, wealthy and respectable Families in the ancient dominion, and seemed to be set up in Opposition to Mr. Richard Henry Lee. Jealousies and divisions appeared among the Delegates of no State more remarkably, than among those of Virginia. Mr. Wythe told me, that Thomas Lee the elder Brother of Richard Henry was the delight of the Eyes of Virginia and by far the most popular Man they had. But Richard Henry was not. I asked the reason, for Mr. Lee appeared a Schollar, a Gentleman, a Man of uncommon Eloquence, and an agreable Man. Mr. Wythe said this was all true but Mr. Lee had when he was very young and when he first came into the House of Burgesses moved and urged on an Inquiry into the State of the Treasury which was found deficient in a large Sum, which had been lent by the Treasurer to many of the most influential Families of the Country, who found { 368 } themselves exposed, and had never forgiven Mr. Lee.3 This he said had made him so many Enemies, that he never had recovered his Reputation, but was still heartily hated by great Numbers. These feelings among the Virginia Delegates, were a great Injury to Us. Mr. Samuel Adams and myself were very intimate with Mr. Lee, and he agreed perfectly with Us in the great System of our Policy, and by his means We kept a Majority of the Delegates of Virginia with Us, but Harrison, Pendleton and some others, shewed their Jealousy of this Intimacy plainly enough, at times. Harrison consequently courted Mr. Hancock and some others of our Colleagues: but We had now a Majority, and gave ourselves no trouble about their little Intrigues. This is all necessary to shew the Operation of Lord Drummonds communication. I have forgotten the particulars: but He pretended to have had conversation with Lord North, talked warmly of Lord Norths good Will and desire of Reconciliation: but had no Authority to shew and no distinct proposition to make. In short it was so flimsy a veil, that the purblind might see through it. But yet it was made instrumental of much delay and Amusement to numbers.
1. JA here overlooked a date heading in the Journals he was abstracting. Whipple took his seat on 29 Feb., and the proceedings recorded in the next paragraph of JA's narrative also occurred on that day.
2. That is, Brig. Gen. James Robertson (the error is in the printed Journals). Washington's letter is printed in his Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 4:330–332. On the conciliatory schemes of Thomas, Lord Drummond, which so aroused JA's indignation, see the documents printed in an appendix to Washington's Writings, ed. Sparks, 3:525–529.
3. This is a garbled allusion to “The Robinson Affair,” concerning which see a chapter with that title in David J. Mays, Edmund Pendleton, Cambridge, 1952, 2:174–208.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0066

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-03-01 - 1776-03-04

[Fryday March 1. 1776.]

Fryday March 1. 1776. Resolved that this Congress will tomorrow resolve itself into a Committee of the whole, to take into Consideration the Letter of General Washington of the 14th with the Papers inclosed.
Resolved That the Memorial from the Merchants of Montreal be referred to a Committee of five Mr. Wilson, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. W. Livingston, Mr. L. Morris and Mr. Tilghman.1
1. JA here again overlooked a date heading in the Journals. This committee was appointed on 4 March; it reported on the 13th (report not found), and on the 20th Congress voted “That the memorial from the Indian traders, residing at Montreal, be delivered to the Commissioners going to Canada” (JCC, 4:182, 200, 219).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0067

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-05

[Tuesday March 5. 1776.]

Tuesday March 5. 1776. Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole to take into their consideration the Letter from General Washington of the 14th of Feb. and the Papers enclosed and after some time the President resumed the Chair and Mr. Harrison reported, that the Committee have had under their consideration the Letters and Papers to them referred, but have come to no resolution thereon.
Resolved that the Letter from General Washington, so far as it has not been considered by the Committee of the whole be referred to the Committee to whom his other Letters, of the 24. and 30th of January were referred.1
1. Washington's letter is printed in his Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 4:330–332. See entries of 9 Feb., above, and 6, 13 March, below.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0068

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-06

[Wednesday March 6. 1776.]

Wednesday March 6. 1776. A Letter from General Washington of the 26. of Feb. was read. Resolved that it be referred to the Committee to whom his other Letters are referred.1 The order of the day renewed.
1. Washington's letter is printed in his Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 4:348–350. See the preceding entry and the references cited in the note there. No separate report on these further letters has been found.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0069

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-07

[Thursday March 7. 1776.]

Thursday March 7. 1776. The order of the day was renewed.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0070

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-08

[Fryday March 8.]

Fryday March 8. No order of the day. The Committee to whom the Letters from Generals Schuyler, Wooster and Arnold were referred brought in their report.1
1. These letters had been read in Congress on 4 March and referred that day to the committee (of which JA was a member) appointed to prepare instructions for the commissioners going to Canada (JCC), 4:182–183; see entry of 17 Feb., above), but JA overlooked the entry of 4 March when abstracting the Journals, and he also forgot the wrangle evoked by his report on the 8th. According to Richard Smith's Diary, 8 March, “a long Altercation followed on the first Article of a Report made by John Adams for reconciling the Differences between the Generals Schuyler and Wooster. the Article was at last voted out and other Parts of the Report adopted” (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:382–383, and see note at p. 383). The report has not been found, but the resolutions adopted are in JCC, 4:190–192.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0071

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-09

[Saturday March 9. 1776.]

Saturday March 9. 1776. The Committee appointed to prepare Instructions for the Commissioners going to Canada, brought in a draught which was read.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0072

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-11

[Monday March 11. 1776.]

Monday March 11. 1776. Congress took into Consideration the Instructions to the Commissioners going to Canada. Postponed.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0073

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-12

[Tuesday March 12. 1776.]

Tuesday March 12. 1776. Postponed again.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0074

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-13

[Wednesday March 13. 1776.]

Wednesday March 13. 1776. Although the System had been so long pursued to postpone all the great Political Questions, and take up any other Business of however trifling Consequence; Yet We were daily urging on the order of the day: and on this day We succeeded.
Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole to take into Consideration the Memorial of the Merchants &c. of Philadelphia &c, The Letters from General Washington, the State of the Trade of the Colonies &c. Mr. Ward reported no Resolution. Leave to sit again.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0075

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-14

[Thursday March 14. 1776.]

Thursday March 14. 1776. The State of the Country so obviously called for independent Governments, and a total Extinction of the Royal Authority, and We were so earnestly urging this measure from day to day, and the Opposition to it was growing so unpopular, that a kind of Evasion was contrived in the following Resolution, which I considered as an important Step, and therefore would not oppose it, though I urged with several others, that We ought to make the { 370 } Resolution more general, and Advize the People to assume all the Powers of Government. The Proposition that passed was
Resolved That it be recommended to the several Assemblies, Conventions and Committees or Councils of Safety, of the United Colonies, immediately to cause all Persons to be disarmed, within their respective Colonies, who are notoriously disaffected to the cause of America, or who have not associated, and shall refuse to associate to defend by Arms these united Colonies, against the hostile Attempts of the British Fleets and Armies, and to apply the Arms taken from such Persons in each respective Colony, in the first place, to the Arming the continental Troops raised in said Colony, in the next, to the arming such Troops as are raised by the Colony for its own defence, and the Residue to be applied to the arming the Associators; that the Arms when taken be appraised by indifferent Persons, and such as are applied to the Arming the Continental Troops, be paid for by the Congress and the Residue by the respective Assemblies, Conventions, or Councils or Committees of Safety.
Ordered that a Copy of the foregoing resolution be transmitted by the Delegates of each Colony, to their respective Assemblies, Conventions, or Councils or Committees of Safety.
This Resolution and Order was indeed assuming the Powers of Government in a manner as offensive, as the Measures We proposed could have been: But it left all the Powers of Government in the hands of Assemblies, Conventions and Committees, which composed a Scaene of much Confusion and Injustice the Continuance of which was much dreaded by me, as tending to injure the Morals of the People and destroy their habits of order, and Attachment to regular Government. However I could do nothing but represent and remonstrate: The Vote as yet was against me.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0076

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03

[Fryday March 15. 1776.]

Fryday March 15. 1776. Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole to take into Consideration the State of New York, and after some time the President resumed the Chair and Mr. Harrison reported, that the Committee have come to certain Resolutions. These may be seen in the Journal and relate wholly to the defence of New York.1
This is the first Appearance of Mr. Harrison as Chairman of the Committee of the whole. The President Mr. Hancock had hitherto nominated Governor Ward of Rhode Island to that conspicuous distinction. Mr. Harrison had courted Mr. Hancock, and Mr. Hancock had courted Mr. Duane, Mr. Dickenson and their Party, and leaned { 371 } so partially in their favour, that Mr. Samuel Adams had become very bitter against Mr. Hancock and spoke of him with great Asperity, in private Circles, and this Alienation between them continued from this time till the Year 1789, thirteen Years, when they were again reconciled. Governor Ward was become extreamly Obnoxious to Mr. Hancocks Party by his zealous Attachment to Mr. Samuel Adams and Mr. Richard Henry Lee. Such I supposed were the motives which excited Mr. Hancock, to bring forward Mr. Harrison.2
Although Harrison was another Sir John Falstaff, excepting in his Larcenies and Robberies, his Conversation disgusting to every Man of Delicacy or decorum, Obscaene, profane, impious, perpetually ridiculing the Bible, calling it the Worst Book in the World, yet as I saw he was to be often nominated with Us in Business, I took no notice of his Vices or Follies, but treated him and Mr. Hancock too with uniform Politeness. I was however, too intimate with Mr. Lee, Mr. Adams, Mr. Ward &c. to escape the Jealousy and Malignity of their Adversaries. Hence I suppose the Calumnies that were written or otherwise insinuated into the Minds of the Army that I was an Enemy to Washington, in favour of an annual Election of a General, against Enlisting Troops during the War &c. &c. all utterly false and groundless.3
1. JCC, 4:206–207.
2. Ward may have already been ill with smallpox, of which he died on 26 March; see the entry of that date below. But JA's own extracts above show that Harrison had been named chairman of a committee of the whole as early as 5 March.
3. An adequate explanation of these allusions would require a short monograph on the relations of JA and Washington and particularly on the charges sometimes encountered that JA participated in what has come to be called “the Conway Cabal.” For the worst of the allegations against JA see John C. Fitzpatrick, George Washington Himself, Indianapolis, 1933, ch. 48; and for a refutation see Bernhard Knollenberg, Washington and the Revolution: A Reappraisal, N.Y., 1940, ch. 7, including the important appendix thereto. In an appendix on “Rush and Washington,” in Benjamin Rush's Letters, 2:1197–1208, L. H. Butterfield has dealt with aspects of the JA–Washington relationship and concluded that Fitzpatrick's delineation of JA as Washington's spiteful rival during the Revolution is caricature rather than history.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0077

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-03-16 - 1776-03-17

[Saturday March 16 1776.]

Saturday March 16 1776. Mr. W. Livingston brought in a Proclamation for a Fast on the 17th of May.
Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole, according to the standing order of the Day. Mr. Harrison reported no Resolution.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0078

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1775-03-18

[Monday March 18.]

Monday March 18. Order of the Day again. Mr. Harrison reported no Resolution.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0079

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-19

[Tuesday March 19.]

Tuesday March 19. The order of the Day again. Mr. Harrison reported that the Committee have come to sundry Resolutions,1 which { 372 } they directed him to lay before Congress. The Report of the Committee being read Resolved that a Committee of three be appointed to draw a Declaration pursuant to said Report and lay the same before Congress. The Members chosen Mr. Wythe, Mr. Jay and Mr. Wilson.
Mr. Wythe was one of our best Men, but Mr. Jay and Mr. Wilson, tho excellent Members when present, had been hitherto generally in favour of the dilatory System.
Resolved that it be an instruction to the said Committee to receive and insert a Clause or Clauses, that all Seamen and Mariners on board of Merchant Ships and Vessells taken and condemned as Prizes, shall be entitled to their pay, according to the Terms of their contracts, untill the time of condemnation.
1. Authorizing and regulating privateers. See the Memorandum in JA's Diary under date of Feb.? 1776 and note 10 there; also his Autobiography under 22, 23 March, below.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0080

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-20

[Wednesday March 20. 1776.]

Wednesday March 20. 1776. Congress resumed the Consideration of the Instruction and Commission to the Deputies or Commissioners going to Canada, and agreed to them as they appear in the Journal. In these We obtained one Step more towards our great Object, a General Recommendation to the States to institute Governments. Congress recommended to the People of Canada to set up such a form of Government, as will be most likely in their Judgment to produce their happiness. And pressed them to have a compleat Representation of the People assembled in Convention, with all possible Expedition to deliberate concerning the Establishment of a Form of Government, and a Union with the United Colonies.—It will readily be supposed that a great part of these Instructions were opposed by our Antagonists with great Zeal: but they were supported on our Side with equal Ardour, and the Acceptance of them afforded a strong proof of the real determination of a Majority of Congress to go with Us to the final Consummation of our Wishes.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0081

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-21

[Thursday March 21. 1776.]

Thursday March 21. 1776. There are three Resolutions, which I claim
Resolved That it be recommended to the several Assemblies &c. that they exert their Utmost Endeavours to promote the Culture of Hemp, Flax and Cotton and the grouth of Wool.
Resolved that it be recommended to the said Assemblies &c. that they take the earliest measures for erecting and establishing in each and every Colony, a Society for the Improvement of Agriculture, Arts, Manufactures and commerce, and to maintain a Correspondence between such Societies, that the rich and numerous natural Advantages of this Country for supporting its Inhabitants may not be neglected.
{ 373 }
Resolved that it be recommended to the said Assemblies &c. that they forthwith consider of Ways and means of introducing the Manufactures of Duck, Sail Cloth and Steel, where they are not now understood, and of encouraging, encreasing and improving them, where they are.
These Resolutions I introduced and supported, not only for their Intrinsic Utility, which I thought would be very considerable: but because they held up to the view of the Nation the Air of Independence.1
1. For these resolutions as originally drafted, and a related one that Congress did not accept, see an entry in JA's Diary under the assigned date of Feb.–March 1776.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0082

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-22

[Fryday March 22. 1776.]

Fryday March 22. 1776. Congress took into Consideration the Declaration brought in by the Committee, and after debate, the further Consideration of it, at the request of a Colony was postponed till tomorrow.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0083

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-23

[Saturday March 23. 1776.]

Saturday March 23. 1776. The Congress resumed the Consideration of the Declaration, which was agreed to as follows.
Whereas the Petitions of the United Colonies to the King, for the redress of great and manifold grievances, have not only been rejected, but treated with Scorn and contempt, and the Opposition to designs evidently formed to reduce them to servile Submission, and their necessary defence against hostile forces, actually employed to subdue them, declared Rebellion, and whereas an unjust War hath been commenced against them, which the Commanders of the British Fleets and Armies have prosecuted, and still continue to prosecute, with their Utmost vigour, and in a cruel manner, wasting, spoiling and destroying the Country, burning Houses and defenceless Towns, and exposing the helpless Inhabitants to every Misery from the Inclemency of the Winter, and not only urging Savages to invade the Country, but instigating Negroes to murder their Masters; and Whereas the Parliament of Great Britain hath lately passed an Act, affirming these Colonies to be in open Rebellion, forbidding all trade and commerce with the Inhabitants of them, untill they shall accept Pardons, and submit to despotic Rule, declaring their property, wherever found upon the Water, liable to seizure and confiscation, and enacting that what had been done there, by Virtue of the Royal Authority had been just and lawfull Acts, and shall be so deemed; from all which it is manifest, that the iniquitous Scheme, concerted to deprive them of the Liberty they have a right to by the Laws of Nature and the English Constitution, will be pertinaciously pursued: It being therefore necess• { 374 } ary to provide for their defence and Security, and justifiable to make Reprisals upon their Enemies, and otherwise to annoy them according to the Laws and Usages of Nations, the Congress, trusting that such of their Friends in Great Britain (of whom it is confessed there are many intitled to applause and gratitude for their Patriotism and Benevolence, and in whose favour a discrimination of Property cannot be made) as shall suffer by Captures, will impute it to the Authors of our common Calamities, do declare and resolve as followeth to Wit
Resolved That the Inhabitants of these Colonies be permitted to fit out armed Vessells to cruise on the Enemies of these United Colonies.
Resolved That all Ships and other Vessells, their Tackle, Apparell and Furniture, and all Goods, Wares and Merchandizes, belonging to any Inhabitant or Inhabitants of Great Britain, taken on the high Seas or between high and low Water mark, by any Armed Vessell, fitted out by any private Person or Persons, and to whom Commissions shall be granted, and being libelled and prosecuted in any Court erected for the Tryal of maritime Affairs in any of these Colonies, shall be deemed and adjudged to be lawfull Prize; and after deducting and paying the Wages which the Seamen and Mariners on board of such captures as are Merchant Ships and Vessels, shall be entitled to, according to the terms of their contracts, untill the time of the Adjudication, shall be condemned to and for the Use of the Owner or Owners, and the Officers, Marines and Mariners of such Armed Vessel, according to such Rules and proportions as they shall agree on; provided always that this Resolution shall not extend to any Vessel bringing Settlers, Arms, Ammunition and warlike Stores to and for the Use of these Colonies, or any of the Inhabitants thereof, who are Friends to the American Cause, or to such Warlike Stores, or to the Effects of such Settlers.
Resolved That all Ships &c. belonging to any Inhabitant of Great Britain as aforesaid, which shall be taken by any of the Vessells of War of these united Colonies, shall be deemed forfeited; one third after deducting and paying the Wages of Seamen and Mariners as aforesaid to the Officers and Men on board, and two thirds to the Use of the United Colonies.
Resolved that all Ships &c. belonging to any Inhabitants of Great Britain as aforesaid, which shall be taken by any Vessell of War, fitted out by and at the Expence of any of the United <States> Colonies, shall be deemed forfeited, and divided, after deducting and paying the Wages of Seamen and Mariners as aforesaid, in such manner and { 375 } proportions as the Assembly or Convention of such Colony shall direct.
Resolved that all Vessells &c. and Cargoes, belonging to the Inhabitants of Great Britain as aforesaid, and all Vessells which may be employed in carrying Supplies to the ministerial Armies, which shall happen to be taken near the Shores of any of these Colonies, by the People of the Country, or detachments from the Army, shall be deemed lawful Prize; and the Court of Admiralty within the said Colony is required on condemnation thereof, to adjudge that all Charges and Expences which may attend the Capture and Tryal, be first paid out of the monies arising from the Sales of the Prize, and the Remainder equally among all those who shall have been actually engaged and employed in taking the said Prize. Provided, that where any detachments of the Army shall have been employed as aforesaid, their part of the Prize Money, shall be distributed among them in proportion to the Pay of the Officers and Soldiers so employed.
Resolved that a Committee of five be appointed to consider of the fortifying one or more ports on the American Coast, in the strongest manner for the Protection of our Cruisers, and the reception of their Prises; that they take the Opinion of the best Engineers on the manner and Expence and report thereon to Congress. The Members chosen Mr. Harrison, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Hewes, Mr. R. Morris and Mr. Whipple.1
Resolved that this Congress will on Monday next resolve itself into a committee of the whole to take into Consideration the Trade of the United Colonies; and that sundry Motions offered by the Members from Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, and Virginia be referred to said Committee.
Here is an Instance, in addition to many others, of an extraordinary Liberty taken by the Secretary, I suppose at the Instigation of the Party against Independence, to suppress, by omitting on the Journals the many Motions that were made disagreable to that sett. These motions ought to have been inserted verbatim on the Journals, with the names of those who made them.
1. This resolution was the final, “secret” paragraph in the resolves or “Declaration” authorizing the fitting out of privateers (JCC, 4:233). The committee submitted a report on 24 June, the original of which, in JA's hand, is in PCC, No. 28; it is printed in JCC, 5:476.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0084

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-25

[Monday the 25 of March 1776]

On Monday the 25 of March 1776 I made a Motion and laid it in Writing on the Table in these Words
Resolved That the Thanks of this Congress, in their own Names and in the Name of the thirteen United Colonies, whom they repre• { 376 } sent be presented to his Excellency General Washington and the Officers and Soldiers under his Command, for their wise and spirited Conduct in the Seige and Acquisition of Boston; and that a Medal of Gold be struck in Commemoration of this great Event, and presented to his Excellency; and that a Committee of three be appointed to prepare a Letter of Thanks, and a proper device for the Medal. The Members chosen Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Jay and Mr. Hopkins.1
1. On 2 April this committee “brought in a draught [of a letter], which being read, was agreed to: Ordered, That it be transcribed, signed by the president, and forwarded” (JCC, 4:248, followed by the text of the letter from the original in DLC: Washington Papers; see also entry on 2 April and note, below). As for “a proper device for the Medal,” JA waited on Pierre Eugène Du Simitière, the Swiss-born artist and antiquarian then living in Philadelphia, and described Du Simitière's idea for it in a letter to AA, 14 Aug. (Adams Papers; JA-AA, Familiar Letters, p. 210–211). Du Simitière executed sketches, which remain among his papers in the Library Company of Philadelphia, and Congress on 29 Nov. authorized payment to him in the amount of $32, but his design was not used, and the commission was finally executed after the war by the French artist Duvivier (JCC, 6:991; PMHB, 13 [1889–1890]:357, 482–483; 69 [1945]:322). See Du Simitière's Designs for a Medal to Commemorate the Evacuation of Boston, 1776 facing page 257illustrations in this volume.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0085

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-26

[Tuesday March 26, 1776.]

Tuesday March 26, 1776. Congress were informed of the Death of Governor Ward and on

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0086

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-27

[Wednesday March 27 1776]

Wednesday March 27 1776 they attended his Funeral in mourning for a Month. In this Gentleman who died of the Small Pox, We lost an honourable, a conscientious, a benevolent and inflexible Patriot.1
1. See also JA to AA, 29 March (Adams Papers; JA-AA, Familiar Letters, p. 147–148); Dr. Thomas Young to Henry Ward, 27 [26] March (Samuel Ward, Correspondence, ed. Bernhard Knollenberg, Providence, 1952, p. 201–203).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0087

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-28

[Thursday March 28. 1776]

Thursday March 28. 1776 a Multitude of details but no Committee of the whole house.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0088

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-29

[Friday March 29. 1776.]

Friday March 29. 1776. More Trifles but no Committee of the whole.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0089

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-30

[Saturday March 30. 1776.]

Saturday March 30. 1776. Ditto.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0090

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-01

[Monday April 1st.]

Monday April 1st. A Measure of Great Importance was adopted—a Treasury Office with an Auditor and a sufficient Number of Clerks. On the 17th. of February 1776 Congress had Resolved that a standing Committee of five be appointed for superintending the Treasury. Their duties pointed out and Mr. Duane, Mr. Nelson, Mr. Gerry, Mr. Smith and Mr. Willing were chosen on the Committee.
On this day April 1. 1776. The Treasury was much improved in its System. No order of the day.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0091

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-02

[April 2. 1776.]

April 2. 1776. The Committee appointed to prepare a Letter of Thanks to General Washington, and the Officers and Soldiers under his command brought in a draught which was read and agreed to: Ordered that it be transcribed, signed by the President and forwarded. { 377 } —But the Letter a great part of the Compliment of which would have lain in the Insertion of it in the Journal, was carefully secluded. Perhaps the Secretary or the President or both, chose rather to conceal the Compliment to the General than make one to the Member who made the motion and the Committee who prepared it. I never troubled myself about the Journals, and should never have known the Letter was not there, if I had not been called to peruse them, now after twenty nine Years have rolled away.1
1. The omission from the Journal of the text of the congratulatory letter to Washington was surely a dereliction on Thomson's part, and the sole case among many cited by JA that appears indefensible (see p. 365, above, and note 24 there). But oversight is far more likely to have been the cause of this lapse than the insidious motive assigned by JA.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0092

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-03

[April 3. 1776]

April 3. 1776 great Things were done. The Naval System made great Progress.1
1. See JCC, 4:251–254.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0093

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-04

[April 4. 1776.]

April 4. 1776. We did great Things again.
Agreable to the order of the Day, the Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole to take into Consideration the Trade of the United Colonies, and after some time spent thereon, the President resumed the Chair and Mr. Harrison reported that the Committee had taken into Consideration the matters referred to them and had come to sundry Resolutions, which he was ordered to deliver in. The Resolutions agreed to by the Committee of the whole Congress being read, Ordered to lie on the Table.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0094

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-05

[April 5. 1776.]

April 5. 1776. Good Fryday.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0095

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-06

[April 6. 1776.]

April 6. 1776. Congress resumed the consideration of the Report, from the Committee of the whole, and the same being twice read, and debated by paragraphs, was agreed to. These Resolutions are on the Journal, and amount to something.1 They opened the Ports and sett our Commerce at Liberty: But they were far short of what had been moved by Members from Massachusetts, Maryland and Virginia. There is one Resolution I will not omit.
Resolved that no Slaves be imported into any of the thirteen Colonies.
I will not omit to remark here, the manifest Artifice, in concealing in the Journal the Motions which were made and the Names of the Members who made them, in these daily Committees of the whole. The Spirit of a Party which has been before exposed can alone Account, for this Unfairness.
Resolved that the Remainder of the report be postponed.
{ 378 }
A Letter from General Washington of the 27th. of March. And a Letter from Brigadier General Heath being received and read,
Resolved that the Letter from General Washington, with the Papers inclosed, be referred to a Committee of the whole Congress.
1. See JCC, p. 257–259.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0096

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-09

[Tuesday April 9th. 1776.]

Tuesday April 9th. 1776. No Committee of the whole.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0097

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-10

[Wednesday April 10. 1776.]

Wednesday April 10. 1776. Resolved that the Letters from General Washington be referred to a Committee of the whole Congress.1
1. These were two additional letters, both dated 1 April (JCC, 4:266); they are printed in Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 4:456–457.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0098

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-11

[April 11. 1776.]

April 11. 1776. Resolved that a Committee of three be appointed to enquire into the Truth of the Report respecting Governor Tryons exacting an Oath from Persons going by the Packet, and to ascertain the Fact, by Affidavits taken before a Chief Justice, or other Chief Magistrate. The Members chosen Mr. Jay, Mr. Wythe and Mr. Wilson. This helped forward our designs a little.
Resolved That it be recommended to the several Assemblies, Conventions and Committees or Councils of Safety of the United Colonies, to Use their best Endeavours in communicating to foreign nations, the Resolutions of Congress relative to Trade.—This also was a considerable Advance. But it would now be scarcely credited if I were to relate the Struggle it cost Us to obtain every one of these Resolutions.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0099

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-12

[April 12th. 1776.]

April 12th. 1776. No Committee of the whole.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0100

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-04-13 - 1776-04-15

[April 13. 1776. and April 15.]

April 13. 1776. No Committee of the whole. April 15. No Committee of the whole.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0101

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-16

[Tuesday April 16. 1776.]

Tuesday April 16. 1776. Whereas Information has been this day laid before Congress, from which there is great reason to believe that Robert Eden Esq. Governor of Maryland, has lately carried on a Correspondence with the British Ministry highly dangerous to the Liberties of America:
Resolved therefore that the Council of Safety of Maryland be earnestly requested immediately to cause the Person and Papers of Governor Eden to be seized and secured, and such of the Papers as relate to the American dispute, without delay conveyed safely to Congress: and that Copies of the intercepted Letters from the Secretary of State be inclosed to the said council of Safety. A similar Resolution relative to Alexander Ross and his Papers. No Committee of the whole.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0102

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-04-17 - 1776-04-18

[Wednesday April 17. 1776. Thursday April 18.]

Wednesday April 17. 1776. Thursday April 18. No Committee of the whole.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0103

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-19

[Fryday April 19.]

Fryday April 19. Resolved that a Committee of seven be appointed to examine and ascertain the Value of the several Species of Gold and { 379 } Silver Coins current in these Colonies, and the Proportions they ought to bear to Spanish milled Dollars. Members chosen Mr. Duane, Mr. Wythe, Mr. John Adams, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Hewes, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Whipple.1
The Committee to whom General Washingtons Letter of the 15th. instant, as well as other Letters were referred brought in their report, which being taken into Consideration, was agreed to whereupon resolved—See the Journal.2.
One Resolution was that the Resignation of James Warren, as Paymaster General of the Army be Accepted.—This Gentleman had been appointed at my Solicitation. Mr. Samuel Adams and Mr. Gerry concurring. Our other Colleagues notwithstanding.
The Committee to whom were referred the Letter from General Washington of the 4th and the Letter from General Schuyler of the second of this month, brought in their report. Adjourned to Monday.
1. This committee brought in a report, written by Wythe, on 22 May; on 24 July the report was recommitted and Jefferson added to the committee; a new report, by Jefferson, was submitted on 2 Sept. and tabled (JCC, 4:293–294, 381–383; 5:608, 724–728; Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, 1:511–518). It does not appear that JA had any hand in either report.
2. JCC, 4:295–297. JA was not a member of this committee.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0104

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-22

[Monday April 22. 1776.]

Monday April 22. 1776. A Letter from the Canada Commissioners, one from General Washington of the 19th, one from General Schuyler, inclosing sundry Letters and Papers from Canada, and one from the Committee of Inspection of West Augusta with sundry Papers inclosed, were referred to Mr. R. H. Lee, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Jay, Mr. Braxton and Mr. Johnson.1
1. For these letters see JCC, 4:298, note. Washington's letter is printed in his Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 4:492–494. The committee brought in a report, prepared by John Jay, on the 23d, and Congress adopted several resolutions thereon; on the 29th it adopted further resolutions; and on 3 May “after some debate the farther consideration []of the report] was postponed” (JCC, 4:301, 318, 324).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0105

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-23

[Tuesday April 23. 1776.]

Tuesday April 23. 1776. The Committee to whom the Letters from General Washington, General Schuyler and the Letters from Canada &c. were referred brought in their report.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0106

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-24

[Wednesday April 24.]

Wednesday April 24. Thomas Heywood [Heyward] Junr. Esqr. a new Member from Carolina, and an excellent one, appeared in Congress from South Carolina. On him We could always depend for sound Measures, though he seldom spoke in public. Thomas Lynch Junr. Esqr. also appeared.
Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole, but came to no resolutions.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0107

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-25

[Thursday April 25. 1776.]

Thursday April 25. 1776. Two Letters from General Washington of the 22 and 23 were referred to Mr. R. H. L[ee,] Mr. J. Adams and Mr. Hewes.1 Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole, to take into their farther consideration the Letter from General Washington of the 27th. of March last and the Papers therein enclosed, Mr. Harrison reported that the Committee had come to a Resolution, on the matters referred to them, which he read and delivered in. Report read again and postponed.
1. Washington's letters are printed in his Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 4:500–504, 505–507. No report has been found.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0108

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-04-26 - 1776-04-27

[Fryday April 26. and Saturday April 27.]

Fryday April 26. Postponed. Saturday April 27. Ditto.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0109

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-29

[Monday April 29 1776.]

Monday April 29 1776. Congress resumed the Consideration of the Report of the Committee on General Washingtons Letter of the 19 and came to sundry Resolutions which may be seen in the Journal.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0110

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-30

[Tuesday April 30. 1776.]

Tuesday April 30. 1776. Congress took into Consideration the Report of the Committee on General Washingtons Letter of the 24 of March, whereupon resolved as in the Journal.1 Of some importance but nothing to the great Objects still kept out of Sight.
The Delegates from New Jersey having laid before Congress a number of Bills counterfeited to imitate the continental Bills of Credit
Resolved that a Committee of six be appointed to consider of this matter and report thereon to Congress.
The Members chosen Mr. W. Livingston, Mr. McKean, Mr. Sherman, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Braxton and Mr. Duane.2 Adjourned to Thursday.
1. JCC, 4:320–321.
2. This committee brought in a report, written by William Livingston, on 7 June, and it was tabled (JCC, 5:426 and note).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0111

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-02

[Thursday May 2. 1776.]

Thursday May 2. 1776. Congress resumed the Consideration of the Report of the Committee on General Washingtons Letter of the 24 of March last and after debate
Resolved That it be recommitted; and as the members of the former committee are Absent, that a new committee be appointed. The Members chosen Mr. Dickinson, Mr. W. Livingston and Mr. Rutledge. The Recommitment and the names of the new Committee shew the design.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0112

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-03

[Fryday May 3. 1776.]

Fryday May 3. 1776. A Petition from Peter Simon was presented to Congress and read. Ordered that it be referred to a Committee of three. The Members chosen Mr. McKean, Mr. Wythe and Mr. J. Adams.1
The Committee to whom the Report on General Washingtons Letter { 381 } of the 24. of March last was recommitted, brought in their report which was read. Ordered to lie on the Table.
1. This committee reported on 22 May, and Congress acted on its recommendations (JCC, 4:374). The report itself has not been found.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0113

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-06

[Monday May 6. 1776.]

Monday May 6. 1776. Congress resumed the Consideration of the Report on General Washingtons Letter of the 24th. of March, and thereupon came to the following resolution:
Whereas General Washington has requested directions concerning the Conduct that should be observed towards Commissioners said to be coming from Great Britain to America
Resolved That General Washington be informed that Congress suppose if commissioners are intended to be sent from Great Britain to treat of peace, that the practice usual in such cases will be observed, by making previous Application for the necessary Passports or Safe Conduct, and on such Application being made, Congress will then direct the proper measures for the Reception of such Commissioners.
It will be observed how long this trifling Business had been depending, but it cannot be known from the Journal how much debate it had occasioned, or how much time it had consumed. It was one of those delusive Contrivances by which the Party in Opposition to Us endeavoured, by lulling the People with idle hopes of Reconciliation, into Security, to turn their hearts and thoughts from Independence. They endeavoured to insert in the Resolution, Ideas of Reconciliation, We carried our point for inserting Peace. They wanted Powers to be given to the General to receive the Commissioners in Ceremony. We ordered nothing to be done till We were solicited for Pasports. Upon the whole We avoided the Snare and brought the Controversy to a close, with some dignity. But it will never be known how much labour it cost Us, to accomplish it.
Then a Committee of the whole on the State of the Colonies: Mr. Harrison reported sundry Resolutions, which as they stand on the Journal will shew the Art and Skill with which the Generals Letters, Indian Affairs, Revenue Matters, Naval Arrangements and twenty other Things, many of them very trivial, were mixed, in these Committees of the whole, with the Great Subjects of Government, Independence and Commerce. Little Things were designedly thrown in the Way of Great Ones. And the Time consumed upon trifles which ought to have been consecrated to higher Interests. We could only harrangue against the misapplication of time, and harrangues consumed more time: so that We could only now and then snatch a transient Glance at the promised Land.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0114

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-08

[Wednesday May 8. 1776.]

Wednesday May 8. 1776. The Instructions from the Naval Committee to Commodore Hopkins being laid before Congress and read:
{ 382 }
Ordered That they be referred to a Committee of seven, and that it be an Instruction to that Committee to enquire how far Commodore Hopkins has complied with the said Instructions, and if upon Inquiry they shall find that he has departed therefrom, to examine into the Occasion thereof; also to inquire into the Situation of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Providence and the other Officers brought from thence, and report what in their Opinion is proper to be done with them. That the said Committee have power to send for Witnesses and Papers. The Members chosen Mr. Harrison Mr. J. Adams, Mr. McKean, Mr. Duane, Mr. Lynch, Mr. Sherman and Mr. W. Livingston.1
There were three Persons at this time, who were a standing Subject of Altercation in Congress. General Wooster, Commodore Hopkins and a Mr. Wrixon. I never could discover any reason for the Bitterness against Wooster, but his being a New England man: nor for that against Hopkins but that he had done too much: nor for that against Wrixon, but his being patronized by Mr. Samuel Adams and Mr. R. H. Lee. Be it as it may, these three consumed an immense quantity of time and kept up the Passions of the Parties to a great hight. One design was to divert us from our main Object.2
A Committee of the whole, Mr. Harrison report[ed] no resolution. Leave to sit again.
1. A part of these instructions to the committee was not adopted until 22 May; on 31 May other papers were referred to the same committee, which on 7 June brought in a report, written by JA (in PCC, No. 19, III), on which Congress acted; but on 12 July the committee was discharged and superseded by the Marine Committee (JCC, 4:375, 407; 5:424–425, 545). See also the entries in JA's Autobiography under 12, 15, 16, 17, 19 Aug., below.
2. On these controversies see the very full references in Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:441, note.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0115

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-09

[Thursday May 9. 1776.]

Thursday May 9. 1776. A Committee of the whole:—Mr. Harrison reported a Resolution, which he read and delivered in.
The Resolution of the Committee of the whole was again read, and the determination thereof, at the Request of a Colony was postponed till tomorrow.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0116

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-10

[Fryday May 10. 1776.]

Fryday May 10. 1776. Congress resumed the Consideration of the Resolution reported from the Committee of the whole, and the same was agreed to as follows:
Resolved, That it be recommended to the respective Assemblies and Conventions of the United Colonies, where no Government sufficient to the Exigencies of their Affairs, hath been hitherto established, to adopt such Government as shall in the Opinion of the Representatives { 383 } of the People best conduce to the Happiness and Safety of their Constituents in particular, and America in general.
Resolved that a Committee of three be appointed to prepare a Preamble to the foregoing Resolution. The Members chosen Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Rutledge and Mr. Richard Henry Lee.1
Marshall in his Life of Washington says this Resolution was moved by R. H. Lee and seconded by J. Adams.2 It was brought before the Committee of the whole House, in concert between Mr. R. H. Lee and me, and I suppose General Washington was informed of it by Mr. Harrison the Chairman or some other of his Correspondents: but nothing of this Appears upon the Journal. It is carefully concealed like many other Things relative to the greatest Affairs of the Nation which were before Congress in that Year.
This Resolution I considered as an Epocha, a decisive Event. It was a measure which I had invariably pursued for a whole Year, and contended for, through a Scaene and a Series of Anxiety, labour, Study, Argument, and Obloquy, which was then little known and is now forgotten, by all but Dr. Rush and a very few who like him survive. Millions of Curses were poured out upon me, for these Exertions and for these Tryumphs over them, by the Essex Juntoes, for there were such at that time and have continued to this day in every State in the Union; who whatever their pretences may have been have never forgotten nor cordially forgiven me. By this Term which is now become vulgarly and politically technical, I mean, not the Tories, for from them I received always more candour, but a class of People who thought proper and convenient to themselves to go along with the Public Opinion in Appearance, though in their hearts they detested it. Although they might think the public opinion was right in General, in its difference with G. Britain, yet they secretly regretted the Seperation, and above all Things the Connection with France. Such a Party has always existed and was the final Ruin of the Federal Administration as will hereafter very plainly appear.
A Committee of the whole again. Mr. Harrison reported no Resolution. I mention these Committees to shew how all these great ques• { 384 } tions laboured. Day after day consumed in debates without any Conclusion.
1. On this momentous step toward independence, and JA's part in it, see not only what follows in the Autobiography but an earlier passage at p. 335, above, and JA's Diary (Notes of Debates), 13–15 May 1776, with the editorial notes there.
2. A mistake, as CFA pointed out in a note on this passage (JA, Works, 3:44). Marshall's account of the adoption of the resolve and its preamble recommending the establishment of new governments is correct, but JA evidently confused it with Marshall's passage on the resolution of independence, introduced on 7 June. See John Marshall, Life of George Washington, Phila., 1804–1807, 2:402–403, 409–410.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0117

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-11

[Saturday May 11. 1776.]

Saturday May 11. 1776. A Petition from John Jacobs in behalf of himself and others was presented to Congress and read. Ordered that it be referred to a Committee of three. The Members chosen Mr. John Adams, Mr. Lee and Mr. Rutledge.1
A Committee of the whole. Mr. Harrison reported no Resolution. This days Journal of this Committee shews, with what Art other matters were referred to these Committees of the whole, in order to retard and embarrass the great questions.
1. This petition is not clearly identifiable, and no action by this committee is recorded in the Journal.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0118

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-13

[Monday May 13. 1776.]

Monday May 13. 1776. Sundry Petitions were presented to Congress and read, viz. one from Dr. Benjamin Church, and one from Benjamin, Samuel and Edward Church, with a Certificate from three Physicians respecting the health of Dr. B. Church. Here I am compelled, much against my Inclination to record a Fact, which if it were not necessary to explain some things I should rather have concealed. When this Petition was before Congress, Mr. Samuel Adams said something, which I thought I confess too favourable to Dr. Church. I cannot recollect that I said any Thing against him. As it lies upon my Mind I was silent. Mr. Hancock was President, and Mr. Harrison Chairman of the Committee of the whole and a constant confidential Correspondent of General Washington. Neither of them friendly to me. I cannot suspect Mr. Samuel Adams of writing or insinuating any Thing against me to the Friends of Dr. Church, at that time. But Mr. Samuel Adams told me that Dr. Church and Dr. Warren, had composed Mr. Hancocks oration on the fifth of March, which was so celebrated, more than two thirds of it at least. Mr. Hancock was most certainly not friendly to me at that time, and he might think himself in the Power of Dr. Church. When Mr. Edward Church printed his poetical Libel against me at New York in 1789 or 1790, I was told by an Acquaintance of his that he was full of Prejudices against me on Account of Dr. Church his Brother. I leave others to conjecture how he came by them. I know of no other Way to account for his Virulence, and his Cousin Dr. Jarvis's Virulence against me, having never injured or offended any of them. Misrepresentation at that day was a Pestilence that walked in darkness. In more modern times it has stalked abroad with more impudence at Noon day.1
1. This entire paragraph was omitted by CFA. When Hancock's oration on the Boston Massacre was delivered, JA thought it a splendid performance and voiced no suspicion that the speaker was not the writer; see his Diary under 5 March 1774. In 1776 Dr. Benjamin Church, who had secretly defected to the enemy and been caught, was in jail in Norwich, Conn.; on 14 May Congress voted that he be allowed to return to Massachusetts, under sureties, pending his trial, and he afterward sailed for the West Indies and was lost at sea (JCC, 4:350, 352; DAB). His brother Edward Church's “poetical Libel” against JA was an anonymous satire in heroic couplets entitled The Dangerous Vice -----. A Fragment. Addressed to All Whom It May Concern. By a Gentleman formerly of Boston, Columbia [i.e. New York?], 1789 (Evans 21736). Its theme was that, while Washington could safely be entrusted with executive power, JA, “Tainted with foreign vices, and his own,” hankered for the attributes and perquisites of royalty. On Charles Jarvis, Harvard 1766, Boston physician and political disciple of Jefferson, see Thacher, Amer. Medical Biog., 1:313–316. His attacks on JA may have been in newspaper articles as yet unidentified.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0119

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-14

[Tuesday May 14. 1776.]

Tuesday May 14. 1776. A Letter of the 11th. from General Washington inclosing sundry Papers; a Letter of the 3d from General Schuyler; and a Letter of the 9th. from Daniel Robertson were laid before Congress and read. Resolved that they be referred to a Committee of three. The Members chosen Mr. W. Livingston, Mr. Jefferson and Mr. John Adams.1
William Ellery Esqr. appeared a Delegate from Rhode Island, in the place of Governor Ward, and being an excellent Member, fully supplied his place.
The Committee appointed to prepare a Preamble, thought it not necessary to be very elaborate, and Mr. Lee and Mr. Rutledge desired me as Chairman to draw something very short which I did and with their Approbation.2
1. For the letters in question see JCC, 4:352, note. Washington's letter is printed in his Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 5:32–37. Further letters were referred to this committee on 16 and again on 18 May, all relative to the northern campaign, and on the latter date the committee was enlarged. Its tangled history is summarized, with full references, in an editorial note in Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, 1:295–296. A portion of its report of 21 May is in JA's hand ( PCC, No. 19, VI; JCC, 4:377).
2. This had been brought in as a “draught” on 13 May and postponed (JCC, 4:351), though curiously JA overlooked the relevant passage in the Journals under that date and thus mistakenly says below that it was “reported” (he should have said “taken into consideration”) on the 15th. No MS version of the famous preamble has been found except that which was spread on the Journal as finally adopted; it was printed, with the resolution of 10 May, in the Pennsylvania Gazette, 22 May.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0120

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-15

[Wednesday May 15. 1776]

On Wednesday May 15. 1776 reported the following which was agreed to
Whereas his Britannic Majesty, in conjunction with the Lords and Commons of Great Britain, has, by a late Act of Parliament, excluded the Inhabitants of these united Colonies from the Protection of his Crown; and whereas no Answer whatever to the humble Petitions of the Colonies for redress of Grievances and reconciliation with Great Britain has been or is likely to be given, but the whole force { 386 } of that Kingdom aided by foreign Mercenaries is to be exerted for the destruction of the good People of these Colonies; and whereas it appears absolutely irreconcileable to reason, and good Conscience, for the People of these Colonies now to take the Oaths and Affirmations necessary for the support of any Government under the Crown of Great Britain, and it is necessary that the Exercise of every kind of Authority under the said Crown should be totally suppressed, and all the Powers of Government exerted under the Authority of the People of the Colonies, for the preservation of internal peace, Virtue and good order, as well as for the defence of their Lives, Liberties and Properties against the hostile Invasions and cruel depredations of their Ennemies; therefore
Resolved That it be recommended to the respective Assemblies and Conventions of the United Colonies, where no Government sufficient to the Exigencies of their affairs hath been hitherto established, to adopt such Government as shall in the Opinion of the Representatives of the People best conduce to the happiness and Safety of their Constituents in particular and America in General.
Ordered that the said Preamble, with the Resolution passed the 10th. instant, be published.—Mr. Duane called it, to me, a Machine for the fabrication of Independence. I said, smiling, I thought it was independence itself: but We must have it with more formality yet.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0121

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-16

[May 16. 1776. Thursday.]

May 16. 1776. Thursday. The following Letters were laid before Congress and read. One of the first from the Commissioners of Congress in Canada: one of the 10th from General Schuyler, and one without date from General Washington, inclosing a Letter to him from Dr. Stringer.
Resolved That the Letter from Dr. Stringer to General Washington be referred to the Committee appointed to prepare medicine Chests: that the other Letters be referred to Mr. W. Livingston, Mr. Jefferson and Mr. J. Adams.1
Resolved that the President write to General Washington requesting him to repair to Philadelphia as soon as he can conveniently, in order to consult with Congress upon such measures as may be necessary for the carrying on the ensuing Campaign.
Horatio Gates Esqr. was elected a Major General and Thomas Mifflin Esqr. Brigadier General.
I take Notice of this Appointment of Gates, because it had great Influence on my future fortunes. It soon Occasioned a Competition { 387 } between him and Schuyler, in which I always contended for Gates, and as the Rivalry occasioned great Animosities among the Friends of the two Generals, the consequences of which are not yet spent. Indeed they have affected the Essential Interests of the United States and will influence their ultimate Destiny. They effected an Enmity between Gates and Mr. Jay who always supported Schuyler, and a dislike in Gates of Hamilton who married Schuylers daughter, with which Mr. Burr wrought so skillfully as to turn the Elections in New York not only against Hamilton but against the Federalists, and whatever Hamilton may have pretended, I am persuaded that the decided part I had acted and the free Speeches I had made in Congress against Schuyler and in favour of Gates, had been rankling in Hamiltons heart from 1776 till he wrote his Libel against me in 1799.2 Gates's Resentment against Jay, Schuyler and Hamilton made him turn in 1799 against me, who had been the best Friend and the most efficacious Supporter he ever had in America. I had never in my Life any personal Prejudice or dislike against General Schuyler: on the contrary I knew him to [be] industrious, studious and intelligent: But the New England Officers, Soldiers and Inhabitants, knew Gates in the Camp at Cambridge. Schuyler was not known to many and the few who had heard of him were prejudiced against him from the former french War. The New England Soldiers would not enlist to serve under him and the Militia would not turn out. I was therefore under a Necessity of supporting Gates. Mr. Duane, Mr. Jay, Colonel Harrison &c. supported Schuyler. There is no difficulty therefore in Accounting for Hamiltons ancient any more than his modern Malice against me.
On this same May 16 it was resolved that it be recommended to the general Assemblies of Massachusetts Bay and Connecticutt, to endeavour to have the battallions inlisted for two Years, unless sooner discharged by Congress; in which case the Men to be allowed one Months pay on their discharge; but if the Men cannot be prevailed on to inlist for two Years, that they be inlisted for one; and that they be ordered as soon as raised and armed, to march immediately to Boston.
Here it is proper for me, to obviate some Aspersions in Hamiltons { 388 } Libell against me, which is not the less malicious for being silly. I will not here charge him with willfull falshood, because I can readily believe that among the Correspondents with the Army and the Connections of my Opponents he may have heard insinuations and misrepresentations, that he too easily credited. The Truth is I never opposed the raising of Men during the War.3 I was always willing the General might obtain as many Men as he possibly could, to enlist during the War, or during the longest Period, they could be persuaded to inlist for. And I always declared myself so. But I contended that I knew the Number to be obtained in this manner would be very small in New England, from whence almost the whole Army was derived. A Regiment might possibly be obtained, of the meanest, idlest, most intemperate and worthless: but no more. A Regiment was no Army to defend this Country. We must have tradesmens Sons and farmers Sons, or We should be without defence. And such Men certainly would not inlist during the War or for long Periods as yet. The Service was too new, they had not yet become attached to it by habit. Was it credible that Men who could get at home better living, more comfortable Lodgings, more than double the Wages, in Safety, not exposed to the Sicknesses of the Camp, would bind themselves during the War? I knew it to be impossible. In the Middle States, where they had imported from Ireland and Germany so many transported Convicts and Redemptioners, it was possible they might obtain some. Let them try. I had no Objection: But I warned them against depending on so improbable a Resource, for the defence of the Country. Congress confessed the unanswerable force of this reasoning. Mr. McKean I remember said in Congress, Mr. John Adams has convinced me that you will get no Army, upon such terms. Even in Pensylvania, the most desperate of imported Labourers cannot be obtained in any Numbers upon such terms. Farmers and Tradesmen give much more Encouragement to Labourers and Journeymen. Mr. McKeans Opinion was well founded and proved to be true in Experience for Pensylvania never was able to obtain half the Compliment of New England in Proportion.
1. For these letters see JCC, 4:358, note. Washington's letter (of 15 May) is printed in his Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 5:44–46.
2. Letter from Alexander Hamilton, concerning the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esq. ..., N.Y., 1800. CFA omitted from his text the preceding lines beginning “and whatever Hamilton may have pretended.” He also omitted the final sentence in the present paragraph, and in the next paragraph but one below he made a few slight alterations in order to suppress Hamilton's name.
3. Or, as would be said today, for the duration of the war. For Hamilton's charge against JA on this score, see his Letter (cited in the preceding note), p. 4. For JA's advocacy of long-term enlistments see p. 434, 448, below; also James Duane's Notes of Debates in Congress, 22 Feb. 1776 (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:360).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0122

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-20

[Monday. May. 20. 1776.]

Monday. May. 20. 1776. Lyman Hall and Button Gwinnet appear as Delegates from Georgia: both intelligent and spirited Men, who made a powerful Addition to our Phalanx.
{ 389 }
Certain Resolutions of the Convention of South Carolina, respecting the Battalions to be1 raised in that Colony; also certain resolutions passed by the General Assembly of the said Colony, respecting the manner in [which] Commissioners coming from England are to be received and treated in that Colony, were laid before Congress and read.
Resolved that the Resolutions respecting the Battalions be referred to a Committee of five.
The Members chosen Mr. John Adams, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Floyd, Mr. W. Livingston and Mr. Morton.2
A Committee of the whole: Mr. Harrison reported no Resolution.
1. JA mistakenly inserted the two preceding words when copying; they are not in the Journals.
2. This committee reported on 25 May; on 7 June, after debate, Congress recommitted the report; and on 18 June a new report was brought in and a long series of resolutions was adopted (JCC, 4:393; 5:425. 461–463). No texts of the reports as submitted have been found.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0123

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-21

[Tuesday May 21. 1776.]

Tuesday May 21. 1776. Three Letters from General Washington, inclosing Letters and Papers of Intelligence from England, and a Copy of the Treaties made by his Britannic Majesty with the Duke of Brunswick for 4084 of his Troops; and with the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel for 12,000 of his Troops; and with the Count of Hanau for 668 of his Troops.
A Letter from William Palfrey with a Copy of his Weekly Account,
A Letter from John Langdon to General Washington
A Petition from Samuel Austin, John Rowe, S. Patridge [Partridge], Samuel Dashwood and John Scollay of Boston:
Resolved that the said Letters and Papers and Petition be referred to a Committee of five; that the said Committee be directed to extract and publish the Treaties, and such parts of the Intelligence as they think proper: also to consider of an Adequate reward for the Person who brought the Intelligence; and that they prepare an Address to the foreign Mercenaries, who are coming to invade America.
The Members chosen Mr. John Adams, Mr. William Livingston, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. R. H. Lee and Mr. Sherman.1
The Committee to whom the Letter of the 10th from General { 390 } Lee was referred brought in their report, which was read, and after some Debate
Resolved that the farther Consideration thereof be postponed till the Arrival of General Washington.
The Committee to whom the Letters from General Washington, Major General Schuyler, and the Commissioners in Canada were referred, brought in their report which was read.
Resolved that the Consideration thereof be postponed till tomorrow.
1. For the letters in question see JCC, 4:369, note. Those of Washington (18, 19, 20 May) are printed in his Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 5:56–57, 58, 62. The publication by the committee is in the Pennsylvania Gazette, 22 May, and later in other papers. The committee reported to Congress on 30 May and 4 and 17 June, its third report being in JA's hand (PCC, No. 22; see JCC, 4:405, 415; 5:458–459). These did not complete the duties assigned to the committee; for example, it issued no address to the German mercenaries; but JA was later to have a part in such an address; see under 26, 27 Aug., below.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0124

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-23

[Thursday May 23 1776.]

Thursday May 23 1776. Resolved That a Committee of five be appointed to confer with General Washington, Major General Gates, and Brigadier General Mifflin, upon the most speedy and effectual means of supporting the American Cause in Canada. The Members chosen, Mr. Harrison, Mr. R. H. Lee and Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Rutledge.1
1. This “committee of conference” brought in a report next day which had been prepared by Benjamin Harrison and which was approved by Congress; at the same time Robert R. Livingston was added to the committee and it was given further duties; on the 25th it brought in a report written by Edward Rutledge ( JCC, 4:387–388, 394–396).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0125

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-24

[Fryday May 24. 1776.]

Fryday May 24. 1776. The Committee appointed to confer with his Excellency General Washington, Major General Gates and Brigadier General Mifflin brought in their report. The Resolutions reported and adopted may be seen on the Journal.
Agreable to order, General Washington attended in Congress, and after some Conference with him, Resolved that he be directed to attend again tomorrow.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0126

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-25

[Saturday May 25. 1776.]

Saturday May 25. 1776. Resolved that a Committee be appointed to confer with his Excellency General Washington, Major General Gates, and Brigadier General Mifflin, and to concert a Plan of military Operations for the ensuing Campaign. The Members appointed Mr. Harrison, Mr. R. H. Lee, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Wilson, Mr. R. R. Livingston, Mr. Whipple, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Hopkins, Mr. W. Livingston, Mr. Read, Mr. Tilghman, Mr. Hewes, Mr. Middleton and Mr. Hall.1
Congress took into Consideration the Report of the Committee on the Letter from General Washington of 11 May, the Letter from { 391 } Gen. Schuyler of the third &c. which was in part agreed to, as may be seen on the Journal.2
Resolved that the Consideration of the first Paragraph in said report be postponed, and that the third and fifth Paragraphs be referred to the Committee appointed to confer with the Generals.
Resolved that the several Reports on General Washingtons Letters, not yet considered, and the Generals Letters, which were referred to a Committee of the whole Congress, be committed to the Committee appointed to confer with the Generals.
Thus as Postponement and Embarassment had been for Many Months, the Object, We now had all our Business to go over again.
A Number of Deputies from four of the six Nations of Indians, having Arrived in Town and notified Congress, that they are desirous of an Audience.
Resolved That they be admitted to an Audience on Monday next at Eleven O Clock.
1. The history of this larger committee of conference is too complex to warrant a detailed account here. Its successive reports in the last days of May and early days of June (none of them, so far as the inadequate records show, written by JA) were taken up almost simultaneously in committees of the whole, and on 15 June Congress appointed a committee (of which JA was not a member) “to digest and arrange the several resolutions reported” as a result of recommendations by these and other committees that had been concurrently at work during the preceding crucial weeks in the military as well as political history of the Revolution (JCC, 5:446). See the draft reports prepared by Jefferson for the committee of review, in Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, 1:389–396, and the editorial notes there.
2. JCC, 4:391–392.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0127

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-27

[Monday May 27. 1776.]

Monday May 27. 1776. Agreable to order, the Indians were admitted to an Audience.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0128

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-29

[Wednesday May 29. 1776.]

Wednesday May 29. 1776. The Committee appointed to confer with the Generals brought in a Report which was read and considered, Resolved that the farther Consideration of the Report be postponed till tomorrow.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0129

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-30

[Thursday May 30. 1776.]

Thursday May 30. 1776. Congress took into Consideration the Report of the Committee appointed to confer with the Generals. Resolved that it be referred to a Committee of the whole Congress. Mr. Harrison reported one Resolution, relative to the defence of New York. Leave to sit again.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0130

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-31

[Fryday May 31.]

Fryday May 31. The Committee of Conference brought in a farther report which was read. Resolved that it be referred to the Committee of the whole Congress. Mr. Harrison reported a request to sit again. Granted.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0131

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-06-01

[Saturday June 1. 1776.]

Saturday June 1. 1776. Colonel Joseph Read resigned his Office of Secretary to General Washington.
Committee of the whole again. Mr. Harrison reported some resolutions. Leave to sit again.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0132

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-06-03

[Monday June 3. 1776]

Monday June 3. 1776 Committee of the whole. Mr. Harrison reported sundry resolutions. Leave to sit again.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0133

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-06-04

[Tuesday June 4th. 1776.]

Tuesday June 4th. 1776. Committee of the whole. Mr. Harrison reported more resolutions. Leave to sit again. Resolutions reported postponed.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0134

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-06-05

[Wednesday June 5th. 1776.]

Wednesday June 5th. 1776. Congress took into Consideration the report of the Committee of the whole; whereupon resolved, That a Committee of five be appointed to consider what is proper to be done with Persons giving Intelligence to the Ennemy or supplying them with provisions.
The Members chosen Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Rutledge, Mr. Wilson and Mr. R. Livingston.1
Resolved that Robert Hanson Harrison Esq. have the Rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Continental Army. The Generals Secretary as I suppose. Joseph Reed Esqr. was elected Adjutant General.
1. Later called “the Committee on Spies.” It reported on 24 June and again on 29 July ( JCC, 5:475, 616), but its most important action was the revision of the Articles of War, assigned to it on 14 June and dealt with in Congress during August and September; see the entries of 19 Aug., 20 Sept. in JA's Autobiography, below.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0135

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-06-07

[Fryday June 7th. 1776.]

Fryday June 7th. 1776. Certain Resolutions respecting Independency being moved and seconded. Resolved That the Consideration of them be referred till tomorrow morning; and that the members be enjoyned to attend punctually at ten O Clock, in order to take the same into their consideration.
It will naturally be enquired why these Resolutions and the Names of the Gentlemen who moved and seconded them, were not inserted in the Journals? To this question I can give no other Answer than this. Mr. Hancock was President, Mr. Harrison Chairman of the Committee of the whole House. Mr. Thompson the Secretary was cousin to Mr. Dickinson. And Mr. R. H. Lee, Mr. John Adams1 were no favourites of either.2
1. Here several words follow which have been heavily inked out, doubtless by the diarist. The best guess for them is “and Mr. Adams Principles,” but the last word is utterly conjectural.
2. But see p. 365, note 24, above.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0136

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-06-08

[Saturday June 8. 1776.]

Saturday June 8. 1776. Resolved that the Resolutions respecting Independency be referred to a Committee of the whole Congress. Mr. Harrison reported no Resolution. Leave to sit again.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0137

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-06-10

[Monday June 10. 1776.]

Monday June 10. 1776. Committee of the whole. Mr. Harrison reported a Resolution. The Resolution agreed to in the Committee of the whole Congress being read,
Resolved that the Consideration of the first resolution be postponed to the first day of July next; and in the mean while, that no time be lost in Case the Congress agree thereto, that a Committee be appointed to prepare a declaration to the effect of the first Resolution, which is in these Words, “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent States; that they are absolved, from all Allegiance to the British Crown; and that all political connection be• { 393 } tween them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved.”

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0138

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-06-11

[June 11. 1776. Tuesday.]

June 11. 1776. Tuesday. Resolved that a Committee of three be appointed to consider of a Compensation to the Secretary for his services. The Members chosen Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Rutledge and Mr. Hewes.1
Resolved that the Committee for preparing the declaration consist of five. The Members chosen Mr. Jefferson, Mr. John Adams, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Sherman and Mr. R. R. Livingston. Jefferson was chairman because he had most votes, and he had most votes because We united in him, to the Exclusion of R. H. Lee in order to keep out Harrison.2
Resolved that a Committee be appointed to prepare and digest the form of a Confederation to be entered into between these Colonies.
That a Committee be appointed to prepare a plan of Treaties to be proposed to foreign Powers.3
1. This committee brought in a report on 14 June, and Congress acted thereon (JCC, 5:442). The original report has not been found.
2. This sentence was interlined in the MS after the following paragraph was written. It is at least partly an invention of JA's memory. The real reason why R. H. Lee did not serve on the committee to prepare a declaration of independence was that he wished to be in Williamsburg during “the formation of our new Government” (the Virginia Constitution), and he left Philadelphia for that purpose on 13 June (R. H. Lee, Letters, ed. Ballagh, 1:201, 203). For JA's accounts of the drafting of the Declaration see p. 335 ff. and p. 337, note 31, above.
3. As JA records below, he was named a member of this committee next day. See also JA's earlier discussion of this subject in his Autobiography, p. 337–338, above, and notes there, which, taken together, summarize the history of this important measure and JA's part in it. See also p. 432, below.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0139

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-06-12

[Wednesday June 12. 1776.]

Wednesday June 12. 1776. Resolved that the Committee to prepare and digest the form of a confederation, to be entered into between these Colonies, consist of a Member from each Colony. The Members appointed Mr. Bartlet, Mr. S. Adams, Mr. Hopkins, Mr. Sherman, Mr. R. R. Livingston, Mr. Dickenson, Mr. McKean, Mr. Stone, Mr. Nelson, Mr. Hewes, Mr. E. Rutledge and Mr. Gwinnet.
Resolved that the Committee to prepare a Plan of Treaties to be proposed to foreign Powers consist of five.
The Members chosen Mr. Dickenson, Mr. Franklin, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Harrison and Mr. R. Morris.
Congress took into Consideration the Report of the Committee on the War Office, whereupon
Resolved That a Committee of Congress be appointed by the Name of a board of War and Ordinance, to consist of five Members.
{ 394 }
In order to shew the insupportable Burthen of Business, that was thrown upon me, by this Congress, it is necessary to transcribe from the Journal an Account of the Constitution, Powers and Duties of this Board.
It was resolved that a Secretary and one or more Clerks be appointed by Congress, with competent Salaries, to assist the said Board, in executing the Business of their department.
That it shall be the duty of the said Board to obtain and keep an Alphabeticall and accurate Register of the Names of all Officers of the Land Forces in the Service of the United Colonies, with their Rank and the dates of their respective Commissions; and also regular Accounts of the State and distribution of the Troops in the respective Colonies, for which purpose the Generals and Officers commanding the different Departments and Posts, are to cause regular returns to be made into the said War Office.
That they shall obtain and keep exact Accounts of all the Artillery, Arms, Ammunition and warlike Stores, belonging to the United Colonies and of the manner in which, and the Places where the same shall from time to time be lodged and employed; and that they shall have the immediate Care of all such Artillery, Arms, Ammunition and Warlike Stores, as shall not be employed in actual Service; for preserving whereof, they shall have Power to hire proper Magazines at the public Expence:
That they shall have the care of forwarding all dispatches from Congress to the Colonies and Armies, and all Monies to be transmitted for the public Service by order of Congress; and of providing suitable Escorts and Guards for the safe Conveyance of such dispatches and Monies, when it shall appear to them to be necessary.
That they shall superintend the raising, fitting out, and dispatching all such Land Forces as may be ordered for the Service of the United Colonies.
That they shall have the Care and direction of all Prisoners of War, agreable to the orders and directions of Congress;
That they shall keep and preserve in the said Office in regular Order, all original Letters and papers, which shall come into said Office by Order of Congress or otherwise, and shall also cause all draughts of Letters and dispatches to be made or transcribed in books to be set apart for that purpose and shall cause fair Entries in like manner to be made and registers preserved of all other business, which shall be transacted in said Office.
That before the Secretary of any Clerk of the War Office shall { 395 } enter on his Office, they shall respectively take and subscribe the following Oath, a Certificate whereof shall be filed in the said Office.
I, A.B. do solemnly swear, that I will not directly or indirectly divulge any matter or Thing, which shall come to my Knowledge as Secretary of the Board of War and Ordinance, (or Clerk of the Board of War and Ordinance) established by Congress, without the Leave of the said Board of War and Ordinance, and that I will faithfully execute my said Office, according to the best of my Skill and Judgment. So help me God.
That the said Board of War be authorised to hire suitable Appartments and provide Books, Papers and other Necessaries at the Continental Expence, for carrying on the Business of the said Office.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0140

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-06-15

[Thursday June 15. 1776.]

Thursday June 15. 1776. Congress having proceeded to the Election of a Committee to form the Board of War and Ordinance, the following Members were chosen
Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Wilson and Mr. E. Rutledge.
Richard Peters Esqr. was elected Secretary of the said Board.
From this time, We find in Almost every days Journal References of various Business to the Board of War, or their Reports upon such Things as were referred to them.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0141

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-06-28

[Fryday June 28. 1776]

Fryday June 28. 1776 a new Delegation appeared from New Jersey. Mr. William Livingston and all others who had hitherto resisted Independence were left out. Richard Stockton, Francis Hopkinson and Dr. John Witherspoon were new Members.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0142

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-01

[Monday July 1. 1776.]

Monday July 1. 1776. A Resolution of the Convention of Maryland, passed the 28th. of June was laid before Congress and read: as follows: That the Instructions given to their Deputies in December last, be recalled, and the restrictions therein contained, removed, and that their Deputies be authorised to concur with the other Colonies, or a Majority of them, in declaring the United Colonies free and independent States: in forming a Compact between them; and in making foreign Alliances &c.
Resolved that Congress will resolve itself into a Committee of the whole to take into Consideration the Resolution respecting Independency.
That the Declaration be referred to said Committee.
The Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole. After some time The President resumed the Chair and Mr. Harrison reported, that the Committee had come to a Resolution, which they desired him to report and to move for leave to sit again.
{ 396 }
The Resolution agreed to by the Committee of the whole being read, the determination thereof, was at the Request of a Colony1 postponed till tomorrow.
I am not able to recollect, whether it was on this, or some preceeding day, that the greatest and most solemn debate was had on the question of Independence. The Subject had been in Contemplation for more than a Year and frequent discussions had been had concerning it. At one time and another, all the Arguments for it and against it had been exhausted and were become familiar. I expected no more would be said in public but that the question would be put and decided. Mr. Dickinson however was determined to bear his Testimony against it with more formality. He had prepared himself apparently with great Labour and ardent Zeal, and in a Speech of great Length, and all his Eloquence, he combined together all that had before been written in Pamphlets and News papers and all that had from time to time been said in Congress by himself and others.2 He conducted the debate, not only with great Ingenuity and Eloquence, but with equal Politeness and Candour: and was answered in the same Spirit.
No Member rose to answer him: and after waiting some time, in hopes that some one less obnoxious than myself, who had been all along for a Year before, and still was represented and believed to be the Author of all the Mischief, I determined to speak.
It has been said by some of our Historians, that I began by an Invocation to the God of Eloquence. This is a Misrepresentation.3 Nothing so puerile as this fell from me. I began by saying that this was the first time of my Life that I had ever wished for the Talents and Eloquence of the ancient Orators of Greece and Rome, for I was very { 397 } sure that none of them ever had before him a question of more Importance to his Country and to the World. They would probably upon less Occasions than this have begun by solemn Invocations to their Divinities for Assistance but the Question before me appeared so simple, that I had confidence enough in the plain Understanding and common Sense that had been given me, to believe that I could answer to the Satisfaction of the House all the Arguments which had been produced, notwithstanding the Abilities which had been displayed and the Eloquence with which they had been enforced. Mr. Dickinson, some years afterwards published his Speech. I had made no Preparation beforehand and never committed any minutes of mine to writing. But if I had a Copy of Mr. Dickinsons before me I would now after Nine and twenty Years have elapsed, endeavour to recollect mine.4
Before the final Question was put, the new Delegates from New Jersey came in, and Mr. Stockton, Dr. Witherspoon and Mr. Hopkinson, very respectable Characters,5 expressed a great desire to hear the Arguments. All was Silence: No one would speak: all Eyes were turned upon me. Mr. Edward Rutledge came to me and said laughing, Nobody will speak but you, upon this Subject. You have all the Topicks so ready, that you must satisfy the Gentlemen from New Jersey. I answered him laughing, that it had so much the Air of exhibiting like an Actor or Gladiator for the Entertainment of the Audience, that I was ashamed to repeat what I had said twenty times before, and I thought nothing new could be advanced by me. The New Jersey Gentlemen however still insisting on hearing at least a Recapitulation of the Arguments and no other Gentleman being willing to speak, I summed up the Reasons, Objections and Answers, in as concise a manner as I could, till at length the Jersey Gentlemen said they were fully satisfied and ready for the Question, which was then put and determined in the Affirmative.6
{ 398 }
Mr. Jay, Mr. Duane and Mr. William Livingston of New Jersey were not present. But they all acquiesced in the Declaration and steadily supported it ever afterwards.
1. South Carolina; see Jefferson's Notes of Proceedings (Papers, ed. Boyd, 1:314).
2. Dickinson's very able speech of 1 July, long unknown to historians, survives in the form of a partial rough draft extended by notes, the whole entitled “Arguments agt. the Independance of these Colonies—in Congress,” now in PHi. It has been edited, or reconstructed, with valuable introductory comment by J. H. Powell, in PMHB, 65: 458–481 (Oct. 1941). The burden of it was that separation from Great Britain was at this time premature: the colonists should settle their own differences and obtain the approval of the Bourbon powers before taking such an irrevocable and possibly fatal step.
3. Whether or not “a Misrepresentation,” the notion that JA began in this fashion can be traced to Benjamin Rush, who wrote a memorandum on this debate a few years after it took place; see Powell's article (cited in the preceding note), p. 462. The memorandum might be characterized as well-informed hearsay; it represents Dickinson as answering JA rather than the other way around; and its version of the debate was followed by a number of the earliest historians of the Revolution. For testimony regarding the effect of JA's speech see a long note by CFA in JA's Works, 3:55 ff.; also John H. Hazelton, The Declaration of Independence: Its History, N.Y., 1906, p. 161–162.
4. Dickinson never published his speech of 1 July 1776, but he wrote a recapitulation and exegesis of it in newspaper articles that were published in 1783 (reprinted in Stillé, Dickinson, p. 364–414; see especially p. 367–374). JA may have known of this “Vindication,” as it is usually called, without having seen it.
5. The words “Dr. Witherspoon and Mr. Hopkinson” are inserted above the line in the MS. As first written this passage read: “... and Mr. Stockton, one of them, a very respectable Character.”
6. That is, in the committee of the whole house; Congress adopted the resolution of independence on 2 July. See JA to Samuel Chase, 1 July, LbC, Adams Papers, printed in JA, Works, 9:415–416; JCC, 5:506–507; Jefferson, Notes of Proceedings, in his Papers, ed. Boyd, 1:314. Two years after writing the present passage JA furnished another account of the final debate on independence which varies in important details from that above—most importantly in limiting his own contribution to a single speech on 1 July, not two speeches going over much the same ground, as seems to be implied in the present account (JA to Mercy Warren [17 Aug.] 1807, MHi; MHS, Colls., 5th ser., 4 [1878]:465–469).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0143

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-04

[July [4]. 1776.]

July [4]. 1776. Resolved that Dr. Franklin, Mr. J. Adams and Mr. Jefferson be a Committee to prepare a device for a Seal for the United States of America.1
1. This paragraph is interlined in the MS and mistakenly placed between the last two paragraphs of the entry dated 1 July. The editors have placed it where JA no doubt intended to put it. This committee reported on 20 Aug., but its report was tabled, and no device for a Great Seal of the United States was adopted until 1782. See the proposals and report of 1776 and a summary of later developments in Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, 1:494–497; also JA to AA, 14 Aug. 1776 (Adams Papers; JA-AA, Familiar Letters, p. 211). In his abstract of Congress' proceedings on 20 Aug. JA overlooked the report of this committee.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0144

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1776-07-09 - 1776-07-15

[Monday July 15. 1776.]

Monday July 15. 1776. A Letter from Mr. Jay and two Letters from the Convention of New York of the 11th with sundry Papers inclosed, among which were the following Resolutions
In Convention of the Representatives of the State of New York White Plains July 9. 1776
Resolved Unanimously, that the Reasons assigned by the Continental Congress for declaring the United Colonies free and independent States, are cogent and conclusive, and that while We lament the cruel Necessity, which has rendered that Measure unavoidable, We approve the same and will at the Risque of our Lives and fortunes join with the other Colonies in supporting it.
Resolved Unanimously, That the Delegates of this State, in the Continental Congress, be and they hereby are authorised to concert and adopt all such measures as they may deem conducive to the happiness and Welfare of America.
Extract from the Minutes Robert Benson Secretary
This was the Convention, which formed the Constitution of New York, and Mr. Jay and Mr. Duane had Attended it as I suppose for the Purpose of getting a Plan adopted conformable to my Ideas, in the Letter to Mr. Wythe which had been published in the Spring before. I presume this was the Fact, because Mr. Duane after his return to Congress, asked me if I had seen the Constitution of New York? I answered him, that I had. He then asked me if it was not agreable to my Ideas, as I had published them in my Letter to Mr. Wythe. I said I thought it by far the best Constitution that had yet been adopted.
The dayly referrences to the Board of War, rendered it necessary { 399 } for me to spend almost my whole time in it, on Mornings till Congress met and on Evenings, till late at night. The Journals will shew some of the results of the tedious details. There is one Report, which may be mentioned here.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0145

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-17

[Wednesday July 17. 1776.]

Wednesday July 17. 1776. The Board of War to whom the Letter from General Washington of the 14th was referred brought in their report which was taken into consideration; whereupon
Resolved That General Washington, in refusing to receive a Letter, said to be sent from Lord Howe, addressed to George Washington Esqr., acted with a Dignity becoming his Station; and therefore the Congress do highly approve the same; and do direct, that no Letter or Message be received on any Occasion whatsoever from the Enemy, by the Commander in Chief or others the Commanders of the American Army but such as shall be directed to them in the Characters they respectively sustain.
Resolved that Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Harrison and Mr. Morris be a Committee to bring in a Resolution for subjecting to Confiscation, the Property of the Subjects of the Crown of Great Britain, and particularly of the Inhabitants of the British West Indies taken on the high Seas or between high and low Water Mark.1
1. This committee brought in a report on 19 July which was tabled for later consideration; on the 24th Congress adopted a preamble and resolution relative thereto, but two days later expunged the preamble and the final sentence of the report. The amended resolution appears in JA's Autobiography under 24 July, below. See JCC, 5:591, 605–606; Hancock to Washington, 26 July, in Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 2:26. The authorship of the report and preamble is not known.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0146

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-18

[Thursday July 18. 1776.]

Thursday July 18. 1776. Resolved that a Member be added to the Board of War. The Member chosen Mr. Carrol, an excellent Member, whose Education, Manners and Application to Business and to Study did honour to his Fortune, the first in America.
The Committee appointed to prepare a Plan of Treaties to be entered into, with foreign States and Kingdoms, brought in their report, which was read. Ordered to lie on the Table.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0147

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-19

[Fryday July 19. 1776.]

Fryday July 19. 1776. The Board of War brought in a report, which was taken into Consideration whereupon Resolved. See the Resolutions in the Journal.1
The Committee appointed to prepare a Resolution for subjecting to Confiscation the property of the Subjects of Great Britain &c. brought in the same which was read: Ordered to lie on the Table, and that the same be taken into consideration on Monday next.
The committee to whom the Letters from Lord Howe to Mr. { 400 } Franklin &c. were referred, brought in a report, which was taken into Consideration whereupon
Resolved That a Copy of the Circular Letters, and the declaration inclosed from Lord Howe to Mr. William Franklin, Mr. Penn, Mr. Eden, Lord Dunmore, Mr. Martin, and Sir James Wright, which were sent to Amboy by a flagg, and forwarded to Congress by General Washington, be published in the several Gazettes, that the good People of these United States may be informed, of what nature are the Commissioners, and what the terms, with expectation of which the insidious court of Britain has endeavoured to amuse and disarm them, And that the few, who still remain suspended by a hope founded either in the justice or moderation of their late King, may now, at length be convinced, that the valour alone of their Country, is to save its Liberties.
1. JCC, 5:591. This concerned complaints and jealousies among the officers and troops in Gen. Schuyler's command.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0148

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-20

[Saturday July 20. 1776.]

Saturday July 20. 1776. Resolved that the Letter from General Lee with the papers inclosed, which were received and read Yesterday be referred to the Board of War.
A Petition and memorial of Monsieur Pellissier was presented to Congress and read.
Resolved that it be referred to the Board of War.
Resolved that the Plan of Treaties be printed for the Use of the Members, under the Rest[r]ictions and regulations prescribed for printing the Plan of Confederation; and that, in the printed copy, the names of Persons, places and States be omitted.
The Board of War, brought in a report, which was taken into Consideration; whereupon Resolved, as in the Journal.1
The Delegates of Pennsylvania produced Credentials of a new Appointment made on the 20th. of July 1776. See their names in the Journal. Among them are those of Franklin, Clymer, Morris, Wilson, and Rush.
Resolved, that Dr. Franklin may, if he thinks proper, return an Answer to the Letter, he received from Lord Howe.
1. JCC, 5:595. This concerned commissions for combat and medical officers.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0149

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-22

[Monday July 22. 1776.]

Monday July 22. 1776.
The Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole, to take into consideration the Articles of confederation, and after some time the President resumed the Chair, and Mr. Harrison reported, that the Committee have made some progress in the matter to them referred, but not having come to a conclusion, desire leave to sit again.
Resolved that this Congress will tomorrow again resolve itself into { 401 } a Committee of the whole to take into their further Consideration, the Articles of Confederation.1
1. See JA's Diary entry for 25 July 1776 (Notes of Debates) and the editorial notes there. Several entries that follow in the Diary continue JA's minutes of debates in committee of the whole on the Articles of Confederation; but it is obvious here, as everywhere else in this section of the Autobiography, that JA did not look back at his private and very illuminating records of what went on in Congress.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0150

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-23

[Tuesday July 23. 1776]

Tuesday July 23. 1776 was employed in making Referrences to the Board of War, and in receiving, considering and adopting their reports, as may be seen in the Journal.1
Also in a Committee of the whole on the Articles of Confederation.
1. JCC, 5:601–603.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0151

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-24

[Wednesday. July 24. 1776.]

Wednesday. July 24. 1776. A Letter from Lieutenant Colonel William Allen was laid before Congress and read; requesting Leave to resign his Commission. Resolved that Leave be granted.
About this time it was that, the Gentlemen in the Pennsilvania Proprietary Interest generally left Us.
A Petition from George Kills [Kitts] was presented to Congress and read.
Resolved that it be referred to the Board of War.
The Congress took into Consideration the Report of the Committee appointed to prepare a resolution for confiscating the Property of the Subjects of Great Britain. Whereupon
Resolved That all the Resolutions of Congress passed on the twenty third day of March last, and on the third day of April last, relating to Ships and other Vessels, their tackle, Apparel and furniture, and all goods, Wares and Merchandizes, belonging to any inhabitant or inhabitants of Great Britain taken on the high Seas, or between high and low Water mark, be extended to all Ships and other Vessels, their Tackle, Apparel and furniture, and to all goods, Wares and Merchandizes, belonging to any Subject or Subjects of the King of Great Britain; except the Inhabitants of the Bermudas, and Providence or Bahama Islands.
The Board of War brought in their report, which was taken into Consideration whereupon resolved, as in the Journal.1 Among the number I select with great pleasure, the two following, vizt.
Resolved that Colonel Knox's plan for raising another battalion of Artillery be approved and carried into Execution as soon as possible.
Resolved That General Washington be impowered to agree to the exchange of Governor Skene for Mr. James Lovell.
A Committee of the whole on the Articles of Confederation but no progress.
{ 402 }
Then a List of Letters from General Washington and others, referred to the Board of War.
1. JCC, p. 606–607.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0152

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-25

[Thursday July 25. 1776.]

Thursday July 25. 1776. A memorial from sundry Officers, who served in Canada, referred to the Board of War.
Committee of the whole on the Articles of Confederation.
Letter from General Washington inclosing Letters from Governor Trumbull, and [the] Committee of Safety of New Hampshire, referred to the board of War.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0153

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-26

[Fryday July 26. 1776.]

Fryday July 26. 1776. A Committee of the whole, on the Articles of the Confederation, Mr. Morton in the Chair.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0154

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-29

[Monday July 29. 1776.]

Monday July 29. 1776. A long List of Refferences to the Board of War of Letters from Washington, Schuyler, Reed, Trumbull, Convention of New Jersey, Council of Massachusetts &c. &c.1
The Board of War brought in a report, which was taken into Consideration, whereupon resolved as in the Journal.2
Committee of the whole on the Articles of Confederation, Mr. Morton in the Chair.
1. Only a portion of these letters was referred to the Board of War; see JCC, 5:613.
2. JCC, 5:614–615. This chiefly concerned appointments and assignments of officers.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0155

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-30

[Tuesday July 30. 1776.]

Tuesday July 30. 1776. Two reports from the Board of War, with Resolutions in consequence of them as in the Journal.1
Committee [of the whole] on the Articles of Confederation, Mr. Morton in the Chair.
1. JCC, 5:620–621. These concerned fees to officers for obtaining recruits, Gen. Mercer's proposal for building boats, cannon for Mercer's post at Amboy, publication of a recent treaty with the Six Nations, &c, &c—a miscellany typical of the varied and unending chores of the Board of War.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0156

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-31

[Wednesday July 31. 1776.]

Wednesday July 31. 1776. The Board of War brought in a report, which was taken into Consideration: whereupon Resolved as in the Journal.1
A Committee of the whole on the Articles of Confederation Mr. Morton in the Chair.
1. JCC, 5:623. Concerning “musquet powder” for Washington's troops, and rations and pay for Massachusetts militia replacing Continental troops withdrawn from that state.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0157

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-01

[Thursday August 1. 1776.]

Thursday August 1. 1776. Letters from General Mercer and General Roberdeau referred to the Board of War.
Committee of the whole on the Articles of Confederation, Mr. Morton in the Chair.
Letters from General Washington, General Schuyler and Col. Dubois referred to the Board of War.
{ 403 }
The Board of War brought in two Reports, which were accepted as in the Journal.1
1. JCC, 5:625–626. These reported the draft of a letter to Washington relative to vacancies in the army, and miscellaneous recommendations on small matters.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0158

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-02

[Fryday August 2. 1776.]

Fryday August 2. 1776. The Board of War brought in a report, which was accepted as in the Journal.1
The Marine Committee brought in a report, on the Conduct of Commodore Hopkins.
Committee of the whole on the Articles of Confederation, Mr. Morton in the Chair.
1. JCC, 5:627–628. This concerned funds for the paymaster of the northern department, the employment of Stockbridge Indians in the army, the repair of old arms, a plan for weekly returns from commissaries and quartermasters, &c.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0159

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-03

[Saturday August 3. 1776.]

Saturday August 3. 1776. A Letter from Neil McLean, referred to the Board of War.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0160

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-05

[Monday August 5. 1776.]

Monday August 5. 1776. Two Letters from General Washington; one from the Council of Virginia, with sundry Copies of Letters from North Carolina And South Carolina inclosed; one from E. Anderson; and sundry Resolutions passed by the Convention of Pennsylvania, were laid before Congress and read. Referred to the Board of War.
The Board of War brought in a report; which was taken into consideration: whereupon
Resolved, that the Commanders of all Ships of War, and armed Vessels in the Service of these States, or any of them, and all Letters of Marque and Privateers, be permitted to inlist into Service on board the said Ships and Vessels, any Seaman who may be taken on board any of the Ships and Vessels of our Ennemies, and that no such Seamen be intitled to receive the Wages due to them, out of the said Prizes, but such as will so inlist and that all other Seamen so taken, be held as prisoners of War, and exchanged for others taken by the Enemy, whether on board Vessels of War, or Merchantmen, as there may be Opportunity.
[That] Lieutenant Colonel Rufus Putnam be appointed an Engineer with the Rank of Colonel and pay of sixty dollars a month.
A Petition from Commodore Hopkins, for a hearing &c.
Ordered that the Board of War furnish the Committee of Treasury, with the names of the British Officers and other Prisoners, who are entitled to the Allowance made by Congress of two dollars a Week, with the times of their Captivity and the places where they are quartered.
{ 404 }
Resolved that the Pay of an Assistant Clerk to the Board of War be 266 dollars and two thirds a Year.
A Petition from Lewis de Linkensdorf, referred to the Board of War.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0161

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-06

[Tuesday August 6. 1776.]

Tuesday August 6. 1776. A Letter of the 5th. from General Washington, enclosing copies of Letters between him and General Howe, respecting the Exchange of Prisoners, and sundry other Letters and Papers: Also one from Brigadier General Mercer of the 4th. were laid before Congress and read:
Resolved that they be referred to the Board of War.
A Committee of the whole on the Articles of Confederation, Mr. Morton in the Chair.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0162

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-07

[Wednesday August 7th. 1776.]

Wednesday August 7th. 1776. A Letter from George Measam referred to the Board of War.
A Report from the Board of War, as in the Journal.1
A Committee of the whole on the Articles of Confederation, Mr. Morton in the Chair.
1. JCC, 5:636. This ordered payment for the board and lodging of certain Canadian prisoners at Bristol.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0163

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-08

[Thursday August 8.]

Thursday August 8. The Board of War directed to see certain Resolutions carried into Effect.1
Resolved that the Board of War be directed to take into immediate Consideration, the State of the Army in the Northern department, and our naval force on the Lakes; and that Mr. Chace be directed to attend the said Board, and give them all the Information in his Power; and that Mr. Williams be desired to furnish the said Board with an Extract of the Letter he has received from Governor Trumbull, relative to the said Army and naval force; and that the said Board report thereon as soon as possible.
Resolved that tomorrow be assigned for electing four Major Generals And six Brigadier Generals.
A Committee of the whole on the Articles of Confederation, Mr. Morton in the Chair.
1. The Board was to see that the militia troops in Philadelphia marched immediately to the “flying camp” at Amboy (JCC, 5:637).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0164

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-09

[Fryday August 9th. 1776.]

Fryday August 9th. 1776. The Board of War, brought in a report. Ordered to lie on the Table.
Resolved that the Secret Committee be directed to deliver to the order of the Board of War such Articles in their possession, belonging to the Continent, as, in the Opinion of the said Board of War, are Necessary for the Deleware Battalion.
William Heath, Joseph Spencer, John Sullivan, Nathaniel Green Esqrs. chosen Major Generals.
{ 405 }
James Read, John Nixon, Arthur St. Clair, Alexander McDougal, Samuel Holden Parsons and James Clinton Esqrs., Brigadiers.
Resolved that the hearing of Commodore Hopkins be postponed to Monday next at Eleven O Clock, and that Captain Jones be directed to attend at the same time.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0165

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-10

[Saturday August 10th. 1776.]

Saturday August 10th. 1776.
The Board of War brought in a Report, which was taken into Consideration: Whereupon
Resolved, That Commissions be made out, and sent to General Washington to be delivered to the several Officers recommended in the List exhibited by the said Board, to fill the Vacancies mentioned in the said List, excepting those Persons recommended to fill the Vacancies occasioned by Officers being in Captivity; which ought not to be filled, but to be left open, untill those Officers shall be redeemed, and excepting the Case of Lieutenant Colonel Tyler, who is to have a Commission for Colonel of the Regiment lately commanded by Colonel Parsons, promoted: and that Lieutenant Colonel Durkee have a Commission of Colonel of the 20th. Regiment and that Major Prentice be made Lieutenant Colonel of the Regiment in which he is now Major; and Major Knolton Lieutenant Colonel of the 20th. Regiment.
Resolved that William Tudor, Judge Advocate General, have the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Army of the United States; and that he be ordered immediately to repair to the discharge of his duty at New York.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0166

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-12

[Monday August 12. 1776.]

Monday August 12. 1776. A Letter from General Washington of the 8th. with sundry Papers enclosed, and one from General Mercer, with one inclosed to him from Colonel Dickinson, were read:
Resolved that the Letter from General Washington, with the Papers inclosed, be referred to the Board of War.
Commodore Hopkins had his hearing, as in the Journal. On this Occasion I had a very laborious task, against all the Prejudices of the Gentlemen from the southern and middle States, and of many from New England....1 I thought, however that Hopkins had done great Service and made an important beginning of Naval Operations.
The Record in the Journal stands as follows.
Agreable to the order of the day, Commodore Hopkins attended and was admitted, when the examination taken before the marine Committee, and the report of the said Committee in consequence thereof, were read to him; and the Commodore being heard in his { 406 } own defence, and having delivered in some farther answers to the questions asked him by the marine Committee and two Witnesses being at his request introduced and examined, he withdrew.
Congress then took into Consideration, the Instructions given to Commodore Hopkins, his examination and Answers to the Marine Committee and the report of the marine Committee thereupon; also the farther defence by him made, and the Testimony of the Witnesses; and after some debate the farther Consideration thereof was postponed.
It appeared to me, that the Commodore was pursued and persecuted by that Anti New England Spirit, which haunted Congress in many other of their proceedings, as well as in this Case and that of General Wooster. I saw nothing in the Conduct of Hopkins, which indicated Corruption or Want of Integrity. Experience and Skill might have been deficient, in several Particulars: But where could We find greater Experience or Skill? I knew of none to be found. The other Captains had not so much, and it was afterwards found, they had not more Success.
I therefore entered into a full and candid Investigation of the whole Subject, considered all the Charges and all the Evidence: as well as his Answers and proofs: and exerted all the Talents and Eloquence I had, in justifying him where he was justifiable, and excusing him where he was excusable.2 When the Tryal was over Mr. Ellery of Newport, came to me and said you have made the old Man your Friend for Life. He will hear of your Defence of him, and he never forgets a Kindness. More than twenty Years afterwards, the Old Gentleman hobbled on his Crutches to the Inn in Providence, at four score Years of Age, one half of him dead in consequence of a paralytic Stroke, with his Eyes overflowing with tears to express his Gratitude to me. He said He knew not for what End he was continued in Life, unless it were to punish his Friends or to teach his Children and Grand Children to respect me. The President of Rhode Island Colledge who had married his Daughter, and all his Family shewed me the same affectionate Attachment.3
1. Suspension points in MS.
2. Hopkins was, nevertheless, formally censured by Congress; see entries of 15, 16 Aug., below, and JA to Samuel Adams, 18 Aug. (NN; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 2:53–54).
3. Jonathan Maxcy, acting president of Rhode Island College (Brown University), from 1792, and president, 1797–1802, had married Susan, daughter of Esek Hopkins, in 1791 (DAB).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0167

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-13

[Tuesday August 13. 1776.]

Tuesday August 13. 1776. The Board of War brought in a Report, which was taken into Consideration; whereupon Resolved as in the Journal.1
{ 407 }
A Letter of the twelf[th] from Brigadier General Mercer was read.
Resolved that it be referred to the Board of War.
Congress took into Consideration the Articles of War, and after some time spent thereon, the farther Consideration thereof was postponed till tomorrow.
1. JCC, 5:651. This concerned a variety of routine matters.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0168

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-14

[Wednesday. August 14. 1776.]

Wednesday. August 14. 1776. A Letter of the 12th from General Washington with a return of the Army at New York, and sundry other Papers inclosed, being received was read. Also sundry Letters from England were read.
Resolved That the Letter from General Washington with the Papers inclosed be referred to the Board of War.
The Board of War brought in a report, which was taken into Consideration, whereupon Resolved, as in the Journal.1
1. JCC, 5:656–657. The portion of this report dealing with the appointment and perquisites of a general officer to command the militia troops replacing Continental troops withdrawn from Massachusetts, is in JA's hand (PCC, No. 147, I).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0169

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-15

[Thursday. August 15. 1776.]

Thursday. August 15. 1776. The Board of War brought in a report, which was taken into Consideration: whereupon Resolved as in the Journal.1
A Petition from Return Jonathan Meigs in behalf of himself and others was presented to Congress and read.
Resolved that it be referred to the Board of War.
Congress resumed the Consideration of the Instructions given to Commodore Hopkins &c.
Resolved That the said Commodore Hopkins, during his Cruise to the southward, did not pay due regard to the Tenor of his Instructions, whereby he was expressly directed to annoy the Ennemy's Ships upon the Coasts of the southern States; and that his reasons for not going from Providence immediately to the Carolinas, are by no means satisfactory. At the request of the delegates of Pennsylvania the farther Consideration of the report was postponed till tomorrow.
1. JCC, 5:657–658. This concerned the commissioning of certain officers.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0170

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-16

[Fryday August 16. 1776.]

Fryday August 16. 1776.
Resolved that a Member be added to the Committee to whom were referred the Letters and Papers respecting the murder of Mr. Parsons. The Member chosen Mr. J. Adams.1
{ 408 }
Resolved that the Letters received Yesterday from General Washington, General Schuyler and General Gates be referred to the Board of War.
Congress resumed the consideration of the Instructions given to Commodore Hopkins &c. and thereupon came to the following Resolution.
Resolved that the said Conduct of Commodore Hopkins deserves the Censure of this House and this House does accordingly censure him.
Ordered that a Copy of the Resolutions passed against Commodore Hopkins be transmitted to him.
Although this Resolution of Censure was not, in my Opinion demanded by Justice and consequently was inconsistent with good Policy, as it tended to discourage an Officer and diminish his Authority by tarnishing his reputation; Yet as it went not so far as to cashier him, which had been the Object intended by the Spirit that dictated the Prosecution, I had the Satisfaction to think that I had not laboured wholly in vain, in his defence.
1. This episode remains a mystery. Samuel Holden Parsons of Lyme, Conn., a lawyer and recently promoted Continental brigadier general, had been at Harvard with JA and they maintained a friendly correspondence. On 24 July 1776 Parsons wrote JA about “The Unhappy Fate of my B[rothe]r about 4 Years ago,” allegedly robbed and murdered by one Basil Bouderot in Nova Scotia (Adams Papers). Apparently Bouderot had now been captured in Canada (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 5:173). The full story was in a memorial Parsons sent to Congress, but this has not been found, and the ponderous Life and Letters of Samuel Holden Parsons by Charles S. Hall, Binghamton, 1905, does not even mention the matter. For Congress' action see JCC, 5:609, 661, 692–693; see also JA to Parsons, 3 Aug. 1776 ( LbC, Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0171

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-17

[Saturday August 17. 1776.]

Saturday August 17. 1776. Congress resumed the Consideration of the Report of the Committee, to whom was referred Brigadier General Woosters Letter requesting an Inquiry into his Conduct, while he had the honor of commanding the Continental forces in Canada, which was read as follows:
That Brigadier General Wooster produced Copies of a Number of Letters, which passed between him and General Schuyler, and of his Letters to Congress, from which it appears, that he from time to time, gave seasonable and due notice of the State of the Army under his Command, and what Supplies were in his Opinion necessary to render the Enterprize successful; that a number of Officers and other Gentlemen from Canada, who were acquainted with his Conduct there, and who happened to be occasionally in this City, were examined before the Committee; to which Letters, and the minutes of the examination of the Witnesses herewith exhibited, the Committee beg leave to refer Congress for further Information, and report, as the Opinion of the Committee upon the whole of the Evidence that was before them, that nothing censurable or blame worthy appears against Brigadier General Wooster.
{ 409 }
The Report being read again, was agreed to.
But not, however, without a great Struggle.—In this Instance again as in many others, when the same anti New England Spirit which pursued Commodore Hopkins, persecuted General Wooster, I had to contend with the whole Host of their Ennemies, and with the Utmost Anxiety and most arduous Efforts, was scarcely able to preserve them from disgrace and Ruin, which Wooster had merited even less than Hopkins. In Woosters case there was a manifest Endeavour to lay upon him the blame of their own misconduct in Congress in embarrassing and starving the War in Canada. Wooster was calumniated for Incapacity, Want of Application and even for Cowardice, with[out] a Colour of Proof of either. The Charge of Cowardice he soon confut[ed]1 by a glorious and voluntary Sacrifice of his Life, which compelled his Ennemies to confess he was a Hero.
The Board of War brought in a report which was taken into Consideration; whereupon Resolved, as in all the rest of the Journal.2
1. MS: “confuting.”
2. JCC, 5:665–666. This report embodied a great variety of recommendations, a number of them relating to the exchange of prisoners.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0172

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-19

[Monday August 19. 1776.]

Monday August 19. 1776. Letters from General Washington referred to the Board of War.
A Letter of the 14th. from Commodore Hopkins was read; whereupon Resolved That Commodore Hopkins be directed to repair to Rhode Island, and take the Command of the Fleet formerly put under his Care.
Congress resumed the consideration of the Articles of War as revised by the Committee for that Purpose appointed, and after some time spent thereon, the farther Consideration thereof was postponed.
This Report was made by me and Mr. Jefferson, in Consequence of a Letter from General Washington, sent by Colonel Tudor, Judge Advocate General, representing the Insufficiency of the Articles of War and requesting a Revision of them. Mr. John Adams and Mr. Jefferson were appointed a Committee, to hear Tudor and revise the Articles... .1 It was a very difficult and unpopular Subject: and I observed to Jefferson, that Whatever Alteration We should report with the least Ennergy in it, or the least tendency to a necessary discipline of the Army, would be opposed with as much Vehemence as if it were the most perfect: We might as well therefore report a compleat System at once and let it meet its fate. Some thing perhaps might be gained. There was extant one System of Articles of War, which had carried two Empires to the head of Mankind, the Roman And the British: { 410 } for the British Articles of War were only a litteral Translation of the Roman: it would be in vain for Us to seek, in our own Inventions or the Records of Warlike nations for a more compleat System of military discipline: it was an Observation founded in undoubted facts that the Prosperity of Nations had been in proportion to the discipline of their forces by Sea and Land: I was therefore for reporting the British Articles of War, totidem Verbis. Jefferson in those days never failed to agree with me, in every Thing of a political nature, and he very cordially concurred in this. The British Articles of War were Accordingly reported and defended in Congress, by me Assisted by some others, and finally carried. They laid the foundation of a discipline, which in time brought our Troops to a Capacity of contending with British Veterans, and a rivalry with the best Troops of France.2
1. Suspension points in MS.
2. Though probably substantially correct, this account is inaccurate in details. On 14 June Congress assigned to the “Committee on Spies” (JA, Jefferson, Rutledge, Wilson, and R. R. Livingston) the duty of revising “the rules and articles of war” (JCC, 5:442). On 7 Aug. the committee brought in a report which was debated on 19 Aug. and again on 19 and 20 Sept.; on the last of these dates the revised Articles were adopted and recorded in the Journal (same, p. 636, 670, 787, 788–807). The MS of the revised Articles (in PCC, No. 27) is mainly in the hand of Timothy Pickering (who was not in Congress) and gives no clue to the actual authorship of this document by which JA set so much store. For contemporary printings see JCC, 6:1125–1126 (“Bibliographical Notes,” Nos. 127–130). See also JA's comments in the entries dated 19, 20 Sept., below.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0173

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-20

[Tuesday August 20 1776.]

Tuesday August 20 1776. A Letter of the 18th. from General Washington, with sundry Papers inclosed, was laid before Congress and read.
Resolved that the same be referred to a Committee of five: the Members chosen, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Rutledge, Mr. J. Adams and Mr. Hooper.1
A Committee of the whole on the Articles of Confederation. Mr. Morton reported that the Committee had gone through the same, and agreed to sundry Articles which he was ordered to submit to Congress.
Ordered that Eighty Copies of the Articles of Confederation, as reported from the Committee of the whole, be printed under the same Injunctions as the former Articles, and delivered to the Members under the like Injunctions as formerly.
Thus We see the whole Record of this momentous Transaction. No { 411 } Motions recorded. No Yeas and Nays taken down. No Alterations proposed. No debates preserved. No Names mentioned. All in profound Secrecy. Nothing suffered to transpire: No Opportunity to consult Constituents. No room for Advice or Criticisms in Pamphlets, Papers or private Conversation. I was very uneasy under all this but could not avoid it. In the Course of this Confederation, a few others were as anxious as myself. Mr. Wilson of Pennsylvania, upon one Occasion moved that the debates should [be] public, the Doors opened, galleries erected, or an Adjournment made to some public Building where the People might be accommodated. Mr. John Adams seconded the Motion and supported it, with Zeal. But No: Neither Party were willing: some were afraid of divisions among the People: but more were afraid to let the People see the insignificant figures they made in that Assembly. Nothing indeed was less understood, abroad among the People, than the real Constitution of Congress and the Characters of those who conducted the Business of it. The Truth is, the Motions, Plans, debates, Amendments, which were every day brought forward in those Committees of the whole House, if committed to Writing, would be very voluminous: but they are lost forever. The Preservation of them indeed, might for any thing I recollect be of more Curiosity than Use.2
1. Washington's letter enclosed a recent exchange of correspondence with Thomas, Lord Drummond. Jefferson drafted a report for the committee, which was slightly amended by JA, and brought in, 22 Aug., in the expectation that Congress would publish it. Instead, it was tabled, though on 17 Sept. Congress ordered the Washington-Drummond correspondence published. See Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 5:451–452; JCC, 5:672, 696, 767; Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, 1:501–502; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 2:60.
2. The publication of the Secret Journals of the Acts and Proceedings of Congress, Boston, 1820, 4 vols., under the supervision of JQA as secretary of state, in part obviated the criticisms voiced here. The first volume of that edition (p. 267 ff.) printed for the first time, from the MS Secret Journal of the Continental Congress, the texts of the Articles of Confederation successively proposed in July 1775 and in July and Aug. 1776. No motion by James Wilson proposing that “the debates should [be] public” has been traced. In his Abstract of Debates, 27 Feb. 1777, Thomas Burke of North Carolina reported that Samuel Chase made such a motion that day and that Burke himself seconded it, but Chase's motion as preserved in the Papers of the Continental Congress falls well short of this (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 2:285; JCC, 7:164, note).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0174

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-21

[Wednesday August 21. 1776.]

Wednesday August 21. 1776. A Petition from Prudehome La Junesse was read and referred to the Board of War.
The Committee to whom part of the Report from the Committee on Spies was recommitted, having brought in a report, the same was taken into Consideration where-upon
Resolved, That all Persons, not Members of, nor owing Allegiance to any of the United States of America, as described in a Resolution of Congress of the 24th. of June last, who shall be found lurking as Spies, in or about the fortifications or Encampments of the Armies of the United States, or of any of them, shall suffer death, according { 412 } to the Law and Usage of Nations by Sentence of a Court Marshall, or such other punishment as a Court martial shall direct.
Ordered that the Above resolution be printed at the End of the Rules and Articles of War.
The Board of War brought in a report, which was taken into Consideration whereupon resolved as in the Journal.1
Resolved that the Letter from General Washington read Yesterday, and that of the 12th, with the Papers inclosed, be referred to the Board of War.
Resolved that a Committee of three be appointed to revise the Resolutions of Congress, respecting the place where Prizes are to be carried into, and to bring in such farther resolutions as to them shall seem proper: the Members chosen Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Morris and Mr. J. Adams.2
1. JCC, 5:693–694. These resolves concerned the casting of cannon, the retention of Gen. Ward in command of the eastern department, &c.
2. The report of this committee has not been found.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0175

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-22

[Thursday August 22. 1776.]

Thursday August 22. 1776. Letters from Generals Washington and Schuyler with Papers inclosed, referred to the Board of War.
The Board of War brought in a Report, which was read: ordered to lie on the Table.
The Committee to whom the Letter from General Washington of the 18th was referred, brought in a report which was read: ordered to lie on the Table.
A Committee of the whole on the Form of a Treaty: Mr. Nelson in the Chair.
A Letter from Brigadier General Lewis: also a letter from the Committee of Carlisle, in Pennsylvania, inclosing a memorial from the Officers Prisoners there, were read and referred to the Board of War.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0176

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-23

[Fryday August 23. 1776.]

Fryday August 23. 1776. A Letter of the 21. from General Washington inclosing a Copy of a Letter from him to Lord Howe, together with his Lordships Answer was read:
Resolved That the same be referred to the Board of War, with orders to publish the General's Letter to Lord Howe, and his Lordships Answer.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0177

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-26

[Monday August 26. 1776.]

Monday August 26. 1776. Three Letters of the 22 and 23 from General Washington with sundry Papers inclosed; a Letter from William Finnie, deputy Quarter Master general of the southern department, were read, and referred to the Board of War.
{ 413 }
A Letter of the 22d. from Colonel James Wilson, was read, and referred to Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Franklin and Mr. John Adams.1
1. See the following entry (27 Aug.) and note 32, below.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0178

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-27

[Tuesday August 27. 1776.]

Tuesday August 27. 1776. A Letter of the 23d from General Mercer, was read and referred to the Board of War.
The Board of War brought in a report, which was taken into Consideration; whereupon Resolved. See the several Resolutions in the Journal.1
The Committee to whom the Letter from Colonel Wilson was referred brought in a Report, which was taken into Consideration; whereupon Congress came to the following resolutions: which see in the Journal.2
A Committee of the whole, on the Plan of foreign Treaties. Mr. Nelson reported that the Committee had gone through the same and reported sundry Amendments.
Resolved that the Plan of Treaties, with the Amendments, be referred to the Committee who brought in the original Plan, in order to draw up Instructions, pursuant to the Amendments made by the Committee of the whole. That two Members be added to that Committee. The Members chosen Mr. Richard Henry Lee and Mr. Wilson.
A Petition from the deputy Commissary General was read, and referred to the Board of War.
Delegates from Virginia produced new Credentials. George Wythe, Thomas Nelson, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, and Francis Lightfoot Lee, Esqrs.3
1. JCC, 5:706. These resolves provided for clothing the Continental troops raised in Virginia, &c.
2. Col. James Wilson, an officer in the “flying camp” at Amboy, had written to Pres. Hancock, 22 Aug. 1776, proposing that Congress offer rewards to the officers of the German mercenary troops encamped on Staten Island if they would desert the British service (Force, Archives, 5th ser., 1:1110). The first proposal of this kind had been made in Congress on 21 May (see under that date in JA's Autobiography, above), and Congress had more recently put into effect an ingenious scheme to suborn the German troops themselves (JCC, 5:640, 653–655). The report of the present committee, written by Jefferson and brought in on 27 Aug., recommended that free land be offered to officers on a graduated scale according to their rank; it is printed in Jefferson's Papers, ed. Boyd, 1:509–510. On this whole curious episode see L. H. Butterfield, “Psychological Warfare in 1776: The Jefferson-Franklin Plan to Cause Hessian Desertions,” Amer. Philos. Soc., Procs., 94 (1950):233–241.
3. The Virginia delegates' new credentials were produced on 28, not 27, Aug., JA having once again overlooked a date caption in the Journals.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0179

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-29

[Thursday August 29. 1776.]

Thursday August 29. 1776. A Letter of the 27th. from R. H. Harrison, the Generals Secretary, and one of the 28th. from General Mercer, both giving an Account of an Action on Long Island on the 27th. were read and referred to the Board of War.
{ 414 }
The Board of War brought in a report, which was taken into Consideration, whereupon Resolved. See the several Resolutions in the Journal.1
Resolved That the Committee, to whom the Plan of Treaties with the Amendments, was recommitted, be impowered to prepare such farther Instructions as to them shall seem proper, and make report thereof to Congress.
1. JCC, 5:717. This appears to be a single resolve, continuing George Measam as commissary of stores for the northern army and fixing his pay.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0180

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-30

[Fryday August 30. 1776.]

Fryday August 30. 1776. A Memorial from Mr. Kosciusko was read and referred to the Board of War.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0181

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-02

[Monday. September 2. 1776.]

Monday. September 2. 1776. A Letter of the 31. of August from General Washington, inclosing the determination of a Council of War, and the reasons for quitting Long Island, and a Copy of a Letter from Lord Sterling: Also, one of the 23d from General Gates, with sundry Papers inclosed: one from sundry field Officers in the Army at Ticonderoga, dated the 19th of August, with the Proceedings between a Court Martial and brigadier General Arnold.
Also a Letter of the 23d, from Captain John Nelson, and one from Benjamin Harrison Junior, deputy Pay master General, with his Weekly Account, were read and referred to the Board of War.
Congress being informed, that General Sullivan was come to Philadelphia, with a design to communicate a Message from Lord Howe:
Ordered that he be admitted and heard before Congress.
A petition from Michael Fitzgerald; one from John Weitzell and one from James Paul Govert, were read and referred to the Board of War.
General Sullivan being admitted, delivered a Verbal Message he had in Charge from Lord Howe, which he was desired to reduce to Writing and then he withdrew.
Resolved that the board of War be directed to prepare and bring in a plan of military Operations for the next Campaign.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0182

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-03

[Tuesday September 3. 1776.]

Tuesday September 3. 1776.
General Sullivan, having reduced to Writing the verbal message from Lord Howe, the same was read as follows:
“The following is the purport of the message of Lord Howe to Congress by General Sullivan.
That, though he could not at present treat with Congress as such, yet he was very desirous of having a Conference, with some of the members, whom he would consider for the present only as private { 415 } Gentlemen, and meet them himself as such, at such place as they should appoint.
That he in conjunction with General Howe, had full Powers, to compromise the dispute between Great Britain and America upon terms Advantageous to both; the Obtaining of which delayed him near two months in England, and prevented his Arrival at this place, before the declaration of Independancy took place:
That he wished a compact might be settled at this time, when no decisive blow was struck, and neither party could say they were compelled to enter into such Agreement.
That in case Congress were disposed to treat, many Things, which they had not as yet asked, might and ought to be granted them; and that, if, upon the Conference, they found any probable ground of Accommodation, the Authority of Congress must be afterwards Acknowledged, otherwise the Compact would not be compleat.”
In this written Statement of the Message it ought to be observed that General Sullivan has not inserted, what he had reported verbally, that Lord Howe had told him “he would sett the Act of Parliament wholly aside, and that Parliament had no right to tax America or meddle with her internal Polity.”1
The Board of War brought in a report, which was read, and a number of Resolutions adopted upon it, which see in the Journal.2
1. JA's feelings of repugnance toward Lord Howe's proposal and Sullivan's willingness to convey it are very fully expressed in several letters JA copied into his Autobiography at p. 424 ff. , below. According to Benjamin Rush's recollections, JA turned to him (Rush) while Sullivan was delivering Howe's request to Congress and “whispered to me a wish 'that the first ball that had been fired on the day of the defeat of our army [on Long Island], had gone through [Sullivan's] head.' When he rose to speak against the proposed interview, he called Genl. Sullivan ‘a decoy duck, whom Lord Howe has sent among us to seduce us into a renunciation of our independence' ” (Rush, Autobiography, p. 140; see also p. 119–120).
2. JCC, 5:732. This concerned establishing a post route between Philadelphia and Ticonderoga.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0183

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-04

[Wednesday September 4. 1776.]

Wednesday September 4. 1776. Resolved that the board of War be directed to call in the several Recruiting Parties of the German Battalions, and to have them formed and armed with all possible Expedition, and forwarded to New York, taking measures, and giving proper directions to have the battalion recruited to the full Compliment as soon as the same can conveniently be done.
Resolved, that the proposal made by General Howe, as delivered by General Sullivan, of exchanging General Sullivan for General { 416 } Prescott, and Lord Sterling for Brigadier General McDonald be complied with.
Congress took into Consideration, the Report of the Board of War, and after some time spent thereon
Resolved that the farther Consideration thereof be postponed, till tomorrow.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0184

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-05

[Thursday September 5. 1776.]

Thursday September 5. 1776. A Petition referred to the Board of War.
Resolved That General Prescot, and Brigadier General McDonald be sent by the Board of War, under an Escort, to General Washington, to be exchanged for General Sullivan and Lord Sterling.
Congress resumed the Consideration of the Report of the Board of War, whereupon
Resolved, That General Sullivan be requested to inform Lord Howe that, this Congress, being the Representatives of the free and independent States of America, cannot with propriety send any of its members, to confer with his Lordship in their private Characters, but that, ever desirous of establishing peace, on reasonable terms, they will send a Committee of their body, to know whether he has any Authority to treat with persons, authorized by Congress for that purpose in behalf of America, and what that Authority is, and to hear such propositions as he shall think fit to make respecting the same:
That the President be desired to write to General Washington and Acquaint him, that it is the Opinion of Congress, no proposals for making peace between Great Britain and the United States of America ought to be received or attended to, unless the same be made in Writing and Addressed to the Representatives of the said States in Congress, or persons authorized by them: And if application be made to him, by any of the Commanders of the British forces on that Subject, that he inform them, that these United States, who entered into the War, only for the defence of their Lives and Liberties, will chearfully agree to peace on reasonable terms, whenever such shall be proposed to them in manner aforesaid.
Resolved That a Copy of the first of the two foregoing resolutions, be delivered to General Sullivan, and that he be directed to repair immediately to Lord Howe.
Resolved That tomorrow be assigned for electing the Committee.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0185

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-06

[Fryday September 6. 1776.]

Fryday September 6. 1776.
Resolved that General Sullivan be requested to deliver to Lord Howe, the Copy of the Resolution given to him.
{ 417 }
Resolved that the Committee, “to be sent to know whether Lord Howe has any Authority to treat with persons authorized by Congress for that purpose in behalf of America, and what that Authority is, and to hear such propositions as he shall think fit to make respecting the same” consist of three:
Congress then proceeded to the Elections, and the ballots being taken, Mr. Franklin, Mr. John Adams, and Mr. Rutledge were elected.
Letters from Generals Washington, Schuyler, Gates and Mercer, referred to the Board of War.
The Board of War brought in a Report—Resolutions upon it.1
1. JCC, 5:740. A single routine resolution was adopted and the rest of the report postponed.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0186

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-07

[Saturday September 7. 1776.]

Saturday September 7. 1776.
A Letter of the 5th. from Charles Preston, Major of the 26th. Regiment a Prisoner, was read and referred to the Board of War.
Resolved, that a Copy of the Resolutions passed by Congress, on the Message brought by General Sullivan, and the names of the Committee appointed, be sent to General Washington.
Congress resumed the Consideration of the Report of the Board of War whereupon
Resolved, that all Letters to and from the Board of War and ordinance or the Secretary of the same, be free of all Expence in the Post office of the United States. &c.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0187

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-09

[Monday September 9, 1776.]

Monday September 9, 1776.
Resolved, that in all Continental Commissions, and other Instruments where heretofore the Words, “United Colonies,” have been used, the Stile be altered for the future to the United States.
The Board of War brought in a report, which was read.
On this day, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Edward Rutledge and Mr. John Adams proceeded on their Journey to Lord Howe on Staten Island, the two former in Chairs and the last on Horseback; the first night We lodged at an Inn, in New Brunswick.1 On the Road and at all the public Houses, We saw such Numbers of Officers and Soldiers, straggling and loytering, as gave me at least, but a poor Opinion of the Discipline of our forces and excited as much indignation as anxiety. Such thoughtless dissipation at a time so critical, was not calculated to inspire very sanguine hopes or give great Courage to Ambassadors: I was nevertheless determined that it should not dishearten me. I saw { 418 } that We must and had no doubt but We should be chastised into order in time.
The Taverns were so full We could with difficulty obtain Entertainment. At Brunswick, but one bed could be procured for Dr. Franklin and me, in a Chamber little larger than the bed, without a Chimney and with only one small Window. The Window was open, and I, who was an invalid and afraid of the Air in the night <blowing upon me>, shut it close. Oh! says Franklin dont shut the Window. We shall be suffocated. I answered I was afraid of the Evening Air. Dr. Franklin replied, the Air within this Chamber will soon be, and indeed is now worse than that without Doors: come! open the Window and come to bed, and I will convince you: I believe you are not acquainted with my Theory of Colds. Opening the Window and leaping into Bed, I said I had read his Letters to Dr. Cooper in which he had advanced, that Nobody ever got cold by going into a cold Church, or any other cold Air: but the Theory was so little consistent with my experience, that I thought it a Paradox: However I had so much curiosity to hear his reasons, that I would run the risque of a cold. The Doctor then began an harrangue, upon Air and cold and Respiration and Perspiration, with which I was so much amused that I soon fell asleep, and left him and his Philosophy together: but I believe they were equally sound and insensible, within a few minutes after me, for the last Words I heard were pronounced as if he was more than half asleep....2 I remember little of the Lecture, except, that the human Body, by Respiration and Perspiration, destroys a gallon of Air in a minute: that two such Persons, as were now in that Chamber, would consume all the Air in it, in an hour or two: that by breathing over again the matter thrown off, by the Lungs and the Skin, We should imbibe the real Cause of Colds, not from abroad but from within. I am not inclined to introduce here a dissertation on this Subject. There is much Truth I believe, in some things he advanced: but they warrant not the assertion that a Cold is never taken from cold air. I have often conversed with him since on the same subject: and I believe with him that Colds are often taken in foul Air, in close Rooms: but they are often taken from cold Air, abroad too. I have often asked him, whether a Person heated with Exercise, going suddenly into cold Air, or standing still in a current of it, might not have his Pores suddenly contracted, his Perspiration stopped, and that matter thrown into the Circulations or cast upon the Lungs which he acknowledged was the Cause of Colds. To this he never could give me a satisfactory Answer. { 419 } And I have heard that in the Opinion of his own able Physician Dr. Jones he fell a Sacrifice at last, not to the Stone but to his own Theory; having caught the violent Cold, which finally choaked him, by sitting for some hours at a Window, with the cool Air blowing upon him.3
The next Morning We proceeded on our Journey, and the Remainder of this Negotiation, will be related from the Journals of Congress, and from a few familiar Letters, which I wrote to my most intimate Friends before and after my Journey. The abrupt uncouth freedom of these, and all others of my Letters, in those days require an Apology. Nothing was farther from my Thoughts, than that they would ever appear before the Public. Oppressed with a Load of Business, without <a Clerk> an Amanuensis, or any Assistance, I was obliged to do every Thing myself. For seven Years before this I had never been without three Clerks in my Office as a Barrister: but now I had no Secretary nor servant whom I could trust to write: and every thing must be copied by myself, or be hazarded without any. The few that I wrote upon this Occasion I copied; merely to assist my memory as Occasion might demand.
There were a few Circumstances which appear neither in the Journals of Congress nor in my Letters, which may be thought by some worth preserving. Lord How had sent over an Officer as an Hostage for our Security. I said to Dr. Franklin, it would be childish in Us to depend upon such a Pledge and insisted on taking him over with Us, and keeping our Surety on the same side of the Water with Us. My Colleagues exulted in the Proposition and agreed to it instantly. We told the Officer, if he held himself under our direction he must go back with Us. He bowed Assent, and We all embarked in his Lordships Barge. As We approached the Shore his Lordship, observing Us, came down to the Waters Edge to receive Us, and looking at the Officer, he said, Gentlemen, you make me a very high Compliment, and you may depend upon it, I will consider it as the most sacred of Things. We walked up to the House between Lines of Guards of Grenadiers, looking as fierce as ten furies, and making all the Grimaces and Gestures and motions of their Musquets with Bayonets fixed, which I suppose military Ettiquette requires but which We neither understood nor regarded.
The House had been the Habitation of military Guards, and was { 420 } as dirty as a stable: but his Lordship had prepared a large handsome Room, by spreading a Carpet of Moss and green Spriggs from Bushes and Shrubbs in the Neighbourhood, till he had made it not only wholesome but romantically elegant, and he entertained Us with good Claret, good Bread, cold Ham, Tongues and Mutton.
I will now proceed to relate the Sequel of this Conference, 1st from the Journal of Congress. 2d from the Letters written to some of my friends at the time: and 3dly a Circumstance or two which are not preserved in the Journals or Letters.
1. On this dramatic but fruitless mission see JA's Diary entry of 10 Sept. 1776 and note there; also JA's letters copied into his Autobiography, p. 425 ff., below, and the frequent and animated discussion of it in letters and other documents, 2–17 Sept., printed in Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 2:65–93.
2. Suspension points in MS.
3. Franklin was long and deeply interested in the causes of common colds and projected a treatise on the subject; see his Writings, ed. Smyth, index, under “Colds”; see also Benjamin Rush to Franklin, 1 May 1773 (Rush, Letters, 1:78–80). For an advance in JA's views on fresh air, see his Diary entry of 21 May 1783.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0188

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-13

[Fryday September 13. 1776.]

Fryday September 13. 1776. The Committee appointed to confer with Lord Howe, having returned made a verbal Report.
Ordered that they make a report in Writing as soon as conveniently they can.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0189

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-17

[Tuesday. September 17th. 1776.]

Tuesday. September 17th. 1776. The Committee appointed to confer with Lord Howe, agreable to the order of Congress, brought in a report in Writing, which was read as follows:
In Obedience to the orders of Congress, We have had a meeting with Lord Howe. It was on Wednesday last upon Staten Island, opposite to Amboy, where his Lordship received and entertained Us, with the Utmost politeness.
His Lordship opened the Conversation by Acquainting Us, that, tho' he could not treat with Us as a Committee of Congress, yet, as his Powers enabled him to confer and consult with any private Gentlemen of Influence in the Colonies, on the means of restoring Peace, between the two Countries, he was glad of this Opportunity of conferring with Us, on that Subject, if We thought ourselves at Liberty to enter into a Conference with him in that Character. We observed to his Lordship, that, as our Business was to hear, he might consider Us, in what Light he pleased, and communicate to Us, any propositions he might be authorised to make, for the purpose mentioned; but that We could consider Ourselves in no other Character than that, in which We were placed, by order of Congress. His Lordship then entered into a discourse of considerable Length, which contained no explicit proposition of Peace, except one, namely, That the Colonies should return to their Allegiance and Obedience to the Government of Great Britain. The rest consisted principally of Assurances, that there was an exceeding good disposition in the King and his Ministers, to make that Government easy to Us, with intimations, that, in case of our Submission, they would cause the Offensive Acts of Parliament to be revised, and the Instructions to Ministers to be reconsidered; that so, if any just causes of complaint were found in the { 421 } Acts, or any Errors in Government were perceived to have crept into the Instructions, they might be amended or withdrawn.
We gave it, as our Opinion to his Lordship, that a return to the domination of Great Britain, was not now to be expected. We mentioned the repeated humble petitions of the Colonies to the King and Parliament, which had been treated with Contempt, and answered only by additional Injuries; the Unexampled Patience We had shewn, under their tyrannical Government, and that it was not till the late Act of Parliament, which denounced War against Us, and put Us out of the Kings Protection, that We declared our Independence; that this declaration had been called for, by the People of the Colonies in general; that every colony had approved of it, when made, and all now considered themselves as independent States, and were settling or had settled their Governments accordingly; so that it was not in the Power of Congress to agree for them, that they should return to their former dependent State; that there was no doubt of their Inclination for peace, and their Willingness to enter into a treaty with Britain, that might be advantageous to both Countries; that, though his Lordship had at present, no power to treat with them as independent States, he might, if there was the same good disposition in Britain, much sooner obtain fresh Powers from thence, for that purpose, than powers could be obtained by Congress, from the several Colonies to consent to a Submission.
His Lordship then saying, that he was sorry to find, that no Accommodation was like to take place, put an End to the Conference.
Upon the whole, it did not appear to your Committee, that his Lordships commission contained any other Authority, than that expressed in the Act of Parliament, namely, that of granting Pardons, with such exceptions as the Commissioners shall think proper to make, and of declaring America or any part of it, to be in the Kings Peace, upon Submission: for as to the Power of enquiring into the State of America, which his Lordship mentioned to Us, and of conferring and consulting with any Persons the Commissioners might think proper, and representing the result of such conversation to the Ministry, who, provided the Colonies would subject themselves, might, after all, or might not at their pleasure, make any Alterations in the former Instructions to Governors, or propose in Parliament any Amendment of the Acts complained of, We apprehended any expectations from the Effects of such a Power would have been too uncertain and precarious to be relied on by America, had she still continued in her State of dependence.
{ 422 }
Ordered that the foregoing Report, and also the Message from Lord Howe as delivered by General Sullivan, and the Resolution of Congress, in consequence thereof, be published by the Committee, who brought in the foregoing report.1
Ordered that the said Committee publish Lord Drummonds Letters to General Washington and the Generals Answers.
Two or three Circumstances, which are omitted in this report, and indeed not thought worth notice in any of my private Letters, I afterwards found circulated in Europe, and oftener repeated than any other Part of this whole Transaction. Lord How was profuse in his Expressions of Gratitude to the State of Massachusetts, for erecting a marble Monument in Westminster Abbey to his Elder Brother Lord How who was killed in America in the last French War, saying “he esteemed that Honour to his Family, above all Things in this World. That such was his gratitude and affection to this Country, on that Account, that he felt for America, as for a Brother, and if America should fall, he should feel and lament it, like the Loss of a Brother.” Dr. Franklin, with an easy Air and a collected Countenance, a Bow, a Smile and all that Naivetee which sometimes appeared in his Conversation and is often observed in his Writings, replied “My Lord, We will do our Utmost Endeavours, to save your Lordship that mortification.” His Lordship appeared to feel this, with more Sensibility, than I could expect: but he only returned “I suppose you will endeavour to give Us employment in Europe.” To this Observation, not a Word nor a look from which he could draw any Inference, escaped any of the Committee.
Another Circumstance, of no more importance than the former, was so much celebrated in Europe, that it has often reminded me of the Question of Phocion to his Fellow Citizen, when something he had said in Public was received by the People of Athens with a clamorous Applause, “Have I said any foolish Thing?”—When his Lordship observed to Us, that he could not confer with Us as Members of Congress, or public Characters, but only as private Persons and British Subjects, Mr. John Adams answered somewhat quickly, “Your Lordship may consider me, in what light you please; and indeed I should be willing to consider myself, for a few moments, in any Character which would be agreable to your Lordship, except that of a British Subject.” His Lordship at these Words turn'd to Dr. Franklin { 423 } and Mr. Rutledge and said “Mr. Adams is a decided Character:” with so much gravity and solemnity: that I now believe it meant more, than either of my Colleagues or myself understood at the time. In our report to Congress We supposed that the Commissioners, Lord and General Howe, had by their Commission Power to [except]2 from Pardon all that they should think proper. But I was informed in England, afterwards, that a Number were expressly excepted by Name from Pardon, by the privy Council, and that John Adams was one of them, and that this List of Exceptions was given as an Instruction to the two Howes, with their Commission. When I was afterwards a Minister Plenipotentiary, at the Court of St. James's The King and the Ministry, were often insulted, ridiculed and reproached in the Newspapers, for having conducted with so much folly as to be reduced to the humiliating Necessity of receiving as an Ambassador a Man who stood recorded by the privy Council as a Rebell expressly excepted from Pardon. If this is true it will account for his Lordships gloomy denunciation of me, as “a decided Character.”—Some years afterwards, when I resided in England as a public Minister, his Lordship recollected and alluded to this Conversation with great politeness and much good humour. Att the Ball, on the Queens Birthnight, I was at a Loss for the Seats assigned to the foreign Ambassadors and their Ladies. Fortunately meeting Lord How at the Door I asked his Lordship, where were the Ambassadors Seats. His Lordship with his usual politeness, and an unusual Smile of good humour, pointed to the Seats, and manifestly alluding to the Conversation on Staten Island said, “Aye! Now, We must turn you away among the foreigners.”
The Conduct of General Sullivan, in consenting to come to Philadelphia, upon so confused an Errand from Lord Howe, though his Situation as a Prisoner was a temptation and may be considered as some Apology for it, appeared to me to betray such Want of Penetration and fortitude, and there was so little precision in the Information he communicated that I felt much resentment and more contempt upon the Occasion than was perhaps just. The time was extreamly critical. The Attention of Congress, the Army, the States and the People ought to have been wholly directed to the Defence of the Country. To have it diverted and relaxed by such a poor Artifice and confused tale, appeared very reprehensible. To a few of my most confidential friends, I expressed my feelings, in a very few Words, which I found time to write: and all the Letters, of which I find { 424 } Copies, in my Letter Book, are here subjoined, relative to this Transaction from its Beginning to its End.3
Extract of a Letter from John Adams to Colonel William Tudor, dated Philadelphia August 29. and continued to September 2, 1776.

[To William Tudor]

“So! The Fishers have set a Seine, and a whole Schull,4 a whole Shoal of Fishes, have swam into it and been caught. The Fowlers have set a Net, and a whole flock of Pidgeons have alighted on the bed, and the Net has been drawn over them.... But the most insolent Thing of all, is sending one of those very Pidgeons, as a Flutterer to Philadelphia, in order to decoy the great flock of all.... Did you ever see a decoy-Duck? or a Decoy Brant?”...
Extract of a Letter from John Adams to Colonel James Warren, dated Philadelphia September 4th. 1776.

[To James Warren]

“Before this time, the Secretary, (Mr. Samuel Adams) has arrived and will give you, all the Information you can wish, concerning the State of Things here.... Mr. Gerry got in, the day before Yesterday very well.... There has been a change, in our Affairs at New York.— What effects it will produce, I cannot pretend to foretell. I confess I do not clearly foresee. Lord Howe is surrounded with disaffected Americans, Machiavilian Exiles from Boston and elsewhere, who are instigating him, to mingle Art with Force.... He has sent Sullivan here, upon his parole, with the most insidious, 'tho ridiculous message which you can conceive.... It has put Us, rather in a delicate Situation, and gives Us much trouble.
“Before this day, no doubt, you have appointed some other Persons to come here and I shall embrace the first Opportunity, after our Affairs shall get into a more settled train, to return.... It is high time, for me, I assure you: Yet I will not go, while the present fermentation { 425 } lasts.—I will stay and watch the Crisis; and assist Nature, like an honest Physician, in throwing off the morbific matter.”
Another Letter from [John Adams]5 to Colonel James Warren, dated Phyladelphia September 8, 1776.

[To James Warren]

“I am going tomorrow Morning, on an Errand to Lord Howe; not to beg [a] Pardon, I assure you, but to hear what he has to say.... He sent Sullivan here, to let Us know, that he wanted a Conversation with some members of Congress.... We are going to hear him; but as Congress have voted, that they cannot send Members to talk with him, in their private Capacities, but will send a Committee of their Body as Representatives of the free and independent States of America; I presume his Lordship cannot see Us, and I hope he will not; but, if he should, the whole will terminate in nothing. Some think it will occasion a delay of military Operations, which they say, We much want.—I am not of this mind... Some think, it will clearly throw the Odium of continuing this War, on his Lordship and his Master.—I wish it may.... Others think it will silence the Tories and establish the timid Whigs.—I wish this also: but dont expect it. But all these Arguments and twenty others, as weighty, would not have convinced me of the Necessity, Propriety or Utility of this Embassy, if Congress had not determined [on] it.... I was totis Viribus, against it, from first to last. But, upon this Occasion, New Hampshire, Connecticut and even Virginia, gave Way.... All Sides agreed in sending me. The staunch and intrepid, such as were Ennimies as much as myself to the measure, pushed for me, I suppose, that as little Evil might come of it, as possible.... Others agreed to vote for me, in order to entice some of our Inflexibles, to vote for the Measure.—You will hear more of this Embassy.—It will be famous enough. Your Secretary, (Mr. Samuel Adams) will rip, about this measure, and well he may. Nothing I assure you but the Unanimous Vote of Congress, the pressing Solicitation of the firmest Men in Congress, and the particular Advice of my own Colleagues, at least of Mr. Hancock and Mr. Gerry, would have induced me to have accepted this Trust.”
A Letter from John Adams to Samuel Adams, (then in Boston) dated Philadelphia September 8, 1776.

[To Samuel Adams]

“Dear Sir Tomorrow Morning Dr. Franklin, Mr. Edward [Rutledge and your humble servant sett off to see that rare]6 Curiosity, { 426 } Lord Howe.... Dont imagine from this that a Panick has spread in7 Philadelphia.... By no means.... This is only refinement in Policy!... It has a deep, profound reach, no doubt! So deep that you cannot see to the bottom of it, I dare say!... I am sure I cannot.... Dont however be concerned. When you see the whole, as you will e'er long, you will not find it very bad.... I will write you, the particulars, as soon as I shall be at Liberty to do it.”
A Letter from John Adams to Samuel Adams, then in Boston, dated Philadelphia September 14, 1776.

[To Samuel Adams]

“In a few Lines of the 8th. instant, I promised you, a more particular Account of the Conference.
“On Monday last, the Committee satt off, from Philadelphia, and reached Brunswick on Tuesday night.... Wednesday Morning they proceeded to Amboy, and from thence to Staten Island, where they met the Lord Howe, by whom they were politely received and entertained.
“His Lordship opened the Conference, by giving Us an Account of the motive which first induced him to attend to the dispute with America, which he said was the honor which had been done to his Family by the Massachusetts Bay, which he prized very highly.... From whence, I concluded in my own mind, that his Lordship had not attended to the Controversy, earlier than the Port Bill and Charter Bill, and consequently must have a very inadequate Idea of the Nature, as well as of the rise and progress of the Contest.
“His Lordship then observed that he had requested this Interview that he might satisfy himself, whether there was any probability, that America would return to her Allegiance: but he must observe to Us, that he could not acknowledge Us, as Members of Congress or a Committee of that Body, but that he only desired this Conversation with Us, as private Gentlemen, in hopes, that it might prepare the Way, for the Peoples returning to their Allegiance, and to an Accommodation of the Disputes between the two Countries. That he had no Power to treat with Us, as independent States or in any other C[haracter than as British Subjects and]8 private Gentlemen. But that upon our Acknowledging ourselves to be British Subjects, he had Power to consult with Us. That the Act of Parliament had given Power to the King, upon certain Conditions, of declaring the Colonies to be at peace: and his Commission gave him Power to confer, advise and { 427 } consult, with any number or description of Persons concerning the Complaints of the People in America. That the King and Ministry, had very good Dispositions to redress the Grievances of the People and reform the Errors of the Administration in America. That his Commission gave him Power to converse with any Persons whatever in America concerning the former Instructions to Governors, and the Acts of Parliament complain'd of. That the King and Ministry were very willing to have all these revised and reconsidered, and if any Errors had crept in, if they could be pointed out, they were very willing they should be rectified.
“One of the Committee, Mr. Rutledge, mentioned to his Lordship, what General Sullivan had said, that his Lordship told him, he would sett the Act of Parliament wholly aside, and that Parliament had no right to tax America, or meddle with her internal Polity. His Lordship answered Mr. Rutledge, that General Sullivan had misunderstood him, and extended his Words much beyond their import.
“His Lordship gave Us, a long Account of his Negotiations, in order to obtain Powers sufficiently ample for his Purpose. He said, he had told them (the Ministry, I suppose he meant) that those Persons whom you call Rebells, are the most proper to confer with, of any, because they are the Persons who complain of Grievances. The others, those who are not in Arms, and are not, according to your Ideas in Rebellion, have no Complaints or Grievances. They are satisfied, and therefore it would be to no purpose to converse with them. So that, his Lordship said he would not accept the Commission, or Command, untill he had full Power to confer, with any Persons whom he should think proper, who had the most Abilities and Influence. But having obtained those Powers, he intended to have gone directly to Philadelphia, not to have treated with Congress as such, or to have acknowledged that Body, but to have consulted with Gentlemen of that Body, in their private Capacities, upon the Subjects in his Commission.
“His Lordship did not incline to give Us any farther Account of his Powers or to make any other Propositions to Us,9 than those which are contained in Substance in the foregoing lines.
“I have the pleasure to assure you, that there was no disagrement in Opinion, among the members of the Committee, upon any one point. They were perfectly united in Sentiment, and in language, as they are in the Result of the whole, which is, that his Lordships Powers are fully expressed in the late Act of Parliament: and that his Commission contains no other Authority, than that of granting Pardons, { 428 } with such Exceptions as the Commissioners shall think proper to make: and of declaring America, or any part of it, to be at Peace upon Submission: and of enquiring into the State of America, of any Persons, with whom, they might think proper to confer, advize, converse and consult, even although they should be Officers of the Army, or Members of Congress; and then representing the Result of their Inquiries to the Ministry, who, after all, might or might not, at their pleasure, make any Alterations in the former Instructions to Governors, or propose in Parliament any Alterations in the Acts complained of.
“The whole Affair of the Commission appears to me, as it ever did, to be a bubble, an Ambuscade, a mere insidious Maneuvre, calculated only to decoy and deceive:—And it is so gross, that they must have a wretched Opinion of our Generalship, to suppose that We can fall into it.
“The Committee assured his Lordship, that they had no Authority, to wait upon him, or to treat or converse with him, in any other Character, but that of a Committee of Congress, and as Members of independent States. That the Vote, which was their Commission, clearly ascertained their Character. That the Declaration which had been made, of Independence, was the Result of long and cool deliberation. That it had been made by Congress, after long and great Reluctance, in Obedience to the possitive Instructions of their Constituents; every Assembly upon the Continent, having instructed their Delegates to this [Purpose, and since the Dec]laration10 has been made And published, it has been solemnly ratified and confirmed by the Assemblies: so that neither this Committee, nor that Congress, which sent it here, have Authority to treat in any other Character, than as independent States.... One of the Committee Dr. Franklin, assured his Lordship, that in his private Opinion, America would not again come under the domination of Great Britain: and therefore it was the Duty of every good Man, on both sides the Water, to promote Peace, and an Acknowledgment of American Independency, and a Treaty of Friendship and Alliance, between the two Countries. Another of the Committee, Mr. John Adams, assured his Lordship that in his private Opinion, America would never treat, in any other Character, than as independent States.... The other Member Mr. Rutledge concurred in the same Opinion.... His Lordship said he had no Powers nor Instructions, upon that Subject: it was entirely new.—Mr. Rut-ledge observed to his Lordship that most of the Colonies, had submitted, for two Years, to all the Inconveniences of Anarchy, and to { 429 } live without Governments in hopes of Reconciliation: But now had instituted Governments. Mr. John Adams observed, that all the Colonies had gone compleatly through a Revolution. That they had taken all Authority from the Officers of the Crown, and had appointed Officers of their own, which his Lordship would easily conceive had cost great Struggles: and that they could not easily go back. And that Americans had too much understanding, not to know that after such a declaration as they had made, the Government of Great Britain never would have any Confidence in them or could govern them but by Force of Arms.”
A Letter from John Adams to a Friend11 in Massachusetts dated Philadelphia, Fryday September 6, 1776.

[To Abigail Adams]

“This Day, I think has been the most remarkable of all.... Sullivan came here, from Lord Howe, five days ago, with a Message, that his Lordship desired a half an Hours Conversation, with some of the Members of Congress, in their private Capacities.... We have spent three or four days, in debating, whether We should take any notice of it.... I have to the Utmost of my Abilities, during the whole Time, opposed our taking any notice of it.... But at last it was determined by a Majority, ‘That the Congress, being the Representatives of the free and independent States of America, it was improper to appoint any of their Members to confer in their private Characters with his Lordship. But they would appoint a Committee of their Body, to wait on him to know whether he had Power to treat with Congress upon Terms of Peace, and to hear any Propositions that his Lordship may think proper to make.'12
“When the Committee came to be balloted for, Dr. Franklin and your humble Servant, were unanimously chosen.... Mr. Rutledge and Colonel Lee (Richard Henry Lee) had an equal Number: but upon a second Vote, Mr. Rutledge was chosen. I requested to be excused, but was desired to consider of it, till tomorrow.13 My Friends here advize me to go.... All the staunch and intrepid, are very earnest with me to go.... And all the timid and wavering agree in the request: So I believe I shall undertake the Journey. I doubt whether His Lordship will see Us: but the same Committee will be directed to inquire { 430 } into the State of the Army, at New York,14 so that there will be business enough, if his Lordship makes none. It would fill this Letter Book to give you all the Arguments, for and against this measure, if I had Liberty to attempt it.... His Lordship seems to have been playing off a Number of Machiavillian Maneuvres, in order to throw upon Us the Odium of continuing this War. Those, who have been Advocates for the Appointment of this Committee, are for opposing Maneuvre to Maneuvre, and are confident that the Consequence will be, that the Odium will lie upon him.... However this may be, my Lesson is plain, to ask a few Questions and take his Answers. I can think of but one Reason for their putting me, upon this Embassy, and that is this. An Idea has crept into many minds here, that his Lordship is such another as Mr. Hutchinson: and they may possibly think, that a Man who has been accustomed to Penetrate into the mazy Windings of Hutchinsons heart, and the serpentine Wiles of his head, may be tolerably qualified to converse with his Lordship.
“Sunday. September 8. Yesterdays Post brought me, yours of Aug. 29. The Report you mentioned ‘that I was poisoned upon my return at New York,' I suppose will be thought to be a Prophecy, delivered by the oracle in mystic Language: and meant only that I should be politically or morally poisoned by Lord Howe.... But the Prophecy shall be a false one.”
Extract of another Letter to a Friend,15 dated Philadelphia September 14th, 1776.

[To Abigail Adams]

“Yesterday Morning I returned with Dr. Franklin and Mr. Rut-ledge from Staten Island, where We met Lord Howe, and had about three hours Conversation with him. The Result of this Interview will do no disservice to Us. It is now plain, that his Lordship has no Power, but what is given him in the Act of Parliament. His Commission authorizes him to grant Pardons upon Submission: and to converse, confer, consult and advize, with such Persons as he may think proper, upon American Grievances, Upon the Instructions to Governors and the Acts of Parliament, and if any Errors should be found to have crept in, his Majesty and the Ministers were willing they should be rectified.
“My ride has been of Service to me. We were absent but four days. { 431 } It was an agreable Excursion. His Lordship is about fifty Years of Age. He is a well bred Man but his Address is not so irresistable, as it has been represented. I could name you many Americans in your own Neighbourhood, whose Art, Address and Abilities are greatly superiour.”
1. They were published in the Pennsylvania Gazette, 18 Sept. 1776. The authorship of the report is not known, but the language of JA's letter to Samuel Adams, 14 Sept. (p. 426–429) below, contains marked parallels with the language of the report as submitted and printed.
2. MS: “accept.”
3. The letters and extracts of letters that follow were omitted by CFA when editing the Diary and Autobiography; most but not all of them he printed elsewhere in JA's Works or in JA-AA, Familiar Letters. The texts given here, including their punctuation, are according to the copies in the Autobiography, but though all differences of any significance between the copies and the versions in the letterbook have been noted, trifling mistakes have been silently corrected. (The texts from which JA copied are in Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel Nos. 89–90.) JA's chief idiosyncrasy as a copyist was a frequent use of series of curled dashes, resembling tildes, between sentences. These have been rendered here as suspension points, but the reader must be advised that they rarely indicate omissions; they are, rather, JA's random equivalents of dashes, periods, and sometimes new paragraphs in the letterbook texts he was copying.
4. LbC: “School.”
5. Words missing at top of leaf, worn away.
6. Words missing at top of leaf, worn away, supplied from LbC.
7. LbC: “to.”
8. Words missing at top of leaf, worn away, supplied from LbC.
9. LbC has an added phrase at this point: “in one Capacity or another.”
10. Words missing at top of leaf, worn away, supplied from LbC.
11. His wife, AA.
12. This is a close paraphrase, rather than a precise text, of the resolution adopted on 5 Sept.; see JCC, 5:737.
13. See a canceled entry in the Journal: “Mr. J. Adams requesting to be excused, the question whether he shall be excused from this service was postponed till to morrow” (JCC, 5:738). R. H. Lee said he would not serve and refused to be voted for a second time (same, note).
14. This does not appear in the resolutions adopted on 5 and 6 Sept. (JCC, 5:737, 738), nor did the committee to confer with Lord Howe carry out such an assignment. A different committee reported to Congress on this subject on 3 Oct. (same, p. 842–844).
15. AA.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0190

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-13

[Fryday September 13. 1776.]

I return to the Journal of Congress.
Fryday September 13. 1776.
Two Letters of the 7th. and 11. from General Washington, one of the Eighth from General Green, and a resolution of the Committee of Safety of Pennsilvania of the 13th were read, and referred to the Board of War.
Two Letters of the 8th, from General Schuyler, with sundry Papers enclosed; one of the 7th. from Walter Livingston, and one of the 12th. from Brigadier General Armstrong were read—referred to the Board of War.
A Committee of the whole to take into Consideration, a report of the Board of War. Mr. Nelson reported no resolution.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0191

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-14

[Saturday September 14. 1776.]

Saturday September 14. 1776.
A Letter from R. H. Harrison, Secretary to General Washington, was read. Four French Officers, who arrived in the Reprisal Captain Weeks, being recommended to Congress, Resolved that they be referred to the Board of War.
The Board of War brought in a Report, which was taken into Consideration, whereupon Nine Resolutions were adopted. See the Journal.1
A Letter of the 9th. from General Lee to the Board of War, was laid before Congress and read.
1. JCC, 5:757–758. These concerned rations for militia officers, winter quarters for the northern army, settlement of the accounts of certain officers, powder and flints for Gates' army, measures to enforce the surrender of arms and ammunition by troops leaving the service, &c.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0192

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-16

[Monday September 16. 1776.]

Monday September 16. 1776.
A Letter of the 14th. from General Washington, One of the 9th. from General Schuyler, inclosing a copy of one from General Gates, dated the 6th., and one of the 2d, from General Gates with sundry Papers inclosed, were read, and referred to the Board of War.
A Committee of the whole, on a report of the Board of War. Mr. Nelson reported sundry Amendments and Congress adopted the Resolutions with the Amendments. The Resolutions, which may be seen in the Journal, contain the whole Plan of an Army of Eighty Eight Battalions, to be inlisted as soon as possible, to serve during the War.1
{ 432 }
Resolved that tomorrow be assigned for taking into Consideration the Articles of War.
1. JCC, 5:762–763. The Board of War's plan for an army of 88 battalions, probably introduced on 9 Sept., had been debated in Congress and in a committee of the whole every day from 10 through 13 Sept. (same, p. 747, 749, 751, 754, 756–757). (JA was absent on his mission to Staten Island, 9–12 Sept.) As amended and adopted it was spread on the Journal of the 16th, and after further amendment next day it was on the 20th ordered to be printed (same, p. 762–763, 768, 807). In its final form it appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette on 25 Sept. No version has been found in the Reports of the Board of War and Ordnance, PCC, No. 147. In his comments in the entry of 20 Sept. below, JA implies that he had a large part in initiating this plan for a large and permanent army.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0193

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-17

[Tuesday September 17. 1776.]

Tuesday September 17. 1776.
Sundry Resolutions being moved and seconded, in Addition to those passed Yesterday, relative to the New Army. After debate, Resolved that they be referred to the Board of War.
A Letter of the 10th. from Brigadier General Lewis, was read: Also a Letter from James Forrest was read, and referred to the Board of War.
Congress took into Consideration the Plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign nations, with the Amendments agreed to by the Committee of the whole, and the same was agreed to.
This is all that I can find in the public Journal relative to this one of the most important Transactions, that ever came before Congress. A Secret Journal was prepared, in which all the Proceedings on this Business, were entered, which has never been published. If that Journal was honestly and faithfully kept, the progress of the Plan of Treaties and the Persons chiefly concerned with it, will there appear.1
1. The “Plan of a Treaty with France,” with appended forms of sea letters and passports, and the instructions (adopted on 24 Sept.) to the commissioners about to be appointed to negotiate a treaty, were printed in the Secret Journals ... of Congress, Boston, 1820, 2:7–30 (in JCC, 5:768–779). On JA's role in the preparation and adoption of these important papers, see p. 337–338, 393, above.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0194

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-18

[Wednesday September 18. 1776.]

Wednesday September 18. 1776.
The Board of War, brought in a report, which was taken into Consideration and six resolutions adopted, from it, which appear on the Journal. The Remainder of the Report postponed.1
Resolved that the Board of War be directed to prepare a resolution for enforceing and perfecting Discipline in the Army.
Congress took into Consideration the Instructions to the Commissioners &c.
{ 433 }
These I suppose, were the Ministers to France, and other Courts in Europe.
1. JCC, 5:780–781. The recommendations adopted were highly miscellaneous. Those postponed concerned disputes among officers in the northern army and included a resolution of thanks to Gen. Gates for his “Vigilance Prudence and Activity” with respect to these disputes, &c.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0195

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-19

[Thursday September 19. 1776.]

Thursday September 19. 1776.
The Board of War brought in a report, which was taken into Consideration, and five Resolutions adopted from it, which see in the Journal.1 The last of these, is in these Words.
That the Commander in Chief of the forces of these States in the several departments, be directed to give possitive orders, to the Brigadier Generals and Colonels, and all other Officers in their several Armies, that the Troops under their command may every day be called together, and trained in Arms, in order that Officers and Men may be perfected in the manual Exercises and Manoeuvres, and inured to the most exemplary discipline, and that all Officers be assured, that the Congress will consider Activity and Success, in introducing discipline into the Army, among the best recommendations for promotion.
This Resolution was the Effect of my late Journey, through the Jersies to Staten Island. I had observed such dissipation and Idleness, such Confusion and distraction, among Officers and Soldiers, in various parts of the Country as astonished, grieved and allarmed me. Discipline, Discipline had become my constant topick of discourse and even declamation in and out of Congress and especially in the Board of War. I saw very clearly that the Ruin of our Cause and Country must be the Consequence if a thoughrough Reformation and strict Discipline could not be introduced. My Zeal on this Occasion was no doubt represented, by my faithfull Ennemies, in great Secrecy however, to their friends in the Army, and although it might recommend me to the Esteem of a very few, yet, it will be easily believed that it contributed nothing to my Popularity, among the many.
A Memorial from the Chevalier Dorre was read. Ordered that it be referred to the Board of War.
Congress resumed the Consideration of the Articles of War, and, after some time, the farther Consideration thereof was postponed.
This was another Measure, that I constantly urged on with all the Zeal and Industry possible: convinced that nothing short of the Roman and British Discipline could possible save Us. Yet the Upright Hamilton with his usual Veracity, charges me, with being an Ennemy to a regular Army.2
1. JCC, 5:784.
2. CFA omitted the final sentence of this paragraph. For JA's part in revising the Articles of War see entries of 5 June, 19 Aug., and notes, above; 20 Sept., below.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0196

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-20

[Fryday September 20th. 1776.]

Fryday September 20th. 1776.
{ 434 }
Congress resumed the Consideration of the Articles of War, which being debated in Paragraphs, were agreed to as follows.
Resolved that from and after the publication of the following Articles, in the respective Armies of the United States, the Rules and Articles, by which the said Armies have heretofore been governed, shall be, and they are hereby repealed. The Articles are inserted in the Journal of this day, and need not be transcribed, they are the System which I persuaded Jefferson to agree with me in reporting to Congress. They fill about sixteen Pages of the Journal.1—In Congress Jefferson never spoke, and all the labour of the debate on these Articles, Paragraph by Paragraph, was thrown upon me, and such was the Opposition, and so indigested were the notions of Liberty prevalent among the Majority of the Members most zealously attached to the public Cause, that to this day I scarcely know how it was possible, that these Articles could be carried. They were Adopted however, and have governed our Armies, with little variation to this day, the 7th. of June 1805.
Ordered that the foregoing Articles of War be immediately published.
Ordered that the Resolutions for raising the new Army be published, and copies thereof sent to the Commanding Officers in the several departments, and to the Assemblies and Conventions of the several States.
These were for raising Eighty Eight Battalions, with a Bounty for inlisting the Men during the War, granting Lands &c. which may be seen page 357 and 358 of the Journal of 1776.2
Here again the Honesty of Hamilton appears. The Articles of War and the Institution of the Army during the War, were all my Work, and yet he represents me as an Ennemy to a regular Army. Although I have long since forgiven this Arch Ennemy, yet Vice, Folly and Villany are not to be forgotten, because the guilty Wretch repented, in his dying Moments. Although David repented, We are no where commanded to forget the Affair of Uriah: though the Magdalene reformed, We are not obliged to forget her former Vocation:3 though the Thief on the cross was converted, his Felony is still upon Record. The Prodigal Son repented and was forgiven, yet his Harlots and riotous living, and even the Swine and the husks that brought him { 435 } to consideration, cannot be forgotten. Nor am I obliged by any Principles of Morality or Religion to suffer my Character to lie under infamous Calumnies, because the Author of them, with a Pistol Bullet through his Spinal Marrow, died a Penitent. Charity requires that We should hope and believe that his humiliation was sincere, and I (sincerely) hope he was forgiven: but I will not conceal his former Character at the Expence of so much Injustice to my own, as this Scottish Creolion Bolingbroke in the days of his disappointed Ambition and unbridled Malice and revenge, was pleased falsely to attempt against it. Born on a Speck more obscure than Corsica, from an Original not only contemptible but infamous, with infinitely less courage and Capacity than Bonaparte, he would in my Opinion, if I had not controuled the fury of his Vanity, instead of relieving this Country from Confusion as Bonaparte did France, he would have involved it in all the Bloodshed and distractions of foreign and civil War at once.4
1. JCC, 5:788–807.
2. Under date of 16 Sept., when the resolutions were reported out of a committee of the whole and adopted; see entry of that date, above, and note 1 there.
3. In the MS the word “frailty” is written above “Vocation,” but the latter word is not deleted.
4. The whole of the foregoing paragraph was omitted by CFA.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0197

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-23

[Monday September 23. 1776.]

Monday September 23. 1776. A Letter of the 20 and 21st. from General Washington; two of the 19th. from J. Trumbull; one of the 21st. from the Convention of Delaware; one of the 14th from R. Varick; one of the 19th. from Governor Livingston; also, one of the 14th. from General Schuyler and one of the 19th from Colonel Van Schaick, and one from Dr. William Shippen were read:
Ordered that the Letter from Dr. Shippen be referred to the medical Committee, and the rest to the Board of War.
Two Petitions, one from Colonel J. Stark, and the other from Mons. Devourouy, were read and referred to the Board of War.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0198

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-24

[Tuesday September 24. 1776.]

Tuesday September 24. 1776.
The Board of War brought in a report, which was read. Ordered to lie on the Table.
The Board of War brought in a farther report. Ordered to lie on the Table.
Congress resumed the Consideration of the Instructions to the Commissioners and the same being debated by Paragraphs and amended, were agreed to.
These Instructions were recorded only on the Secret Journal, and are not therefore, in my Power. They may be found, no doubt, at the Seat of Government, in the Office of the Secretary of State.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0199

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-25

[Wednesday, September 25. 1776.]

Wednesday, September 25. 1776. Two Letters from General Lee; one of the 24th. of August to the President, the other of the 27 of { 436 } the same Month to the board of War, both dated at Savannah, being received, were read.
Congress took into Consideration the Report of the Board of War, whereupon Resolved &c. These Resolutions fill two Pages of the Journal.1
1. JCC, 5:823–825. There are twelve resolutions on a great variety of routine matters.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0200

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-27

[Fryday. September 27. 1776.]

Fryday. September 27. 1776. Two Letters of the 24th. and 25th from General Washington, with sundry Papers inclosed; one of the 20th. from the Convention of New York; one of the 22d. from Joseph Trumbull; one of the 25th. from Colonel John Shee inclosing his Commission; and one of the 25th. from Jon. B. Smith requesting Leave to resign his office of Deputy Muster Master general were laid before Congress and read. Ordered that the Letters from General Washington, be referred to a Committee of five. The Members chosen Mr. Wythe, Mr. Hopkinson, Mr. Rutledge, Mr. J. Adams, and Mr. Stone.1
Ordered that the Secret Committee deliver to the Board of War, the Care And Custody of all Arms, Ammunition and other warlike Stores now under their care, or that may hereafter be imported or purchased by them for Account of the United States of America.
1. Washington's letters are printed in his Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 6:105–118. The committee brought in a report on 30 Sept., which was acted on in part that day and in part on 7 Oct., the rest being postponed and thereafter merged with action on the report of the committee that had visited the army in New York (JCC, 5:836, 853, 855 ff.). The resolutions passed on the 30th were chiefly directed to improving army medical personnel and care; those passed on the 7th increased the pay of officers engaging to serve throughout the war. The authorship of the report is not known.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0201

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-28

[Saturday September 28. 1776.]

Saturday September 28. 1776.
The Board of War, to whom the Petition of William McCue was referred, brought in a report, whereupon Resolved, as in the Journal.1
1. JCC, 5:833.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0202

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-09-30

[Monday September 30. 1776.]

Monday September 30. 1776.
Resolved that the Board of War be impowered and directed, on requisition of the General, or commanding Officers in the several departments, to send such Articles of Military Stores, and other necessaries, which they may have in their Possession, or can procure.
Resolved that the Board of War be directed to order the three Virginia Battalions, now on their March to New York, to be lodged in the Barracks at Wilmington; there to remain till further orders.
The Committee to whom were referred the Letters from General Washington of the 24th. and 25th instant, and the Papers inclosed therein, brought in their report, which was taken into Consideration; { 437 } whereupon many Resolutions were passed, which appear in the Journal, and the Remainder of the Report postponed.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0203

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-10-01

[Tuesday October 1. 1776.]

Tuesday October 1. 1776.
Resolved that a Committee of four be appointed to confer with Brigadier General Mifflin. The Members chosen, Mr. R. H. Lee, Mr. Sherman, Mr. J. Adams and Mr. Gerry.1
Resolved that a Committee of five be appointed to prepare and bring in a Plan of a military Accademy at the Army: The Members chosen Mr. Hooper, Mr. Lynch, Mr. Wythe, Mr. Williams and Mr. J. Adams.2
On this same day, I wrote to Colonel Knox in these Words. “This day I had the honour of making a motion for the Appointment of a Committee to consider of a Plan for the Establishment of a military Accademy, in the Army. The Committee was appointed and your Servant was one. Write me your Sentiments upon the Subject.”3
As this was, in my Opinion the most critical and dangerous Period of the whole revolutionary War, as all that I had seen and heard and read of the State of our Army made a great impression [upon] my Mind, and arroused the most allarming Apprehension, I will conceal nothing from Posterity. My own private Letters, to confidential Friends, will shew my Opinion at the time of the State of facts, and the measures that were necessary, to retrieve our disgraces. Like Mr. Gifford, I look back, with a sort of Scepticism, on the Application of those days and cannot account for the possibility of finding time amidst all my Employments in Congress and the Board of War, to write and copy the Letters I find in my Books.4 I had no Secretary or Clerk and all appears in my hand Writing. I wrote to Colonel Tudor

[To William Tudor]

[salute] Dr. Sir

Your obliging favours of September 6 from New York and that of the 23d from the Plains of Haarlem, are now before me.5 The Picture you draw of the Army, and the disorders which prevail in it, is shock• { 438 } ing: but I believe it is just. But We often find, that in the variagated Scaene of human life, that much good grows out of great Evil.... A few disgraces and defeats have done more, towards convincing the Congress, than the Rhetorick of many months, assisted by frequent Letters from the General, and many other Officers of the Army, was able to effect. Before this time you have been informed, that the Articles of War, are passed and printed, and a new Plan for the formation of a permanent and regular Army, is adopted. I wish it may have Success.—Pray give me your Opinion of it.
The late Events at New York have almost overcome my Utmost Patience. I can bear the Conflagration of Towns, nay almost any thing else, public or private, better than disgrace. The Cowardice of New England men is an unexpected discovery to me, and I confess has put my Philosophy to the Tryal. If I had heard, that Parsons's and Fellows's Brigades had been cutt to Pieces, and had my Father, my Brother and Son been among the Slain, I sincerely believe, upon a cool examination of my own heart, it would not have given me so much grief as the shamefull flight of the 15th. instant.... I hope that God will forgive the guilty in the next World: but, should any question concerning this transaction, come into any place where I have a Vote, I should think it my duty to be inexorable, in this. We have none of the particulars, but I conclude, that such detestable Behaviour of whole Brigades, could not have happened, without the worst Examples, in some Officers of Rank.—These, if any such there are, shall never want my Voice, for sending them to another World. If the best Friend I have, should prove to be one of them, I should think myself guilty of his Crime, and that I deserved his Punishment, if I interposed one Word, between him and death.
I lament the Fall of the young Hero, Henly. But I wish you had been more particular, in your narration of the Enterprize, which proved so glorious and so fatal to him. You are much mistaken in your Apprehension, that We are minutely informed of such Events. We suffer great Anxiety, and the Public suffers many Misfortunes, for Want of Information. The Post Office, which has been in fault, is now beginning to do its duty. Dont you neglect yours.

[addrLine] Colonel Tudor.

Another Letter to Colonel Tudor, without a date, but about the same time.6
{ 439 }

[To William Tudor]

[salute] My young Friend.

I pity the Situation of the General, because it is a difficult, a dangerous and a most important one. I make it my Rule to cover all Imperfections in the Generals, and other Officers of inferiour rank as well as I can, and to make full and ample Allowances for all their Virtues, Merits, and Services.
I recollect that Polybius, who was as great a Judge of War as any of his Age, was loud in his Praises of the Roman Troops. He never imputed any defeat, to the fault of the men, but, universally to the folly and incapacity, of their Commanders. Our Generals and other Officers must learn the same Justice and Policy. General imputations of Cowardice and impatience of discipline to the Men, are false, or, if true, it is the fault of the Officers: it is owing to their ignorance, incapacity or indolence: and farther, if it was true, concealing is the Way to cure it, not publishing of it. The frequent Surprizes, by which our Officers and Men are taken, in the most palpable trapps, convince me, that there is a dearth of Genius among them.
There never was perhaps, a Crisis, in which a Coincidence of Circumstances, offered a fairer Opportunity for some great mind, to shew and exert itself.
And perhaps there is not in all Antiquity, if there is in universal History, an Example, more apposite to our Situation, than that of Thebes, or a Character more deserving of imitation, than that of Epaminondas.
The Boeotians were remarkable, even to a proverb, for their dullness, and untill the Age of Epaminondas, made no figure in War. By the Peace of Antalcidas, the honor and interest of Greece, was prostituted to the Pride of Sparta. The Thebans were compelled to acceed to that Treaty, although it deprived them of the dominion of Boeotia, and the Spartans by tampering with a perfidious Aristocratick faction at last got possession of their citadel, and reduced the Thebans to unconditional Subjugation. From this wretched State both of foreign and domestic Slavery, they were delivered, by the Virtue and Ability of Epaminondas, and raised to power superiour to the other Grecian States. The honest Citizens, enraged to see their Country, thus cheated into Servitude, determined to set her free. The project was well laid, and boldly executed by Pelopidas, who entered the City with a small number of resolute men in disguise, destroyed Leontidas and Archias, { 440 } the two Traytors and Tyrants, and with the assistance of Epaminondas and his friends, together with a body of Athenians, regained the Citadel. The Spartans hearing of this revolution, entered the territories of the Thebans with a powerful Army, to take vengeance of the Rebells, and reduce the City to its former Subjection. The timorous Athenians, dreading the formidable Power of Sparta, renounced all Friendship for the Thebans, and punished with great Severity, such of their Citizens as favoured them. The Thebans, destitute of Friends, and deserted by their Allies, appeared to the rest of the World to be devoted to inevitable destruction. In such a desperate conjuncture of Affairs, the Genius and Virtue of two great Men shone forth to the Astonishment of all Mankind.
But what means did they Use?... Their Men were raw Militia, fresh recruits, new raised Citizens and husbandmen, unexperienced, undisciplined, unused to Subordination, having been born and educated under the most democratical government in all Greece, and, what is worse, from a natural or habitual hebetude, not very adroit, at learning any Thing.
They began by training their Men, inspiring them with a Contempt and hatred of Servitude, and the noble resolution of dying in defence of the Liberty and glory of their Country. They judged it rash, to hazard a decisive battle, with their new raised Militia, against the best troops in Greece: but chose rather to harrass the Spartans, with frequent Skirmishes, to instruct their men in military discipline and the manoeuvres of War. The minds of their Soldiers were thus animated with the desire of glory, and their Bodies hardened to the fatigues of War, whilst they gained Experience, Confidence and Courage by daily Rencounters.
These great Generals, like all others in similar Circumstances, never engaging presumptuously, but carefully watching for favourable Opportunities, let loose the Thebans, like young hounds upon their Ennemies, and rendered them alert and brave, by tasting the Sweets of Victory. By bringing them off, in Safety, they made them fond of the Sport and eager after the most dangerous Enterprizes. By this skilfull Conduct, they brought their forces, to defeat the Spartans at Platea, Thespia, Tenagra and Tegyra. These Actions were only preludes to the decisive Battle of Leuctra: for, flushed with these Successes, the Thebans dreaded no Enemy, however superior in number. Greece saw with Astonishment, the Spartans defeated by inferiour numbers of Men, who had always been held in Contempt. This train of Successes elated the Thebans, but only enraged the Spartans. They negotiated { 441 } a Peace with Athens and all the other Grecian States, and Thebes was devoted to Spartan revenge. The largest Army, they ever sent into the field entered Boeotia, but Epaminondas, with six thousand Men only, by his admirable disposition of them and their bravery, engaged and defeated three times their number, and soon afterwards marched to the Gates of Sparta, and exhibited to that haughty People a Sight they had never before beheld.

[addrLine] Coll. Tudor.

John Adams to Henry Knox

[salute] Dear Sir

This Evening I had the Pleasure of your's, of the 25th.... I have only to ask you, whether it would be agreable to you, to have Austin made your Lieutenant Colonel? Let me know sincerely, for I will never propose it without your Approbation.
I agree with you that there is nothing of the vast, in the Characters of the Ennemy's General or Admiral.... But I differ in Opinion from you, when you think, that if there had been, they would have Annihilated your Army.... It is very true, that a silly Panick has been spread in your Army and from thence even to Philadelphia. But Hannibal spread as great a Panick, once, at Rome, without daring to take Advantage of it.... If he had, his own Army would have been annihilated: and he knew it. A Panick in an Army when pushed to desperation, becomes Heroism.
However, I despize that Panick and those who have been infected with it, and I could almost consent that the good old Roman fashion of decimation should be introduced. The Legion, which ran away, had the name of every Man in it, put into a Box, and then drawn out, and every tenth Man was put to death. The terror of this Uncertainty, whose Lot it would be to die, restrained the whole in the time of danger from indulging their fears.
Pray tell me, Colonel Knox, does every Man to the Southward of Hudsons River, behave like an Hero, and every Man to the Northward of it, like a Poltroon, or not? The Rumours, Reports and Letters which come here upon every Occasion, represent the New England Troops, as Cowards, running away perpetually, and the Southern Troops as standing bravely. I wish I could know, whether it is true. I want to know for the Government of my own Conduct, because, if the New Englandmen are a Pack of Cowards, I would resign my place in Congress, where I should not choose to represent Poltroons, and re• { 442 } move to some Southern Colony, where I could enjoy the Society of Heros, and have a chance of learning some time or other, to be part of an Hero myself.... I must say, that your Amiable General gives too much Occasion for these reports by his Letters, in which he often mentions things to the disadvantage of some part of New England, but seldom any thing of the Kind about any other Part of the Continent.7
You complain of the popular Plan of raising the new Army. But if you make the plan as unpopular, as you please, you will not mend the matter. If you leave the Appointment of Officers to the General, or to the Congress, it will not be so well done, as if left to the Assemblies. The true cause of the Want of good Officers in the Army is not, because the Appointment is left to the Assemblies, but because such officers in sufficient Numbers are not in America. Without materials the best Workmen can do nothing. Time, Study and Experience alone, must make a sufficient number of able Officers.
I wish We had a military Accademy, and should be obliged to you for a Plan of such an Institution. The Expence would be a trifle, no object at all, with me.8

John Adams to Colonel Hitchcock

[salute] Dear Sir

Yours of September the 9th. was duely received.10 The measure of a Standing Army, is at length resolved on. You have seen the plan. How do you like it? I wish it was liable to fewer Exceptions, but We must be content to crawl into the right Way, by degrees. This was the best that We could obtain, at present.
I am extreamly sorry, to learn, that the Troops have been disheartened. But this despondency of Spirit, was the natural Effect, of the Retreats you have made, one after another. When the Men saw your General Officers, taken in a trap, upon Long Island, and the Army obliged to abandon that important Post, in consequence of that { 443 } Ambuscade, and the City of New York, evacuated in Consequence of the Retreat from Long Island, the firmest Army in the World, would have been seized, in similar Circumstances, with more or less of a Panick. But your men will now recover their Spirits in a short time.
There is a Way, of introducing Discipline into the most irregular Army, and of inspiring Courage into the most pusillanimous Collection of Men.
Your Army, Sir, give me leave to say, has been ill managed in two most essential points. The first is, in neglecting to train your Regiments and Brigades to the manual Exercises and the Manoeuvres. Nothing inspires the Men with military pride and Ambition (for even the Men must have Ambition) like calling them together every day, and making them appear as well as they can. By living much together, and moving in concert, they acquire a confidence in themselves, and in each other. By being exposed to the Inspection, and Observations of each other, they become ambitious of appearing as clean and neat as they can, which as well as the Exercise preserves their health and hardens their Bodies against diseases. But instead of these martial, manly and elegant Exercises, they have been kept constantly at Work in digging Trenches in the Earth; which keeps them constantly dirty, and not having Wives, Mothers, Sisters or Daughters, as they used to have at home to take care of them and keep them clean, they gradually loose their Perspiration and their health.
Another particular, which is absolutely necessary to introduce military Ardour into a new raised Army, has been totally neglected. Such an Army should be governed with caution and circumspection, I agree. It should act chiefly upon the defensive, and no decisive Battle should be hazarded. But still an enterprizing Spirit should be encouraged. Favourable Opportunities should be watched, and Parties should be ordered out upon little excursions and expeditions: and in this manner Officers and Men should be permitted to acquire fame and honor in the Army, which will soon give them a real fondness for fighting. They will love the Sport. But instead of this, every Spark of an enterprizing Spirit in the Army, seems to have been carefully extinguished.
Our inevitable destruction will be the Consequence, if these faults are not amended. I rejoiced to hear of the Attempt, upon Montresors Island: but am vexed and mortified, at its shameful Issue. I am more humiliated still to learn, that the Enterprize was not renewed. If there had been Officers or Men, who would have undertaken the Expedition, a second, a third or a fiftieth time, I would have had that Island, if { 444 } it had cost me, half my Army. Pray inform me what Officers and Men were sent upon that Attempt. It is said, there was shameful Cowardice. If any Officer was guilty of it, I sincerely hope he will be punished with death. This most infamous and detestable Crime, must never be forgiven in an Officer. Punishments as well as rewards will be necessary to Government, as long as fear, as well as hope, is a natural Passion in the human Breast.

[addrLine] Colonel Hitchcock.

John Adams to General Parsons

[salute] My dear Sir

Your Letter from Long Island of the 29th. of August,11 has not been answered. I was very much obliged to You, for it: because it contained Intelligence of a transaction, about which, We were left very much in the dark, at that time, and indeed to this hour, are not so well informed as We should be. I think, Sir, that the Enemy, by landing upon that Island, put it compleatly in our Power to have broke their plans, for this Campaign, and to have defended New York. But there are strong Marks of Negligence, Indolence, Presumption, and Incapacity on our Side, by which scandalous Attributes We lost that Island wholly, and Manhattan Island nearly. I am happy to hear your Behaviour commended. But, Sir, it is manifest that our Officers were not acquainted with the Ground; that they had never reconnoitred the Enemy; that they had neither Spies, Sentries, nor Guards placed as they ought to have been; and that they had been shamefully remiss in Obtaining Intelligence, of the Numbers and Motions of the Enemy, as well as of the nature of the Ground.
I have read, somewhere or other that a Commander, who is surprized in the night, though guilty of an egregious fault, may yet plead something in Excuse: but, in point of discipline, for a General to be surprized by an Enemy, just under his nose, in open day and caught in a State of wanton Security, from an overweening presumption in his own Strength, is a crime of so capital a nature, as to admit of neither Alleviation nor Pardon.12 Ancient Generals have been nailed to Gibbets alive, for such crimes.
{ 445 }
Be this as it may, I think the Enemy have reached their Ne plus, for this Year. I have drawn this Conclusion from the Example of Hannibal, whose Conquests changed the face and fortune of the War. According to Montesquieu, so long as he kept his whole Army together, he always defeated the Romans: but when he was obliged to put Garrisons into Cities, to defend his Allies, to besiege Strong holds, or prevent their being besieged, he then found himself too weak, and lost a great part of his Army by piece meal. Conquests are easily made, because We atchieve them with our whole force: they are retained with difficulty because We defend them, with only a part of our forces.
Howe, with his whole Army could easily take Possession of Staten Island, where there was nothing to oppose him. With the same Army, he found no great difficulty, in getting Long Island, where even his Talent at Strategem, which is very far from Eminent, was superiour to the Capacity of his Antagonist. After this it was easy to take New York which was wisely abandoned to him. But, Sir, the Case is altered. A Garrison is left at Staten Island, another at Long Island, a little one at Montresor's Island, another at Paulus Hook, a large Body in the City of New York and a larger still to man the Lines, across the Island, between the Seventh and the Eighth mile Stone. After such a division and distribution of his forces, I think he has nearly reached the End of his tether for this Year.
The Ennemies Forces are now in a Situation peculiarly happy, for Us to take Advantage of.... If an enterprizing Spirit should be indulged and encouraged, by our Commanders, in little Expeditions to Staten Island, Long Island, Montresors Island and elsewhere, you would gradually form your Soldiers for great Exploits and you would weaken, harrass and dispirit your Enemy.
Thus you see I scribble my Opinions with great Assurance, upon Subjects, which I understand not. If they are right, it is well, if wrong they will not mislead you.

[addrLine] General Parsons.

If these Papers should hereafter be read by disinterested Persons, they will perhaps think that I took too much upon me, in assuming the Office of Preceptor to the Army. To this Objection I can only reply, by asserting that it was high time, that the Army had some Instructor, or other. It was a Scaene of Indiscipline, Insubordination and Confusion. Colonel Tudor had been my Pupil, as a Clerk in my Office as a Barrister at Law. Colonel Knox had been a Youth, who { 446 } had attracted my notice by his pleasing manners and inquisitive turn of Mind, when I was a Man in Business in Boston. General Parsons had been my junior for three Years at Colledge, and upon terms of familiarity. I had therefore no reason to suppose that either of them would take offence, at any thing I should write. Again I had formed an Opinion, that Courage and reading were all that were necessary to the formation of an Officer. Of the Courage of these Gentlemen and the Officers in general I had no doubt. But I was too well informed, that most of the Officers were deficient in reading: and I wished to turn the Minds of such as were capable of it, to that great Source of Information. I had met with an Observation among regular Officers, that Mankind were naturally divided into three Sorts. One third of them are animated at the first appearance of danger, and will press forward to meet it and examine it; another third are allarmed at it: but will neither advance nor retreat, till they know the nature of it: but stand to meet it: the remaining third will run or fly upon the first thought of it. If this Remark is just, as I believed it was, it appeared to me that the only Way to form an Army to be confided in, was a systematic discipline: by which means all Men may be made Heroes. In this manner, in time our American Army was made equal to the Veterans of France and England: and in this Way the Armies of France have been made invincible hitherto: and in the same Way, they will be ultimately conquered or at least successfully resisted by their Ennemies.
All the Powers of Government, Legislative, Executive and judiciary, were at that time collected in one Centre and that Centre was the Congress. As a Member of that Body I had contributed my Share towards the Creation of the Army, and the Appointment of all the Officers: and as President of the Board of War it was my peculiar Province to superintend every thing relating to the Army. I will add without Vanity, I had read as much on the military Art and much more of the History of War than any American Officer of that Army, General Lee excepted. If all these Considerations are not a sufficient Apology, for my Interference, I submit to censure. Certain it is, that these Letters and many more that I wrote, without preserving Copies, were not callculated to procure me popularity in the Army: but on the contrary contributed to produce those misrepresentations which were diffused from that Source against me as well my Friend Samuel Adams and others. The Generals Secretaries and Aids, all from the Southward, Reed, Harrison &c. &c. were young Gentlemen of Letters, and thought full as highly of themselves as they ought to think, and { 447 } much more disrespectfully of New England and even of Congress, than they ought to have thought, dictated Letters, which were not well calculated to preserve the Subordination of the military Power, to the civil Authority, which the Spirit of Liberty will always require and enforce. Of Hamilton, when he came into the Generals Family I need say nothing. For my Part I never heard of him till after the Peace, and the Evacuation of the City of New York. The World has heard enough of him since. His Petulance, Impertinence and Impudence, will make too great a figure in these memoires hereafter.13
1. Mifflin was about to resume his post as Continental quartermaster general. On 2 Oct. this committee brought in recommendations concerning supplies, employees, pay, appropriations, &c, for the quartermaster's department, on which Congress acted (JCC, 5:839–840). The authorship of the report is not known.
2. The history of this project is obscure, but nothing came of it at the time. See a note on it in Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 2:108.
3. This is the postscript to JA's letter to Knox of 29 Sept. (LbC, Adams Papers), which JA copied in full into his Autobiography a few pages farther on.
4. The letters that follow were omitted by CFA in his text of the Diary and Autobiography, though he printed several of them elsewhere in JA's Works. In the present edition they have been treated like those inserted earlier; see p. 424, above, and note 53 there.
5. Both in Adams Papers.
6. JA was mistaken; this is actually a continuation of the letter to Tudor of 26 Sept. The evidence in JA's letterbook is confusing, but a copy of the letter made by Tudor (MHi: Tudor Papers) contains the text of both parts and an additional paragraph that was evidently appended to the (missing) recipient's copy.
7. In LbC this sentence was amended by interlineation, doubtless before the (missing) recipient's copy was sent to Knox. It first read: “I must say that your amiable General gives too much Occasion for these Reports by his Letters, in which he is eternally throwing some Slur or other upon some Part of New England, but never one Word of the Kind about any other Part of the Continent.”
8. Here follows a postscript dated 1 Oct. which JA had already copied into his Autobiography, p. 437, above, and which is therefore omitted here.
9. Daniel Hitchcock of Rhode Island; colonel, 11th Continental regiment; died Jan. 1777 (Heitman, Register Continental Army).
10. From “Harlem Camp” (in Adams Papers).
11. Mainly concerning the action on Long Island, 27 Aug. (in Adams Papers).
12. In LbC this sentence, beginning with the words “a Commander,” is in quotation marks, and at the end of the paragraph JA parenthetically noted his source: “E. W. Montagues Reflections on the Rise and fall of the ancient Republicks. p. 203.” JA's copy of this popular work by Edward Wortley Montagu, 2d edn., London, 1760, remains among his books in the Boston Public Library.
13. Preceding four sentences omitted by CFA in his text.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0016-0204

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1776-10-01

[October 1st. 1776.]

October 1st. 1776.
Resolved that a Committee of four be appointed to confer with Brigadier General Mifflin. The Members chosen Mr. R. H. Lee, Mr. Sherman, Mr. J. Adams and Mr. Gerry.1
Some time in the month of October 1776, I cannot from the Journals ascertain the day, worn down with continual Application, through all the heats of a Summer in Philadelphia, anxious for the State of my family and desirous of conferring with my Constituents on the critical and dangerous State of Affairs at home, I asked Leave of Congress to be absent, which they readily granted.2
However, before I proceed to relate the Occurrences of this Journey, I will copy some other Letters which ought to be inserted in this place, or perhaps they would be better thrown into an Appendix all together.3

John Adams to General Parsons

[salute] Dear Sir

Your favours of the 13th and 15th are before me.4 The Gentlemen you recommend for Majors, Chapman and Dier [Dyer], will be recommended by the Board of War, and I hope agreed to in Congress.
I thank you for your Observations upon certain Field Officers. Patterson, Shepherd and Brooks, make the best figure, I think, upon paper. If it is my misfortune, that I have not the least Acquaintance with any of those Gentlemen, having never seen any one of them, or heard his name, till lately. This is a little remarkable. Few Persons { 448 } in the Province, ever travelled over the whole of it more than I have, or had better opportunities to know every conspicuous character. But I dont so much as know, from what Parts of the Province Shepherd and Brooks come; of what families they are; their Educations, or Employments.... Should be very glad to be informed.
Lt. Coll. Henshaw has been recommended to me by Coll. Reed for Promotion, as a usefull Officer.... But upon the whole, I think the List you have given me, dont shine.... I am very much ashamed of it.... I am so vexed, sometimes as almost to resolve to make Interest to be a Collonel, myself. I have almost Vanity enough to think, that I could make a figure in such a group. But a treacherous shattered Constitution, is an eternal Objection against my aspiring at military Command. If it were not for this insuperable Difficulty, I should certainly imitate Old Noll Cromwell, in one particular, that is, in launching into military Life, after forty, as much as I dislike his Character and Example in others. But enough of this.
I wish I could find materials, any where in sufficient quantities, to make good Officers. A brave and able Man, wherever he is, shall never want my Vote, for his Advancement: nor shall an ignorant awkward dastard, ever want it, for his dismission. Congress must assume an higher tone of discipline over Officers, as well as these over the Men.
With regard to Encouragements in Money and in land, for Soldiers to inlist during the War, I have ever been in favour of it as the best OEconomy and the best policy: and I have no doubt, that rewards in Land, will be given after the War is over. But the Majority are not of my mind, for promising, of it, now.5 ... I am the less anxious about it, for a reason, which does not seem to have much weight, however, with the majority: Although, it may cost us more, and We may put now and then, a battle, to a hazard, by the method We are in, Yet We shall be less in danger of Corruption and Violence, from a Standing Army, and our Militia will acquire Courage, Experience, Discipline and hardiness in actual Service. I wish every Man upon the Continent was a Soldier, and obliged upon Occasion to fight, and determined to conquer or to die.
Flight was unknown to the Romans.... I wish it was to Americans. There was a flight from Quebec, and worse than a flight from the Caedars. If We dont attone for these disgraces, We are undone.
A more exalted Love of their Country; a more enthusiastic Ardor { 449 } for military Glory; a deeper detestation, disdain, and horror of martial disgrace must be excited among our People, or We shall perish in infamy.... I will certainly give my Voice for devoting to the infernal Gods, every man, high or low, who shall be convicted of bashfulness, in the day of battle.

[addrLine] Gen. Parsons.

P.S. Since the above was written, Congress has accepted the Report of the Board of War, and appointed Dier and Chapman, Majors. I had much pleasure in promoting Dier, not only from his own excellent Character, but from respect to my good friend his father.
1. This entry is repeated from p. 437, above; see note 14 there.
2. JA left Philadelphia for Braintree on 13 Oct.; see Diary entry of that date and note there.
3. JA never did “relate the Occurrences of this Journey,” nor did he copy more than the single letter, to Samuel Holden Parsons, which follows. When, after a year and a half, he resumed his autobiographical narrative, he simply disregarded the thirteen-month period Oct. 1776 – Nov. 1777.
4. ||Parsons to JA, 13 and 15 Aug.,|| both from New York and largely concerned with recommendations of officers for promotion (in Adams Papers).
5. JA added the emphasis by underlining this passage when he copied the letter into his Autobiography.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.