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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 3

Docno: ADMS-06-03-02-0178

Author: Ward, Joseph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1775-12-03

From Joseph Ward

[salute] Sir

I had the honour some time since to receive your Favour of the 14 Ultimo which I am now to acknowledge. The Enemy have not made any important movements for a considerable time. Last week Genl. Howe sent 300 of the poor inhabitants of Boston to be landed near Point Shirley,1 which was such a distance from any Houses where they might receive entertainment and many of them being in very poor circumstances, without provisions, that several persons died before assistance could be had! Such barbarity might well make a Savage blush—and the Brute creation cry out with indignation and astonishment. But I hope Americans will, be their trials ever so great, “preserve their temper, their wisdom, their humanity, and civility— tho' our Enemies are every day renouncing theirs;” as you Sir, have with great propriety and justice observed.2 I would not be enthusiastic but I cannot believe that Heaven will smile upon that cause which is supported by such infernal means and measures as our Enemies make use of. The good success of our Privateers, which you will hear before this reaches you, is very encouraging, and I hope it will stimulate the seafaring Gentlemen to greater exertions in that way. I think we have a prospect of important advantages from exertions by Sea; and I hope, with you Sir, this will be done by the Colonies separately,3 as, for many reasons, greater advantages will arise thereby to the great Cause of America.
Altho' I repose high Confidence in the Great Council of America, I fear they will too long delay (in hopes of reconciliation with Britain) those important and decisive steps necessary for the independence and compleat Freedom of America.4 Such a false hope has already given the Enemy advantage against us. May Heaven guide where human wisdom fails.
The Army is healthy, and many happy circumstances attend us here; but our success in raising a new Army is not equal to our wishes, however I hope we shall surmount all difficulties. Unhappily, as I humbly conceive, the best plan was not adopted to raise the new Army, for the sake of greater advantages, the old experienced path which has conducted our Fathers with safety and glory 150 years, was neglected, and a new one chosen. But I will not charge it as a fault upon any man as I believe all acted with a sincere regard to the public interest; and perhaps, notwithstanding appearances, it may eventually terminate for the best. I think these times require great caution in remark• { 343 } ing upon public men and measures; and wish that the distinctions of Southern and Northern were lost in the glorious Name of American. Certain necessary distinctions between Colonies, in raising men, and money, may I conceive, always subsist with advantage to the great Republic. To preserve union and harmony among our American Brethren of the different Colonies will be the study of every good man; my small influence has and shall be exerted for this purpose in the Army.
You justly observe, Sir, “verbal resolutions accomplish nothing, it is to no purpose to declare what we will or will not do in future times,” unless we carry our Resolves into execution— which we ought punctually to do. It is said Caesar's Name conquered, and I hope it will be said in future time, the Name of Americans, made the wicked tremble and submit, and the virtuous rejoice and triumph. Scarcely anything is so important to an individual as a good Name, and it is vastly more interesting to a Community. If the Americans should uniformly maintain the Character of humane, generous, and brave, we shall be invincible to all the tyrants in the world, and even our Enemies will at once fear and reverence the guardians of Liberty. Nothing gives me so much pain as any appearance of the Demon Discord, among our American Brethren, the Farmer never said a wiser thing nor gave a more important caution to his Countrymen than this, “United we stand, divided we fall.”5 Every spark of contention ought to be carefully extinguished, and harmony cultivated as the vital springs and Lamp of Life. I cannot say that I have not some times been grieved and astonished by observing private interest and self honour occupy some minds which ought to be wholly employed to promote the honour and interest of their Country; it is the lot of humanity to meet with such mortifications, but I pray that such vile things may be rare in America, and the love of Virtue and Freedom may extinguish every ignoble and inferier passion in the Breasts of our Countrymen. Nothing can be more vile and base in this great Day of contest, for all that is sacred and glorious in this world, than to forget or neglect the Public in a mean regard to little self. Altho' there may be an inequality among the Colonies, in numbers in riches in strength and in wisdom, yet I conceive it will in general be wise for the greatest to claim no more than an equality with their brethren. Mankind will bear with equals who only share with them in honour, but they hate to be eclypsed and thrown into the shade by haughty Superiors. To preserve Union, being the highest point of Wisdom, I hope every American whether in Senate or the Field will steadily pursue it.
{ 344 }
As my duty often calls me to attend a Flagg of Truce when Letters are sent into Boston, or a Conference is permitted between people in Boston and those who belong to different parts of the Continent, I have an opportunity to observe the Air of the Tories and the Regular Officers, and of late they are more complaisant than formerly and discover an earnest desire (particularly the Officers) that the grand Controversy might be amicably settled; and some of them say it will be settled next Spring; but their information is not at all to be regarded.
But very few Vessels have arrived at Boston from Britain for a long time, and by the best accounts, not more than 250 of the great reinforcement which the Enemy have so long talked of. I believe 2300 is the most that they expect this Fall. The Troops in Boston continue sickly, and it is said they are not in so good Spirits as they were in the Summer. If we can obtain a supply of Powder I trust we shall give a good account of them before Spring; if it be possible we must subdue the Ministerial Fleet and Army which is in America this Winter, otherwise we may expect a strong reinforcement in the Spring. Should we conquer what are here I apprehend the Ministry would not hazard another expedition, but if they should we might be able to resist all their force. I think we have nothing to fear but ourselves, and if we do our duty we may gain every political advantage the heart of Man can desire.
I have just seen the Instructions of the Pennsylvania Assembly to their Delegates in Congress.6 I am astonished and mortified to see at this day such wretched instructions from an American Assembly! May Heaven inspire them with more wisdom! I am Sir with great Esteem your obedient and most Humble Servant
[signed] Joseph Ward
P.S. The Small Pox is now spreading in Boston by inoculation; I conceive that the Enemy have a design to spread it into our Army, but I hope our precautions will defeat all their malicious designs.
December 20. Last Sunday we began a work on Lechmeers point, the nearest land to Boston, on Cambridge side, where we intend to have a Bomb Battery; the Enemy seem much disturbed at this movement of ours, and have been cannonading and bombarding our people who are employed in the new works every day and night since we began, but by the good hand of Providence, not one man has yet been killed, and but one slightly wounded! Heaven, my honoured Friend, is certainly for us—our Enemies who boasted of superiour and unequalled skill in the art of war, have thrown about forty shot and { 345 } shells to one shot that we have thrown and we have done more execution than they—is not this a demonstration that the “God of our Fathers” regards our cause and guides our hands?
Of late the Army for the next year fills up faster than at first, and I hope it will be compleated in good season.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Jo. Ward. Dec. 5. 1775.”
1. The point of land across the gut north of Deer Island in the present town of Winthrop (Shurtleff, Description of Boston, p. 437). Although the Americans were sympathetic to the plight of those expelled from Boston, they were more concerned that the refugees might spread smallpox to the American Army (Boston Gazette, 27 Nov.; French, First Year, p. 493–495). Their fears were increased by reports that “a Number of Persons who had been Innoculated, were to be sent out of Boston by Gen. Howe, with a Design to spread the Small-Pox among the Troops” (Mass., House Jour., 1775–1776, 3d sess., p. 13). Washington forbade any of the refugees' going to Cambridge. On 6 Dec. the General Court allowed the removal of those certified to be free of the disease while continuing to quarantine the rest and making some provision for their care (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 4:118; House Jour., p. 19, 35).
2. This and a second quotation below are from JA to Joseph Ward, 14 Nov. (above).
3. JA had already committed himself with other members of the congress to Continental privateers and a navy (JA's Service in the Congress, 13 Sept. – 9 Dec., Editorial Note, above).
4. JA had already received calls for independence from Mercy Otis Warren, Benjamin Hichborn, and Joseph Palmer (James Warren to JA, 14 Nov.; Hichborn to JA, 25 Nov.; Palmer to JA, 2 Dec., all above).
5. John Dickinson, The Liberty Song, 1768: “By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall” (The Writings of John Dickinson, ed. Paul L. Ford, Hist. Soc. Penna., Memoirs, 14 [1895]: 421–432). This song was widely reprinted in the newspapers and sung at patriotic gatherings.
6. See Samuel Chase to JA, 25 Nov., note 4 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-03-02-0179

Author: Warren, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1775-12-03

From James Warren

[salute] My Dear Sir

I Returned from Plymouth last Wednesday after An Absence of about 10 days. In my way I called on Mrs. Adams and found her pretty well, having recovered her Health after a Bad Cold which threatoned A fever. From her I received the Inclosed Letter,1 which I presume will give you A full Account of herself and Family. I came to Watertown with full Expectation of receiving several of your favours. You may Guess my disappointment when I found not One. Doctr. Morgan who with his Lady had lodged in my Chamber the Night before had left a Packet Containing Letters &c. to your Friend, which I have taken proper Care off. This Gentleman I have not yet seen. He was Attended next day by the Surgeons of the Army, and Escorted to head quarters, in state. I propose to see him Tomorrow, { 346 } and shall look on him with all the reverence due to so Exalted A Character as you give him.
Revere returned here on Fryday. No Letters by him from you or my Other Friend at Congress. I have run over my Sins of Omission and Commission, to see if they were Unpardonable and at last presumed to Account for it from the Nature, and Magnitude of the Business you are Engaged in, and the Constant Application it requires.
I Congratulate you on the success of our Northern Army. We have no late Accounts from Arnold, but have sanguine Expectations that before this the whole Province of Canada is reduced. You will no doubt have heard before this reaches you that A Lieutenant Colonel and A Considerable Number of Men had come of[f] from Arnolds detachment and returned here.2
Our Army here have taken possession of and fortified Cobble Hill, which the Enemy seem to view without any Emotion not haveing fired A Gun. It is said they Confidently rely on our Army's dispersing when the Terms of their Inlistment Ends, and leaving the Lines defensless, and an easy Conquest to them. Howe I believe has received such Intelligence and Assurances from One Benja. Marston3 who has fled from Marblehead to Boston. This fellow is A Cousin of mine. Had ever any Man So many rascally Cousins as I have. I will not presume any danger of that kind tho' I own My anxiety is great. Our Men Inlist but slowly and the Connecticut Troops behave Infamously. It was with difficulty the General prevented their going of[f] in great Numbers last Fryday. However they Consented finally to return to their duty till the Army could be Reinforced.
The General on the first day of our meeting had Represented to the Court the difficulties he laboured under and the dangers he Apprehended, and desired A Committee to Confer with him and the other General Officers. A Committee went down. The result of the Conference was that 5000 Men should be immediately raised in this and New Hampshire Colony and brought into Camp by the 10th. Instant, to supply the deficiencies in the Army by the going off, the Connecticut Troops, and the Furlows the General is Obliged to give the New Inlisted men by way of Encouragement. Genl. Sullivan Undertook to raise 2000 of them, and we reported that the rest should be raised in several parts of this Colony, and Yesterday sent off, more than 20 of our Members to Effect it,4 knowing no Other way as our Militia is in a perfect state of Anarchy some with, and some without Officers. If they don't succeed I know not where I shall date my next letter from, but I have such An Opinion of my Countrymen as to believe { 347 } they will. The only reasons I know of that are Assigned by the Soldiers for their Uneasiness, or rather backwardness to Enter the service again are the Increase of the Officers wages lately made and the paying them Contrary to their Expectation, and former usage by Calender instead of Lunar Months. The last I have given you my opinion of in a former Letter,5 and the first I think was very Unluckily timed. I have till lately thought it A favourable Circumstance that so Many Men were raised in these Goverments. I begin to think Otherways and many reasons operate strongly to make me wish for more Troops from the Southern Goverments.
I Pity our Good General who has A greater Burthen on his Shoulders, and more difficulties to struggle with than I think should fall to the Share of so good A Man. I do every thing in My power to releive him, and wish I could do more. I see he is fatigued and worried. After all you are not to Consider us as wholly Involved in Clouds and darkness. The Sun shines for the most part, and we have many Consoleing Events. Providence seems to be Engaged for us. The same Spirit and determination prevails to Conquer all difficulties. Many Prizes have been taken by our Cruisers, and A Capital one last week carried into Cape Ann, of very great value perhaps £20,000 sterling. A Brigantine from England with a A Cargo Consisting of Almost every Species of Warlike stores except powder and Cannon. 2,000 very fine small Arms with all their Accoutrements, four Mortars one which Putnam has Christened and Called the Congress the finest ever in America, Carcases, Flints Shells, Musket Balls, Carriages &c. &c. These are principally Arrived at head quarters and the great Mortar is a Subject of Curiosity. I hope we shall be Able to make good use of them before Long. A small Cutter has since been taken loaded with provisions from Nova Scotia to Boston and Carried into Beverly the first by a Continental Vessel, the second by A private one.6 All serves to distress them and Aid us.
The Reinforceing the Army has Engrossed the whole Attention of the General Court since their Meeting. The Manufactory of Salt Petre proceeds but slowly, tho it is made in small quantities. Our General Committee seem to me too much Entangled with perticular Systems, and general Rules to succeed. In practice they have done nothing. Coll. Orne and Coll. Lincoln have made tryals in the recess and succeeded According to their wishes. They Affirm the process to be simple and easy and that great quantitys may be made. They shew Samples of what they have made, and it is undoubtedly good. No Experiments with regard to Sulphur have yet succeeded. We have { 348 } good prospects with regard to Lead. Coll. Palmer has promised me to write you on that Subject.7
I hope soon to hear from you. The Confidence in the Congress prevailing among all ranks of People is Amazeing, and the Expectation of great Things from you stronger than ever. It gives me great pleasure to see the Credit, and reputation of my two perticular friends, Increasing here.8 Their late disinterested Conduct, as it is reported here does them much Honour. A certain Collegue of yours has lost or I am mistaken A great part of the Interest he Undeservedly had.9 Major Hawley is not yet down.10 What he will say to him I know not. Paine I hear is gone to Gratify his Curiosity in Canada.11 A good Journey to him. He may possibly do as much good there as at Philadelphia tho' I find some People here would not have pitched on him for the Business we suppose he is gone on, and perhaps there are some who would not have done it for any. Many men you know are of many Minds.12 My regards to my Friends. I thank Mr. Adams and Mr. Collins for their kind Letters. Shall write Mr. Adams first opportunity. I am yr. Sincere Friend,
[signed] Adieu JW
The Great Loss at Newfoundland of Men &c. I think may be Considered as An Interposition of Providence in our favour.13
Doctr. Adams has Just called on me to Acquaint Me that Mr. Craige who has been Apothecary to the Army is like to be superceeded, and Mr. Dyre Appointed in his room.14 As he Appears to me a very clever fellow and such Changes do us no good I could wish it might be prevented.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed in an unidentified hand: “Warren Decr 3. 1775”; also “Mr Gerry.”
1. AA to JA, 27 Nov. (Adams Family Correspondence, 1:328–331).
2. See Warren to JA, 14 Nov., note 2 (above).
3. Benjamin Marston (1730–1792) fled Marblehead on the night of 24 Nov. and ultimately followed the army to Nova Scotia in March 1776 (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 12:439–454).
4. The resolve to raise 3,008 men was adopted on 1 Dec., and the committee to put it into effect was appointed the next day (Mass., House Jour., 1775–1776, 3d sess., p. 7, 9–10; see also John Sullivan to JA, 21 Dec., below).
5. Warren to JA, 14 Nov. (above).
6. The Nancy, a brig not a brigantine, and the sloop Polly were captured by Capt. John Manley of the Lee on 28 and 27 Nov. (Clark, Washington's Navy, p. 60–61).
7. Joseph Palmer to JA, 2 Dec. (above).
8. This and the following seven sentences were copied by Thomas Cushing and given to Robert Treat Paine; a copy of them in Cushing's hand is in the Robert Treat Paine Papers (MHi). Paine himself explained how Cushing was able to make the copy. After JA had read Warren's letter he returned it unsealed to the bearer with instructions, according to the bearer's story, to deliver it to the other Massachusetts delegates. JA had intended it to be delivered to Samuel Adams, but the bearer, not finding him, handed it to Cushing, who, { 349 } because it was unsealed, thought it was simply news from the province (Paine to Joseph Hawley, 1 Jan. 1776, Dft, MHi: Robert Treat Paine Papers). Cushing could not resist copying out the jibe at Paine and himself.
9. That is, Thomas Cushing.
10. Hawley, a good friend of Cushing's, arrived at Watertown for the General Court on 15 Dec. (Hawley to JA, 18 Dec., below).
11. Paine had been named with Robert R. Livingston and John Langdon as a committee to confer with Gen. Schuyler at Ticonderoga; in fact, JA was on the committee that drafted instructions for the guidance of the three men (JA's Service in the Congress, 13 Sept. – 9 Dec., No. IX, 2 Nov., above). Warren shows his pique by implying that Paine's trip was a junket.
12. This whole passage underlines the growing dissatisfaction among the leadership in Massachusetts, at least as represented by Warren and JA, with the moderate positions of Cushing and Paine. Cushing was replaced in Jan. 1776, and Paine, although he retained his seat in the congress, broke with Warren and became more embittered with JA (Mass., House Jour., 1775–1776, 3d sess., p. 165; Paine to Warren, 5 Jan. 1776, enclosed with Warren to JA, 31 Jan., below). Paine's ranking below JA on the bench of the superior court became known to Paine when he returned from Ticonderoga. For comments on the ranking, see Warren to JA, 20 Oct. and 5 Nov. (above). There is no reason to think that Paine saw these comments, but he needed only to see the positions to feel aggrieved. JA was a major figure in these disputes, but how much he was directly involved is unclear. He had not yet taken his seat on the Council when the election of delegates took place (Perez Morton to JA, 19 Jan. 1776, note 1, below). Joseph Palmer and Warren, however, kept him informed of the correspondence passing between Paine and others (for example, Tr of Paine to Palmer, 1 Jan. 1776, below). Yet there seems to have been no violent public dispute between the two men at the congress, perhaps because Hawley advised Paine by letter that for the good of the country he “Stifle every private resentment, incompatable with the public good” (24 Jan. 1776, MHi:Robert Treat Paine Papers). Hawley may also have talked with JA in Watertown. AA, however, was not willing to let the friction subside; she told JA that Paine's attack on Warren had caused Paine to become “an object of contempt” (Adams Family Correspondence, 1:350–352 and note 2).
13. See Joseph Palmer to JA, 2 Dec., note 10 (above).
14. Dyre remains unidentified. Andrew Craigie (1743–1819) remained Apothecary to the American Army, a post to which he had been appointed by Benjamin Church in response to the resolve of the congress on 27 July creating the position (JCC, 2:209–210, 211). Craigie was named Apothecary General in 1777 and remained in that position for the rest of the war (same, 7:232; 15:1214; DAB).
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.