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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 4

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0184

Author: Dana, Francis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-28

From Francis Dana

[salute] My worthy Friend

I had the pleasure of receiving your letter of the 12th. ultimo on the 1st. instant. It reminded me of my duty, or rather the omission of it. Indeed I know not what appology to make you for not having wrote { 415 } you before it came to hand. The favor I esteem the greater on that account. Business I feel almost ashamed to offer in excuse, when I consider how constantly you are engaged in matters of the highest importance that ever fixed the attention of Men. But my private affairs were in confusion, having been almost totally neglected during my long absence; before I cou'd restore these to any tolerable order, you know by the suffrages of the most respectable part of my Countrymen, I was placed in a station wherein I have found no rest. This is the third Freshmanship I have already served.1 Juniores ad Labores2 is repeated to me if I complain. I shou'd have been heartily glad to have been excused from any publick employment for the space of three or four months after my return home,3 which wou'd have afforded me sufficient time to put my private affairs (which now lay unsettled) in good order, and prepared me to meet any event. Notwithstand[ing] the inconveniences I foresaw I shou'd Labor under, I thought it my duty to accept my seat. I return'd to my Country with a fix'd determination not to decline any station, my Countrymen shou'd please to honor me with, in which I thought I cou'd be of service to the general cause. I flatter myself I have already done it some little service, and am sorry I have not abilities to do it more essential service. I receive the compliment you are pleased to pay me, as one friend shou'd receive a compliment from another. I hope you have better evidence of the advantages resulting to the community from a middle branch of the Legislature. I am a zealous advocate for it, and think without it we can never have a fixed Government. I am much pleased to find that the several States already formed are erected on such a basis; but I have some Fears whether under an idea of establishing the freest possible Government ours will not consist of a single Assembly. This people have been so plagued with Governors they seem almost to abhor the Term; and none but men versed in History Politicks and Government, can see that the Freedom of the community will be better secured by adopting our old Form with few alterations, when the People shall be made the source of all Power and Authority within the State. A participation of foreign Influence has ever been distructive of the Harmony Peace and Happiness of Societies while it continued; too often has it ended in a fixed Tyranny. That we are freed from this political poison at last, I thank God. The shackles are now thrown away, and I doubt not the public mind will expand sufficiently to comprehend the grand objects presenting themselves to our view. Our former subordinate state cramped the Genius of this People. It had its bounds marked out, beyond which it was afraid to ramble forth. { 416 } It may now range with freedom the whole political world. Your's my Friend has long since burst its bounds. May it continue to be properly directed in its course.
Instead of being the first we shall be the last Colony to form a Government. The House have of themselves taken this important matter in hand, but when their Committee will be ready to report I know not. I think they have not an inclusive right to settle the Government.4 Their assuming it leads me to fear what I have abovementioned, when I consider the many encroachments they have already made upon the middle branch of the Legislature. They have almost annihilated it. We want much your aid in this great business. I have seen your little pamphlet. I lament its littleness. I mean that you have not enlarged upon it in the manner you told me you intended to do, if you cou'd spare the time. Why was I not favored with one?
I wish I had leisure to inform you of our present State and of our progress step by step, as you desire, but 'tis impossible. I feel myself under great obligations to you and my other friends at Philidelphia for the favorable sentiments of me which I understand you communicated to your friends here. It now appears beyond question that my intelligence respecting the Commissioners &c. was good.5 I have heard nothing of Majr. Wrixon since I left you.6 I hope his <pretensions> professions of regard to our Country were sincere. Baron Wooldkee I hear proves a scoundrel.7 We last evening receiv'd a confirmation of the engagement at Sullivan's Island, Carolina. The Yankees fought well. I cant but observe that every days experience proves Govr. Johnstone's assertion respecting the certain effect of Batteries judiciously situated, against Ships.8 I cou'd wish all our Forts in our Harbours and Rivers were plentifully supplied with chain shott. I presume, had this been the Case at the Southward, Sir Peter's Fleet wou'd have been totally disennabled, and some of them must have fallen into our hands. I hope soon to see another assertion of that Gentleman's equally well established, that respecting Fire Rafts or Ships. New York now gives us a fair opportunity for the experiment.
You know what intelligence will be agreable to me: please to favor me with as much as possible. I will endeavor to make some returns.
Shou'd you see Mr. Ellery9 please to acquaint him I have receiv'd his letter of the 10th. June and shall write him soon, that I am in Town with Mrs. Dana and Little Ned who are under innoculation and in a fine way, and request him to write me as often as possible. I am just about setting off for Cambridge. I hope to hear from you by the next Post after your receipt of this letter. I ought not sooner to expect { 417 } it. You will please to present my best regards to my friends with you. I am Sir, with great Respect your Friend & hble. Servt.
[signed] F M Dana
PS. Remember to write of Majr. Wrixon.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr Dana July 28. 1776.”
1. As a new member of the Massachusetts Council. Earlier he had been a freshman at Harvard and at the law as clerk to his uncle Edmund Trowbridge (DAB).
2. Freely, the burden is for young shoulders.
3. See JA to George Washington, 1 April, note 1 (above).
4. On 4 June the House of Representatives voted to appoint a committee to “report . . . a mode of civil government for this colony” and on the 6th named twelve committeemen, among them Joseph Palmer, James Warren, and Joseph Hawley (Mass., House Jour., 1776–1777, 1st sess., p. 13, 18).
5. Dana had reported to the congress on his mission to England upon his return. The “Commissioners” refers to the Howe peace commission.
6. On Wrixon, see JA to Horatio Gates, 27 April, note 3 (above).
7. On Baron de Woedtke, see Joseph Palmer to JA, 19 Feb., note 2 (above). The Baron proved to be a drunkard (Letters of Benjamin Rush, ed. L. H. Butterfield, 2 vols., Princeton, 1951, 1:112).
8. On Gov. Johnstone, see Josiah Quincy to JA, 13 June, note 8 (above).
9. William Ellery (1727–1820), delegate from Rhode Island and Dana's father-in-law (Cresson, Francis Dana, p. 21; DAB).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0185

Author: Ward, Joseph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-07-28

From Joseph Ward

[salute] Sir

I have the pleasure to inform you that the Continental armed Schooners Hancock and Franklin sent into Marblehead this day a Transport from Hallifax bound to New York with provisions and dry goods. There are many Tories on board, among whom is the noted Benjamin Davis.1
Last Sunday a Transport from Ireland came into this Harbour, (not knowing the Pirates were gone) and was taken; She had seventeen hundred Barrels of Beef and Pork and four hundred Casks of Butter for the use of the Enemy.2
Some days since our Hearts were made glad with the glorious Declaration of the Independent States of America! Blessed be their memory and immortal Fame attend those who had the Wisdom and Virtue and Magnanimity to Do This! We have undoubtedly many and great things yet to do, but in my humble opinion, the greatest is done; the Foundation is now laid.
We now learn who the mighty Commissioners are, and also the great things they have to propose. Of all the conduct of the British Court I think this is the most ridiculous, and serves to crown all their { 418 } past folly. It must serve the Cause of the American States by shutting the last mouth that was open in favour of Britain, and will open the last of the blind Eyes in these United States.3
The Two Regiments in Boston will march for New York this week, as they are chiefly recovered of the Small pox. The Government have determined to raise between two and three thousand Men to replace the Continental Troops, in addition to those now in the pay of this Government.4
General Ward had the small pox very lightly, but his nervous complaints still remain; he intends to retire from a military life as soon as these Regiments are marched. Who will command the Troops who are to take the place of the Continental Regiments, I have not yet learnt; it seems necessary that as these men will be supported by the Continent, that a General Officer should be appointed by Congress to command them and to draw provisions and military Stores for them out of the Continental Stores, as those Commissaries and Storekeepers cannot answer an order from any one but a Continental Commander. Besides, Guards are necessary to guard the Stores and Magazines belonging to the Continent; the Agents for the Continental armed Vessels want frequent supplies, and other assistance from the General, which none but a Continental Commander can furnish. You will excuse me Sir, for mentioning these things, as it is not my apprehension only, but General Ward's, and those who are most acquainted with matters and things relating to our military and naval Concerns.
It is natural to suppose that when the Regiments were ordered from this place all those matters did not occur to Congress, nor to General Washington, or some mention would have been made of them; indeed you must be something more [than] Men if nothing escaped your attention in the vast Circle of business and great Concerns in which you are engaged. I am Sir Your most obedient and very humble Servant
[signed] Joseph Ward
P.S. We have just received the agreeable News from South Carolina, I hope it is a prelude to our future Success in every part of America.
RC (Adams Papers); a piece cut from the bottom of p. 3 has mutilated the docketing on the verso, which now reads only “W J,” undoubtedly for “Ward July.”
1. Samuel Tucker in command of the Hancock and John Skimmer in command of the Franklin captured the Peggy on the high seas on 22 July. She was en route to New York to supply the British there (Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 5:1268–1269). Benjamin Davis, a Boston merchant, was probably notorious for being an addresser of both Hutchinson and Gage upon the departure and arrival of { 419 } those two much-despised men (Sabine, Loyalists, 1:359–360).
2. The Queen of England, James Arnout master, was captured by Capt. Caleb Hopkins, commander of the George, in Nantasket Roads (Allen, Mass. Privateers, p. 155; the New-England Chronicle, 25 July, mistakenly calls Hopkins “commodore”).
3. On the Howe peace commission see James Warren to JA, 7 March, notes 2 and 3 (above).
4. On 18 July the Council ordered Maj. Gen. James Warren to draft out of the training band and alarm list of each county every twenty-fifth man, “their pay and Establishment . . . to be the same as is Allow'd in the Continental Army.” Their service confined to the province and extending to 1 Dec., they were raised to replace the five regiments that Gen. Washington had ordered to march to New York (Records of the States, Microfilm, Mass. E.1, Reel No. 9, Unit 3, p. 89–91).
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, 2016.