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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 5

Docno: ADMS-06-05-02-0117

Author: Hastings, Jonathan Jr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1777-05-14

From Jonathan Hastings Jr.

[salute] Sir

Your Favor per Capt. Thompson of April 25 I this Day received1 and have duly forwarded your other Letters which he was the Bearer of. I am to thank you for the Additional Sum granted me, I must beg your further Influence that the full Allowance of 200 Dollars exclusive of the Commision on Letters may look back from the time I accepted the Office under Doct. Franklin,2 otherwise my Property will be greatly lessened, having never entered into or concerned myself with any Bussiness which might have been done to Advantage, had it not have interfered with a faithfull Attendance at my Office.
The People, in General, are dissatisfied with having regular Intelligence but once a Week from Head Quarters and Philadelphia. The Saturday Night's Post, you may remember, was esteemed the best of the two, but is now so triffling, seldom or ever bringing more than half a dozen Letters and those not from beyond New London, that very little Regard is had to it. There must be some Deficiency in forwarding Letters on the lower Road, otherwise as many Letters would come on Saturdays Evenings as on Wednesdays, which has been usual. But untill private Riders are restricted by Congress or some other Authority from carrying Letters as they do to their great Advantage, the Commision received on Letters at any Post Office this way won't purchase Incidents for the Use of the Office.
Had the other Towns and States in New England shewn the same laudable Example in getting their Quota of Troops that this Town has, General Washington long before this time would have obliged the Enemy to have quitted their Posts: But the En• { 194 } thusiastick Spirit for Liberty which our Yeomanry were once famous for, has lately too much degenerated into a Love of Gain and Barter. However they begin to see the Necessity of having the Continental compleated which together with the Fears of a Domestick Invasion have had very good Effects on the Minds of the People of this State.
I have duly forwarded all your Lady's Letters and remain at all times yours to serve.
[signed] Jonathan Hastings junr.
NB. Several rich prizes have lately been taken, one of which has safely arrived at Portsmouth burthen about 200 Tons loaded with dry Goods bound to Quebec.3
[signed] JH
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Hastings.”
1. Not found.
2. Hastings was appointed on 5 Oct. 1776 and allowed a commission of 20 percent (PCC, No. 41, IV, f. 13).
3. On 2 May the Independent Chronicle reported that a privateer, its name left blank, commanded by Capt. Robert Parker returned to Portsmouth, having captured three prizes, all of which were brought into different ports. Security considerations kept the newspaper from identifying ports and ships. Parker's vessel was probably the Portsmouth (PCC, No. 196, XII).

Docno: ADMS-06-05-02-0118

Author: Jefferson, Thomas
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1777-05-16

From Thomas Jefferson

[salute] Dear Sir

Matters in our part of the continent are too much in quiet to send you news from hence. Our battalions for the Continental service were some time ago so far filled as rendered the recommendation of a draught from the militia hardly requisite, and the more so as in this country it ever was the most unpopular and impracticable thing that could be attempted.1 Our people even under the monarchical government had learnt to consider it as the last of all oppressions. I learn from our delegates that the Confederation is again on the carpet. A great and a necessary work, but I fear almost desperate. The point of representation is what most alarms me, as I fear the great and small colonies are bitterly determined not to cede.2 Will you be so good as to recollect the proposition I formerly made you in private and try if you can work it into some good to save our union? It was that any proposition might be negatived by the representatives of a majority of the people of America, or of a majority of the colonies of America. The former secures the larger the latter the smaller colonies. I have mentioned it to many here. The good whigs I think will so far cede their opinions for the sake of the Union, { 195 } and others we care little for. The journals of congress not being printed earlier gives more uneasiness than I would ever wish to see produced by any act of that body, from whom alone I know our salvation can proceed.3 In our assembly even the best affected think it an indignity to freemen to be voted away life and fortune in the dark. Our house have lately written for a M.S. copy of your journals, not meaning to desire a communication of any thing ordered to be kept secret. I wish the regulation of the post office adopted by Congress last September could be put in practice.4 It was for the riders to travel night and day, and to go their several stages three times a week. The speedy and frequent communication of intelligence is really of great consequence. So many falshoods have been propagated that nothing now is beleived unless coming from Congress or camp. Our people merely for want of intelligence which they may rely on are become lethargick and insensible of the state they are in. Had you ever a leisure moment I should ask a letter from you sometimes directed to the care of Mr. Dick, Fredericksburgh: but having nothing to give in return it would be a tax on your charity as well as your time.5 The esteem I have for you privately, as well as for your public importance will always render assurances of your health and happiness agreeable. I am Dear Sir Your friend & servt.
[signed] Th: Jefferson
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To John Adams esq. of the Massachusets delegation in Philadelphia. Free”; docketed: “Mr. Jefferson. ans. May 26. 1777.”
1. Although the congress on 14 April urged the drafting of militiamen, this was no new idea in Massachusetts, where the General Court resorted to a draft in the summer of 1776 (JCC, 7:262–263; vol. 4:419). A draft mentioned by James Warren was probably a response to the congressional recommendation (Warren to JA, 5 May, above). JA was skeptical about the effectiveness of this means of filling out the ranks and expressed a preference for a permanent army over temporary drafts (JA to Elbridge Gerry, 31 Dec. 1776, above), but see his reply to Jefferson, 26 May (below).
2. JA's own views on equality of representation, by which he meant that the population and the wealth of represented units must be taken into account, were vigorously expressed to Joseph Hawley: “the Moment, the least departure from such Equality takes Place, that Moment an Inroad is made upon Liberty. Yet this essential Principle is disregarded in many Places” (vol. 4:496–497). And to James Warren JA gave an example of the injustice of a divided vote in the congress which ranged five states with a much greater population against five smaller states (12 Feb., above). JA's reply to Jefferson on this point, however, breathes the spirit of possible compromise. Despite the ardor of his conviction, JA kept in mind the realities of politics.
That the author of the Declaration of Independence should three times use the term “colonies” for “states” is perhaps surprising. JA and his correspondents, with but two exceptions for the latter, consistently used the term “state” in the { 196 } fall of 1776 and the winter and spring of 1777. Lovell, however, used “colonies” in a letter to JA of 8 Dec. (below).
3. On 2 June the congress ordered the distribution to the states of the Journals for 1776 (JCC, 8:412).
4. The congress established rules for the post office on 30 Aug. 1776 (same, 5:719–720). For JA's explanation of the difficulties in keeping to them, see his reply to Jefferson. A committee report on the post office, apparently given on 25 Feb., was accepted only in part by the congress (JCC, 7:153–154, 258).
5. JA's prompt answer began a correspondence between the two men that continued on and off for most of the rest of their lives. The letters are remarkable for vigor and breadth of interest, lightened occasionally with flashes of humor. The exchange affords an unparalleled insight into the minds of two of America's foremost statesmen.
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.