The Writings of Samuel Adams, vol. III.
by Samuel Adams
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Seventy pounds Pennsylvania Currency deliverd to said Adams by Mr Moor Fyrman and the Donation of the County of Hunterdon in New Jersey.

Thirteen ounces fourteen pennyweight and twenty Grains of Gold deliverd to the said Adams by . . . Jefferson Esqr and is the Donation of the County of Lancaster in Virginia.

Four ounces and Nineteen pennyweight of Gold and two pistarenes being the Donation of the County of Amherst in Virginia.

Four ounces two pennyweight and five Grains of Gold, five ounces ten pennyweight and six Grains of Silver, and fifty-seven Dollars, the Donation of King William County in Virginia— Containg 51. 5. 4 Phila Currency.

Fifty-one pounds fifteen Shillings & nine pence Pennsylvania Currency deliverd to him by Mr Winccoop and is the Donation of the County of Bucks in Pennsylvania.

One hundred and seventy Eight pounds fourteen shillings and Nine pence deliverd to said Adams by James Willson Esqr, being Pennsylvania Currency and the Donation of the County of Cumberland in Pennsylvania.

Also a Bill drawn by Eliezer Callander on William Shattuck, Merchant in Watertown for forty Eight pounds Sixteen Shillings and nine pence Virginia Currency payable to Charles Dickn Charles Washington and George Thornton Esqrs and by them indorsd, being the Donation of the County of Augusta, in Virginia.

All which Sums of Money and Bills as aforesaid I have receivd of the said Samuel Adams in behalf of the Committee appointed by the General Assembly of this Colony at the last Session, to receive Donations that are or have been made, for the Reliefe of the poor Sufferers by the Boston Port bill and others in the Town of Boston and Colony of the Massachusetts Bay.

MOSES GILL, Treasurer to sd Committee.

1Wholly in the autograph of Adams; except the signature. 2Cf, page 204. [back] 3Cf, page 193. [back]


[J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 113, 114; the text is in Force, American Archives, 4th ser., vol. iii., p. 806.]

PHILADELPHIA, Sep. 26, 1775.


I arrived in this city on the 12th instant, having rode full three hundred miles on horseback, an exercise which I have not used for many years past. I think it has contributed to the establishment of my health, for which I am obliged to my friend Mr. John Adams, who kindly offered me one of his horses the day after we sat off from Watertown.

I write you this letter, principally to put you in mind of the promise you made me to give me intelligence of what is doing in our assembly and the camp. Believe me, Sir, it is of great importance that we should be informed of every circumstance of our affairs. The eyes of friends and foes are attentively I fixed on our province, and if jealousy or envy can sully its reputation, you may depend upon it they will not miss the opportunity. It behoves our friends, therefore, to be very circumspect, and in all their public conduct to convince the world, that they are influenced not by partial or private motives, but altogether with a view of promoting the public welfare.

Some of our military gentlemen have, I fear, disgraced us; it is then important that every anecdote that concerns a man of real merit among them, and such I know there are, be improved, as far as decency will admit of it, to their advantage and to the honor of a colony, which, for its zeal in the great cause, well as its sufferings, deserves so much of America.

Until I visited head quarters at Cambridge, I had never heard of the valour of Prescott at Bunker's hill, nor the ingenuity of Knox and Waters in planning the celebrated works at Roxbury. We were told here that there were none in our camp who understood the business of an engineer, or any thing more than the manual exercise of the gun. This we had from great authority, and for want of more certain intelligence were obliged at least to be silent. There are many military geniuses at present unemployed and overlooked, who I hope, when the army is new modelled, will be sought after and invited into the service of their country. They must be sought after, for modest merit declines pushing itself into public view. I know your disinterested zeal, and therefore need add no more than to assure you that I am with cordial esteem,

Your friend,


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADELPHIA, Octobr 20th 1775.1


I have not yet receivd a Letter from you, altho' it is more than seven Weeks since I left you. I do not mean to chide you, for I am satisfied it is not your Fault. Your Want of Leisure or opportunity to write to me, or perhaps the Miscarriage of your Letters, is certainly a Misfortune to me, for the Receipt of them would serve to alleviate my Cares. I have wrote you several times since my Arrival here. In my last I gave you a particular Account of our latest Intelligence from England, which I [rely upon;] it came from a Correspondent whose [Connections] have always afforded him the Opportunity of giving me the earliest and best Advice.

The Affairs of our Country are at this Moment in the most critical Scituation. Every Wheel seems now to be in Motion. I am so fully satisfied in the Justice of our Cause, that I can confidently as well as devoutly pray, that the righteous Disposer of all things would succeed our Enterprises. If he suffers us to be defeated in any or all of them I shall believe it to be for the most wise and gracious Purposes and shall heartily acquiesce in the Divine Disposal. It is an unspeakable Consolation to an Actor upon the publick Stage, when, after the most careful Retrospect, he can satisfy himself that he has had in his View no private or selfish Considerations, but has ever been [guided] by the pure Motive of serving his Country, and delivering it from the rapacious Hand of a Tyrant.

I am exceedingly anxious to hear from our Northern and Eastern Armies. Much, I was going to say, All depends upon the military Virtue of Schuyler and Arnold. If they do what they can, it will be all in Reason their Country ought to expect from them. Mortals cannot command Success. Should they succeed, (God grant they may!) the plan which our Enemies have laid for the Destruction of the New England Colonies, and in the Event of all the rest, will be defeated.

Pray, my dear, let me hear from you soon. I am greatly concernd for your Security & happiness, and that of my Family. I wrote to my Daughter yesterday. Pay my particular Regards to Sister Polly. Tell my Domesticks individually that I remember them. I pray God to bless you all.

___________ 1A letter by Adams, on the same date, to William Heath has recently been printed in Collections of Massachusetts Historical Society, 7th ser., vol. iv., pp. 6, 7.


[J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 119-122; the text is in Force, American Archives, 4th ser., vol. iii., p. 1248.]

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 29, 1775.


I wrote to you a few days ago by young Mr. Brown, and then acknowledged your favour of the 9th instant.

You tell me that a committee of both houses of assembly is appointed to bring in a militia bill. I am of your opinion, that this matter requires great attention, and I wish with you to see our militia formed not only into battalions, but also brigades. But should we not be cautious of putting them under the direction of the generals of the continent, at least until such a legislative shall be established over all America, as every colony shall consent to?

The continental army is very properly under the direction of the continental congress. Possibly, if ever such a legislative should be formed, it may be proper that the whole military power in every Colony should be under its absolute direction. Be that as it may, will it not till then be prudent that the militia of each colony should be and remain under the sole direction of its own legislative, which is and ought to be the sovereign and uncontrollable power within its own limits or territory? I hope our militia will always be prepared to aid the forces of the continent in this righteous opposition to tyranny. But this ought to be done upon an application to the government of the colony. Your militia is your natural strength, which ought under your own direction to be employed for your own safety and protection. It is a misfortune to a colony to become the seat of war. It is always dangerous to the liberties of the people to have an army stationed among them, over which they have no control. There is at present a necessity for it; the continental army is kept up within our colony, most evidently for our immediate security. But it should be remembered that history affords abundant instances of established armies making themselves the masters of those countries, which they were designed to protect. There may be no danger of this at present, but it should be a caution not to trust the whole military strength of a colony in the hands of commanders independent of its established legislative.

It is now in the power of our assembly to establish many wholesome laws and regulations, which could not be done under the former administration of government. Corrupt men may be kept out of places of public trust; the utmost circumspection I hope will be used in the choice of men for public officers. It is to be expected that some who are void of the least regard to the public, will put on the appearance and even speak boldly the language of patriots, with the sole purpose of gaining the confidence of the public, and securing the loaves and fishes for themselves or their sons or other connexions. Men who stand candidates for public posts, should be critically traced in their views and pretensions, and though we would despise mean and base suspicion, there is a degree of jealousy which is absolutely necessary in this degenerate state of mankind, and is indeed at all times to be considered as a political virtue. It is in your power also to prevent a plurality of places incompatible with each other being vested in the same persons. This our patriots have loudly and very justly complained of in time past, and it will be an everlasting disgrace to them if they suffer the practice to continue. Care I am informed is taking to prevent the evil with as little inconvenience as possible, but it is my opinion that the remedy ought to be deep and thorough.

After all, virtue is the surest means of securing the public liberty. I hope you will improve the golden opportunity of restoring the ancient purity of principles and manners in our country. Every thing that we do, or ought to esteem valuable, depends upon it. For freedom or slavery, says an admired writer, will prevail in a country according as the disposition and manners of the inhabitants render them fit for the one or the other.

P.S. Nov. 4th. Yesterday the colours of the 7th regiment were presented to the Congress. They were taken at Fort Chamblee; the garrison surrendered prisoners of war to Major Brown of the Massachusetts forces, with one hundred and twenty-four barrels of gunpowder! May heaven grant us further success.1

1In the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library, is the draft of a letter, endorsed as to James Warren, the body of which is almost identical with the foregoing. The postscript, however, is as follows:

Novr 4th

My Time is so little at my own Disposal that I am obligd to improve a Moment as I can catch it to write to a Friend. I wish I was at Liberty to communicate to you some of our Proceedings, but I am restraind, and though it is painful to me to keep Secrets from a few confidential Friends, I am resolvd that I will not violate my Honor. I may venture to tell you one of our Resolutions which in the Nature of it must be immediately made publick, and that it is to recommend to our Sister Colony of N Hampshire to exercise Government in such a form as they shall judge necessary for the preservation of peace and good order, during the continuance of the present Contest with Britain. This I would not have you mention abroad till you see it published or hear it publickly talkd of. The Government of the N England Colonies I suppose will soon be nearly on the same Footing, and I am of opinion that it; will not be long before every Colony will see the Necessity of setting up Government within themselves for reasons that appear to me to be obvious.

Yesterday the Congress was presented with the Colors of the 7th Regiment taken at Fort Chamblee which was a few days ago surrendered to Major Brown—ONE HUNDRED & TWENTY FOUR BARRILS OF GUN POWDER—May Heaven grant us further success. I am

Your affectionate Friend,


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADA, Novr 7th 1775


My last Letter to you I sent by young Mr Gowen Brown who left this place about a fortnight ago. I know not how many I have written. I wish you would send me the Dates of those you have receivd, in your next.

My Son informs me in a late Letter, that you were about removing to little Cambridge. I am exceedingly pleasd with it, because I am sure you could not be comfortable in your house at Dedham in the cold Season. When we shall return to our Habitation in Boston, if ever, is uncertain. The Barbarity of our Enemies in the Desolations they have wantonly made at Falmouth and elsewhere, is a Presage of what will probably befall that Town which has so long endur'd the Rage of a merciless Tyrant. It has disgracd the Name of Britain, and added to the Character of the Ministry, another indelible Mark of Infamy. We must be content to suffer the Loss of all things in this Life, rather than tamely surrender the publick Liberty. The Eyes of the People of Britain seem to be fast closed; if they should ever be opened they will rejoyce, and thank the Americans for resisting a Tyranny which is manifestly intended to overwhelm them and the whole British Empire. Righteous Heaven will surely smile on a Cause so righteous as ours is, and our Country, if it does its Duty will see an End to its Oppressions. Whether I shall live to rejoyce with the Friends of Liberty and Virtue, my fellow Laborers in the Common Cause, is a Matter of no Consequence. I will endeavor by Gods Assistance, to act my little part well—to approve my self to Him, and trust every thing which concerns me to his all- gracious Providence.

The Newspapers will give you an Account of the Surrender of the Garrison at Fort Chambly to Major Brown of the Massachusetts. The Colors of the 7th Regiment were taken there and were brought to the Congress on Fryday last.

I wrote to my Daughter not long ago. I hope she has receivd the Letter. Remember me to her and to Sister Polly and all the other Friends.

You will believe, my dear Betsy, without the Formality of my repeating it to you, that I am, most affectionately,



[Proceedings of Massachusetts Historical Society, 1st ser., vol. xii., pp. 226, 227.]

PHILADELPHIA. Nov. 16. 1775.

SIR,—I embrace this opportunity of writing to you by your son, whose unexpected arrival from London the last week gave me much pleasure. He seems in a great degree to have recovered his health; & I dare say it will be still more satisfactory to you to find, that he is warmly attached to the Rights of his Country & of mankind. Give me leave to congratulate you, & also to express to you the joy I feel on another occasion; which is, that your own health is so far restored to you, as to enable you again, & at so important a crisis, to aid our Country with your council. For my own part, I had even buried you, though I had not forgot you. I thank God who had disappointed our fears; & it is my ardent prayer that your health may be perfectly restored & your eminent usefulness long continued.

We live, my Dear Sir, in an important age—an age in which we are called to struggle hard in support of the public Liberty. The conflict, I am satisfied, will the next spring be more severe than ever. The Petition of Congress has been treated with insolent contempt. I cannot conceive that there is any room to hope from the virtuous efforts of the people of Britain. They seem to be generally unprincipled and fitted for the yoke of arbitrary power. The opposition of the few is feeble and languid- -while the Tyrant is flushed with expectations from his fleets & armies, & has, I am told, explicitly declared, that "Let the consequences be what they may, it is his UNALTERABLE determination, to COMPEL the colonists to absolute obedience."

The plan of the British Court, as I was well informed the last winter, was, to take possession of New York, make themselves masters of Hudson's River & the Lakes, cut off all communication between the Northern & Southern Colonies, & employ the Canadians upon whom they greatly relied, in distressing the frontiers of New England. Providence has smiled upon our northern expedition. Already St. Johns is reduced, & if we gain the possession of all Canada this winter, of which there is a fair prospect, their design, so far as it respects this part of their plan, will be totally frustrated.

I will not further trespass upon your time. If you can find leisure, a letter from you will exceedingly oblige me, for you may believe me when I assure you that I am with the greatest esteem—

Your Friend and very humble Servant,


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a certified copy is in the Massachusetts Archives, 194: 160; and a text is in Force, American Archives, 4th ser., vol. iii, p. 1654, and in Acts and Resolves of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, vol v., pp. 524, 525.]



Having maturely considerd your Letter of the 11th of Novr written in the Name & by order of the Honb the Council of the Massachusetts Bay & directed to the Delegates of that Colony,2 and consulted with my Colleagues3 thereon, I beg Leave to offer it as my opinion, that the Resolve of Congress passed on the 9th of June last relative to establishing Civil Government must be superseeded by the subsequent resolve of the 3 of July following so far as they appear to militate with each other. By the last of these Resolves the Conventions, or Assemblies of the several Colonies annually elective are at their Discretion either to adopt the Method pointed out for the regulation of their Militia in whole or in part or to continue their former Regulations as they on Consideration of all Circumstances shall think fit; It seems manifest therefore that the Honbl Council are under no restraint from yielding to the Honbl House a Voice . . . . them in the Choice of the Militia officers in the Colony.

I am prevaild upon to believe that this is the Sense of the Congress because they have lately recommended to the Colony of New Hampshire to set up & exercise Government in such form as they shall judge most conducive to the promotion of peace & good order among themselves—without Restriction of any kind.

As the Hon Board have been pleasd to direct us to give our opinion either with or without consulting our Brethren of the Congress as we shall judge best, I hope I shall be justified in declining on my part to have the Matter laid before Congress for Reasons which were of Weight in my own Mind; and indeed I am of opinion that the Congress would not chuse to take any order of that kind, they having constantly declind to determine on any Matter which concerns the internal Police of either of the united Colonies.

It is my most ardent Wish that a cordial Agreement between the two Houses may ever take place, and more especially in the Establishment of the Militia, upon which the Safety of the Colony so greatly depends.

I am with all due regards to the Honbl Board,

Sir, your most humble Servant,

___________ 1Addressed as President of the Council of Massachusetts Bay. 2The words "in the Continental Congress" were stricken from the draft. 3Originally "Brethren."


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADELPHIA, Decr 26 1775


I have receivd your obliging Letter of the 5th Instt by Fessenden for which I am very thankful to you. The present Government of our Colony, you tell me, is not considerd as permanent. This affords the strongest Motive to improve the Advantages of it, while it continues. May not Laws be made and Regulations establishd under this Government, the salutary Effects of which the People shall be so convincd of from their own Experience, as never hereafter to suffer them to be repeald or alterd. But what other Change is expected? Certainly the People do not already hanker after the Onions & the Garlick! They cannot have so soon forgot the Tyranny of their late Governors, who, being dependent upon and the mere Creatures of a Minister of State, and subservient his Inclinations, have FORBID them to make such Laws as would have been beneficial to them or to repeal those that were not. But, I find EVERY WHERE some Men, who are affraid of a free Government, lest it should be perverted, and made Use of as a Cloke for Licenciousness. The fear of the Peoples abusing their Liberty is made an Argument against their having the Enjoyment of it; as if any thing were so much to be dreaded by Mankind as Slavery. But the Bearer Mr Bromfield, of whose Departure I did not know, till a few Minutes past, is waiting. I can therefore say no more at present but that I am,

Your affectionate Friend,

Mr Bromfield who went in a Stage Coach, set off before I could close my Letter. I shall therefore forward it by the Post or any other Conveyance that may next offer. Your last Letter informd me that "the late Conduct of the had weakned that Confidence & Reverence necessary to give a well disposd Government its full operation and Effect." I am sorry for it; and presume it is not to be imputed to a fault in the Institution of that order but a Mistake in the Persons of whom it is composd. All Men are fond of Power. It is difficult for us to be prevaild upon to believe that we possess more than belongs to us. Even publick Bodies of men legally constituted are too prone to covet more Power than the Publick hath judgd it safe to entrust them with. It is happy when their Power is not only subject to Controul while it is exercisd, but frequently reverts into the hands of the People from whom it is derivd, and to whom Men in Power ought for ever to be accountable. That venerable Assembly, the Senate of Areopagus in Athens, whose Proceedings were so eminently upright and impartial that we are told, even "foreign States, when any Controversies happend among them, would voluntarily submit to their Decisions," "not only their Determinations might be called into Question and if need was, retracted by an Assembly of the People, but themselves too, if they exceeded the due Bounds of Moderation were liable to account for it." At present our Council as well as our House of Representatives are annually elective. Thus far they are accountable to the people, as they are lyable for Misbehavior to be discarded; but this is not a sufficient Security to the People unless they are themselves VIRTUOUS. If we wish for "another Change," must it not be a Change of Manners? If the youth are carefully educated—If the Principles of Morality are strongly inculcated on the Minds of the People—the End and Design of Government clearly understood and the Love of our Country the ruling Passion, uncorrupted Men will then be chosen for the representatives of the People. These will elect Men of distinguishd Worth to sit at the Council Board, and in time we may hope, that in the purity of their Manners, the Wisdom of their Councils, and the Justice of their Determinations our Senate may equal that of Athens, which was said to be "the most sacred and venerable Assembly in all Greece." I confess, I have a strong desire that our Colony should excell in Wisdom and Virtue. If this proceeds from Pride, is it not . . . . . . Pride? I am willing that the same Spirit of Emulation may pervade every one of the Confederated Colonies. But I am calld off and must conclude with again assuring you that I am, with the most friendly Regards to Mrs Warren, very affectionately,



[J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 125-127; a text is in Force, American Archives, 4th ser., vol. iv., p. 541; and a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 2, 1776.


Your very acceptable letter of the 13th of December is now before me. Our opinions of the necessity of keeping the military power under the direction and control of the legislative, I always thought were alike. It was far from my intention in my letter to you on the subject, to attempt the correcting any imagined errour in your judgment, but rather shortly to express my own apprehensions at this time, when it is become necessary to tolerate that power, which is always formidable, and has so often proved fatal to the liberties of mankind.

It gives me great satisfaction to be informed, that the members of the house of representatives are possessed of so warm a spirit of patriotism, as that "an enemy to America may as well attempt to scale the regions of bliss, as to insinuate himself into their favour." Whatever kind of men may be denominated enemies to their country, certainly he is a very injudicious friend to it, who gives his suffrage for any man to fill a public office, merely because he is rich; and yet you tell me there are recent instances of this in our government. I confess it mortifies me greatly. The giving such a preference to riches is both dishonourable and dangerous to a government. It is indeed equally dangerous to promote a man to a place of public trust only because he wants bread, but I think it is not so dishonourable; for men may be influenced to the latter from the feelings of humanity, but the other argues a base, degenerate, servile temper of mind. I hope our country will never see the time, when either riches or the want of them will be the leading considerations in the choice of public officers. Whenever riches shall be deemed a necessary qualification, ambition as well as avarice will prompt men most earnestly to thirst for them, and it will be commonly said, as in ancient times of degeneracy,

Quaerenda pecunia primum est, Virtus post nummos.

"Get money, money still, And then let virtue follow if she will."

I am greatly honoured, if my late letter has been acceptable to the house. I hope the militia bill, to which that letter referred, is completed to the satisfaction of both houses of the assembly.

The account you give me of the success our people meet with in the manufacture of salt-petre is highly pleasing to me. I procured of a gentleman in the colony of New-York, the plan of a powder mill, which I lately sent to Mr. Revere. I hope it may be of some use.

I have time at present only to request you to write to me by the post, and to assure that I am

Your affectionate friend,


[W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. ii., pp. 342, 343; a text is in Journals of the Continental Congress (Library of Congress edition), vol. iv., pp. 32, 33.]

The committee appointed to consider the letter of General Washington, dated the 18th of December, and the enclosed papers, brought in a report upon that part which relates to James Lovell, who has long been, and still is, detained a close prisoner in Boston, by order of General Howe, which, being taken into consideration, was agreed That it appears to your committee that the said Mr. Lovell hath for years past been an able advocate for the liberties of America and mankind; that by his letter to General Washington, which is a part of said enclosed papers, he exhibits so striking an instance of disinterested patriotism, as strongly recommends him to the particular notice of this continent.

Whereupon, RESOLVED, That Mr. James Lovell, an inhabitant of Boston, now held a close prisoner there by order of General Howe, has discovered under the severest trials the warmest attachment to public liberty, and an inflexible fidelity to his country; that by his late letter to General Washington he has given the strongest evidence of disinterested public affection, in refusing to listen to terms offered for his relief, till he could be informed by his countrymen that they were compatible with their safety and honor.

RESOLVED, That it is deeply to be regretted that a British general can be found degenerate enough, so ignominiously and cruelly to treat a citizen who is so eminently virtuous.

RESOLVED, That it be an instruction to General Washington to make an offer of Governor Skene in exchange for the said Mr. Lovell and his family.

RESOLVED, That General Washington be desired to embrace the first opportunity which may offer of giving some office to Mr. Lovell equal to his abilities, and which the public service may require.

ORDERED, That a copy of the foregoing resolutions be transmitted to the General as speedily as possible.

1See below, page 254. Wells, at vol. ii., pp. 364-366, prints certain resolutions of the Continental Congress of January 2, 1776, attributing them to Adams.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; Cf, R. Frothingham, Rise of the Republic, p. 470.]

PHILADA Jany 7 1776


I verily believe the Letters I write to you are three, to one I receive from you—however I consider the Multiplicity of Affairs you must attend to in your various Departments, and am willing to make due Allowance. Your last is dated the 19th of December. It contains a List of very important Matters lying before the General Assembly. I am much pleased to find that there is an End to the Contest between the two Houses concerning the Establishment of the Militia—and that you are in hopes of making an effectual Law for that Purpose. It is certainly of the last Consequence to a free Country that the Militia, which is its natural Strength, should be kept upon the most advantageous Footing. A standing Army, however necessary it may be at some times, is always dangerous to the Liberties of the People. Soldiers are apt to consider themselves as a Body distinct from the rest of the Citizens. They have their Arms always in their hands. Their Rules and their Discipline is severe. They soon become attachd to their officers and disposd to yield implicit Obedience to their Commands. Such a Power should be watchd with a jealous Eye. I have a good Opinion of the principal officers of our Army. I esteem them as Patriots as well as Soldiers. But if this War continues, as it may for years yet to come, we know not who may succeed them. Men who have been long subject to military Laws and inured to military Customs and Habits, may lose the Spirit and Feeling of Citizens. And even Citizens, having been used to admire the Heroism which the Commanders of their own Army have displayd, and to look up to them as their Saviors may be prevaild upon to surrender to them those Rights for the protection of which against Invaders they had employd and paid them. We have seen too much of this Disposition among some of our Countrymen. The Militia is composd of free Citizens. There is therefore no Danger of their making use of their Power to the destruction of their own Rights, or suffering others to invade them. I earnestly wish that young Gentlemen of a military Genius (& many such I am satisfied there are in our Colony) might be instructed in the Art of War, and at the same time taught the Principles of a free Government, and deeply impressd with a Sense of the indispensible Obligation which every member is under to the whole Society. These might be in time fit for officers in the Militia, and being thorowly acquainted with the Duties of Citizens as well as soldiers, might Command of our Army at such times as Necessity might require so dangerous a Body to exist.

I am glad that your Attention is turnd so much to the Importation of Powder & that the manufacture of Salt-petre is in so flourishing a way. I cannot think you are restraind from exporting fish to Spain, by the resolve of Congress. I will make myself more certain by recurring to our Records when the Secretary returns tomorrow, he being at this time (6 o'clock P. M.) at his House three miles from Town; and I will inform you by a Postscript to this Letter, or by another Letter p Post. I have the Pleasure to acquaint you that five Tons of Powder CERTAINLY arrivd at Egg harbour the Night before last besides two Tons in this River—a part of it is consignd to the Congress—the rest is private property, partly belonging to Mr Thos Boylston and partly to a Gentleman in this City. Congress has orderd the whole to be purchasd for publick Use. We are also informd that 6 Tons more arrivd a few days ago in New York which I believe to be true. But better still a Vessel is certainly arrivd in this River with between 50 & 6o Tons of Salt petre. This I suppose will give you more Satisfaction for the present than telling you Congress News as you request.

You ask me "When you are to hear of our Confederation?" I answer, when some Gentlemen (to use an Expression of a Tory) shall "feel more bold." You know it was formerly a Complaint in our Colony, that there was a timid kind of Men who perpetually hinderd the progress of those who would fain run in the path of Virtue and Glory. I find wherever I am that Mankind are alike variously classd. I can discern the Magnanimity of the Lyon the Generosity of the Horse the Fearfulness of the Deer and the CUNNING OF THE FOX—I had almost overlookd the Fidelity of the Dog. But I forbear to indulge my rambling Pen in this Way lest I should be thought chargeable with a Design to degrade the Dignity of our nature by comparing Men with Beasts. Let me just observe that I have mentiond only the more excellent Properties that are to [be] found among Quadrupeds. Had I suggested an Idea of the Vanity of the Ape the Tameness of the Ox or the stupid Servility of the Ass I might have been lyable to Censure.

Are you sollicitous to hear of our Confederation? I will tell you. It is not dead but sleepeth. A Gentleman of this City told me the other day, that he could not believe the People without doors would follow the Congress PASSIBUS AEQUIS if such Measures as SOME called spirited were pursued. It put me in mind of a Fable of the high mettled horse and the dull horse. My excellenct Colleague Mr J. A. can repeat this fable to you; and if the Improvement had been made of it which our very valueable Friend Coll M——- proposd, you would have seen that Confederation compleated long before this time. I do not despair of it—since our Enemies themselves are hastening it. While I am writing an Express has come in from Baltimore in Maryland with the Deposition of Cap Horn of the Snow bird belonging to Providence. The Deponent says that on Monday the first Instant, he being at Hampton in Virginia heard a constant firing of Cannon—that he was informd a Messenger had been sent to enquire where the firing was who reported that the ships of War were cannonading the Town of Norfolk—that about the Middle of the Afternoon they saw the smoke ascending from Norfolk as they supposd—that he saild [from] Hampton the Evening of the same day and the firing continued till the following afternoon. This will prevail more than a long train of Reasoning to accomplish a Confederation and other Matters which I know your heart as well as mine is much set upon.

I forgot to tell you that a Vessel is arrivd in Maryland having four thousand yards of Sail Cloth—an Article which I hope will be much in Demand in America.

Adieu my Friend,


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADELPHIA January 10 1776


I wrote to you the 7th Instant by Mr Anthony by the way of Providence, and should not so soon have troubled you with another Letter, but to inform you that upon looking over the journals of Congress I find that the Recommendation of the 26th of October to export Produce for a certain Purpose is confind to the foreign West Indies—and the Resolution to stop all Trade till the first of March is subsequent to it. This last Resolution prevents your exporting merchantable Fish to Spain, for the purpose mentiond, which I am satisfied was not intended, because I am very certain the Congress means to encourage the Importation of those necessary Articles under the Direction of proper Persons, from every part of the World. I design to propose to my Colleagues to joyn with me in a Motion, to extend the Recommendation so as to admit of exporting fish to any Place besides the foreign West Indies.

A few days ago, being one of a Committee to consider General Washington's last Letter to Congress, I proposd to the Committee and they readily consented to report the Inclosd Resolution1 which were unanimously agreed to in Congress. The Committee reorted that a certain sum should be paid to Mr [Lovell] out of the military Chest towards enabling him to remove himself & his Family from Boston, but Precedent was objected to and the last Resolve was substituted in its stead. The Gentlemen present however contributed and put into my hands Eighty-two Dollars for the Benefit of Mrs [Lovell], which I shall remit either in Cash or a good Bill. I hope I shall soon be so happy as to hear that he is releasd from Bondage. I feel very tenderly for the rest of my fellow Citizens who are detaind in that worst of Prisons. Methinks there is one Way speedily to release them all.


1See above, page 248.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADe Jany 21 1776


It is a long time since I had the pleasure of receiving a Letter from you. I flatter myself that you still place me among your Friends. I am not conscious of having done any thing to forfeit your Regards for me and therefore I will attribute your Omission not to a designd Neglect, but to a more probable Cause, the constant Attention you are called upon to give to the publick Affairs of our Colony. It is for this Reason that I make myself easy, though one post arrives and one Express after another without a Line from you; assuring myself that your Time is employd to much better purpose than writing to or thinking of me. I speak Truth when I tell you, that I shall be exceedingly gratified in receiving your Favors, whenever your Leisure may admit of your suspending your Attention to Matters of greater Importance. I will add that your Letters will certainly be profitable to me; for I shall gain that Intelligence and Instruction from them which will enable me the better to serve the Publick in the Station I am placed in here. Give me Leave to tell you therefore, that I think it is a part of the Duty you owe to our Country to write to me as often as you can.

You have seen the MOST GRACIOUS Speech—Most Gracious! How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words! It discovers, to be sure, the most BENEVOLENT & HUMANE Feelings of its Author. I have heard that he is his own Minister —that he follows the Dictates of his own Heart. If so, why should we cast the odium of distressing Mankind upon his Minions & Flatterers only. Guilt must lie at his Door. Divine Vengeance will fall on his head; for all-gracious Heaven cannot be an indifferent Spectator of the virtuous Struggles of this people.

In a former Letter I desired you to acquaint me of your Father's health and the Circumstances of the Family. I have a very great Regard for them and repeat the Request.


1Of Boston. In the preceding year he had been a member of the second and third provincial congresses of Massachusetts.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADE Jany 12 1776


Your very acceptable Letter of the 3d Inst duly came to hand. I thank you heartily for the favor and shall be much obligd to you if you will write to me as often as your Leisure will admit of it.

It gave me pain to be informd by you, that by an unlucky Circumstance you were prevented from executing a plan, the Success of which would have afforded you Laurels, and probably in its immediate Effects turnd the present Crisis in favor of our Country. We are indebted to you for your laudable Endeavor; Another Tryal will, I hope, crown your utmost Wish.

I have seen the Speech which is falsly & shamefully called MOST GRACIOUS. It breathes the most malevolent Spirit, wantonly proposes Measures calculated to distress Mankind, and determines my Opinion of the Author of it as a Man of a wicked Heart. What a pity it is, that Men are become so degenerate and servile, as to bestow Epithets which can be appropriated to the Supreme Being alone, upon Speeches & Actions which will hereafter be read & spoken of by every Man who shall profess to have a spark of Virtue & Honor, with the utmost Contempt and Detestation.—What have we to expect from Britain, but Chains & Slavery? I hope we shall act the part which the great Law of Nature Points out. It is high time that we should assume that Character, which I am sorry to find the Capital of your Colony has publickly and expressly disavowd. It is my most fervent prayer to Almighty God, that he would direct and prosper the Councils of America, inspire her Armies with true Courage, shield them in every Instance of Danger and lead them on to Victory & Tryumph.

I am yr affectionate Friend,

1Of Biddeford; a member of each provincial congress of Massachusetts.


[MS., Adams Papers, Quincy; a modified text is in John Adams, Works, vol. ix., pp. 371-373, and a draft is in the Lenox Library.]

PHILADE Jany 15 1776.


Altho I have at present but little Leisure, I can not omit writing you a few Lines by this Express.

I have seen certain Instructions which were given by the Capital of the Colony of New Hampshire to its Delegates in their provincial Convention,1 the Spirit of which I am not altogether pleasd with. There is one part of them at least, which I think discovers a Timidity which is unbecoming a People oppressd and insulted as they are, and who at their own request have been advisd & authorizd by Congress to set up and exercise Government in such form as they should judge most conducive to their own Happiness. It is easy to understand what they mean when they speak of "perfecting a form of Govt STABLE and PERMANENT"-They indeed explain themselves by saying that they "SHOULD PREFER THE GOVT OF CONGRESS, (their provincial Convention) till quieter times." The Reason they assign for it, I fear, will be considerd as showing a Readiness to condescend to the Humours of their Enemies, and their publickly expressly & totally disavowing Independency either on the Nation or THE MAN who insolently & perseveringly demands the Surrender of their Liberties with the Bayonet pointed at their Breasts may be construed to argue a Servility & Baseness of Soul for which Language doth not afford an Epithet. It is by indiscrete Resolutions and Publications that the Friends of America have too often given occasion to their Enemies to injure her Cause. I hope however that the Town of Portsmouth doth not in this Instance speak the Sense of that Colony. I wish, if it be not too late, that you would write your Sentiments of the Subject to our worthy Friend Mr L——— who I suppose is now in Portsmouth.—If that Colony should take a wrong Step, I fear it would wholly defeat a Design which, I confess I have much at heart.

A motion was made in Congress the other Day to the following purpose—that whereas we had been chargd with aiming at Independency, a Comte should be appointed to explain to the People at large the Principles & Grounds of our Opposition &c. The Motion alarmd me. I thought Congress had already been explicit enough, & was apprehensive that we might get our selves upon dangerous Ground. Some of us prevaild so far as to have the Matter postpond but could not prevent the assigning a Day to consider it.—I may perhaps have been wrong in opposing this Motion, and I ought the rather to suspect it, because the Majority of your Colony as well as of the Congress were of a different Opinion.

I had lately some free Conversation with an eminent Gentleman whom you well know, and whom your Portia, in one of her Letters, admired if I recollect right, for his EXPRESSIVE SILENCE, about a Confederation—A Matter which our much valued Friend Coll W——— is very sollicitous to have compleated. We agreed that it must soon be brought on, & that if all the Colonies could not come into it, it had better be done by those of them that inclind to it. I told him that I would endeavor to unite the New England Colonies in confederating, if NONE of the rest would joyn in it. He approvd of it, and said, if I succeeded, he would cast in his Lot among us.


Jany 16th

As this Express did not sett off yesterday, according to my Expectation, I have the Opportunity of acquainting you that Congress has just receivd a Letter from General Washington inclosing the Copy of an Application of our General Assembly to him to order payment to four Companies stationd at Braintree Weymouth & Hingham. The General says they were never regimented, & he can not comply with the Request of the Assembly without the Direction of Congress. A Come is appointed to consider the Letter, of which I am one. I fear there will be a Difficulty, and therefore I shall endeavor to prevent a Report on this part of the Letter, unless I shall see a prospect of justice being done to the Colony, till I can receive from you authentick Evidence of those companies having been actually employed by the continental officers, as I conceive they have been, in the Service of the Continent. I wish you wd inform me whether the two Companies stationd at Chelsea & Malden were paid out of the Continents Chest. I suppose they were, and if so, I cannot see Reason for any Hesitation about the paymt of these. I wish also to know how many Men our Colony is at the Expence of maintaining for the Defence of its Sea Coasts. Pray let me have some Intelligence from you, of the Colony which we represent. You are sensible of the Danger it has frequently been in of suffering greatly for Want of regular information.

1Cf. New Hampshire Provincial Papers, vol. vii., pp. 701, 702.


[W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams,1 vol. ii., pp. 360-363.]

[February 3, 1776.]

When the little pamphlet, entitled " Common Sense," first made its appearance in favor of that so often abjured idea of independence upon Great Britain, I was informed that no less than three gentlemen of respectable abilities were engaged to answer it. As yet, I have seen nothing which directly pretends to dispute a single position of the author. The oblique essay in Humphrey's paper, and solemn "Testimony of the Quakers," however intended, having offered nothing to the purpose, I shall take leave to examine this important question with all candor and attention, and submit the result to my much interested country.

Dependence of one man or state upon another is either absolute or limited by some certain terms of agreement. The dependence of these Colonies, which Great Britain calls constitutional, as declared by acts of Parliament, is absolute. If the contrary of this be the bugbear so many have been disclaiming against, I could wish my countrymen would consider the consequence of so stupid a profession. If a limited dependence is intended, I would be much obliged to any one who will show me the Britannico- American Magna Charta, wherein the terms of our limited dependence are precisely stated. If no such thing can be found, and absolute dependence be accounted inadmissible, the sound we are squabbling about has certainly no determinate meaning. If we say we mean that kind of dependence we acknowledged at and before the year 1763, I answer, vague and uncertain laws, and more especially constitutions, are the very instruments of slavery. The Magna Charta of England was very explicit, considering the time it was formed, and yet much blood was spilled in disputes concerning its meaning.

Besides the danger of an indefinite dependence upon an undetermined power, it might be worth while to consider what the characters are on whom we are so ready to acknowledge ourselves dependent. The votaries of this idol tell us, upon the good people of our mother country, whom they represent as the most just, humane, and affectionate friends we can have in the world. Were this true, it were some encouragement; but who can pretend ignorance, that these just and humane friends are as much under the tyranny of men of a reverse character as we should be could these miscreants gain their ends? I disclaim any more than a mutual dependence on any man or number of men on earth; but an indefinite dependence upon a combination of men who have, in the face of the sun, broken through the most solemn covenants, debauched the hereditary, and corrupted the elective guardians of the people's rights; who have, in fact, established an absolute tyranny in Great Britain and Ireland, and openly declared themselves competent to bind the Colonies in all cases whatsoever,—I say, indefinite dependence on such a combination of usurping innovators is evidently as dangerous to liberty, as fatal to civil and social happiness, as any one step that could be proposed even by the destroyer of men. The utmost that the honest party in Great Britain can do is to warn us to avoid this dependence at all hazards. Does not even a Duke of Grafton declare the ministerial measures illegal and dangerous? And shall America, no way connected with this Administration, press our submission to such measures and reconciliation to the authors of them? Would not such pigeon-hearted wretches equally forward the recall of the Stuart family and establishment of Popery throughout Christendom, did they consider the party in favor of those loyal measures the strongest? Shame on the men who can court exemption from present trouble and expense at the price of their posterity's liberty! The honest party in England cannot wish for the reconciliation proposed. It is as unsafe to them as to us, and they thoroughly apprehend it. What check have they now upon the Crown, and what shadow of control can they pretend, when the Crown can command fifteen or twenty millions a year which they have nothing to say to? A proper proportion of our commerce is all that can benefit any good man in Britain or Ireland; and God forbid we should be so cruel as to furnish bad men with the power to enslave both Britain and America. Administration has now fairly dissevered the dangerous tie. Execrated will he be by the latest posterity who again joins the fatal cord!

"But," say the puling, pusillanimous cowards, "we shall be subject to a long and bloody war, if we declare independence." On the contrary, I affirm it the only step that can bring the contest to a speedy and happy issue. By declaring independence we put ourselves on a footing for an equal negotiation. Now we are called a pack of villainous rebels, who, like the St. Vincent's Indians, can expect nothing more than a pardon for our lives, and the sovereign favor respecting freedom, and property to be at the King's will. Grant, Almighty God, that I may be numbered with the dead before that sable day dawns on North America.

All Europe knows the illegal and inhuman treatment we have received from Britons. All Europe wishes the haughty Empress of the Main reduced to a more humble deportment. After herself has thrust her Colonies from her, the maritime powers cannot be such idiots as to suffer her to reduce them to a more absolute obedience of her dictates than they were heretofore obliged to yield. Does not the most superficial politician know, that while we profess ourselves the subjects of Great Britain, and yet hold arms against her, they have a right to treat us as rebels, and that, according to the laws of nature and nations, no other state has a right to interfere in the dispute? But, on the other hand, on our declaration of independence, the maritime states, at least, will find it their interest (which always secures the question of inclination) to protect a people who can be so advantageous to them. So that those shortsighted politicians, who conclude that this step will involve us in slaughter and devastation, may plainly perceive that no measure in our power will so naturally and effectually work our deliverance. The motion of a finger of the Grand Monarch would produce as gentle a temper in the omnipotent British minister as appeared in the Manilla ransom and Falkland Island affairs. From without, certainly, we have everything to hope, nothing to fear. From within, some tell us that the Presbyterians, if freed from the restraining power of Great Britain, would overrun the peaceable Quakers in this government. For my own part, I despise and detest the bickerings of sectaries, and am apprehensive of no trouble from that quarter, especially while no peculiar honors or emoluments are annexed to either. I heartily wish too many of the Quakers did not give cause of complaint, by endeavoring to counteract the measures of their fellow-citizens for the common safety. If they profess themselves only pilgrims here, let them walk through the men of this world without interfering with their actions on either side. If they would not pull down kings, let them not support tyrants; for, whether they understand it or not, there is, and ever has been, an essential difference in the characters.

Finally, with M. de Vattel, I account a state a moral person, having an interest and will of its own; and I think that state a monster whose prime mover has an interest and will in direct opposition to its prosperity and security. This position has been so clearly demonstrated in the pamphlet first mentioned in this essay, that I shall only add, if there are any arguments in favor of returning to a state of dependence on Great Britain, that is, on the present Administration of Great Britain, I could wish they were timely offered, that they may be soberly considered before the cunning proposals of the Cabinet set all the timid, lazy, and irresolute members of the community into a clamor for peace at any rate.


1Wells, at vol. ii,, pp. 349-352, prints an article entitled " An Earnest Appeal to the People," and signed "Sincerus," attributing the authorship to Adams.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADA Feby 26 1776.


I have been impatiently waiting for a Letter from you. I think your last was dated the 21st of January—you cannot do me a greater Pleasure than by writing to me often. It is my Intention to make you a Visit as soon as the Roads which are now excessively bad shall be settled. Perhaps it may be not before April. I have tarried through the Winter, because I thought my self indispensably obligd so greatly to deny my self. Some of my Friends here tell me that I ought not to think of leaving this City at so critical a Season as the Opening of the Spring, but I am happy in the return of Mr Adams with Mr Gerry and in being assured that my Absence from Duty for a short time may be dispensd with and though I am at present in a good State of Health, the Jaunt may be necessary for the Preservation of it. Whenever I shall have the pleasure of seeing you, to me it will be inexpressible, and I dare say our Meeting, after so long an Absense, will not be disagreeable to you.

I have nothing new to write to you. In one of your Letters you told me that Dr C had requested that I would sometimes write you on the Politicks of this place, and that he might see my Letters of that kind. Pay my due Regards to the Doctor when you see him & tell him that I can scarsely find time to write you even a Love Letter. I will however for once give you a political Anecdote. Dr Smith Provost of the College here, by the Invitation of the Continental Congress, lately deliverd a funeral Oration on the gallant General Montgomery who fell at the Walls of Quebec. Certain political Principles were thought to be interwoven with every part of the Oration which were displeasing to the Auditory. It was remarkd that he could not even keep their Attention. A Circle of Ladies, who had seated themselves in a convenient place on purpose to see as well as hear the Orator, that they might take every Advantage for the Indulgence of Griefe on so melancholly an Occasion, were observd to look much disappointed and chagrind. The next day a Motion was made in Congress for requesting a Copy for the Press. The Motion was opposd from every Quarter, and with so many Reasons that the Gentleman who made the Motion desired Leave to withdraw it. Such was the fate of that Oration which is celebrated in the NEWSPAPERS of this City, perhaps by some one of the Orators Friends for I will not presume that HE was privy to the Compliment paid to it as "VERY ANIMATED AND PATHETICK."


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADE March 8 1776


I now sit down just to acknowledge the Receipt of your favor of the 14th of Feby, and to mention to you a Matter which considerd in it self may appear to be of small Moment but in its Effects may be mischievous. I believe I may safely appeal to all the Letters which I have written to my Friends since I have been in this City to vindicate my self in affirming that I have never mentiond Mr C or referrd to his Conduct in any of them, excepting one to my worthy Colleague Mr A when he was at Watertown a few Weeks ago, in which I informd him of the side Mr C had taken in a very interresting Debate; and then I only observd that he had a Right to give his opinion whenever he was prepard to form one. Yet I have been told that it has been industriously reported that Mr J A & my self have been secretly writing to his Prejudice and that our Letters had operated to his being superceded. So fully perswaded were Gentlemen of the Truth of this Report, and Mr D of N Y in particular whom I have heard express a warm Affection for Mr C, that he seemd scarcely willing to credit me when I contradicted it. Whether the report and a Beliefe of it engagd the confidential Friends of Mr C to open a charitable Subscription in support of his Character, I am not able to say. If it was so, they ought in justice to him to have made themselves certain of the Truth of it; for to offer Aid to the Reputation of a Gentleman without a real Necessity is surely no Advantage to it. A Letter was handed about addressed to Mr C. The Contents I never saw—his Friends signd it. Other Gentlemen at their request also set their hands to it, perhaps with as much Indifference as a Man of Business would give a shilling to get rid of the Importunity of a Beggar. I hear it is supposd in Watertown to be an Address of Thanks from the Congress to Mr C for his eminent Services, in which his recall from Business here is mentiond with Regret—but this is most certainly a Mistake. The Gentlemen signd it in their private Capacity. With Submission they should not have addressd it to another Person or publishd it to the World after the Manner of other Addressers; for if they intended it to recommend Mr C to his own Constituents, was it not hard to oblige him to blow the Trumpet himself which they had prepared to sound his Praise. But Majr Osgood is in haste. I must therefore drop this Subject FOR THE PRESENT and conclude with assuring you that I am affectionately yours,


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADELPHIA March 10th 1776


I arrivd in this City from Baltimore last Saturday. Having been indisposd there so as to be obligd to keep my Chamber ten days, I was unable to travel with my Friends, but through the Goodness of God I have got rid of my Disorder and am in good Health. Mrs Ross, at whose House I took Lodging in Baltimore treated me with great Civility and Kindness and was particularly attentive to me in my Sickness, and Wadsworth is as clever a young Man, as I ever met with. Tell Mr Collson, if you see him, he more than answers my Expectation even from the good Character he gave me of him.

I hope, my dear, that you and my Faniily enjoy a good Share of Health. It is my constant & ardent Prayer that the best of Heavens Blessings may rest on you and on them. I lately receivd a Letter from my Son, and since I came to this Place, General Morris of New York tells me he frequently saw him at Peeks Kill, and that he behavd well. Nothing gives me greater Satisfaction than to hear that he supports a good Reputation. I hope my Friends do not flatter me.

I am greatly disappointed in not receiving your last Letter. It was owing to the Friendship of Mr Hancock who took it up in this place, and not expecting my Return from Baltimore so soon, he forwarded it by a careful hand who promisd him to deliver it to me there. I shall receive it in a day or two by the Post. Pray write to me by every opportunity and believe me to be,

Your affectionate,

P. S.

Just as I was going to close this Letter I receivd from Baltimore your kind Letter of the 26th of January. The Post being now ready to set off I have only time to acknowledge the favor.

March 12th


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a part of the letter is in New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. xxx., p. 310; a portion of the text is in W. C. Ford, Writings of George Washington, vol. iii., p. 103, from MS. owned by Mrs. J. S. H. Fogg.]

PHILAD April 2 1776


I am yet indebted to you for the obliging Letter I received from you some Months ago. The Subject of it was principally concerning a young Gentleman whom I personally know, and whose Merit in my opinion intitles him to singular Notice from his Country. This may seem like Flattery—you may be assured it is not—nor indeed do I know how flatter. Words however are oftentimes, though spoken in Sincerity, but Wind. If I had had it in my power substantially to have servd that young Gentleman you would have long ago heard from me. The Want of that opportunity causd me to lay down my pen divers times after I had even begun to write to you—you will not therefore, I hope, construe my long Delay as the least Want of that just Regard which I owe to you.

Many Advantages arose to our Colony by the Congress adopting the Army raisd in N Engd the last Spring but among the Misfortunes attending it this was one, namely that it being now a Continental Army, the Gentlemen of all Colonies had a Right to and put in for a Share in behalf of their Friends in filling up the various offices. By this means it was thought that military knowledge and Experience as well as the military Spirit would spread thro the Colonies and besides that they would all consider themselves the more interrested in the Success of our Army and in providing for its support. But then there was the less Room for Persons who were well worthy of Notice in the Colonies which had first raisd the Army. This was the Cause why many of our Friends were discontented who did not advert to it. When the Quarter Master was appointed, I question whether any of your Friends knew, I am sure I did not, that the Gentleman I have referrd to sustaind that office; there was therefore no designd Neglect of him here. Mr Ms Character stood so high that no Gentleman could hesitate to put him into a place which was understood to be vacant & which he was so well qualified to fill. The Truth is, we have never had that Information from our Friends at Watertown of the State of things which we have thought we had good reason to expect from them. I do assure you I have often been made acquainted with the State of Affairs in our Colony, as well as I could from Letters shown to me by Gentlemen of other Colonies. I do not mention this without duly considering that the Attention of our Friends must have been turnd to a great Variety of Business.

I heartily congratulate you upon the sudden and important Change of our Affairs in the Removal of the Barbarians from the Capital. We owe our grateful Acknowledgments to him who is, as he is frequently stiled in sacred Writ "The Lord of Hosts" "The God of Armies"—We have not yet been informd with Certainty what Course the Enemy have steerd. I hope we shall be upon our Guard against future Attempts. Will not Care be taken immediately to fortify the Harbour & thereby prevent the Entrance of Ships of War ever hereafter? But I am called to Duty and must break off abruptly.

Adieu my Friend and be assured I am affectionately yours,

1Of Braintree. A member of each provincial congress of Massachusetts.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADA April 3 1776.


I lately recd a very obliging Letter from you for which I now return you my hearty Thanks. I wish your Leisure would admit of your frequently favoring me with your Thoughts of our publick Affairs. I do assure you I shall make use of them, as far as my Ability shall extend, to the Advantage of our Country. If you please, I will employ a few Minutes in giving you my own Ideas, grounded on the best Intelligence I have been able to obtain.

Notwithstanding Shame and Loss attended the Measures of the British Court the last Summer and Fall, yet by the latest Accounts recd from our Friends in that Country, it appears that they are determind to persevere. They then reckond (in December) upon having 20,000 Troops in America for the next Campaign. Their Estimate was thus— 6000 in Boston—7000 to go from Ireland—3000 Highlanders raising under General Frazier and the rest to be in Recruits—of the 7000 from Ireland, we are told, that 3000 were to sail for Virginia and North Carolina & were expected to be on that Coast in March or the Beginning of April. It is probable then that the Ministry have not quitted the Plan which they had agreed upon above a twelvemonth ago; which was, to take Possession of New York—make themselves Masters of Hudsons River & the Lakes, thereby securing Canada and the Indians—cut off all Communication between the Colonies Northward & Southward of Hudsons River, and thus to subdue the former in hopes by instigating the Negroes to make the others an easy Prey. Our Success, a great Part of which they had not then heard of, it is to be hoped has renderd this Plan impracticable; yet it is probable that the main Body of these Troops is designd to carry it into Execution, while the rest are to make a Diversion in the Southern Colonies. Those Colonies, I think, are sufficiently provided for. Our Safety very much depends upon our Vigilance & Success in N York & Canada. Our Enemies did not neglect Hudsons River the last year. We know that one of their Transports arrivd at N York, but Gage, seizd with a Panick orderd that & the other transports destind for that Place, to Boston. I have ever thought it to be their favorite Plan; not only because it appeard to me to be dictated by sound Policy, but because from good Intelligence which I receivd from England the last Winter, they revivd it after it had been broken in upon by Gage, and sent Tryon to New York to remove every obstacle in the Way of landing the Troops there, and to cooperate with Carleton in the Execution of it.—

The Kings Troops have now abandond Boston, on which I sincerely congratulate you. We have not yet heard what Course they have steerd. I judge for Hallifax. They may return if they hear that you are off your Guard. Or probably they may go up St Lawrence River as early as the Season will admit of it. Does it not behove N England to secure her self from future Invasions, while the Attention of Congress is turnd to N York & Canada. We seem to have the Game in our own hands; if we do not play it well, Misfortune will be the Effect of our Negligence and Folly. The British Court sollicited the Assistance of Russia; but we are informd that they faild of it through the Interposition of France by the Means of Sweden. The ostensible Reason on the Part of Russia was, that there was no Cartel settled between Great Britain and America; the Want of which will make every Power reluctant in lending their Troops. France is attentive to this Struggle and wishes for a Separation of the two Countries. I am in no Doubt that she would with Chearfulness openly lend her Aid to promote it, if America would declare herself free and independent; for I think it is easy to see what great though different Effects it would have in both those Nations. Britain would no longer have it in her Power to oppress.

Is not America already independent? Why then not declare it? Upon whom was she ever supposd to be dependent, but upon that Nation whose most barbarous Usage of her, & that in multiplied Instances and for a long time has renderd it absurd ever to put Confidence in it, & with which she is at this time in open War. Can Nations at War be said to be dependent either upon the other? I ask then again, why not declare for Independence? Because say some, it will forever shut the Door of Reconciliation. Upon what Terms will Britain be reconciled with America? If we may take the confiscating Act of Parliamt or the Kings last Proclamation for our Rule to judge by, she will be reconciled upon our abjectly submitting to Tyranny, and asking and receiving Pardon for resisting it. Will this redound to the Honor or the Safety of America? Surely no. By such a Reconciliation she would not only in the most shameful Manner acknowledge the Tyranny, but most wickedly, as far as would be in her Power, prevent her Posterity from ever hereafter resisting it.

But the Express now waits for this Letter. I must therefore break off. I will write to you again by another opportunity. Pay my Respects to the Speaker pro Temp. and tell him that I have never receivd a Line from him since I have been in this City. My Respects are also due to Mr S P S,1 from whom I yesterday receivd a kind Letter, which I shall duly acknowledge to him when I have Leisure to write. Give me Leave to assure you that I am with the most friendly Regards for your Lady & Family very affectionately,


___________ 1Samuel P. Savage.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADE April 15 1776


Your obliging Letter of the 1st Instt came duly to my hand. So early as the last Winter was a twelve month past I was informd by a worthy and very intelligent Friend in London, that the Subduction of the New England Colonies was the FIRST Object of our Enemies. This was to be effected, in a Manner coincident with your Ideas, by establishing themselves on Hudsons River. They were thereby at once to secure Canada and the Indians, give Support and Protection to the numerous Tories in New York, supply their Army at Boston with Provisions from that Colony and intirely prevent the southern from affording any Aid to those invaded Colonies. This Plan was in my opinion undoubtedly dictated by sound Policy; and it would have been put in Execution the last Summer, had not the necessities to which Gage was reducd & his Apprehensions from our having a formidable Army before Boston, obligd him to break in upon it. They did not neglect Hudsons River the last year; for we know that two of their Transports actually arrivd at New York; But these were immediately orderd by Gage, together with the rest of the Fleet to Boston. My Friend in London whose Intelligence I have never yet found to fail, informd me the last Fall, that our Enemies did not quit this Plan. Upon hearing that it had been thus interrupted, they revivd it, and sent Tryon to New York to keep the People there in good Humour and cooperate with Carleton in the Execution of it. They reckond the last Winter upon having 20,000 Troops in America for the ensuing Campaign, of which 3000 were to go to Virginia or one of the Carolinas. These last I suppose are designd for a Diversion, while the main Body of all the Troops they will be able to send, will be employd in executing their original & favorite Plan. Thus, my Friend, I am yet happy in concurring with you in Sentiments; and I shall persevere in using the small Influence I have here, agreable to your repeated Advice, "to prevent the Enemies establishing themselves & making Advances on Hudson & St Lawrence Rivers."

The Mercenary Troops have at length abandond Boston on which, I perceive, you will not allow me YET to give you joy. May I not however advise, that the favorable opportunity which this important Event, added to the Season of the year has offerd, be improvd in fortifying the Harbour so as to render it impracticable for the Enemies Ships to enter it hereafter. I hope this fortunate Change of Affairs has not put you off your Guard. Should you not immediately prepare against future Invasions, which may be made upon you before you are aware? Your Sea Coasts must still be defended. We shall soon realize the Destination of the Enemies Forces. Those under the Command of General Howe will probably remain at Hallifax till the Season of the year will admit of their going up St Lawrence River. The Troops coming from Ireland may be destind to New York & will expect to get Possession there. At least they will attempt it. A failure may lead their Views back to Boston; for I am in no Apprehensions that they will think of subduing the Southern Colonies till they shall have first subdued those of the North. The Southern Colonies, I think, are sufficiently provided for, to enable them to repell any Force that may come against them the ensuing Summer. Our Safety therefore much depends upon the Care which New England shall take for her own Preservation and our Vigilance and Success in New York and Canada. There are Forces enough already ORDERD to answer all our Purposes. Our business is, to imitate our Enemies in Zeal Application & Perseverance in carrying our own Plans into Execution.

I am perfectly satisfied with the Reasons you offer to show the Necessity of a publick & explicit Declaration of Independency. I cannot conceive what good Reason can be assignd against it. Will it widen the Breach? This would be a strange Question after we have raised Armies and fought Battles with the British Troops, set up an American Navy, permitted the Inhabitants of these Colonies to fit out armed Vessels to cruize on all Ships &c belonging to any of the Inhabitants of Great Britain declaring them the Enemies of the united Colonies, and torn into Shivers their Acts of Trade, by allowing Commerce subject to Regulations to be made by OUR SELVES with the People of all Countries but such as are Subjects of the British King. It cannot surely after all this be imagind that we consider our selves or mean to be considerd by others in any State but that of Independence. But moderate Whigs are disgusted with our mentioning the Word! Sensible Tories are better Politicians. THEY know, that no foreign Power can consistently yield Comfort to Rebels, or enter into any kind of Treaty with these Colonies till they declare themselves free and independent. They are in hopes that by our protracting this decisive Step we shall grow weary of War; and that for want of foreign Connections and Assistance we shall be driven to the Necessity of acknowledging the Tyrant and submitting to the Tyranny. These are the Hopes and Expectations of Tories, while moderate Gentlemen are flattering themselves with the Prospect of Reconciliation when the Commissioners that are talked of shall arrive. A mere Amusement indeed! When are these Commissioners to arrive? Or what Terms of Reconciliation are we to expect from them that will be acceptable to the People of America? Will the King of Great Britain empower his Commissioners even to promise the Repeal of all or any of their obnoxious and oppressive Acts? Can he do it? Or if he could, has he ever yet discoverd a Disposition which shew the least Degree of that princely virtue, Clemency? I scruple not to affirm it as my opinion that his heart is more obdurate, and his Disposition towards the People of America is more unrelenting and malignant than was that of Pharaoh towards the Israelites in Egypt. But let us not be impatient. It requires Time to convince the doubting and inspire the timid. Many great Events have taken place "since the stopping the Courts in Berkshire"—Events at that time unforeseen. Whether we shall ever see the Commissioners is Matter of Uncertainty. I do not, I never did expect them. If they do come the Budget must open and it will be soon known to all whether Reconciliation is practicable or not. If they do not come speedily, the hopes which some Men entertain of reconciliation must vanish. I am my dear Sir very respectfully,



[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADA April 30 1776


I am to acknowledge the Receipt of your Favor of the 18th Instant by the Post. The Ideas of Independence spread far and wide among the Colonies. Many of the leading Men see the absurdity of supposing that Allegiance is due to a Sovereign who has already thrown us out of his Protection. South Carolina has lately assumd a new Government. The Convention of North Carolina have unanimously agreed to do the same & appointed a Committee to prepare & lay before them a proper Form. They have also revokd certain Instructions which tied the Hands of their Delegates here. Virginia whose Convention is to meet on the third of next month will follow the lead. The Body of the People of Maryland are firm. Some of the principal Members of their Convention, I am inclind to believe, are timid or lukewarm but an occurrence has lately fallen out in that Colony which will probably give an agreable Turn to their affairs. Of this I will inform you at a future time when I may be more particularly instructed concerning it. The lower Counties on Delaware are a small People but well affected to the Common Cause. In this populous and wealthy Colony political Parties run high. The News papers are full of the Matter but I think I may assure you that Common Sense, prevails among the people—a Law has lately passed in the Assembly here for increasing the Number of Representatives and tomorrow they are to come to a Choice in this City & diverse of the Counties— by this Means it is said the representation of the Colony will be more equal. I am told that a very popular Gentleman who is a Candidate for one of the back Counties has been in danger of losing his Election because it was reported among the Electors that he had declared his Mind in this City against Independence. I know the political Creed of that Gentleman. It is, so far as relates to a Right of the British Parliament to make Laws binding the Colonies in any Case whatever, exactly correspondent with your own. I mention this Anecdote to give you an Idea of the Jealousy of the People & their attention to this Point. The Jerseys are agitating the great Question. It is with them rather a Matter of Prudence whether to determine till some others have done it before them. A Gentleman of that Colony tells me that at least one half of them have New Engd Blood running in their Veins—be this as it may their Sentiments & Manners are I believe similar to those of N England. I forbear to say any thing of New York, for I confess I am not able to form any opinion of them. I lately recd a Letter from a Friend in that Colony informing me that they would soon come to a Question of the Expediency of taking up Government; but to me it is uncertain what they will do. I think they are at least as unenlightned in the Nature & Importance of our political Disputes as any one of the united Colonies. I have not mentiond our little Sister Georgia; but I believe she is as warmly engagd in the Cause as any of us, & will do as much as can be reasonably expected of her. I was very sollicitous the last Fall to have Governments set up by the people in every Colony. It appears to me to be necessary for many reasons. When this is done, and I am inclind to think it will be soon, the Colonies will feel their Independence—the Way will be prepared for a Confederation, and one Government may be formd with the Consent of the whole—a distinct State composd of all the Colonies with a common Legislature for great & General Purposes. This I was in hopes would have been the Work of the last Winter. I am disappointed but I bear it tollerably well. I am disposd to believe that every thing is orderd for the best, and if I do not find my self chargeable with Neglect I am not greatly chagrind when things do not go on exactly according to my mind. Indeed I have the Happiness of believing that what I most earnestly wish for will in due time be effected. We cannot make Events. Our Business is wisely to improve them. There has been much to do to confirm doubting Friends & fortify the Timid. It requires time to bring honest Men to think & determine alike even in important Matters. Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason. Events which excite those feelings will produce wonderful Effects. The Boston Port bill suddenly wrought a Union of the Colonies which could not be brot about by the Industry of years in reasoning on the necessity of it for the Common Safety. Since the memorable 19th of April one Event has brot another on, till Boston sees her Deliverance from those more than savage Troops upon which the execrable Tyrant so much relyed for the Completion of his horrid Conspiracys and America has furnishd her self with more than seventy Battalions for her Defence. The burning of Norfolk & the Hostilities committed in North Carolina have kindled the resentment of our Southern Brethren who once thought their Eastern Friends hot headed & rash; now indeed the Tone is alterd & it is said that the Coolness & Moderation of the one is necessary to allay the heat of the other. There is a reason that wd induce one even to wish for the speedy arrival of the British Troops that are expected at the Southward. I think our friends are well prepared for them, & one Battle would do more towards a Declaration of Independency than a long chain of conclusive Arguments in a provincial Convention or the Continental Congress. I am very affectionately yours,


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADELPHIA April 30 1776


While I was sitting down to write you a friendly Letter I had the pleasure of receiving your Favor of the 22 Instant by the Post. My Intention was to congratulate you and your Brethren the Selectmen, upon the precipitate Flight of the British Army & its Adherents from the Town of Boston, and to urge on you the Necessity of fortifying the Harbour so as that the Enemies Ships might never approach it hereafter. Our grateful Acknowledgments are due to the Supreme Being who has not been regardless of the multiplied Oppressions which the Inhabitants of that City have sufferd under the Hand of an execrable Tyrant. Their Magnanimity & Perseverance during the severe Conflict has afforded a great Example to the World, and will be recorded by the impartial Historian to their immortal Honor. They are now restored to their Habitations & Privileges; and as they are purgd of those Wretches a Part of whose Policy has been to corrupt the Morals of the People, I am perswaded they will improve the happy opportunity of reestablishing ancient Principles and Purity of Manners—I mention this in the first place because I fully agree in Opinion with a very celebrated Author, that, "Freedom or Slavery will prevail in a (City or) Country according as the Disposition & Manners of the People render them fit for the one or the other"; and I have long been convincd that our Enemies have made it an Object, to eradicate from the Minds of the People in general a Sense of true Religion & Virtue, in hopes thereby the more easily to carry their Point of enslaving them. Indeed my Friend, this is a Subject so important in my Mind, that I know not how to leave it. Revelation assures us that "Righteousness exalteth a Nation"- -Communities are dealt with in this World by the wise and just Ruler of the Universe. He rewards or punishes them according to their general Character. The diminution of publick Virtue is usually attended with that of publick Happiness, and the publick Liberty will not long survive the total Extinction of Morals. "The Roman Empire, says the Historian, MUST have sunk, though the Goths had not invaded it. Why? Because the Roman Virtue was sunk." Could I be assured that America would remain virtuous, I would venture to defy the utmost Efforts of Enemies to subjugate her. You will allow me to remind you, that the Morals of that City which has born so great a Share in the American Contest, depend much upon the Vigilance of the respectable Body of Magistrates of which you are a Member.

I am greatly concernd at the present defenceless State of Boston, & indeed of the whole Eastern District which comprehends New England. We have applied for and obtaind a Committee of Congress to consider the State of that District. In the mean time I hope the General Assembly and the Town are exerting themselves for the Security of the Harbour. I could indeed earnestly wish that the Inhabitants of Boston, who have so long born the Heat & Burden of the Day might now have some Respite. But this is uncertain. Their generous Exertions in the American Cause, have renderd them particularly obnoxious to the Vengeance of the British Tyrant. It is therefore incumbent on them to be on their Guard, and to use the utmost Activity in putting themselves in a Posture of Defence.

I trust their Spirits are not depressd by the Injuries they have sustaind. The large Experience they have had of military Tyranny should rather heighten their Ideas of the Blessings of civil Liberty and a free Government. While THEIR OWN troops are posted among them for their Protection, they surely will not lose the Feelings and resign the Honor of Citizens to the military; but remember always that standing Armies are formidable Bodies in civil Society, & the Suffering them to exist at any time is from Necessity, & ought never to be of Choice.

It is with heartfelt Pleasure that I recollect the Meetings I have had with my much esteemd Fellow Citizens in Faneuil Hall, and I am animated with the Prospect of seeing them again in that Place which has long been sacred to Freedom. There I have seen the Cause of Liberty & of Mankind warmly espousd & ably vindicated; and that, at Times when to speak with Freedom had become so dangerous, that other Citizens possessd of less Ardour, would have thought themselves excusable in not speaking at all.

Be so kind as to pay my due Respects to my Friends & be assured that I am with the most friendly Regards for Mrs Scollay & Family,

Very Affectionately, Yours,


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADA May 12 1776


I had the pleasure of receiving your very friendly Letter of the 2d Instant by a Mr Parks. I can readily excuse your not writing to me so often as I could wish to receive your Letters, when I consider how much you are engagd in the publick Affairs; and so you must be while your Life is spared to your Country. I am exceedingly concernd to find by your Letter as well as those of my other Friends that so little attention has been given to a Matter of such weighty Importance as the fortifying the Harbour of Boston. To what can this be attributed? Is it not wise to prevent the Enemies making Use of every Avenue especially those which lead into the Capital of our Country. I hope no little party Animosities even exist much less prevail in our Councils to obstruct so necessary a Measure. Such Contentions you well remember that Fiend Hutchinson & his Confederates made it their constant Study to stir up between the friends of the Colony in the different parts of it, in order to prevent their joynt exertions for the Common Good. Let us with great Care avoid such Snares as our Enemies have heretofore laid for our ruin, and which we have found by former Experience have provd too successfull to their wicked purposes. This will, I think be an important Summer to America; I confide therefore in the Wisdom of our Colony, and that they will lay aside the Consideration of smaller Matters for the present, and bend their whole Attention to the necessary Means for the common Safety. I hope the late Situation of Boston is by this time very much alterd for the better; if not, it must needs be a strong Inducement to the Enemy to reenter it, and whether we ought not by all means in our Power to prevent it, I will leave to you and others to judge.

Yesterday the Congress resolvd into a Committee of the whole to take under Consideration the report of a former Committee appointed to consider the State of the Eastern District which comprehends New Engd. It was then agreed that the Troops in Boston be augmented [to] Six Thousand. The Question lies before the Congress and will be considerd tomorrow. I am inclind to think the Vote will obtain. [But] what will avail the ordering additional Regiments if Men will not inlist? Do our Countrymen want animation at a time when [all] is at Stake! Your Presses have been too long silent. What are your Committees of Correspondence about? I hear Nothing of circular Letters—of joynt Committees, &c. Such Methods have in times past raised [the] Spirits of the people—drawn off their Attention from PICKING UP PINS, & directed their Views to great objects—But, not having had timely Notice of the Return of this Express, I must conclude (with my earnest prayers for the recovery of your Health,) very affectionately,



[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADA May 15 1776


It was not till the Beginning of this Month that I had the Honor of receiving your Favor of the 22d of March, respecting a Proposition of Coll Baillie for opening a Road from Connecticutt River to Montreal. The President, soon after, laid before Congress your Letter of the 5th, a Paragraph of which referrs to the same Subject. The Resolution of Congress thereon has, I presume, before this Time been transmitted to you by him; by which it appears that they have fully concurrd with you in Opinion of the Utility of the Measure proposd.

I beg Leave by this Opportunity to acquaint your Excellency, that the Letters I have receivd from some Gentlemen of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay express great Concern at the present defenceless state of the Town of Boston, while they are not without Apprehension of another Visit from the Enemy. They thought themselves extremely happy in your Presense there, and regretted very much the Necessity of your Departure, to which Nothing reconciles them, but their earnest Desire that the general Service may be promoted. Congress have resolvd that the five Battalions in that Colony be filled up, and new ones raisd for the Defence of the Eastern District. As two General Officers will be sent thither, it would, I am perswaded, give great Satisfaction to the People, if General Gates and Mifflin might be fixed upon. This however, I chearfully submit to your Excellencys Judgment and Determination; being well assurd, that the Safety of that distressd City will have as full a Share of your Attention as shall be consistent with the good of the whole. I have the Honor to be with very great Esteem and Affection,

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse