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DEBATES. - John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 2 (Diary, Notes of Debates, Autobiography) 
The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10 volumes. Vol. 2.
Part of: The Works of John Adams, 10 vols.
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Government is dissolved. Fleets and armies and the present state of things show that government is dissolved. Where are your landmarks, your boundaries of Colonies? We are in a state of nature, sir. I did propose that a scale should be laid down; that part of North America which was once Massachusetts Bay, and that part which was once Virginia, ought to be considered as having a weight. Will not people complain? Ten thousand Virginians have not outweighed one thousand others.
I will submit, however; I am determined to submit, if I am overruled.
A worthy gentleman (ego) near me seemed to admit the necessity of obtaining a more adequate representation.
I hope future ages will quote our proceedings with applause. It is one of the great duties of the democratical part of the constitution to keep itself pure. It is known in my Province that some other Colonies are not so numerous or rich as they are. I am for giving all the satisfaction in my power.
The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders, are no more. I am not a Virginian, but an American.
Slaves are to be thrown out of the question, and if the freemen can be represented according to their numbers, I am satisfied.1
I differ in one point from the gentleman from Virginia, that is, in thinking that numbers only ought to determine the weight of Colonies. I think that property ought to be considered, and that it ought to be a compound of numbers and property that should determine the weight of the Colonies.
I think it cannot be now settled.
We have no legal authority; and obedience to our determinations will only follow the reasonableness, the apparent utility and necessity of the measures we adopt. We have no coercive or legislative authority. Our constituents are bound only in honor to observe our determinations.
There are a great number of counties, in Virginia, very unequal in point of wealth and numbers, yet each has a right to send two members.
But one reason, which prevails with me, and that is, that we are not at this time provided with proper materials. I am afraid we are not.
I can’t see any way of voting, but by Colonies.
I agree with the gentleman (ego) who spoke near me, that we are not at present provided with materials to ascertain the importance of each Colony. The question is, whether the rights and liberties of America shall be contended for, or given up to arbitrary powers.
If the committee should find themselves unable to ascertain the weight of the Colonies, by their numbers and property, they will report this, and this will lay the foundation for the Congress to take some other steps to procure evidence of numbers and property at some future time.
I agree that authentic accounts cannot be had, if by authenticity is meant attestations of officers of the Crown.
I go upon the supposition that government is at an end. All distinctions are thrown down. All America is thrown into one mass. We must aim at the minutiæ of rectitude.
Could I suppose that we came to frame an American constitution, instead of endeavoring to correct the faults in an old one—I can’t yet think that all government is at an end. The measure of arbitrary power is not full, and I think it must run over, before we undertake to frame a new constitution.
To the virtue, spirit, and abilities of Virginia, we owe much. I should always, therefore, from inclination as well as justice, be for giving Virginia its full weight.
I am not clear that we ought not to be bound by a majority, though ever so small, but I only mentioned it as a matter of danger, worthy of consideration.1
6. Tuesday. Went to Congress again; received by an express an intimation of the bombardment of Boston,2 a confused account, but an alarming one indeed; God grant it may not be found true.
7. Wednesday. Went to Congress again, heard Mr. Duché read prayers; the collect for the day, the 7th of the month, was most admirably adapted, though this was accidental, or rather providential. A prayer which he gave us of his own composition was as pertinent, as affectionate, as sublime, as devout, as I ever heard offered up to Heaven.3 He filled every bosom present.4
Dined with Mr. Miers Fisher, a young Quaker and a lawyer. We saw his library, which is clever. But this plain Friend and his plain though pretty wife, with her Thees and Thous, had provided us the most costly entertainment; ducks, hams, chickens, beef, pig, tarts, creams, custards, jellies, fools, trifles, floating islands, beer, porter, punch, wine, and a long &c. We had a large collection of lawyers at table; Mr. Andrew Allen, the Attorney-General, a Mr. Morris, the Prothonotary, Mr. Fisher, Mr. McKean, Mr. Rodney; besides these, we had Mr. Reed, Governor Hopkins, and Governor Ward. We had much conversation upon the practice of law in our different Provinces, but at last we got swallowed up in politics, and the great question of parliamentary jurisdiction. Mr. Allen asks me, from whence do you derive your laws? How do you entitle yourselves to English privileges? Is not Lord Mansfield on the side of power?
8. Thursday. Attended my duty on the committee all day, and a most ingenious, entertaining debate we had. The happy news were brought us from Boston, that no blood had been spilled, but that General Gage had taken away the provincial powder from the magazine at Cambridge. This last was a disagreeable circumstance. Dined at Mr. Powell’s, with Mr. Duché, Dr. Morgan, Dr. Steptoe, Mr. Goldsborough, Mr. Johnson, and many others; a most sinful feast again! every thing which could delight the eye or allure the taste; curds and creams, jellies, sweetmeats of various sorts, twenty sorts of tarts, fools, trifles, floating islands, whipped sillabubs, &c. &c., Parmesan cheese, punch, wine, porter, beer, &c. At evening we climbed up the steeple of Christ Church with Mr. Reed, from whence we had a clear and full view of the whole city, and of Delaware River.
September 8. In the Committee for stating rights, grievances, and means of redress.
The rights are built on a fourfold foundation; on nature, on the British constitution, on charters, and on immemorial usage. The Navigation Act, a capital violation.
It is necessary to recur to the law of nature, and the British constitution, to ascertain our rights. The constitution of Great Britain will not apply to some of the charter rights.
A mother country surcharged with inhabitants, they have a right to emigrate. It may be said, if we leave our country, we cannot leave our allegiance. But there is no allegiance without protection, and emigrants have a right to erect what government they please.
Mr. J. Rutledge.
Emigrants would not have a right to set up what constitution they please. A subject could not alienate his allegiance.
Can’t see why we should not lay our rights upon the broadest bottom, the ground of nature.1 Our ancestors found here no government.
Consider how far we have a right to interfere with regard to the Canada constitution. If the majority of the people there should be pleased with the new constitution, would not the people of America and of England have a right to oppose it, and prevent such a constitution being established in our neighborhood?
It is contended that the Crown had no right to grant such charters as it has to the Colonies, and therefore, we shall rest our rights on a feeble foundation, if we rest them only on charters; nor will it weaken our objections to the Canada bill.
Our claims, I think, are well founded on the British constitution, and not on the law of nature.
Part of the country within the Canada bill is a conquered country, and part not. It is said to be a rule that the King can give a conquered country what law he pleases.
I can’t think the British constitution inseparably attached to the person of every subject. Whence did the constitution derive its authority? from compact; might not that authority be given up by compact?
Mr. William Livingston.
A corporation cannot make a corporation; charter governments have done it. King can’t appoint a person to make a justice of peace; all governors do it. Therefore it will not do for America to rest wholly on the laws of England.
The ministry contend that the Colonies are only like corporations in England, and therefore subordinate to the legislature of the kingdom. The Colonies not bound to the King or Crown by the act of settlement, but by their consent to it. There is no other legislative over the Colonies but their respective assemblies.
The Colonies adopt the common law, not as the common law, but as the highest reason.
Upon the whole, for grounding our rights on the laws and constitution of the country from whence we sprung, and charters, without recurring to the law of nature; because this will be a feeble support. Charters are compacts between the Crown and the people, and I think on this foundation the charter governments stand firm.
England is governed by a limited monarchy and free constitution. Privileges of Englishmen were inherent, their birthright and inheritance, and cannot be deprived of them without their consent.
Objection; that all the rights of Englishmen will make us independent. I hope a line may be drawn to obviate this objection.
James was against Parliament interfering with the Colonies. In the reign of Charles II. the sentiments of the Crown seem to have been changed. The Navigation Act was made; Massachusetts denied the authority, but made a law to enforce it in the Colony.
Life, and liberty which is necessary for the security of life, cannot be given up when we enter into society.
Mr. Rutledge. The first emigrants could not be considered as in a state of nature; they had no right to elect a new king.
I have always withheld my assent from the position that every subject discovering land (does it) for the state to which he belongs.
I never could find the rights of Americans in the distinction between taxation and legislation, nor in the distinction between laws for revenue and for the regulation of trade. I have looked for our rights in the law of nature, but could not find them in a state of nature, but always in a state of political society.
I have looked for them in the constitution of the English government, and there found them. We may draw them from this source securely.
Power results from the real property of the society. The states of Greece, Macedon, Rome were founded on this plan. None but landholders could vote in the comitia or stand for offices.
English constitution founded on the same principle. Among the Saxons, the landholders were obliged to attend, and shared among them the power. In the Norman period, the same. When the landholders could not all attend, the representatives of the freeholders came in. Before the reign of Henry IV. an attempt was made to give the tenants in capite a right to vote. Magna Charta—archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and barons, and tenants in capite held all the lands in England.
It is of the essence of the English constitution that no laws shall be binding, but such as are made by the consent of the proprietors in England.
How then, did it stand with our ancestors when they came over here? They could not be bound by any laws made by the British Parliament, excepting those made before. I never could see any reason to allow that we are bound to any law made since, nor could I ever make any distinction between the sorts of law.
I have ever thought we might reduce our rights to one—an exemption from all laws made by British Parliament since the emigration of our ancestors. It follows, therefore, that all the acts of Parliament made since, are violations of our rights.
These claims are all defensible upon the principles even of our enemies,—Lord North himself, when he shall inform himself of the true principles of the constitution, &c.
I am well aware that my arguments tend to an independency of the Colonies, and militate against the maxims that there must be some absolute power to draw together all the wills and strength of the empire.
9. Friday. Attended my duty upon committees; dined at home.
Extract from the Autobiography.
[The more we conversed with the gentlemen of the country, and with the members of Congress, the more we were encouraged to hope for a general union of the continent. As the proceedings of this Congress are in print, I shall have occasion to say little of them. A few observations may not be amiss.
After some days of general discussions, two committees were appointed of twelve members each, one from each state, Georgia not having yet come in. The first committee was instructed to prepare a bill of rights, as it was called, or a declaration of the rights of the Colonies; the second, a list of infringements or violations of those rights. Congress was pleased to appoint me on the first committee, as the member for Massachusetts.
It would be endless to attempt even an abridgment of the discussions in this committee, which met regularly every morning for many days successively, till it became an object of jealousy to all the other members of Congress. It was, indeed, very much against my judgment that the committee was so soon appointed, as I wished to hear all the great topics handled in Congress at large in the first place. They were very deliberately considered and debated in the committee, however. The two points which labored the most were: 1. Whether we should recur to the law of nature, as well as to the British constitution, and our American charters and grants. Mr. Galloway and Mr. Duane were for excluding the law of nature. I was very strenuous for retaining and insisting on it, as a resource to which we might be driven by Parliament much sooner than we were aware. 2. The other great question was, what authority we should concede to Parliament; whether we should deny the authority of Parliament in all cases; whether we should allow any authority to it in our internal affairs; or whether we should allow it to regulate the trade of the empire with or without any restrictions. These discussions spun into great length, and nothing was decided. After many fruitless essays, the committee determined to appoint a sub-committee to make a draught of a set of articles that might be laid in writing before the grand committee, and become the foundation of a more regular debate and final decision. I was appointed on the sub-committee, in which, after going over the ground again, a set of articles were drawn and debated one by one. After several days deliberation, we agreed upon all the articles excepting one, and that was the authority of Parliament, which was indeed the essence of the whole controversy; some were for a flat denial of all authority; others for denying the power of taxation only; some for denying internal, but admitting external, taxation. After a multitude of motions had been made, discussed, negatived, it seemed as if we should never agree upon any thing. Mr. John Rutledge of South Carolina, one of the committee, addressing himself to me, was pleased to say, “Adams, we must agree upon something; you appear to be as familiar with the subject as any of us, and I like your expressions,—‘the necessity of the case,’ and ‘excluding all ideas of taxation, external and internal;’ I have a great opinion of that same idea of the necessity of the case, and I am determined against all taxation for revenue. Come, take the pen and see if you can’t produce something that will unite us.” Some others of the committee seconding Mr. Rutledge, I took a sheet of paper and drew up an article. When it was read, I believe not one of the committee was fully satisfied with it; but they all soon acknowledged that there was no hope of hitting on any thing in which we could all agree with more satisfaction. All therefore agreed to this, and upon this depended the union of the Colonies. The sub-committee reported their draught to the grand committee, and another long debate ensued, especially on this article, and various changes and modifications of it were attempted, but none adopted.1
The articles were then reported to Congress, and debated, paragraph by paragraph. The difficult article was again attacked and defended. Congress rejected all amendments to it, and the general sense of the members was, that the article demanded as little as could be demanded, and conceded as much as could be conceded with safety, and certainly as little as would be accepted by Great Britain; and that the country must take its fate, in consequence of it. When Congress had gone through the articles, I was appointed to put them into form and report a fair draught for their final acceptance. This was done, and they were finally accepted.
The committee of violations of rights reported a set of articles which were drawn by Mr. John Sullivan of New Hampshire; and these two declarations, the one of rights and the other of violations, which are printed in the journals of Congress for 1774, were two years afterwards recapitulated in the Declaration of Independence, on the Fourth of July, 1776.]
10. Saturday. Attended my duty upon the sub-committee. Dined at home. Dr. Morgan, Dr. Cox, Mr. Spence, and several other gentlemen, Major Sullivan and Colonel Folsom, dined with us upon salt fish. Rambled in the evening with Jo Reed, and fell into Mr. Sprout’s meeting, where we heard Mr. Spence preach. Mr. Reed returned with Mr. Adams and me to our lodgings, and a very sociable, agreeable, and communicative evening we had. He says we never were guilty of a more masterly stroke of policy, than in moving that Mr. Duché might read prayers; it has had a very good effect, &c. He says the sentiments of people here are growing more and more favorable every day.
11. Sunday. There is such a quick and constant succession of new scenes, characters, persons, and events, turning up before me, that I can’t keep any regular account. This Mr. Reed is a very sensible and accomplished lawyer, of an amiable disposition, soft, tender, friendly, &c.; he is a friend to his country and to liberty. Mr. Reed was so kind as to wait on us to Mr. Sprout’s meeting, where we heard Mr. Spence. These ministers all preach without notes. We had an opportunity of seeing the custom of the Presbyterians in administering the sacrament. The communicants all come to a row of seats, placed on each side of a narrow table spread in the middle of the alley, reaching from the deacons’ seat to the front of the house. Three sets of persons of both sexes came in succession. Each new set had the bread and the cup given them by a new minister. Mr. Sprout first, Mr. Treat next, and Mr. Spence last. Each communicant has a token which he delivers to the deacons or elders, I don’t know which they call them. As we came out of meeting, a Mr. Webster joined us, who has just come from Boston, and has been a generous benefactor to it in its distresses. He says he was at the town meeting, and he thinks they managed their affairs with great simplicity, moderation, and discretion. Dined at Mr. Willing’s, who is a judge of the supreme court here, with the gentlemen from Virginia, Maryland, and New York. A most splendid feast again,—turtle and every thing else. Mr. Willing told us a story of a lawyer here, who the other day gave him, upon the bench, the following answer to a question, Why the lawyers were so increased?
By Mr. Peters,1 written at the bar, and given to a judge, Mr. Willing, who had asked the question at dinner in pleasantry. Mr. Willing is the most sociable, agreeable man of all. He told us of a law of this place, that whereas oysters, between the months of May and September, were found to be unwholesome food, if any were brought to market they should be forfeited and given to the poor. We drank coffee, and then Reed, Cushing, and I strolled to the Moravian lecture, where we heard soft, sweet music, and a Dutchified English prayer and preachment.
12. Monday. Attended my duty on the committee until one o’clock, and then went with my colleagues and Messrs. Thomson and Mifflin to the Falls of Schuylkill, and viewed the Museum at Fort St. David’s; a great collection of curiosities. Returned and dined with Mr. Dickinson at his seat at Fair Hill, with his lady, Mrs. Thomson, Miss Norris, and Miss Harrison. Mr. Dickinson has a fine seat, a beautiful prospect of the city, the river, and the country, fine gardens, and a very grand library. The most of his books were collected by Mr. Norris, once Speaker of the House here, father of Mrs. Dickinson. Mr. Dickinson is a very modest man, and very ingenious as well as agreeable; he has an excellent heart, and the cause of his country lies near it. He is full and clear for allowing to Parliament the regulation of trade, upon principles of necessity, and the mutual interest of both countries.
13. Tuesday. Attended my duty all day on the sub-committee. Agreed on a report.
14. Wednesday. Visited Mr. Gadsden, Mr. Deane, Colonel Dyer, &c. at their lodgings. Gadsden is violent against allowing to Parliament any power of regulating trade, or allowing that they have any thing to do with us. “Power of regulating trade,” he says, “is power of ruining us; as bad as acknowledging them a supreme legislative in all cases whatsoever; a right of regulating trade is a right of legislation, and a right of legislation in one case is a right in all; this I deny.” Attended the Congress and committee all the forenoon; dined with Dr. Cox. Dr. Morgan, Dr. Rush, Mr. Bayard, and old Mr. Smith, dined with us. Dr. Rush lives upon Water Street, and has, from the window of his back room and chamber, a fine prospect of Delaware River and of New Jersey beyond it. The gentlemen entertained us with absurdities in the laws of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland. This, I find, is a genteel topic of conversation here. A mighty feast again; nothing less than the very best of Claret, Madeira, and Burgundy; melons, fine beyond description, and pears and peaches as excellent. This day Mr. Chase introduced to us a Mr. Carroll, of Annapolis, a very sensible gentleman, a Roman Catholic, and of the first fortune in America. His income is ten thousand pounds sterling a year now, will be fourteen in two or three years, they say; besides, his father has a vast estate which will be his after his father.
16. Friday. Dined with Mr. Wallace with a great deal of company at an elegant feast again.
17. Saturday. This was one of the happiest days of my life. In Congress we had generous, noble sentiments, and manly eloquence. This day convinced me that America will support the Massachusetts or perish with her.1 Dined with old Mr. Smith, with much company; visited the Bettering House, a large building, very clean, neat, and convenient for the poor; viewed the gardens, &c.
18. Sunday. Went to church and heard Mr. Coombs read prayers, and Mr. Duché preach—a fine preacher indeed; dined at home. Went to Dr. Allison’s meeting in the afternoon; heard Mr.—, a very ingenious preacher of benevolence and humanity. Spent the evening at home with General Lee, Captain Dagworthy, Mr. McDougall and others; wrote many letters to go by Mr. Paul Revere.
19. Monday. Dined with Dr. Rush, in company with Dr. Shippen and many others, Folsom and Sullivan from New Hampshire, Mr. Blair, &c. &c.
20. Tuesday. Had cards a week ago to dine with Mr. Mease, but forgot it and dined at home. After we had dined, after four o’clock, Mr. Mease’s brother came to our lodgings after us. We went, after dinner, and found Mr. Dickinson, Mifflin, Dr. Rush, Mr. West, Mr. Biddle, and Captain Allen, and Mr. Mease’s brother; a very agreeable company. Our regret at the loss of this company was very great. Mr. Dickinson was very agreeable. A question was started about the conduct of the Bostonian merchants, since the year 1770, in importing tea and paying the duty. Mr. Hancock, it is said, has received the freight of many chests of tea. I think the Bostonian merchants are not wholly justifiable, yet their conduct has been exaggerated; their fault and guilt have been magnified. Mr. Hancock, I believe, is justifiable, but I am not certain whether he is strictly so. He owned a ship in partnership with George Hayley, who is agreed here to be a ministerial man, and Hayley, I suppose, sent the tea in the ship.
21. Wednesday. Captain Callender came to breakfast with us. Colonel Dagworthy and his brother, Captain Dagworthy, breakfasted with us. Mrs. Yard entertained us with muffins, buckwheat cakes, and common toast. Buckwheat is an excellent grain, and is very plenty here. Attended Congress from nine to after three. Rode out of town six miles, to Mr. Hill’s, where we dined with Mr. Hill and lady, Mr. Dickinson and his lady, Mr. Thomson and his lady, old Mr. Meredith, father of Mrs. Hill, Mr. Johnson of Maryland, and Mr. Jo Reed.
22. Thursday. Dined with Mr. Chew, Chief Justice of the Province, with all the gentlemen from Virginia, Dr. Shippen, Mr. Tilghman, and many others. We were shown into a grand entry and stair-case, and into an elegant and most magnificent chamber, until dinner. About four o’clock, we were called down to dinner. The furniture was all rich. Turtle, and every other thing, flummery, jellies, sweetmeats of twenty sorts, trifles, whipped sillabubs, floating islands, fools, &c. and then a dessert of fruits, raisins, almonds, pears, peaches. Wines most excellent and admirable. I drank Madeira at a great rate, and found no inconvenience in it. In the evening, General Lee and Colonel Lee, and Colonel Dyer, and Mr. Deane, and half a score friends from Boston came to our lodgings. Colonel Lee staid till twelve o’clock, and was very social and agreeable.
23. Friday. Walked along Second Street, southward, until I got out of the city into the country. The uniformity of this city is disagreeable to some. I like it. Dined with the late Chief Justice Allen, with all the gentlemen from North Carolina, and Mr. Hamilton, late Governor, and Mr. Andrew Allen, Attorney-General. We had much conversation about Mr. Franklin. The Chief Justice and Attorney-General had much droll chat together.
24. Saturday. Dined with Mr. Charles Thomson, with only Mr. Dickinson, his lady and niece in company. A most delightful afternoon we had; sweet communion, indeed, we had. Mr. Dickinson gave us his thoughts and his correspondence very freely.
25. Sunday. Went in the evening to Quaker meeting, and afterwards went to supper at Stephen Collins’s.
26. Monday. Dined at old Dr. Shippen’s, with Mr. and Mrs. Blair, young Dr. Shippen, the Jersey delegates, and some Virginians.1 Afterwards went to the hospital, and heard another lecture upon anatomy from young Dr. Shippen.
27. Tuesday. Dined at Mr. Bayard’s, with Dr. Cox, Dr. Rush, Mr. Hodge, Mr. Deane, Colonel Dyer. Dr. Cox gave us a toast: “May the fair dove of liberty, in this deluge of despotism, find rest to the sole of her foot in America.”
The notes which follow appear to have been taken in a discussion which terminated in the adoption of the non-importation resolution recorded in the Journal of the 27th.2
Mr. Lee made a motion for a non-importation.
The first of November ought to be fixed; for no honest orders were sent after the first of June. Orders are generally sent in April and May. But the intention was known of a non-importation.
I think the time ought to be fixed, when goods are shipped in Great Britain, because a ship may have a long voyage.
For the first of November; we may be deceived and defrauded if we fix the time, when goods are shipped.
Invoices have been antedated.
Mr. John Rutledge.
I think all the ways and means should be proposed.
Mr. Mifflin proposes stoppage of flax-seed and lumber to the West Indies, and non-importation of dutied articles; to commence 1 August, 1775.
Force, I apprehend, is out of the question in our present inquiry. In 1770, the annual tax was thirteen millions; last year it was only ten millions. Land tax, malt tax, perpetual funds, amount to only ten millions. They are compelled to raise ten millions in time of peace.
The emigrations from Great Britain prove that they are taxed as far as they can bear. A total non-importation and non-exportation to Great Britain and the West Indies must produce a national bankruptcy, in a very short space of time.1 The foreign trade of Great Britain is but four millions and a half; as great a man as ever Britain produced calculated the trade with the Colonies at two millions. I believe the importation to the Colonies now represented, may be three millions. A non-exportation amounts to three millions more, and the debt due to four millions. Two thirds in the Colonies are clothed in British manufactures. Non-exportation of vastly more importance than a non-importation; it affects the merchants as well as manufacturers, the trade as well as the revenue. Sixty thousand hogsheads of tobacco. Two hundred and twenty-five British ships employed.
I am for a non-exportation of lumber to the West Indies immediately.
The importance of the trade of the West Indies to Great Britain almost exceeds calculation. The sugar carries the greatest revenue; the rum a great deal. If you don’t stop the lumber immediately, you can’t stop it at all. If it takes place immediately, they can’t send home their next year’s crop.
A non-exportation at a future day cannot avail us. What is the situation of Boston and the Massachusetts?
A non-exportation at the Virginia day will not operate before the fall of 1776. I would not affect the trade of the Colonies to the Mediterranean or other parts of the world.
I am for a more distant day than the first of November.
We want not only redress, but speedy redress. The mass can’t live without government, I think, one year. Nothing less than what has been proposed by the gentleman last speaking, will put the Colonies in the state I wish to see them in. I believe the Parliament would grant us immediate relief. Bankruptcy would be the consequence if they did not.
By saving our own liberties, we shall save those of the West Indies. I am for being ready, but I am not for the sword. The only way to prevent the sword from being used, is to have it ready.
Though the Virginians are tied up,1 I would be for doing it without them. Boston and New England can’t hold out. The country will be deluged in blood, if we don’t act with spirit. Don’t let America look at this mountain and let it bring forth a mouse.
We can’t come into a non-exportation, immediately, without Virginia.
Mr. Cushing for a non-importation, non-exportation, and non-consumption; and immediately.
It has been our glory—
We make some tobacco. I was instructed to protest against petitioning alone. Tar, pitch, and turpentine, we can ship nowhere but to Great Britain. The whole of the subsistence of the people in the southern ports is from naval stores. Great Britain cannot do without naval stores from North Carolina.
Mr. Edward Rutledge.
A gentleman from the other end of the room talked of generosity. True equality is the only public generosity. If Virginia raises wheat, instead of tobacco, they will not suffer. Our rice is an enumerated commodity. We shall, therefore, lose all our trade.1 I am both for non-importation and non-exportation, to take place immediately.
We don’t mean to hurt even our rascals, if we have any. I move that December may be inserted instead of November.
Negotiation, suspension of commerce, and war, are the only three things. War is, by general consent, to be waved at present. I am for negotiation and suspension of commerce.
All considerations of interest, and of equality of sacrifice, should be laid aside.
Produce of the other Colonies is carried to market in the same year when it is raised, even rice. Tobacco is not until the next year.
We export masts, boards, plank, fish, oil, and some potash. Ships we load with lumber for the West Indies, and thence carry sugar to England, and pay our debts that way. Every kind of lumber we export to the West Indies. Our lumber is made in the winter. Our ships sail in January or February for the West Indies.
Colonel Dyer. They have now drawn the sword, in order to execute their plan of subduing America; and I imagine they will not sheathe it, but that next summer will decide the fate of America. To withdraw all commerce with Great Britain at once, would come upon them like a thunderclap. By what I heard yesterday, Great Britain is much more in our power than I expected;—the masts from the northward, the naval stores from North Carolina.
We are struggling for the liberties of the West Indies and of the people of Great Britain, as well as our own, and perhaps of Europe.
Stopping the flax-seed to Ireland would greatly distress them.
Whoever considers the present state of Great Britain and America, must see the necessity of spirited measures. Great Britain has drawn the sword against us, and nothing prevents her sheathing it in our bowels, but want of sufficient force.
I think it absolutely necessary to agree to a non-importation and non-exportation immediately.
28. Wednesday. Dined with Mr. R. Penn; a magnificent house, and a most splendid feast, and a very large company. Mr. Dickinson and General Lee were there, and Mr. Moylan, besides a great number of the delegates. Spent the evening at home, with Colonel Lee, Colonel Washington, and Dr. Shippen, who came in to consult with us.1
Among all the difficulties in the way of effective and united action, in 1774,—and they were far greater than the members of the Congress were, at the time, for very obvious reasons, willing to admit, or than the people of the present generation, who judge only from results, are apt to imagine,—no more alarming one happened than the “plan of a proposed union between Great Britain and the Colonies,” presented, on the 28th of September, by Mr. Joseph Galloway, a delegate from Pennsylvania. Himself a gentleman of abilities, of property, and of extensive influence on the popular side, he seems to have accepted a seat in this Congress rather for the purpose of “sitting on the skirts of the American advocates,” than of promoting any valuable end. He prefaced his formidable motion with a speech, of which the outline is now to be given. How near he came to success, may be judged not only from his own account, which he afterwards gave in a pamphlet, but still more from the extreme earnestness of his opponents to expunge from the record all traces of the proceedings, and to discredit his statements as those of a renegade and a traitor. Nevertheless, there is no good reason for doubting his substantial accuracy. He says of the fate of his scheme:—
“The plan read, and warmly seconded by several gentlemen of the first abilities, after a long debate, was so far approved as to be thought worthy of further consideration, and referred, under a rule for that purpose, by a majority of the Colonies. Under this promising aspect of things, and an expectation that the rule would have been regarded, or at least that something rational would take place to reconcile our unhappy differences, the member proposing it was weakly led to sign the non-importation agreement, although he had uniformly opposed it; but in this he was disappointed. The measures of independence and sedition were soon after preferred to those of harmony and liberty, and no arguments, however reasonable and just, could prevail on a majority of the Colonies to desert them.” Candid Examination of the Mutual Claims of Great Britain and the Colonies.
The plan was not a new one. It had been suggested to Governor Hutchinson, and opposed by him, early in the controversy. Though it does not appear in the Journals, its details were published by Mr. Galloway himself in the pamphlet from which the preceding extract is taken, and it has been inserted in its place in the republication made by Mr. Force in the American Archives of 1774. It was defeated by the close vote of six Colonies to five. The mover continued, nevertheless, to act with the majority, and he actually signed the non-importation agreement and the Address to the King. But in the next year he got himself excused from further service in Congress, and, in 1776, he openly joined the royalist forces in New York.
The proposal I intended to make having been opposed, I have waited to hear a more effectual one. A general non-importation from Great Britain and Ireland has been adopted, but I think this will be too gradual in its operation for the relief of Boston. A general non-exportation I have ever looked on as an undigested proposition. It is impossible America can exist under a total non-exportation. We, in this Province, should have tens of thousands of people thrown upon the cold hand of charity. Our ships would lie by the walls, our seamen would be thrown out of bread, our shipwrights, &c. out of employ, and it would affect the landed interest. It would weaken us in another struggle, which I fear is too near.
To explain my plan, I must state a number of facts relative to Great Britain and relative to America. I hope no facts which I shall state will be disagreeable.
In the last war, America was in the greatest danger of destruction. This was held up by the Massachusetts, and by the Congress in 1754. They said we are disunited among ourselves. There is no indifferent arbiter between us.
Requisitions came over. A number of the Colonies gave most extensively and liberally; others gave nothing or late. Pennsylvania gave late, not for want of zeal or loyalty, but owing to their disputes with proprietors, their disunited state. These delinquencies were handed up to the parent State, and these gave occasion to the Stamp Act. America, with the greatest reason and justice, complained of the Stamp Act.
Had they proposed some plan of policy, some negotiation been set afoot, it would have terminated in the most happy harmony between the two countries. They repealed the Stamp Act, but they passed the Declaratory Act.
Without some supreme legislature, some common arbiter, you are not, say they, part of the State.
I am as much a friend of liberty as exists; and no man shall go further in point of fortune, or in point of blood, than the man who now addresses you.
Burlamaqui, Grotius, Puffendorf, Hooker. There must be a union of wills and strength; distinction between a State and a multitude; a State is animated by one soul.
As we are not within the circle of the supreme jurisdiction of the Parliament, we are independent States. The law of Great Britain does not bind us in any case whatever.
We want the aid and assistance and protection of the arm of our mother country. Protection and allegiance are reciprocal duties. Can we lay claim to the money and protection of Great Britain upon any principles of honor or conscience? Can we wish to become aliens to the mother state?
We must come upon terms with Great Britain.
Some gentlemen are not for negotiation. I wish I could hear some reason against it.
The minister must be at twenty or thirty millions [expense] to enforce his measures.
I propose this proposition. The plan,—two classes of laws. 1. Laws of internal policy. 2. Laws in which more than one Colony are concerned,—raising money for war. No one act can be done without the assent of Great Britain. No one without the assent of America. A British American Legislature.
As I mean to second this motion, I think myself bound to lay before the Congress my reasons. New York thought it necessary to have a Congress for the relief of Boston and Massachusetts, and to do more, to lay a plan for a lasting accommodation with Great Britain.
Whatever may have been the motive for departing from the first plan of the Congress, I am unhappy that we have departed from it. The Post-office Act was before the year 1763. Can we expect lasting tranquillity? I have given my full assent to a non-importation and non-exportation agreement.
The right of regulating trade, from the local circumstances of the Colonies, and their disconnection with each other, cannot be exercised by the Colonies. Massachusetts disputed the Navigation Act, because not represented, but made a law of their own, to inforce that Act. Virginia did the same nearly.
I think justice requires that we should expressly cede to Parliament the right of regulating trade. In the Congress of 1754, which consisted of the greatest and best men in the Colonies, this was considered as indispensable.
A civil war with America would involve a national bankruptcy.
How did we go on for one hundred and sixty years before the year 1763? We flourished and grew. This plan would make such changes in the Legislature of the Colonies, that I could not agree to it without consulting my constituents.
I am led to adopt this plan. It is objected that this plan will alter our constitutions, and therefore cannot be adopted without consulting constituents. Does this plan give up any one liberty, or interfere with any one right?
The original constitution of the Colonies was founded on the broadest and most generous base. The regulation of our trade was compensation enough for all the protection we ever experienced from her.
We shall liberate our constituents from a corrupt House of Commons, but throw them into the arms of an American Legislature, that may be bribed by that nation which avows, in the face of the world, that bribery is a part of her system of government.
Before we are obliged to pay taxes as they do, let us be as free as they; let us have our trade open with all the world.
We are not to consent by the representatives of representatives.
I am inclined to think the present measures lead to war.
Mr. Edward Rutledge.
I came with an idea of getting a bill of rights and a plan of permanent relief. I think the plan may be freed from almost every objection. I think it almost a perfect plan.
In every government, patriarchal, monarchial, aristocratical, or democratical, there must be a supreme legislature.
I know of no American constitution; a Virginia constitution, a Pennsylvania constitution we have; we are totally independent of each other.
Every gentleman here thinks the Parliament ought to have the power over trade, because Britain protects it and us. Why then will we not declare it?
Because Parliament and Ministry is wicked and corrupt, and will take advantage of such declaration to tax us, and will also reason from this acknowledgment to further power over us.
Answer. We shall not be bound further than we acknowledge it.
Is it not necessary that the trade of the empire should be regulated by some power or other? Can the empire hold together without it? No. Who shall regulate it? Shall the Legislature of Nova Scotia or Georgia regulate it? Massachusetts, or Virginia? Pennsylvania or New York? It can’t be pretended. Our legislative powers extend no further than the limits of our governments. Where then shall it be placed? There is a necessity that an American Legislature should be set up, or else that we should give the power to Parliament or King.
Protection. Acquiescence. Massachusetts. Virginia.
Advantages derived from our commerce.
29. Thursday. Dined at home, with the delegates from North Carolina and a number of other gentlemen.1
30. Friday. Dined at Mr. Jonathan Smith’s. Dr. Allison, Mr. Sprout, and many other gentlemen.2
October 1. Saturday. Dined with Mr. Webster; spent the evening with Stephen Collins; went to see the election at the State House. Mr. Dickinson was chosen.
2. Sunday. Went to Christ Church and heard Mr. Coombe upon “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” Went to Mr. Sprout’s, in the afternoon, and heard Mr. Tennent. Spent the evening at home with Mr. McDougall, Mr. Cary of Charlestown, Mr. Reed, and Colonel Floyd.
3. Monday. Breakfasted at home with Colonel Dagworthy, of Maryland, Captain Dagworthy, his brother, Major De Bois, Mr. Webb, Dr. Clopton, &c. The hurry of spirits I have been in, since my arrival in this city, has prevented my making remarks in my journal, as I wished to have done. The quick succession of objects, the variety of scenes and characters, have rendered it impracticable. Major De Bois says he will drink dispute this morning. The Congress not come to decision yet. Dined at home. This day, Charles Thomson and Thomas Mifflin were chosen burgesses for this city. The change in the elections for this city and county is no small event. Mr. Dickinson and Mr. Thomson, now joined to Mr. Mifflin, will make a great weight in favor of the American cause.
4. Tuesday. Dined with Mr. Alexander Wilcox, with all the delegates from New York, and several other gentlemen. This evening, General Lee came to my lodgings and showed me an Address from the C. to the people of Canada, which he had.1
5. Wednesday. Dined with Dr. Cadwallader, in company with Governor Hamilton, General Lee, Mr. Henry, Mr. Pendleton, Mr. De Hart, and many others. Spent the evening at home, with Mr. McDougall and Mr. Sherman, in sad and solemn consultation about the miseries and distresses of our dear town of Boston.
6. Thursday. Dined with Mr. Hodge, father-in-law to Mr. Bayard.
The following brief and fragmentary report of a discussion upon the proposition of a non-importation agreement has no date attached to it. The probability is that it took place on or before the 6th of October, when the committee appointed to consider and report upon the subject were finally instructed to insert the following clause:—
“That from and after the first day of December next, no molasses, coffee, or pimento, from the British plantations or from Dominica, or wines from Madeira and the Western Islands, or foreign indigo, be imported into these Colonies.”
There are numbers of men who will risk their all. I shudder at the thought of the blood which will be spilled, and would be glad to avoid it.
How is the purchaser to know whether the molasses, sugar, or coffee, has paid the duty or not? It can’t be known. Shan’t we by this hang out to all the world our intentions to smuggle?
Don’t we complain of these acts as grievances, and shan’t we insist on the repeal?
But this will give an advantage to the West Indians, and will make it their interest to oppose our obtaining any redress.
This subject, as every part of our deliberations, is important. The question is, how far to extend the non-importation of dutiable articles.
I am against the question before you. What are the ways and means of obtaining redress? In the manner it is penned it would not answer the end. How shall the buyer know whether the duties have been paid or not?
Our enemies will think that we mean to strike at the right of Parliament to lay duties for the regulation of trade.
I am one of those who hold the position that Parliament has a right to make laws for us in some cases to regulate the trade, and in all cases where the good of the whole empire requires it.
My fears were up when we went into the consideration of a bill of rights. I was afraid we should say too little or too much.
It is said, this is not a non-importation resolution. But it is; for there is no importation of goods but according to the law of the land.
I came here to get redress of grievances, and to adopt every means for that end which could be adopted with a good conscience.
In my idea, Parliament has no power to regulate trade. But these duties are all for revenue, not for regulation of trade.
Many gentlemen in this room know how to bring in goods, sugars and others, without paying duties.
Will any gentleman say he will never purchase any goods until he is sure that they were not smuggled?
We shall agree, I suppose, to a non-exportation of lumber to the West Indies. They cannot send their sugars to England nor to America, therefore they can’t be benefited.
Gentlemen have been transported, by their zeal, into reflections upon an order of men, who deserve it the least of any men in the community.
We ought not to deny the just rights of our mother country. We have too much reason, in this Congress, to suspect that independency is aimed at.
I am for a resolution against any tea, Dutch as well as English.
We ought to consider the consequences, possible as well as probable, of every resolution we take, and provide ourselves with a retreat or a resource.
What would be the consequence of an adjournment of the Congress for six months? or a recommendation of a new election of another, to meet at the end of six months? Is not it possible they may make it criminal, as treason, misprision of treason, or felony, or a præmunire, both in the assemblies who choose and in the members who shall accept the trust? Would the assemblies or members be intimidated? Would they regard such an act?
Will, can the people bear a total interruption of the West India trade? Can they live without rum, sugar, and molasses? Will not this impatience and vexation defeat the measure? This would cut up the revenue by the roots, if wine, fruit, molasses, and sugar were discarded as well as tea.
But a prohibition of all exports to the West Indies will annihilate the fishery, because that cannot afford to lose the West India market, and this would throw a multitude of families in our fishing towns into the arms of famine.
October 7. Friday. Dined with Mr. Thomas Smith, with a large company, the Virginians and others.1
8. Saturday. Dined with Mr. George Clymer, Mr. Dickinson, and a large company again.
9. Sunday. Went to hear Dr. Allison, an aged gentleman. It was Sacrament day, and he gave us a sacramental discourse. This Dr. Allison is a man of abilities and worth; but I hear no preachers here like ours in Boston, excepting Mr. Duché. Coombe indeed is a good speaker, but not an original, but a copy of Duché. The multiplicity of business and ceremonies and company that we are perpetually engaged in, prevents my writing to my friends in Massachusetts as I ought, and prevents my recording many material things in my journal. Philadelphia, with all its trade and wealth and regularity, is not Boston. The morals of our people are much better; their manners are more polite and agreeable; they are purer English; our language is better, our taste is better, our persons are handsomer; our spirit is greater, our laws are wiser, our religion is superior, our education is better. We exceed them in every thing but in a market, and in charitable, public foundations. Went, in the afternoon, to the Romish chapel, and heard a good discourse upon the duty of parents to their children, founded in justice and charity. The scenery and the music are so calculated to take in mankind, that I wonder the Reformation ever succeeded. The paintings, the bells, the candles, the gold and silver; our Saviour on the Cross, over the altar, at full length, and all his wounds bleeding. The chanting is exquisitely soft and sweet.
10. Monday. The deliberations of the Congress are spun out to an immeasurable length. There is so much wit, sense, learning, acuteness, subtlety, eloquence, &c. among fifty gentlemen, each of whom has been habituated to lead and guide in his own Province, that an immensity of time is spent unnecessarily. Johnson of Maryland has a clear and a cool head, an extensive knowledge of trade as well as law. He is a deliberating man, but not a shining orator; his passions and imagination don’t appear enough for an orator; his reason and penetration appear, but not his rhetoric. Galloway, Duane, and Johnson are sensible and learned, but cold speakers. Lee, Henry, and Hooper, are the orators; Paca is a deliberator too; Chase speaks warmly; Mifflin is a sprightly and spirited speaker; John Rutledge don’t exceed in learning or oratory, though he is a rapid speaker; young Edward Rutledge is young and zealous, a little unsteady and injudicious, but very unnatural and affected as a speaker;1 Dyer and Sherman speak often and long, but very heavily and clumsily.
11. Tuesday. Dined with Mr. McKean in Market Street, with Mr. Reed, Rodney, Chase, Johnson, Paca, Dr. Morgan, Mr. R. Penn, &c. Spent the evening with Mr. Henry at his lodgings, consulting about a petition to the King.2 Henry said he had on public education; at fifteen he read Virgil and Livy, and has not looked into a Latin book since. His father left him at that age, and he has been struggling through life ever since. He has high notions, talks about exalted minds, &c. He has a horrid opinion of Galloway, Jay, and the Rutledges. Their system, he says, would ruin the cause of America. He is very impatient, to see such fellows, and not be at liberty to describe them in their true colors.
12. Wednesday. Dined with Captain Richards, with Dr. Coombe.
13. Thursday. Dined with Mr. Dickinson, with Chase, Paca, Low, Mifflin, Mr. Penn, and General Lee, at six o’clock. From ten o’clock until half after four, we were debating about the parliamentary power of regulating trade. Five Colonies were for allowing it, five against it, and two divided among themselves, that is, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Mr. Duane has had his heart set upon asserting in our bill of rights the authority of Parliament to regulate the trade of the Colonies. He is for grounding it on compact, acquiescence, necessity, protection, not merely on our consent.
14. Friday. Went in the morning to see Dr. Chovet and his skeletons and wax-works—most admirable, exquisite representations of the whole animal economy. Four complete skeletons; a leg with all the nerves, veins, and arteries injected with wax; two complete bodies in wax, full grown; waxen representations of all the muscles, tendons, &c. of the head, brain, heart, lungs, liver, stomach, &c. This exhibition is much more exquisite than that of Dr. Shippen at the hospital. The Doctor reads lectures for two half joes a course, which takes up four months. These wax-works are all of the Doctor’s own hands.1 Dined with Dr. Morgan, an ingenious physician and an honest patriot. He showed us some curious paintings upon silk which he brought from Italy, which are singular in this country, and some bones of an animal of enormous size found upon the banks of the river Ohio. Mr. Middleton, the two Rutledges, Mr. Mifflin, and Mr. William Barrell dined with us. Mrs. Morgan is a sprightly, pretty lady. In the evening we were invited to an interview, at Carpenters’ Hall, with the Quakers and Anabaptists. Mr. Backus is come here from Middleborough with a design to apply to the Congress for a redress of grievances of the anti-pedobaptists in our Province. The cases from Chelmsford, the case of Mr. White of Haverhill, the case of Ashfield and Warwick were mentioned by Mr. Backus. Old Israel Pemberton was quite rude, and his rudeness was resented; but the conference, which held till eleven o’clock, I hope will produce good.
[There is an anecdote which ought not to be omitted, because it had consequences of some moment at the time, which have continued to operate for many years, and, indeed, are not yet worn out, though the cause is forgotten, or rather was never generally known. Governor Hopkins and Governor Ward, of Rhode Island, came to our lodgings and said to us, that President Manning, of Rhode Island College, and Mr. Backus, of Massachusetts, were in town, and had conversed with some gentlemen in Philadelphia who wished to communicate to us a little business, and wished we would meet them at six in the evening at Carpenters’ Hall. Whether they explained their affairs more particularly to any of my colleagues, I know not; but I had no idea of the design. We all went at the hour, and to my great surprise found the hall almost full of people, and a great number of Quakers seated at the long table with their broad-brimmed beavers on their heads. We were invited to seats among them, and informed that they had received complaints, from some Anabaptists and some Friends in Massachusetts, against certain laws of that Province, restrictive of the liberty of conscience, and some instances were mentioned, in the General Court, and in the courts of justice, in which Friends and Baptists had been grievously oppressed. I know not how my colleagues felt, but I own I was greatly surprised and somewhat indignant, being, like my friend Chase, of a temper naturally quick and warm, at seeing our State and her delegates thus summoned before a self-created tribunal, which was neither legal nor constitutional.
Israel Pemberton, a Quaker of large property and more intrigue, began to speak, and said that Congress were here endeavoring to form a union of the Colonies; but there were difficulties in the way, and none of more importance than liberty of conscience. The laws of New England, and particularly of Massachusetts, were inconsistent with it, for they not only compelled men to pay to the building of churches and support of ministers, but to go to some known religious assembly on first days, &c.; and that he and his friends were desirous of engaging us to assure them that our State would repeal all those laws, and place things as they were in Pennsylvania.
A suspicion instantly arose in my mind, which I have ever believed to have been well founded, that this artful Jesuit, for I had been before apprized of his character, was endeavoring to avail himself of this opportunity to break up the Congress, or at least to withdraw the Quakers and the governing part of Pennsylvania from us; for, at that time, by means of a most unequal representation, the Quakers had a majority in their House of Assembly, and, by consequence, the whole power of the State in their hands. I arose, and spoke in answer to him. The substance of what I said, was, that we had no authority to bind our constituents to any such proposals; that the laws of Massachusetts were the most mild and equitable establishment of religion that was known in the world, if indeed they could be called an establishment; that it would be in vain for us to enter into any conferences on such a subject, for we knew beforehand our constituents would disavow all we could do or say for the satisfaction of those who invited us to this meeting. That the people of Massachusetts were as religious and conscientious as the people of Pennsylvania; that their consciences dictated to them that it was their duty to support those laws, and therefore the very liberty of conscience, which Mr. Pemberton invoked, would demand indulgence for the tender consciences of the people of Massachusetts, and allow them to preserve their laws; that it might be depended on, this was a point that could not be carried; that I would not deceive them by insinuating the faintest hope, for I knew they might as well turn the heavenly bodies out of their annual and diurnal courses, as the people of Massachusetts at the present day from their meeting-house and Sunday laws. Pemberton made no reply but this: “Oh! sir, pray don’t urge liberty of conscience in favor of such laws!” If I had known the particular complaints which were to be alleged, and if Pemberton had not broken irregularly into the midst of things, it might have been better, perhaps, to have postponed this declaration. However, the gentlemen proceeded, and stated the particular cases of oppression, which were alleged, in our general and executive courts. It happened that Mr. Cushing and Mr. Samuel Adams had been present in the General Court when the petitions had been under deliberation, and they explained the whole so clearly that every reasonable man must have been satisfied. Mr. Paine and I had been concerned at the bar in every action in the executive courts which was complained of, and we explained them all to the entire satisfaction of impartial men, and showed that there had been no oppression or injustice in any of them. The Quakers were not generally and heartily in our cause; they were jealous of independence; they were then suspicious, and soon afterwards became assured, that the Massachusetts delegates, and especially John Adams, were advocates for that obnoxious measure, and they conceived prejudices which were soon increased and artfully inflamed, and are not yet worn out.]
October 15. Saturday. Dined at Mr. West’s, with the Rutledges and Mr. Middleton; an elegant house, rich furniture, and a splendid dinner.
16. Sunday. Staid at home all day; very busy in the necessary business of putting the proceedings of the Congress into order.1
20. Thursday. Dined with the whole Congress, at the City Tavern, at the invitation of the House of Representatives of the Province of Pennsylvania. The whole House dined with us, making near one hundred guests in the whole; a most elegant entertainment. A sentiment was given: “May the sword of the parent never be stained with the blood of her children.” Two or three broad-brims over against me at table; one of them said, this is not a toast, but a prayer; come, let us join in it. And they took their glasses accordingly.
21. Friday. Dined at the Library Tavern, with Messrs. Markoe and a dozen gentlemen from the West Indies and North Carolina. A fine bowling-green here; fine turtle, and admirable wine.
22. Saturday. Dined in the country with Mr. Dickinson, with all the delegates from New England, Mr. Duane, Mr. Reed, Mr. Livingston, &c.
23. Sunday. Heard Mr. Percy, at Mr. Sprout’s. He is chaplain to the Countess of Huntingdon, comes recommended to Mr. Cary, of Charlestown, from her, as a faithful servant of the Lord; no genius, no orator.
In the afternoon I went to the Baptist Church, and heard a trans-Alleghanian, a preacher from the back parts of Virginia, behind the Alleghany mountains. He preached an hour and a half;—no learning, no grace of action or utterance, but an honest zeal. He told us several good stories. One was, that he was once preaching in Virginia, and said that those ministers who taught the people that salvation was to be obtained by good works or obedience, were leading them to ruin. Next day he was apprehended by a warrant from a magistrate for reviling the clergy of the Church of England. He asked for a prayer-book, and had it, turned to the eighteenth or twentieth article, where the same sentiment is strongly expressed; he read it to the magistrate; the magistrate, as soon as he heard it, dashed the warrant out of his hand, and said, Sir, you are discharged. In the evening, I went to the Methodist meeting, and heard Mr. Webb, the old soldier, who first came to America in the character of quarter-master under General Braddock. He is one of the most fluent, eloquent men I ever heard; he reaches the imagination and touches the passions very well, and expresses himself with great propriety. The singing here is very sweet and soft indeed; the first music I have heard in any society, except the Moravians, and once at church with the organ. Supped and spent the remainder of the evening at Mr. Jo Reed’s, with Colonel Lee, Dr. Shippen, Mr. Cary, Dr. Loring, &c.
24. Monday. In Congress, nibbling and quibbling as usual. There is no greater mortification than to sit with half a dozen wits, deliberating upon a petition, address, or memorial. These great wits, these subtle critics, these refined geniuses, these learned lawyers, these wise statesmen, are so fond of showing their parts and powers, as to make their consultations very tedious. Young Ned Rutledge is a perfect Bob-o-Lincoln,—a swallow, a sparrow, a peacock; excessively vain, excessively weak, and excessively variable and unsteady; jejune, inane, and puerile. Mr. Dickinson is very modest, delicate, and timid. Spent the evening at home. Colonel Dyer, Judge Sherman, and Colonel Floyd came in, and spent the evening with Mr. Adams and me. Mr. Mifflin and General Lee came in. Lee’s head is running upon his new plan of a battalion.
25. Tuesday. Dined with Mr. Clymer; General Lee, &c. there.
26. Wednesday. Dined at home. This day the Congress finished. Spent the evening together at the City Tavern; all the Congress, and several gentlemen of the town.
27. Thursday. Went this morning, with Mr. Tudor, to see the Carpenters’ Hall and the library, and to Mr. Barrell’s, and Bradford’s, and then to the State House, to see the Supreme Court sitting. Heard Mr. Wilcox and Mr. Reed argue a point of law, concerning the construction of a will. Three judges,—Chew, Willing, and Morton.
28. Friday. Took our departure, in a very great rain, from the happy, the peaceful, the elegant, the hospitable, and polite city of Philadelphia. It is not very likely that I shall ever see this part of the world again, but I shall ever retain a most grateful, pleasing sense of the many civilities I have received in it, and shall think myself happy to have an opportunity of returning them. Dined at Anderson’s, and reached Priestly’s, of Bristol, at night, twenty miles from Philadelphia, where we are as happy as we can wish.
29. Saturday. Rode to Princeton, where we dine, at the sign of Hudibras. Vacation at Nassau Hall. Dr. Witherspoon out of town. Paine recollected the story of Mr. Keith’s joke upon him at Howland’s, of Plymouth, in the time of the Stamp Act. Paine said he would go to making brass buckles. Keith said he might do that to great advantage, for his stock would cost him nothing. Lodged at Farmer’s, in Brunswick.
30. Sunday. My birthday; I am thirty-nine years of age. Rode to Elizabethtown, in New Jersey, where we are to dine; rode down to Elizabethtown Point, and put our carriage and all our horses into two ferry-boats; sailed, or rather rowed, six miles to a point on Staten Island, where we stopped and went into a tavern; got to Hull’s, in New York, about ten o’clock at night.
31. Monday. Mr. McDougall, Mr. Scott, Captain Sears, Mr. Platt, Mr. Hughes, came to see us; all but the last dined with us. Walked to see the new hospital; a grand building. Went to the Coffee House. Mr. Cary and Dr. Loring dined with us. The Sons of Liberty are in the horrors here; they think they have lost ground since we passed through this city. Their delegates have agreed with the Congress, which I suppose they imagine has given additional importance to their antagonists.1
November 1. Tuesday. Left Brother Paine at New York, to go by the packet to Newport; rode to Cock’s, at Kingsbridge, to breakfast, to Haviland’s, at Rye, to dinner, and to Knap’s, at Horse Neck, in Greenwich, to lodge.
2. Wednesday. Rode to Bulkeley’s, at Fairfield, to dinner, and to Captain Benjamin’s, of Stratford, to lodge.
3. Thursday. We design to Great Swamp to-day, forty-two miles. At New Haven, Colonel Dyer, Deane, and Sherman, Mr. Parsons, the new Speaker, Williams, Mr. Trumbull, and many other gentlemen came to see us, at Bears’s, as soon as we got in. Colonel Dyer presented the compliments of the Governor and Council to the Massachusetts delegates, and asked our company to spend the evening. I begged Colonel Dyer to present my duty to the Governor and Council, and my gratitude for the high honor they did us, but that we had been so long from home, and our affairs were so critical, we hoped they would excuse us if we passed through the town as fast as possible. Mr. Sherman invited us to dine, but Mr. Babcock claimed a promise, so we dined with him. Two or three carriages accompanied us a few miles out of town in the afternoon. We had the most pressing invitations from many gentlemen to return through New London, Windham, &c. &c. &c. but excused ourselves. The people had sent a courier to New Haven, on purpose to wait for our arrival and return to inform the people we were coming. Twenty miles from Middletown, we met two gentlemen from thence, who came on purpose to meet us and invite us to dine to-morrow at Middletown. We excused ourselves with great earnestness.
4. Friday. Dined at Hartford, at Bull’s, where we had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Adams’s minister, Mr. Howe,1 who is supposed to be courting here. Lodged at Dr. Chafy’s, in Windsor; very cordially entertained.
5. Saturday. Breakfasted at Austin’s, of Suffield. Went to see a company of men exercising upon the hill, under the command of a green-coated man, lately a regular; a company of very likely, stout men. Dined at Parsons’s, of Springfield. Captain Pynchon and another Pynchon and Mr. Bliss, came in to see us, and at last Colonel Worthington. Worthington behaved decently and politely.1 Said he was in hopes we should have staid the Sabbath in town, and he should have had the pleasure of waiting on us, &c. Captain Pynchon was of the late Provincial Congress, and gave us some account of their proceedings. Arrived, about seven o’clock, at Scott’s, of Palmer, alias Kingston, where we are to lodge. Scott and his wife are at this instant great patriots—zealous Americans. Scott’s faith is very strong that they will repeal all the acts this very winter. Dr. Dana told us all America and Great Britain and Europe owed us thanks, and that the ministry would lay hold of our consent that they should regulate trade, and our petition, and grant us relief this winter. But neither the Doctor’s nor Scott’s faith is my faith.
6. Sunday. Went all day to hear Mr. Baldwin, a Presbyterian minister at Kingston. We put up at Scott’s. Mr. Baldwin came in the evening to see us. Horat., book 3, ode 2: “Pueros ab ineunte ætate assuefaciendos esse rei militari et vitæ laboriosæ.”2 We walked to meeting above two miles at noon; we walked a quarter of a mile, and staid at one Quintain’s, an old Irishman; and a friendly, cordial reception we had; the old man was so rejoiced to see us he could hardly speak; more glad to see us, he said, than he should to see Gage and all his train. I saw a gun; the young man said, that gun marched eight miles towards Boston on the late alarm; almost the whole parish marched off, and the people seemed really disappointed when the news was contradicted.
7. Monday. Dined at Rice’s, of Brookfield. Major Foster came to see us, and gave us an account of the proceedings of the Provincial Congress. Lodged at Hunt’s, in Spencer.
8. Tuesday. Breakfasted at Colonel Henshaw’s, of Leicester; dined at Woodburn’s, of Worcester. Furnival made the two young ladies come in and sing us the new Liberty Song.
Lodged at Colonel Buckminster’s, of Framingham.
9. Wednesday. Breakfasted at Reeve’s, of Sudbury.
[Upon our return to Massachusetts, I found myself elected by the town of Braintree into the Provincial Congress, and attended that service as long as it sat.1 About this time, Draper’s paper in Boston swarmed with writers, and among an immense quantity of meaner productions appeared a writer under the signature of Massachusettensis, suspected, but never that I knew ascertained, to be written by two of my old friends, Jonathan Sewall and Daniel Leonard.2 These papers were well written, abounded with wit, discovered good information, and were conducted with a subtlety of art and address wonderfully calculated to keep up the spirits of their party, to depress ours, to spread intimidation, and to make proselytes among those whose principles and judgment give way to their fears; and these compose at least one third of mankind. Week after week passed away, and these papers made a very visible impression on many minds. No answer appeared, and indeed some who were capable, were too busy, and others too timorous. I began at length to think seriously of the consequences, and began to write under the signature of Novanglus, and continued every week in the Boston Gazette, till the 19th of April, 1775.3 The last number was prevented from impression by the commencement of hostilities, and Mr. Gill gave it to Judge William Cushing, who now has it in manuscript. An abridgment of the printed numbers was made by some one in England, unknown to me, and published in Almon’s Remembrancer, for the year 1775, and afterwards reprinted in a pamphlet, in 1783, under the title of “History of the Dispute with America.” In New England, they had the effect of an antidote to the poison of Massachusettensis; and the battle of Lexington, on the 19th of April, changed the instruments of warfare from the pen to the sword.
A few days after this event, I rode to Cambridge, where I saw General Ward, General Heath, General Joseph Warren, and the New England army. There was great confusion and much distress. Artillery, arms, clothing were wanting, and a sufficient supply of provisions not easily obtained. Neither the officers nor men, however, wanted spirits or resolution. I rode from thence to Lexington, and along the scene of action for many miles, and inquired of the inhabitants the circumstances. These were not calculated to diminish my ardor in the cause; they, on the contrary, convinced me that the die was cast, the Rubicon passed, and, as Lord Mansfield expressed it in Parliament, if we did not defend ourselves, they would kill us. On my return home, I was seized with a fever, attended with alarming symptoms; but the time was come to repair to Philadelphia to Congress, which was to meet on the fifth of May. I was determined to go as far as I could, and instead of venturing on horseback, as I had intended, I got into a sulky, attended by a servant on horseback, and proceeded on the journey. This year, Mr. Hancock was added to our number. I overtook my colleagues before they reached New York.1 At Kingsbridge we were met by a great number of gentlemen in carriages and on horseback, and all the way their numbers increased, till I thought the whole city was come out to meet us. The same ardor was continued all the way to Philadelphia.2
Congress assembled and proceeded to business, and the members appeared to me to be of one mind, and that mind after my own heart. I dreaded the danger of disunion and divisions among us, and much more among the people. It appeared to me that all petitions, remonstrances, and negotiations, for the future, would be fruitless, and only occasion a loss of time, and give opportunity to the enemy to sow divisions among the States and the people. My heart bled for the poor people of Boston, imprisoned within the walls of their city by a British army, and we knew not to what plunders or massacres or cruelties they might be exposed. I thought the first step ought to be to recommend to the people of every State in the Union, to seize on all the Crown officers, and hold them with civility, humanity, and generosity, as hostages for the security of the people of Boston, and to be exchanged for them as soon as the British army would release them; that we ought to recommend to the people of all the States to institute governments for themselves, under their own authority, and that without loss of time; that we ought to declare the Colonies free, sovereign, and independent States, and then to inform Great Britain we were willing to enter into negotiations with them for the redress of all grievances, and a restoration of harmony between the two countries, upon permanent principles. All this I thought might be done before we entered into any connections, alliances, or negotiations with foreign powers. I was also for informing Great Britain, very frankly, that hitherto we were free; but, if the war should be continued, we were determined to seek alliances with France, Spain, and any other power of Europe that would contract with us. That we ought immediately to adopt the army in Cambridge as a continental army, to appoint a General and all other officers, take upon ourselves the pay, subsistence, clothing, armor, and munitions of the troops. This is a concise sketch of the plan which I thought the only reasonable one; and, from conversation with the members of Congress, I was then convinced, and have been ever since convinced, that it was the general sense at least of a considerable majority of that body. This system of measures I publicly and privately avowed without reserve.
The gentlemen in Pennsylvania, who had been attached to the proprietary interest, and owed their wealth and honors to it, and the great body of the Quakers, had hitherto acquiesced in the measures of the Colonies, or at least had made no professed opposition to them; many of both descriptions had declared themselves with us, and had been as explicit and as ardent as we were. But now these people began to see that independence was approaching, they started back. In some of my public harangues, in which I had freely and explicitly laid open my thoughts, on looking round the assembly I have seen horror, terror, and detestation, strongly marked on the countenances of some of the members, whose names I could readily recollect; but as some of them have been good citizens since, and others went over afterwards to the English, I think it unnecessary to record them here. There is one gentleman, however, whom I must mention in self-defence; I mean John Dickinson, then of Philadelphia, now of Delaware. This gentleman had been appointed a member of Congress, by the Legislature of Pennsylvania, about a week before the close of the Congress of 1774, and now, in 1775, made his appearance again at the opening of the Congress of 1775.
In some of the earlier deliberations in May, after I had reasoned at some length on my own plan, Mr. John Rutledge, in more than one public speech, approved of my sentiments, and the other delegates from that State, Mr. Lynch, Mr. Gadsden, and Mr. Edward Rutledge, appeared to me to be of the same mind. Mr. Dickinson himself told me, afterwards, that when we first came together the balance lay with South Carolina. Accordingly, all their efforts were employed to convert the delegates from that State. Mr. Charles Thomson, who was then rather inclined to our side of the question, told me that the Quakers had intimidated Mr. Dickinson’s mother and his wife, who were continually distressing him with their remonstrances. His mother said to him, “Johnny, you will be hanged; your estate will be forfeited and confiscated; you will leave your excellent wife a widow, and your charming children orphans, beggars, and infamous.” From my soul I pitied Mr. Dickinson. I made his case my own. If my mother and my wife had expressed such sentiments to me, I was certain that if they did not wholly unman me and make me an apostate, they would make me the most miserable man alive. I was very happy that my mother and my wife and my brothers, my wife’s father and mother, and grandfather Colonel John Quincy and his lady, Mr. Norton Quincy, Dr. Tufts, Mr. Cranch, and all her near relations, as well as mine, had uniformly been of my mind, so that I always enjoyed perfect peace at home.
The proprietary gentlemen, Israel Pemberton and other principal Quakers now united with Mr. Dickinson, addressed themselves with great art and assiduity to all the members of Congress whom they could influence, even to some of the delegates of Massachusetts; but most of all to the delegates from South Carolina. Mr. Lynch had been an old acquaintance of the Penn family, particularly of the Governor. Mr. Edward Rutledge had brought his lady with him, a daughter of our former President Middleton. Mr. Arthur Middleton, her brother, was now a delegate in place of his father. The lady and the gentlemen were invited to all parties, and were visited perpetually by the party, and we soon began to find that Mr. Lynch, Mr. Arthur Middleton, and even the two Rutledges, began to waver and to clamor about independence. Mr. Gadsden was either, from despair of success, never attempted, or, if he was, he received no impression from them. I became the dread and terror and abhorrence of the party. But all this I held in great contempt. Arthur Middleton became the hero of Quaker and proprietary politics in Congress. He had little information, and less argument; in rudeness and sarcasm his forte lay, and he played off his artillery without reserve. I made it a rule to return him a Roland for every Oliver, so that he never got, and I never lost, any thing from these rencounters. We soon parted, never to see each other more,—I believe, without a spark of malice on either side; for he was an honest and generous fellow, with all his zeal in this cause.
The party made me as unpopular as they could, among all their connections, but I regarded none of those things. I knew and lamented that many of these gentlemen, of great property, high in office, and of good accomplishments, were laying the foundation, not of any injury to me, but of their own ruin; and it was not in my power to prevent it. When the party had prepared the members of Congress for their purpose, and indeed had made no small impression on three of my own colleagues, Mr. Dickinson made or procured to be made a motion for a second petition to the King, to be sent by Mr. Richard Penn, who was then bound on a voyage to England. The motion was introduced and supported by long speeches. I was opposed to it, of course, and made an opposition to it in as long a speech as I commonly made, not having ever been remarkable for very long harangues, in answer to all the arguments which had been urged. When I sat down, Mr. John Sullivan arose, and began to argue on the same side with me, in a strain of wit, reasoning, and fluency, which, although he was always fluent, exceeded every thing I had ever heard from him before. I was much delighted, and Mr. Dickinson, very much terrified at what he said, began to tremble for his cause. At this moment I was called out to the State House yard, very much to my regret, to some one who had business with me. I took my hat, and went out of the door of Congress Hall. Mr. Dickinson observed me, and darted out after me. He broke out upon me in a most abrupt and extraordinary manner; in as violent a passion as he was capable of feeling, and with an air, countenance, and gestures, as rough and haughty as if I had been a school-boy and he the master. He vociferated, “What is the reason, Mr. Adams, that you New-Englandmen oppose our measures of reconciliation? There now is Sullivan, in a long harangue, following you in a determined opposition to our petition to the King. Look ye! If you don’t concur with us in our pacific system, I and a number of us will break off from you in New England, and we will carry on the opposition by ourselves in our own way.”1 I own I was shocked with this magisterial salutation. I knew of no pretensions Mr. Dickinson had to dictate to me, more than I had to catechize him. I was, however, as it happened, at that moment, in a very happy temper, and I answered him very coolly. “Mr. Dickinson, there are many things that I can very cheerfully sacrifice to harmony, and even to unanimity; but I am not to be threatened into an express adoption or approbation of measures which my judgment reprobates. Congress must judge, and if they pronounce against me, I must submit, as, if they determine against you, you ought to acquiesce.” These were the last words which ever passed between Mr. Dickinson and me in private. We continued to debate, in Congress, upon all questions publicly, with all our usual candor and good humor. But the friendship and acquaintance was lost forever by an unfortunate accident, which must now be explained.
The more I reflected on Mr. Dickinson’s rude lecture in the State House yard, the more I was vexed with it; and the determination of Congress in favor of the petition did not allay the irritation. A young gentleman from Boston, Mr. Hichborn, whom I had known as a clerk in Mr. Fitch’s office, but with whom I had no particular connection or acquaintance, had been for some days soliciting me to give him letters to my friends in the Massachusetts. I was so much engaged in the business of Congress, in the daytime, and in consultations with the members, on evenings and mornings, that I could not find time to write a line. He came to me at last, and said he was immediately to set off on his journey home, and begged I would give him some letters. I told him I had not been able to write any. He prayed I would write, if it were only a line, to my family, for, he said, as he had served his clerkship with Mr. Fitch, he was suspected and represented as a Tory, and this reputation would be his ruin, if it could not be corrected, for nobody would employ him at the bar. If I would only give him the slightest letters to any of my friends, it would give him the appearance of having my confidence, and would assist him in acquiring what he truly deserved, the character of a Whig. To get rid of his importunity, I took my pen and wrote a very few lines to my wife, and about an equal number to General James Warren. Irritated with the unpoliteness of Mr. Dickinson, and more mortified with his success in Congress, I wrote something like what has been published, but not exactly. The British printers made it worse than it was in the original.1 Mr. Hichborn was intercepted in crossing Hudson’s River, by the boats from a British man-of-war, and my letters, instead of being destroyed, fell into the hands of the enemy, and were immediately printed with a little garbling. They thought them a great prize. The ideas of independence, to be sure, were glaring enough, and they thought they should produce quarrels among the members of Congress and a division of the Colonies. Me they expected utterly to ruin, because, as they represented, I had explicitly avowed my designs of independence. I cared nothing for this. I had made no secret, in or out of Congress, of my opinion that independence was become indispensable, and I was perfectly sure that in a little time the whole continent would be of my mind. I rather rejoiced in this as a fortunate circumstance, that the idea was held up to the whole world, and that the people could not avoid contemplating it and reasoning about it. Accordingly, from this time at least, if not earlier, and not from the publication of “Common Sense,” did the people in all parts of the continent turn their attention to this subject. It was, I know, considered in the same light by others. I met Colonel Reed, soon afterwards, who was then General Washington’s secretary, who mentioned those letters to me, and said that Providence seemed to have thrown those letters before the public for our good; for independence was certainly inevitable, and it was happy that the whole country had been compelled to turn their thoughts upon it, that it might not come upon them presently by surprise.1
There were a few expressions which hurt me, when I found the enemy either misunderstood them or wilfully misrepresented them. The expressions were, “Will your judiciary whip and hang without scruple?” This they construed to mean to excite cruelty against the Tories, and get some of them punished with severity. Nothing was further from my thoughts. I had no reference to Tories in this. But as the exercise of judicial power, without authority from the Crown, would be probably the most offensive act of government to Great Britain, and the least willingly pardoned, my question meant no more than,—“Will your judges have fortitude enough to inflict the severe punishments, when necessary, as death upon murderers and other capital criminals, and flagellation upon such as deserve it?” Nothing could be more false and injurious to me, than the imputation of any sanguinary zeal against the Tories; for I can truly declare, that, through the whole Revolution, and from that time to this, I never committed one act of severity against the Tories. On the contrary, I was a constant advocate for all the mercy and indulgence consistent with our safety. Some acts of treachery, as well as hostility, were combined together in so atrocious a manner that pardon could not be indulged, but, as it happened, in none of these had I any particular concern.
In a very short time after the publication of these letters, I received one from General Charles Lee, then in the army in the neighborhood of Boston, in which, after expressing the most obliging sentiments of my character, he said some gentlemen had hinted to him that I might possibly apprehend that he would take offence at them; but he assured me he was highly pleased with what was said of him in them. The acknowledgment from me, that he was a soldier and a scholar, he esteemed as an honor done to him; and as to his attachment to his dogs, when he should discover in men as much fidelity, honesty, and gratitude, as he daily experienced in his dogs, he promised to love men as well as dogs. Accordingly the cordiality between him and me continued till his death.1
This measure of imbecility, the second petition to the King, embarrassed every exertion of Congress; it occasioned motions and debates without end for appointing committees to draw up a declaration of the causes, motives, and objects of taking arms, with a view to obtain decisive declarations against independence, &c. In the mean time the New England army investing Boston, the New England legislatures, congresses, and conventions, and the whole body of the people, were left without munitions of war, without arms, clothing, pay, or even countenance and encouragement. Every post brought me letters from my friends, Dr. Winthrop, Dr. Cooper, General James Warren, and sometimes from General Ward and his aids, and General Heath and many others, urging in pathetic terms the impossibility of keeping their men together without the assistance of Congress. I was daily urging all these things, but we were embarrassed with more than one difficulty, not only with the party in favor of the petition to the King, and the party who were jealous of independence, but a third party, which was a Southern party against a Northern, and a jealousy against a New England army under the command of a New England General. Whether this jealousy was sincere, or whether it was mere pride and a haughty ambition of furnishing a southern General to command the northern army, (I cannot say); but the intention was very visible to me that Colonel Washington was their object, and so many of our staunchest men were in the plan, that we could carry nothing without conceding to it. Another embarrassment, which was never publicly known, and which was carefully concealed by those who knew it, the Massachusetts and other New England delegates were divided. Mr. Hancock and Mr. Cushing hung back; Mr. Paine did not come forward, and even Mr. Samuel Adams was irresolute. Mr. Hancock himself had an ambition to be appointed commander-in-chief.1 Whether he thought an election a compliment due to him, and intended to have the honor of declining it, or whether he would have accepted, I know not. To the compliment he had some pretensions, for, at that time, his exertions, sacrifices, and general merits in the cause of his country had been incomparably greater than those of Colonel Washington. But the delicacy of his health, and his entire want of experience in actual service, though an excellent militia officer, were decisive objections to him in my mind. In canvassing this subject, out of doors, I found too that even among the delegates of Virginia there were difficulties. The apostolical reasonings among themselves, which should be greatest, were not less energetic among the saints of the ancient dominion than they were among us of New England. In several conversations, I found more than one very cool about the appointment of Washington, and particularly Mr. Pendleton was very clear and full against it. Full of anxieties concerning these confusions, and apprehending daily that we should hear very distressing news from Boston, I walked with Mr. Samuel Adams in the State House yard, for a little exercise and fresh air, before the hour of Congress, and there represented to him the various dangers that surrounded us. He agreed to them all, but said, “What shall we do?” I answered him, that he knew I had taken great pains to get our colleagues to agree upon some plan, that we might be unanimous; but he knew that they would pledge themselves to nothing; but I was determined to take a step which should compel them and all the other members of Congress to declare themselves for or against something. “I am determined this morning to make a direct motion that Congress should adopt the army before Boston, and appoint Colonel Washington commander of it.” Mr. Adams seemed to think very seriously of it, but said nothing.
Accordingly, when Congress had assembled, I rose in my place, and in as short a speech as the subject would admit, represented the state of the Colonies, the uncertainty in the minds of the people, their great expectation and anxiety, the distresses of the army, the danger of its dissolution, the difficulty of collecting another, and the probability that the British army would take advantage of our delays, march out of Boston, and spread desolation as far as they could go. I concluded with a motion, in form, that Congress would adopt the army at Cambridge, and appoint a General; that though this was not the proper time to nominate a General, yet, as I had reason to believe this was a point of the greatest difficulty, I had no hesitation to declare that I had but one gentleman in my mind for that important command, and that was a gentleman from Virginia who was among us and very well known to all of us, a gentleman whose skill and experience as an officer, whose independent fortune, great talents, and excellent universal character, would command the approbation of all America, and unite the cordial exertions of all the Colonies better than any other person in the Union. Mr. Washington, who happened to sit near the door, as soon as he heard me allude to him, from his usual modesty, darted into the library-room. Mr. Hancock,—who was our President, which gave me an opportunity to observe his countenance while I was speaking on the state of the Colonies, the army at Cambridge, and the enemy,—heard me with visible pleasure; but when I came to describe Washington for the commander, I never remarked a more sudden and striking change of countenance. Mortification and resentment were expressed as forcibly as his face could exhibit them. Mr. Samuel Adams seconded the motion, and that did not soften the President’s physiognomy at all.1 The subject came under debate, and several gentlemen declared themselves against the appointment of Mr. Washington, not on account of any personal objection against him, but because the army were all from New England, had a General of their own, appeared to be satisfied with him, and had proved themselves able to imprison the British army in Boston, which was all they expected or desired at that time. Mr. Pendleton, of Virginia, Mr. Sherman, of Connecticut, were very explicit in declaring this opinion; Mr. Cushing and several others more faintly expressed their opposition, and their fears of discontents in the army and in New England. Mr. Paine expressed a great opinion of General Ward and a strong friendship for him, having been his classmate at college, or at least his contemporary; but gave no opinion upon the question. The subject was postponed to a future day. In the mean time, pains were taken out of doors to obtain a unanimity, and the voices were generally so clearly in favor of Washington, that the dissentient members were persuaded to withdraw their opposition, and Mr. Washington was nominated, I believe by Mr. Thomas Johnson of Maryland, unanimously elected, and the army adopted.
The next question was, who should be the second officer. General Lee was nominated, and most strenuously urged by many, particularly Mr. Mifflin, who said that General Lee would serve cheerfully under Washington, but, considering his rank, character, and experience, could not be expected to serve under any other. That Lee must be, aut secundus, aut nullus. To this I as strenuously objected, that it would be a great deal to expect of General Ward that he should serve under any man, but that under a stranger he ought not to serve; that though I had as high an opinion of General Lee’s learning, general information, and especially of his science and experience in war, I could not advise General Ward to humiliate himself and his country so far as to serve under him. General Ward was elected the second, and Lee the third.1 Gates and Mifflin, I believe, had some appointments, and General Washington took with him Mr. Reed, of Philadelphia, a lawyer of some eminence, for his private Secretary; and the gentlemen all set off for the camp. They had not proceeded twenty miles from Philadelphia, before they met a courier with the news of the battle of Bunker’s Hill, the death of General Warren, the slaughter among the British officers and men, as well as among ours, and the burning of Charlestown.
I have always imputed the loss of Charlestown, and of the brave officers and men who fell there, and the loss of a hero of more worth than all the town, I mean General Warren, to Mr. Dickinson’s petition to the King; and the loss of Quebec and Montgomery to his subsequent, unceasing, though finally unavailing efforts against independence. These impeded and paralyzed all our enterprises. Had our army been acknowledged in season, which acknowledgment ought to have been our first step, and the measures taken to comfort and encourage it, which ought to have been taken by Congress, we should not have lost Charlestown; and if every measure for the service in Canada, from the first projection of it to the final loss of the Province, had not been opposed and obstinately disputed by the same party, so that we could finally carry no measure but by a bare majority—.1 And every measure was delayed, till it became ineffectual.
In the fall of the year, Congress was much fatigued with the incessant labors, debates, intrigues, and heats of the summer, and agreed on a short adjournment. The delegates from Massachusetts returned home, and as, the two houses of the legislature had chosen us all into the Council, we went to Watertown and took our seats for such times as we could spare before our return to Congress. I had been chosen before, two years successively, that is, in 1773 and 1774, and had been negatived by the Governor, the first time by Hutchinson, and the second by Gage. My friend, Dr. Cooper, attempted to console me under the first negative, which he called a check; but I told him I considered it not as a check, but as a boost, a word of John Bunyan which the Doctor understood. These negatives were, indeed, no mortification to me, for, knowing that neither honor nor profit was to be obtained, nor good to be done in that body in those times, I had not a wish to sit there. When a person came running to my office to tell me of the first of them, I cried out, laughing, “Now I believe, in my soul, I am a clever fellow, since I have the attestation of the three branches of the Legislature.” This vulgar, familiar little sally, was caught as if it had been a prize, and immediately scattered all over the Province.
I went to head-quarters, and had much conversation with Generals Washington, Ward, Lee, Putnam, Gates, Mifflin, and others, and went with General Lee to visit the outposts and the sentinels nearest the enemy at Charlestown. Here Lee found his dogs inconvenient, for they were so attached to him that they insisted on keeping close about him, and he expected he should be known by them to the British officers in the fort, and he expected every moment a discharge of balls, grape, or langrage about our ears. After visiting my friends and the General Court, the army and the country, I returned to Philadelphia, but not till I had followed my youngest brother to the grave. He had commanded a company of militia all summer, at Cambridge, and there taken a fatal dysentery, then epidemic in the camp, of which he died, leaving a young widow and three young children, who are all still living. My brother died greatly lamented by all who knew him, and by none more than by me, who knew the excellence of his heart, and the purity of his principles and conduct. He died, as Mr. Taft, his minister, informed me, exulting, as his father had done, in the exalted hopes of a Christian.
An event of the most trifling nature in appearance, and fit only to excite laughter in other times, struck me into a profound reverie, if not a fit of melancholy. I met a man who had sometimes been my client, and sometimes I had been against him. He, though a common horse-jockey, was sometimes in the right, and I had commonly been successful in his favor in our courts of law. He was always in the law, and had been sued in many actions at almost every court. As soon as he saw me, he came up to me, and his first salutation to me was, “Oh! Mr. Adams, what great things have you and your colleagues done for us! We can never be grateful enough to you. There are no courts of justice now in this Province, and I hope there never will be another.” Is this the object for which I have been contending? said I to myself, for I rode along without any answer to this wretch. Are these the sentiments of such people, and how many of them are there in the country? Half the nation, for what I know; for half the nation are debtors, if not more, and these have been, in all countries, the sentiments of debtors. If the power of the country should get into such hands, and there is great danger that it will, to what purpose have we sacrificed our time, health, and every thing else? Surely we must guard against this spirit and these principles, or we shall repent of all our conduct. However, the good sense and integrity of the majority of the great body of the people came into my thoughts, for my relief, and the last resource was after all in a good Providence.]
Single Entry in Account Book.
September 3. At Woodstock.1 Heard Mr. Learned, from Isaiah xxxii. 16: “The work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever.”
15. Friday.2 Archibald Bullock and John Houston, Esquires, and the Rev. Dr. Zubly, appear as delegates from Georgia. Dr. Zubly is a native of Switzerland, and a clergyman of the independent persuasion, settled in a parish in Georgia. He speaks, as it is reported, several languages, English, Dutch, French, Latin, &c.; is reported to be a learned man. He is a man of a warm and zealous spirit; it is said that he possesses considerable property. Houston is a young gentleman, by profession a lawyer, educated under a gentleman of eminence in South Carolina. He seems to be sensible and spirited, but rather inexperienced. Bullock is clothed in American manufacture. Thomas Nelson, Esq., George Wythe, Esq., and Francis Lightfoot Lee, Esq., appeared as delegates from Virginia. Nelson is a fat man, like the late Colonel Lee of Marblehead. He is a speaker, and alert and lively for his weight. Wythe is a lawyer, it is said, of the first eminence. Lee is a brother of Dr. Arthur, the late sheriff of London, and of our old friend Richard Henry, sensible and patriotic, as the rest of the family.
Deane says that two persons of the name of De Witt, of Dutch extraction, one in Norwich, the other in Windham, have made saltpetre with success, and propose to make a great deal. That there is a mine of lead, at Middletown, which will afford a great quantity; that works are preparing to smelt and refine it, which will go in a fortnight. There is a mine at Northampton, which Mr. W. Bowdoin spent much money in working, with much effect, though little profit.
Langdon and Bartlett came in this evening from Portsmouth. Four hundred men are building a fort on Pierce’s Island to defend the town against ships of war. Upon recollecting the debates of this day in Congress, there appears to me a remarkable want of judgment in some of our members. Chase is violent and boisterous, asking his pardon; he is tedious upon frivolous points. So is E. Rutledge. Much precious time is indiscreetly expended; points of little consequence are started and debated with warmth. Rutledge is a very uncouth and ungraceful speaker; he shrugs his shoulders, distorts his body, nods and wriggles with his head, and looks about with his eyes from side to side, and speaks through his nose, as the Yankees sing. His brother John dodges his head too, rather disagreeably, and both of them spout out their language in a rough and rapid torrent, but without much force or effect.1 Dyer is long-winded and round-about, obscure and cloudy, very talkative and very tedious, yet an honest, worthy man, means and judges well. Sherman’s air is the reverse of grace; there cannot be a more striking contrast to beautiful action, than the motions of his hands; generally he stands upright, with his hands before him, the fingers of his left hand clenched into a fist, and the wrist of it grasped with his right. But he has a clear head and sound judgment; but when he moves a hand in any thing like action, Hogarth’s genius could not have invented a motion more opposite to grace;—it is stiffness and awkwardness itself, rigid as starched linen or buckram; awkward as a junior bachelor or a sophomore.
Mr. Dickinson’s air, gait, and action are not much more elegant.
16. Saturday. Walking to the State House, this morning, I met Mr. Dickinson, on foot, in Chesnut Street. We met, and passed near enough to touch elbows. He passed without moving his hat or head or hand. I bowed, and pulled off my hat. He passed haughtily by. The cause of his offence is the letter, no doubt, which Gage has printed in Draper’s paper.1 I shall, for the future, pass him in the same manner; but I was determined to make my bow, that I might know his temper. We are not to be upon speaking terms nor bowing terms for the time to come. This evening had conversation with Mr. Bullock, of Georgia. I asked him whether Georgia had a charter? What was the extent of the Province? What was their constitution? How justice was administered? Who was chancellor? who ordinary? and who judges? He says they have county courts for the trial of civil causes under eight pounds; and a Chief Justice appointed from home, and three other judges appointed by the Governor, for the decision of all other causes, civil and criminal, at Savannah; that the Governor alone is both chancellor and ordinary. Parson Gordon, of Roxbury,2 spent the evening here. I fear his indiscreet prate will do harm in this city. He is an eternal talker, and somewhat vain, and not accurate nor judicious; very zealous in the cause, and a well-meaning man, but incautious, and not sufficiently tender of the character of our Province, upon which at this time much depends; fond of being thought a man of influence at head-quarters, and with our Council and House, and with the general officers of the army, and also with gentlemen in this city and other Colonies. He is a good man, but wants a guide.
17. Sunday. Mr. Smith, Mr. Imlay, and Mr. Hanson, breakfasted with us. Smith is an Englishman. Imlay and Hanson New Yorkers. Heard Sprout on Titus iii. 5: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” There is a great deal of simplicity and innocence in this worthy man, but very little elegance or ingenuity. In prayer, he hangs his head in an angle of forty-five over his right shoulder; in sermon, which is delivered without notes, he throws himself into a variety of indecent postures, bends his body, points his fingers, and throws about his arms without any rule or meaning at all. He is totally destitute of the genius and eloquence of Duffield; has no imagination, no passions, no wit, no taste, and very little learning, but a great deal of goodness of heart.
18. Monday. This morning, John McPherson, Esq. came to my lodgings, and requested to speak with me in private. He is the owner of a very handsome country seat, about five miles out of this city; is the father of Mr. McPherson, an aid-de-camp to General Schuyler. He has been a captain of a privateer, and made a fortune in that way the last war; is reputed to be well skilled in naval affairs. He proposes great things; is sanguine, confident, positive, that he can take or burn every man-of-war in America.1 It is a secret, he says, but he will communicate it to any one member of Congress, upon condition that it be not divulged during his life at all, nor after his death, but for the service of this country. He says it is as certain as that he shall die, that he can burn any ship. In the afternoon, Mr. S. A. and I made a visit, at Mrs. Bedford’s, to the Maryland gentlemen. We found Paca and Chase, and a polite reception from them. Chase is ever social and talkative; he seems in better humor than he was before the adjournment. His Colony have acted with spirit in support of the cause; they have formed themselves into a system and enjoined an association, if that is not an absurdity.
19. Tuesday. This morning, Mr. Henry Hill, with his brother, Nat Barrett, came to visit us. Paine introduced him to Mrs. Yard as one of the poor of Boston. He is here with his wife on a visit to her brother. Paine cries, “You, H. Hill, what did you come here for? Who did you bring with you?—ha! ha! ha!”
20. Wednesday. Took a walk, in company with Governor Ward, Mr. Gadsden and his son, and Mr. S. Adams, to a little box in the country belonging to old Mr. Marshall,1 the father of three sons who live in the city; a fine, facetious old gentleman, an excellent Whig. There we drank coffee; a fine garden; a little box of one room; very cheerful and good-humored.
21. Thursday. The famous partisan, Major Rogers, came to our lodgings to make us a visit. He has been in prison; discharged by some insolvent or bankrupt act. He thinks we shall have hot work, next Spring. He told me an old half-pay officer, such as himself, would sell well next Spring; and when he went away, he said to S. A. and me, “If you want me, next Spring, for any service, you know where I am, send for me; I am to be sold.”2 He says, “the Scotchmen at home say, ‘d—n that Adams and Cushing; we must have their heads,’ &c. Bernard used to damn that Adams;—‘Every dip of his pen stung like a horned snake.’ Paxton made his will in favor of Lord Townsend, and by that manœuvre got himself made a commissioner. There was a great deal of beauty in that stroke of policy. We must laugh at such sublime strokes of politics,” &c. &c. &c. In the evening, Mr. Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant of Princeton, made a visit to the Secretary and me. He says he is no idolater of his namesake; that he was disappointed when he first saw him. Fame had given him an exalted idea; but he came to New Jersey upon a particular cause, and made such a flimsy, effeminate piece of work of it, that he sunk at once in his opinion. Sergeant is sorry to find such a falling off in this city;—not a third of the battalion men muster, who mustered at first. D. he says, sinks here, in the public opinion; that many gentlemen chime in with a spirited publication in the paper of Wednesday which blames the conduct of several gentlemen of fortune, D., Cad., R., and J. Allen, &c.
22. Friday. Mr. Gordon spent the evening here.
23. Saturday. Mr. Gordon came and told us news, opened his budget. Ethan Allen with five hundred Green Mountain boys was intrenched half way between St. Johns and Montreal, and had cut off all communication with Carlton, and was kindly treated by the French. A council of war had been held, and it was their opinion that it was practicable to take Boston and Charlestown; but as it would cost many lives, and expose the inhabitants of Boston to destruction, it was thought best to postpone it for the present. Major Rogers came here too this morning; said he had a hand and a heart, though he did not choose by offering himself, to expose himself to destruction. I walked a long time, this morning, backward and forward in the State House yard with Paca, McKean, and Johnson. McKean has no idea of any right or authority in Parliament. Paca contends for an authority and right to regulate trade, &c. Dyer, and Sergeant of Princeton, spent the evening here. S. says, that the Irish interest in this city has been the support of liberty. Mease, &c. are leaders in it. The Irish and the Presbyterian interest coalesce.
24. Sunday. Dyer is very sanguine that the two De Witts, one of Windham, the other of Norwich, will make saltpetre in large quantities. He produces a sample, which is very good. Harrison is confident that Virginia alone will do great things from tobacco houses; but my faith is not strong as yet. Lord North is at his old work again, sending over his anodynes to America; deceiving one credulous American after another into a belief that he means conciliation, when in truth he means nothing but revenge. He rocks the cradle and sings lullaby, and the innocent children go to sleep, while he prepares the birch to whip the poor babes. One letter after another comes, that the people are uneasy, and the ministry are sick of their systems, but nothing can be more fallacious. Next Spring we shall be jockied by negotiation, or have hot work in war; besides, I expect a reinforcement to Gage and to Carlton this fall or winter. Heard Mr. Smith, of Pecquea, about forty miles towards Lancaster, a Scotch clergyman of great piety, as Colonel Roberdeau says. The text was, Luke xiv. 18: “And they all, with one consent, began to make excuse.” This was at Duffield’s meeting. In the afternoon, heard our Mr. Gordon, in Arch Street: “The Lord is nigh unto all that call upon him.” Called upon Stephen Collins, who has just returned. Stephen has a thousand things to say to us, he says; a thousand observations to make. One thing he told me for my wife, who will be peeping here some time or other, and come across it. He says, when he called at my house, an English gentleman was with him; a man of penetration, though of few words; and this silent, penetrating gentleman was pleased with Mrs. Adams, and thought her the most accomplished lady he had seen since he came out of England. Down, vanity, for you don’t know who this Englishman is.
Dr. Rush came in. He is an elegant, ingenious body, a sprightly, pretty fellow. He is a republican; he has been much in London; acquainted with Sawbridge, Macaulay, Burgh, and others of that stamp. Dilly sends him books and pamphlets, and Sawbridge and Macaulay correspond with him. He complains of D.; says the Committee of Safety are not the representatives of the people, and therefore not their legislators; yet they have been making laws, a whole code, for a navy. This committee was chosen by the House, but half of them are not members, and therefore not the choice of the people. All this is just. He mentions many particular instances in which Dickinson has blundered; he thinks him warped by the Quaker interest and the church interest too; thinks his reputation past the meridian, and that avarice is growing upon him. Says that Henry and Mifflin both complained to him very much about him. But Rush, I think, is too much of a talker to be a deep thinker; elegant, not great. In the evening, Mr. Bullock and Mr. Houston, two gentlemen from Georgia, came into our room, and smoked and chatted the whole evening. Houston and Adams disputed the whole time in good humor. They are both dabs at disputation, I think. Houston, a lawyer by trade, is one of course, and Adams is not a whit less addicted to it than the lawyers. The question was, whether all America was not in a state of war, and whether we ought to confine ourselves to act upon the defensive only? He was for acting offensively, next spring or this fall, if the petition was rejected or neglected. If it was not answered, and favorably answered, he would be for acting against Britain and Britons, as, in open war, against French and Frenchmen; fit privateers, and take their ships anywhere. These gentlemen give a melancholy account of the State of Georgia and South Carolina. They say that if one thousand regular troops should land in Georgia, and their commander be provided with arms and clothes enough, and proclaim freedom to all the negroes who would join his camp, twenty thousand negroes would join it from the two Provinces in a fortnight. The negroes have a wonderful art of communicating intelligence among themselves; it will run several hundreds of miles in a week or fortnight. They say, their only security is this; that all the king’s friends, and tools of government, have large plantations, and property in negroes; so that the slaves of the Tories would be lost, as well as those of the Whigs.
I had nearly forgot a conversation, with Dr. Coombe, concerning assassination, Henry IV., Buckingham, Sully, &c. &c. &c. Coombe has read Sully’s Memoirs with great attention.
25. Monday. Rode out of town, and dined with Mr. McPherson. He has the most elegant seat in Pennsylvania, a clever Scotch wife, and two pretty daughters. His seat is on the banks of the Schuylkill. He has been nine times wounded in battle; an old sea commander; made a fortune by privateering; an arm twice shot off, shot through the leg, &c. He renews his proposals of taking or burning ships. Spent the evening with Lynch at the City Tavern. He thinks the row gallies and vaisseaux de frise inadequate to the expense.
27. Wednesday. Mr. Bullock and Mr. Houston, the gentlemen from Georgia, invited S. A. and me to spend the evening with them in their chamber, which we did very agreeably and sociably. Mr. Langdon, of New Hampshire was with us. Mr. Bullock, after dinner, invited me to take a ride with him in his phaeton, which I did. He is a solid, clever man. He was President of their Convention.
28. Thursday. The Congress and the Assembly of this Province were invited to make an excursion, upon Delaware River, in the new row gallies built by the Committee of Safety of this Colony. About ten in the morning we all embarked. The names of the gallies are the Washington, the Effingham, the Franklin, the Dickinson, the Otter, the Bull Dog, and one more whose name I have forgot. We passed down the river, by Gloucester, where the vaisseaux de frise are. These are frames of timber, to be filled with stones, and sunk in three rows in the channel. I went in the Bull Dog, Captain Alexander, commander, Mr. Hillegas, Mr. Owen Biddle, and Mr. Rittenhouse, and Captain Faulkner were with me. Hillegas is one of our continental treasurers; is a great musician; talks perpetually of the forte and piano, of Handel, &c. and songs and tunes. He plays upon the fiddle. Rittenhouse is a mechanic; a mathematician, a philosopher, and an astronomer. Biddle is said to be a great mathematician. Both are members of the American Philosophical Society. I mentioned Mr. Cranch to them for a member. Our intention was to have gone down to the fort, but the winds and tide being unfavorable, we returned by the city, and went up the river to Point-no-Point; a pretty place. On our return, Dr. Rush, Dr. Zubly, and Counsellor Ross, brother of George Ross, joined us. Ross is a lawyer of great eloquence, and heretofore of extensive practice; a great Tory, they say, but now begins to be converted. He said the Americans were making the noblest and firmest resistance to tyranny that ever was made by any people. The acts were founded in wrong, injustice, and oppression; the great town of Boston had been remarkably punished without being heard. Rittenhouse is a tall, slender man, plain, soft, modest, no remarkable depth or thoughtfulness in his face, yet cool, attentive, and clear.
October 25. Wednesday. Mr. Duane told me, at the funeral of our late virtuous and able President, that he, Mr. Duane, had accustomed himself to read the Year Books. Mr. De Lancey, who was Chief Justice of New York, he said, advised him to it, as the best method of imbibing the spirit of the law. De Lancey told him that he had translated a pile of cases from the Year Books, although he was a very lazy man. Duane says, that Jefferson is the greatest rubber off of dust that he has met with; that he has learned French, Italian, Spanish, and wants to learn German. Duane says he has no curiosity at all, not the least inclination, to see a city or a building, &c.; that his memory fails, is very averse to be burthened; that in his youth he could remember any thing; nothing but what he could learn; but it is very different now.
Last evening, Mr. Hewes, of North Carolina, introduced to my namesake and me a Mr. Hogg, from that Colony, one of the proprietors of Transylvania, a late purchase from the Cherokees upon the Ohio. He is an associate with Henderson, who was lately one of the associate judges of North Carolina, who is President of the Convention in Transylvania. These proprietors have no grant from the Crown, nor from any Colony; are within the limits of Virginia and North Carolina, by their charters, which bound those Colonies in the South Sea. They are charged with republican notions and Utopian schemes.1
29. Sunday. Paine brought in a large sample of saltpetre, made in this city by Mr. Ripsama. It is very good, large, and burns off, when laid upon a coal, like moist powder. I tried it. Heard Mr. Carmichael, at Mr. Duffield’s, on “Trust in the Lord and do good, so shall you dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.”
December 9. Saturday. Having yesterday asked and obtained leave of Congress to go home this morning, I mounted, with my own servant only, about twelve o’clock, and reached the Red Lion about two, where I dine. The roads very miry and dirty; the weather pleasant and not cold.
10. Sunday. Rode from Bristol to Trenton, breakfasted, rode to Princeton, and dined with a Captain Flahaven, in Lord Stirling’s regiment, who has been express to Congress from his lordship. Flahaven’s father lives in this Province. He has lived in Maryland. Says that the Virginia Convention, granting the Scotch petition to be neutral, has done all the mischief, and been the support of Lord Dunmore. He says the Scotch are, in some parts of Virginia, powerful; that, in Alexandria, he has heard them cursing the Congress, and vilifying not only their public proceedings, but their private characters. He has heard them decrying the characters of the Maryland delegates, particularly Chase, and the Virginia delegates, particularly Lee, Henry, and Washington. Last evening, when I dismounted at Bristol, the taverner showed me into a room where was a young gentleman very elegantly dressed, with whom I spent the evening; his name I could not learn. He told me he had been an officer in the army, but had sold out. I had much conversation with him, and some of it very free. He told me we had two valuable prizes among the prisoners taken at Chambly and St. Johns; a Mr. Barrington, nephew of Lord Barrington, and a Captain Williams, who, he says, is the greatest officer in the service. He gives a most exalted character of Williams as a mathematician, philosopher, engineer, and in all other accomplishments of an officer. In the evening, Mr. Baldwin came to see me. We waited on Dr. Witherspoon, the President of the college, where we saw Mr. Smith and two other of the light-horse, from Philadelphia, going to the camp with a wagon.
1776. January 24. Wednesday. Began my journey to Philadelphia. Dined at C. Mifflin’s, at Cambridge, with G. Washington and Gates and their ladies, and half a dozen sachems and warriors of the French Caghnawaga tribe, with their wives and children. Williams is one who was captured in his infancy and adopted. There is a mixture of white blood, French or English, in most of them. Louis, their principal, speaks English and French, as well as Indian. It was a savage feast, carnivorous animals devouring their prey; yet they were wondrous polite. The General introduced me to them as one of the grand council fire at Philadelphia, upon which they made me many bows and a cordial reception.
25. Thursday. About ten, Mr. Gerry called me, and we rode to Framingham, where we dined. Colonel Buckminster, after dinner, showed us the train of artillery brought down from Ticonderoga by Colonel Knox. It consists of iron, nine eighteen pounders, ten twelve, six six, four nine pounders; three thirteen inch mortars, two ten inch mortars; one eight inch and one six and a half howitzer; and one eight inch and a half, and one eight. Brass cannon: eight three pounders, one four pounder, two six pounders, one eighteen, and one twenty-four pounder; one eight inch and a half mortar, one seven inch and a half dts. and five cohorns.
After dinner, rode to Maynard’s, and supped there very agreeably.
26. Friday. Stopped at Stearns’s, in Worcester, and dined with Mr. Lincoln at Mr. Jonathan Williams’s. In Putnam’s office, where I formerly trimmed the midnight lamp, Mr. Williams keeps Law’s works, and Jacob Behmen’s, with whose mystical reveries he is much captivated.
28. Sunday. Mr. Upham informs that this town of Brookfield abounds with a stone, out of which alum, copperas, and sulphur are made. Out of one bushel of this stone, he made five pounds of copperas;—he put the stone into a tub, poured water on it, let it stand two or three days, then drew it off, and boiled the liquor away; let it stand and it shot into a kind of crystals; adding chamber-lye and alkaline salts to the copperas, and that makes alum. “We made some sulphur by sublimation; we put four quarts of stone into an iron kettle, laid a wooden cover over the kettle, leaving a hole in the middle, then we put an earthern pot over the top of the kettle, and cemented it with clay, then made a fire under the kettle, and the sulphur sublimated; we got about a spoonful. We have found a bed of yellow ochre in this town. I got twelve hundred weight. We make Spanish brown by burning the yellow ochre.”
29. Monday. Rode to Springfield. Dined at Scott’s. Heard that the cannon at Kingsbridge, in New York, were spiked up; that dry goods, English goods, were sent round to New York from Boston, and from New York sold all over New England, and sent down to camp; that Tryon has issued writs for the choice of a new Assembly, and that the writs were likely to be obeyed, and the Tories were likely to carry a majority of members.
October 13.1 Sunday. Set out from Philadelphia towards Boston. Oated at the Red Lion; dined at Bristol; crossed Trenton Ferry long before sunset; drank coffee at the ferry-house on the east side of the Delaware, where I put up, partly to avoid riding in the evening air, and partly because thirty miles is enough for the first day, as my tendons are delicate, not having been once on horseback since the eighth day of last February.
1777. February 6. Thursday. Lodged last night, for the first time, in my new quarters, at Mrs. Ross’s, in Market Street, Baltimore, a few doors below the Fountain Inn.
The gentlemen from Pennsylvania and Maryland complain of the growing practice of distilling wheat into whiskey. They say it will become a question, whether the people shall eat bread or drink whiskey. The Congress sits in the last house at the west end of Market Street, on the south side of the street; a long chamber, with two fire-places, two large closets, and two doors. The house belongs to a Quaker, who built it for a tavern.
7. Friday. Dined about half a mile out of town, at Mr. Lux’s, with Dr. Witherspoon, Mr. S. Adams, Mr. Lovel, Mr. Hall, Dr. Thornton, a Mr. Harrison, Dr. NA, and Mr. George Lux, and two ladies, Mrs. Lux and her sister. This seat is named Chatworth, and an elegant one it is; has a large yard, enclosed with stone in lime, and before the yard two fine rows of large cherry trees, which lead out to the public road; there is a fine prospect about it. Mr. Lux and his son are sensible gentlemen. I had much conversation, with George, about the new form of government adopted in Maryland. George is the young gentleman by whom I sent letters to my friends, from Philadelphia, when the army was at Cambridge, particularly to Colonel Warren, whom, and whose lady, Lux so much admired. The whole family profess great zeal in the American cause. Mr. Lux lives like a Prince.
8. Saturday. Dined at the President’s, with Mr. Lux, Messrs. Samuel and Robert Purviance, Captain Nicholson, of the Maryland frigate, Colonel Harrison, Wilson, Mr. Hall, upon New England salt fish. The weather was rainy, and the streets the muddiest I ever saw. This is the dirtiest place in the world. Our Salem and Portsmouth are neat in comparison. The inhabitants, however, are excusable, because they had determined to pave the streets, before this war came on, since which they have laid the project aside, as they are accessible to men-of-war. This place is not incorporated; it is neither a city, town, nor borough, so that they can do nothing with authority.
9. Sunday. Heard Mr. Allison. In the evening, walked to Fell’s Point, the place where the ships lie; a kind of peninsula, which runs out into the basin, which lies before Baltimore town. This basin, thirty years ago, was deep enough for large tobacco ships, but since then has filled up ten feet; between the town and the point, we pass a bridge, over a little brook, which is the only stream which runs into the basin, and the only flux of water, which is to clear away the dirt which flows into the basin from the foul streets of the town, and the neighboring hills and fields. There is a breast-work thrown up upon the Point with a number of embrasures, for cannon, facing the entrance into the harbor. The Virginia frigate, Captain Nicholson, lies off in the stream. There is a number of houses upon this Point; you have a fine view of the town of Baltimore from this Point. On my return, I stopped and drank tea at Captain Smith’s, a gentleman of the new Assembly.
16. Sunday. Last evening, I supped with my friends, Dr. Rush and Mr. Sergeant, at Mrs. Page’s, over the bridge. The two Colonel Lees, Dr. Witherspoon, Mr. Adams, Mr. Gerry, Dr. Brownson, made the company. They have a fashion, in this town, of reversing the picture of King George III. in such families as have it. One of these topsy-turvy kings was hung up in the room where we supped, and under it were written these lines, by Mr. Throop, as we are told.
17. Monday. Yesterday, heard Dr. Witherspoon, upon redeeming time; an excellent sermon. I find that I understand the Doctor better since I have heard him so much in conversation, and in the Senate; but I perceive that his attention to civil affairs has slackened his memory; it cost him more pains than heretofore to recollect his discourse. Mr. Hancock told C. W., yesterday, that he had determined to go to Boston in April. Mrs. Hancock was not willing to go till May, but Mr. Hancock was determined upon April. Perhaps the choice of a Governor may come on in May. What aspiring little creatures we are! How subtle, sagacious, and judicious this passion is! How clearly it sees its object, how constantly it pursues it, and what wise plans it devises for obtaining it!
21. Friday. Dined, yesterday, at Mr. Samuel Purviance’s. Mr. Robert, his brother and lady, the President and lady, the two Colonel Lees and their ladies, Mr. Page and his lady, Colonel Whipple, Mrs. K. Quincy, a young gentleman and a young lady, made the company; a great feast. The Virginia ladies had ornaments about their wrists which I don’t remember to have seen before. These ornaments were like miniature pictures, bound round the arms with some chains. This morning, received a long card from Mr. H. expressing great resentment about fixing the magazine at Brookfield, against the bookbinder and the General. The complaisance to me, and the jealousy for the Massachusetts, in this message, indicate to me the same passion and the same design with the journey to Boston in April.
23. Sunday. Took a walk, with Mr. Gerry, down to a place called Ferry Branch; a point of land which is formed by a branch of the Patapsco on one side, and the basin, before the town of Baltimore, on the other. At the point is a ferry over to the road which goes to Annapolis; this is a very pretty walk. At the point you have a full view of the elegant, splendid seat of Mr. Carroll, barrister. It is a large and elegant house; it stands fronting looking down the river into the harbor; it is one mile from the water. There is a most beautiful walk from the house down to the water; there is a descent not far from the house;—you have a fine garden, then you descend a few steps and have another fine garden; you go down a few more and have another. It is now the dead of winter; no verdure or bloom to be seen; but in the spring, summer, and fall, this scene must be very pretty. Returned and dined with Mr. William Smith, a new member of Congress. Dr. Lyon, Mr. Merriman, Mr. Gerry, a son of Mr. Smith, and two other gentlemen, made the company. The conversation turned, among other things, upon removing the obstructions and opening the navigation of Susquehannah River. The company thought it might easily be done, and would open an amazing scene of business. Philadelphia will oppose it, but it will be the interest of a majority of Pennsylvania to effect it.
This Mr. Smith is a grave, solid gentleman, a Presbyterian by profession; a very different man from the most of those we have heretofore had from Maryland.
The manners of Maryland are somewhat peculiar. They have but few merchants. They are chiefly planters and farmers; the planters are those who raise tobacco, and the farmers such as raise wheat, &c. The lands are cultivated, and all sorts of trades are exercised by negroes, or by transported convicts, which has occasioned the planters and farmers to assume the title of gentlemen; and they hold their negroes and convicts, that is, all laboring people and tradesmen, in such contempt, that they think themselves a distinct order of beings. Hence they never will suffer their sons to labor or learn any trade but they bring them up in idleness, or, what is worse, in horse-racing, cock-fighting, and card-playing.
28. Friday. Last evening, had a good deal of free conversation with Mr. R. Purviance. He seems to me to have a perfect understanding of the affairs of this State. Men and things are very well known to him.
The object of the men of property here, the planters, &c., is universally wealth. Every way in the world is sought to get and save money. Landjobbers, speculators in land; little generosity to the public, little public spirit.
September 15. Monday. Friday, the 12th, I removed from Captain Duncan’s, in Walnut Street, to the Rev. Mr. Sprout’s in Third Street, a few doors from his meeting-house. Mr. Marchant, from Rhode Island, boards here with me. Mr. Sprout is sick of a fever. Mrs. Sprout and the four young ladies, her daughters, are in great distress, on account of his sickness and the approach of Mr. Howe’s army; but they bear their affliction with Christian patience and philosophic fortitude. The young ladies are Miss Hannah, Olive, Sally, and Nancy. The only son is an officer in the army; he was the first clerk in the American war-office.
We live in critical moments! Mr. Howe’s army is at Middleton and Concord. Mr. Washington’s, upon the western banks of Schuylkill, a few miles from him. I saw, this morning, an excellent chart of the Schuylkill, Chester River, the Brandywine, and this whole country, among the Pennsylvania files. This city is the stake for which the game is played. I think there is a chance for saving it, although the probability is against us. Mr. Howe, I conjecture, is waiting for his ships to come into the Delaware. Will Washington attack him? I hope so; and God grant him success.
16. Tuesday. No newspaper this morning. Mr. Dunlap has moved or packed up his types. A note from General Dickinson, that the enemy in New Jersey are four thousand strong. Howe is about fifteen miles from us, the other way. The city seems to be asleep, or dead, and the whole State scarce alive. Maryland and Delaware the same. The prospect is chilling on every side; gloomy, dark, melancholy, and dispiriting. When and where will the light spring up? Shall we have good news from Europe? Shall we hear of a blow struck by Gates? Is there a possibility that Washington should beat Howe? Is there a prospect that McDougall and Dickinson should destroy the detachment in the Jerseys? From whence is our deliverance to come? or is it not to come? Is Philadelphia to be lost? If lost, is the cause lost? No; the cause is not lost, but it may be hurt. I seldom regard reports, but it is said that Howe has marked his course from Elk with depredation. His troops have plundered hen-roosts, dairy-rooms, the furniture of houses, and all the cattle in the country. The inhabitants, most of whom are Quakers, are angry and disappointed, because they were promised the security of their property. It is reported, too, that Mr. Howe lost great numbers in the battle of the Brandywine.
18. Thursday. The violent north-east storm, which began the day before yesterday, continues. We are yet in Philadelphia, that mass of cowardice and Toryism. Yesterday, was buried Monsieur Du Coudray, a French officer of artillery, who was lately made an Inspector-General of artillery and military manufactures, with the rank of Major-General. He was drowned in the Schuylkill, in a strange manner. He rode into the ferryboat, and rode out at the other end into the river, and was drowned. His horse took fright. He was reputed the most learned and promising officer in France. He was carried into the Romish Chapel, and buried in the yard of that church. This dispensation will save us much altercation.1
19. Friday. At three, this morning, was waked by Mr. Lovel, and told that the members of Congress were gone, some of them, a little after midnight; that there was a letter from Mr. Hamilton, aid-de-camp to the General, informing that the enemy were in possession of the ford and the boats, and had it in their power to be in Philadelphia before morning, and that, if Congress was not removed, they had not a moment to lose. Mr. Marchant and myself arose, sent for our horses, and, after collecting our things, rode off after the others. Breakfasted at Bristol, where were many members determined to go the Newtown road to Reading. We rode to Trenton, where we dined. Colonel Harrison, Dr. Witherspoon, all the delegates from New York and New England, except Gerry and Lovel. Drank tea at Mr. Spencer’s; lodged at Mr. S. Tucker’s, at his kind invitation.
20. Saturday. Breakfasted at Mrs. J. B. Smith’s. The old gentleman, his son Thomas, the loan officer, were here, and Mrs. Smith’s little son and two daughters. An elegant breakfast we had, of fine Hyson, loaf sugar, and coffee, &c. Dined at Williams’s, the sign of the Green Tree; drank tea with Mr. Thomson and his lady at Mrs. Jackson’s; walked with Mr. Duane to General Dickinson’s house, and took a look at his farm and gardens, and his greenhouse, which is a scene of desolation; the floor of the greenhouse is dug up, by the Hessians, in search for money; the orange, lemon, and lime trees, are all dead, with the leaves on; there is a spacious ball-room, above stairs, a drawing-room, and a whispering-room; in another apartment, a huge crash of glass bottles, which the Hessians had broke, I suppose. These are thy triumphs, mighty Britain! Mr. Law, Mr. Hancock, Mr. Thomson, Mr.—, were here. Spent the evening at Williams’s, and slept again at Tucker’s. Mrs. Tucker has about sixteen hundred pounds sterling, in some of the funds in England, which she is in fear of losing. She is, accordingly, passionately wishing for peace, and that the battle was fought once for all; says that private property will be plundered where there is an army, whether of friends or enemies; that if the two opposite armies were to come here, alternately, ten times, she would stand by her property until she should be killed; if she must be a beggar, it should be where she was known, &c. This kind of conversation shows plainly enough how well she is pleased with the state of things.
21. Sunday. It was a false alarm which occasioned our flight from Philadelphia. Not a soldier of Howe’s has crossed the Schuylkill. Washington has again crossed it, which I think is a very injudicious manœuvre. I think his army would have been best disposed on the west side of the Schuylkill. If he had sent one brigade of his regular troops to have headed the militia, it would have been enough. With such a disposition, he might have cut to pieces Howe’s army, in attempting to cross any of the fords. Howe will not attempt it. He will wait for his fleet in Delaware River; he will keep open his line of communication with Brunswick, and at last, by some deception or other, will slip unhurt into the city.
Burgoyne has crossed Hudson’s River, by which General Gates thinks he is determined at all hazards to push for Albany, which General Gates says he will do all in his power to prevent him from reaching. But I confess I am anxious for the event, for I fear he will deceive Gates, who seems to be acting the same timorous, defensive part, which has involved us in so many disasters. O, Heaven! grant us one great soul! One leading mind would extricate the best cause from that ruin which seems to await it for the want of it. We have as good a cause as ever was fought for; we have great resources; the people are well tempered; one active, masterly capacity, would bring order out of this confusion, and save this country.
22. Monday. Breakfasted at Ringold’s, in Quaker Town; dined at Shannon’s, in Easton, at the Forks; slept at Johnson’s, in Bethlehem.
23. Tuesday. Mr. Okeley, Mr. Hassey, and Mr. Edwine, came to see me. Mr. Edwine showed us the Children’s Meeting, at half after eight o’clock; music, consisting of an organ, and singing in the German language. Mr. Edwine gave a discourse in German, and then the same in English. Mrs. Langley showed us the Society of Single Women; then Mr. Edwine showed us the waterworks and the manufactures;—there are six sets of works in one building; a hemp-mill, an oil-mill, a mill to grind bark for the tanners; then the fullers-mill, both of cloth and leather, the dyer’s house, and the shearer’s house. They raise a great deal of madder. We walked among the rows of cherry trees, with spacious orchards of apple trees on each side of the cherry walk. The Society of Single Men have turned out for the sick.
24. Wednesday. Fine morning. We all went to meeting, last evening, where Mr. Edwine gave the people a short discourse in German, and the congregation sung, and the organ played. There were about two hundred women and as many men; the women sat together in one body, and the men in another; the women dressed all alike; the women’s heads resembled a garden of white cabbage heads.
25. Thursday. Rode from Bethlehem through Allentown, yesterday, to a German tavern, about eighteen miles from Reading; rode this morning to Reading, where we breakfasted, and heard for certain that Mr. Howe’s army had crossed the Schuylkill. Colonel Hartley gave me an account of the late battle between the enemy and General Wayne. Hartley thinks that the place was improper for battle, and that there ought to have been a retreat.
November 11. Tuesday. Set off from Yorktown; reached Lancaster. 12. From Lancaster to Reading; slept at General Mifflin’s. 13. Reached Strickser’s. 14. Dined at Bethlehem; slept at Easton, at Colonel Hooper’s; supped at Colonel Dean’s. Met Messrs. Ellery and Dana, and Colonel Brown, on the 15th, a few miles on this side of Reading. We have had five days of very severe weather; raw, cold, frosty, snowy; this cold comes from afar. The lakes, Champlain and George, have been boisterous, if not frozen.
Will the enemy evacuate Ticonderoga? Are they supplied with provisions for the winter? Can they bring them from Canada, by water or ice? Can they get them in the neighboring country? Can we take Mount Independence in the winter?
15. Saturday. At Willis’s, at the Log Jail in New Jersey, twenty-eight miles from Easton.
17. Monday. Rode yesterday from Log Jail, Willis’s; breakfasted at Hoffman’s, at Sussex Court House, and supped and lodged at David McCambly’s, thirty-four miles from Willis’s. The taverners, all along, are complaining of the guard of light-horse which attended Mr. H. They did not pay, and the taverners were obliged to go after them to demand their dues. The expense, which is supposed to be the country’s, is unpopular. The Tories laugh at the tavern keepers, who have often turned them out of their houses for abusing Mr. H. They now scoff at them for being imposed upon by their king, as they call him. Vanity is always mean; vanity is never rich enough to be generous. Dined at Brewster’s, in Orange county, State of New York. Brewster’s grandfather, as he tells me, was a clergyman, and one of the first adventurers to Plymouth; he died, at ninety-five years of age, a minister on Long Island; left a son who lived to be above eighty, and died leaving my landlord, a son who is now, I believe, between sixty and seventy. The manners of this family are exactly like those of the New England people; a decent grace before and after meat; fine pork and beef, and cabbage and turnip.
18. Tuesday. Lodged at Brooks’s, five miles from the North River. Rode to the Continental Ferry, crossed over, and dined at Fishkill, at the Dr’s. Mess, near the Hospital, with Dr. Samuel Adams, Dr. Eustis, Mr. Wells, &c. It was a feast;—salt pork and cabbage, roast beef and potatoes, and a noble suet pudding, grog, and a glass of Port.
Our best road home is through Litchfield and Springfield. Morehouse’s is a good tavern, about twenty-four miles, three or four miles on this side of Bull’s Iron Works; fifty miles to Litchfield; Captain Storm’s, eight miles; Colonel Vandeborough’s, five miles; Colonel Morehouse’s, nine miles; Bull’s Iron Works, four miles; no tavern; Cogswell’s Iron Works, ten miles; a tavern; Litchfield, eight miles; cross Mount Tom to get to Litchfield.
19. Wednesday. Dined at Storm’s. Lodged last night and breakfasted this morning at Loudoun’s, at Fishkill. Here we are, at Colonel Morehouse’s, a member of Assembly for Dutchess county.
20. Thursday. To Harrington, Phillips’s, five miles; to Yale’s, in Farmington, five miles; to Humphrey’s, in Simsbury, seven miles; to Owen’s, in Simsbury, seven miles; to Sheldon’s, in Suffield, ten miles; Kent’s, in Suffield, five miles; to Springfield, ten miles.
21. Friday. To Hays’s, Salmon Brook, five miles; to Southwick, Loomis’s, six miles; to Fowler’s, three miles; to Westfield, Clap’s, four miles; to Captain Clap’s, four miles this side N. H.; to North Hampton, Lyman’s or Clark’s.
NOTES OF DEBATES IN THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, IN 1775 AND 1776
All the notes made by Mr. Adams, during these years, have been put together and set apart in the following pages, with the addition of such explanations, by the Editor, as seem necessary to make them readily understood. Whilst the interest attaching to some of the minor questions discussed has passed away, it is believed that what has been preserved, upon such subjects as the state of trade, the authority to institute governments, and the formation of the Articles of Confederation, fragmentary as it is, will not be without its value to those who desire to understand the true history of the Revolution.
The following resolution appears upon the Journal of Congress, for the 23d of September, 1775:—
“Resolved, That a committee be appointed to purchase a quantity of woollen goods, for the use of the army, to the amount of five thousand pounds sterling.
“That the said goods, when bought, be placed in the hands of the Quarter-Masters-General of the Continental armies, and that the same be, by them, sold out to the private soldiers of said armies, at prime cost and charges, including a commission of five per centum, to the said Quarter-Masters-General, for their trouble.
“That the committee consist of five.
“The ballot being taken, and examined, the following members were chosen. Mr. Lewis, Mr. Alsop, Mr. Willing, Mr. Deane, Mr. Langdon.”
Thomas Mifflin had just been appointed, by General Washington, Quarter-Master-General of the army at Cambridge. The debate, which follows, took place upon an application of his, but to whom does not clearly appear, and it terminated in the foregoing resolution.
1775. September 23. Saturday. Samuel Adams moved, upon Mifflin’s letter, that a sum be advanced from the treasury for Mifflin and Barrell.
Mr. E. Rutledge wished the money might be advanced upon the credit of the Quarter-Master-General; wished that an inquiry might be made, whether goods had been advanced. If so, it was against the association. Lynch wished the letter read. S. Adams read it. Jay seconded the motion of E. Rutledge that a committee be appointed to inquire if goods are raised against the association. Gadsden wished the motion put off. We had other matters of more importance. Willing thought that goods might be purchased upon four months’ credit. We should not intermix our accounts.
We have not agreed to clothe the soldiers, and the Quarter-Master-General has no right to keep a slop-shop, any more than anybody else. It is a private matter; very indigested applications are made here for money.
The army must be clothed, or perish. No preaching against a snow-storm. We ought to look out that they be kept warm, and that the means of doing it be secured.
We must see that the army be provided with clothing. I intended to have moved, this very day, that a committee be appointed to purchase woollen goods in this city and New York for the use of the army. E. Rutledge. I have no objection to the committee. I meant only that the poor soldiers should be supplied with goods and clothing as cheap as possible.
Brown, of Boston, bought goods at New York, and sent them up the North River, to be conveyed by land to Cambridge.
Dyer wanted to know whether the soldiers would be obliged to take these goods. Goods cheaper in New York than here.
The sutlers, last war, sold to the soldiers, who were not obliged to take any thing. Many will be supplied by families with their own manufacture. The Quarter-Master-General did not apply to Congress, but to his own private correspondents.
The soldiers were imposed on by sutlers last war; the soldiers had no pay to receive.
A soldier without clothing is not fit for service; but he ought to be clothed, as well as armed, and we ought to provide, as well as it can be done, that he may be clothed.
Nelson moved that five thousand pounds sterling be advanced to the Quarter-Master-General, to be laid out in clothing for the army. Langdon hoped a committee would be appointed. Sherman liked Nelson’s motion, with an addition that every soldier should be at liberty to supply himself in any other way.
Read understood that Massachusetts Committee of Supplies had a large store that was very full. Sherman, for a committee to inquire what goods would be wanted for the army, and at what prices they may be had, and report. Gadsden liked that best. Johnson moved that the sum might be limited to five thousand pounds sterling. We don’t know what has been supplied by Massachusetts, what from Rhode Island, what from New York, and what from Connecticut. S. Adams liked Nelson’s motion. Ward objected to it, and preferred the motion for a committee. Nelson. The Quarter-Master is ordered, by the General, to supply the soldiers, &c.
It is the duty of this Congress to see that the army be supplied with clothing at a reasonable rate. I am for a committee. Quarter-Master has his hands full. Zubly. Would it not be best to publish proposals in the papers for any man who was willing to supply the army with clothing to make his offers?
The money ought to be advanced in all events; content with a committee.
R. R. Livingston.
. . . Willing proposed that we should desire the committee of this city to inquire after these goods, and this will lead them to an inquiry that will be beneficial to America.
The city of Philadelphia has broken the association, by raising the price of goods fifty per cent. It would not be proper to purchase goods here. The breach of the association here is general in the price of goods, as it is in New York with respect to tea. If we lay out five thousand pounds here, we shall give a sanction to the breaches of the association; the breach is too general to be punished. Willing. If the association is broken in this city, don’t let us put the burden of examining into it upon a few, but the whole committee. New York have broken it entirely; ninety-nine in a hundred drink tea. I am not for screening the people of Philadelphia.
I am not an importer, but have bought of New York merchants, for twenty years, at a certain advance on the sterling cost.
R. R. Livingston thought we ought to buy the goods where they were dearest, because if we bought them at New York, where they were cheapest, New York would soon be obliged to purchase in Philadelphia, where they are dearest, and then the loss would fall upon New York; whereas, in the other way, the loss would be general. Jay. We had best desire the committee of this city to purchase the quantity of goods, at the price stated by the association, and see if they were to be had here at that price.
This debate terminated in a manner that I did not foresee. A committee was appointed to purchase five thousand pounds sterling’s worth of goods, to be sent to the Quarter-Master-General, and by him to be sold to the soldiers at first cost and charges. Quarter-Master to be allowed five per cent. for his trouble.
Mr. Lynch and Colonel Harrison and Colonel Nelson indulged their complaisance and private friendship for Mifflin and Washington, so far as to carry this.
It is almost impossible to move any thing, but you instantly see private friendships and enmities, and provincial views and prejudices, intermingle in the consultation.1 These are degrees of corruption. They are deviations from the public interest and from rectitude. By this vote, however, perhaps the poor soldiers may be benefited, which was all I wished, the interest of Mr. Mifflin being nothing to me.
25. Monday. An uneasiness among some of the members, concerning a contract with Willing and Morris for powder, by which the House, without any risk at all, will make a clear profit of twelve thousand pounds at least.2 Dyer and Deane spoke in public; Lewis, to me, in private about it. All think it exorbitant.
S. Adams desired that the Resolve of Congress, upon which the contract was founded, might be read; he did not recollect it.
One of the contractors, Willing, declared to this Congress, that he looked upon the contract to be, that the first cost should be insured to them, not the fourteen pounds a barrel for the powder.
R. R. Livingston.
I never will vote to ratify the contract in the sense that Morris understands it.
I am, as a member of the House, a party to that contract, but was not privy to the bargain. I never saw the contract, until I saw it in Dr. Franklin’s hand. I think it insures only the first cost; my partner thinks it insures the whole. He says that Mr. Rutledge said, at the time, that Congress should have nothing to do with sea risk. The committee of this city offered nineteen pounds. I would wish to have nothing to do with the contract, but to leave it to my partner, who is a man of reason and generosity, to explain the contract with the gentlemen who made it with him.
Congress was to run no risk, only against men-of-war and custom-house officers. I was surprised, this morning, to hear that Mr. Morris understood it otherwise. If he won’t execute a bond, such as we shall draw, I shall not be at a loss what to do.
A hundred tons of powder was wanted. Ross. In case of its arrival, Congress was to pay fourteen pounds; if men-of-war or custom-house officers should get it, Congress was to pay first cost only, as I understood it. Zubly. We are highly favored; fourteen pounds we are to give, if we get the powder, and fourteen pounds, if we don’t get it. I understand, persons enough will contract to supply powder at fifteen pounds and run all risks.
Sorry any gentleman should be severe. Mr. Morris’s character is such that he cannot deserve it.
If Morris will execute the bond, well; if not, the committee will report.
It is very well that this matter has been moved, and that so much has been said upon it.
There are not ten men, in the Colony I came from, who are worth so much money as will be made, clear, by this contract. Ross. What has this matter to (do with) the present debate, whether Connecticut men are worth much or no; it proves there are no men there whose capital or credit is equal to such contracts; that is all. Harrison. The contract is made, and the money paid. How can we get it back?
Let us consider the prudence of this contract. If it had not been made, Morris would have got nineteen pounds, and not have set forward a second adventure. Gadsden understands the contract as Morris does, and yet thinks it a prudent one, because Morris would have got nineteen pounds.
&c. &c. &c.
I move that we take into consideration a method of keeping up an army in the winter.
Gadsden seconds the motion, and desires that a motion made in writing some days ago, and postponed, may be read as it was, as also passages of G. Washington’s letter.
S. Adams. The General has promised another letter, in which we shall have his sentiments. We shall have it to-morrow, perhaps. Lynch. If we have, we shall only lose the writing of a letter.
J. Adams moved that the Generals’ advice should be asked concerning barracks, &c. and that a committee be appointed to draught a letter. Lynch seconded the motion.
A committee was appointed. Lynch, J. Adams, and Colonel Lee, the men.
Sherman moved that a committee be appointed, of one member from each Colony, to receive and examine all accounts.1S. Adams seconded the motion.
Harrison asked, “Is this the way of giving thanks?”
S. Adams was decent to the Committee for Riflemen’s Accounts; meant no reflections upon them; was sorry that the worthy gentleman from Virginia conceived that any was intended; he was sure there was no foundation for it.
Paine thought that justice and honor required that we should carefully examine all accounts and see to the expenditure of all public moneys; that the minister would find out our weakness, and would foment divisions among our people; he was sorry that gentlemen could not hear methods proposed to settle and pay accounts, in a manner that would give satisfaction to the people, without seeming to resent them. Harrison. Now the gentlemen have explained themselves, he had no objection; but when it was proposed to appoint a new committee, in the place of the former one, it implied a reflection. Willing. These accounts are for tents, arms, clothing, &c. as well as expenses of the riflemen, &c.
Nelson moved that twenty thousand dollars be voted into the hands of the other committee to settle the accounts. S. Adams seconded the motion, but still hoped that some time or other a committee would be appointed, of one member from each Colony, to examine all accounts, because he thought it reasonable.1
September 27. Wednesday. Willing, in favor of Mr. Purviance’s petition.2Harrison against it.
Willing thinks the non-exportation sufficiently hard upon the farmer, the merchant, and the tradesman, but will not arraign the propriety of the measure.
If we give these indulgences, I know not where they will end. Sees not why the merchant should be indulged more than the farmer. Harrison. It is the merchant in England that is to suffer. Lynch. They meant gain, and they ought to bear the loss.
Another reason, the cargo is provisions, and will probably fall into the hands of the enemy.
R. R. Livingston.
There is no resolve of Congress against exporting to foreign ports. We shall not give license to deceit by clearing out for England.
Lynch moves that the committee of this city be desired to inquire whether Dean’s vessel, taken at Block Island, and another at Cape Cod, were not sent on purpose to supply the enemy.
Read. The committee of this city have inquired of the owners of one vessel. The owners produced their letter books, and were ready to swear; the conduct of the captain is yet suspicious. Thinks the other inquiry very proper.
Lee thinks Lynch’s motion proper; thinks the conduct detestable parricide, to supply those who have arms in their hands to deprive us of the best rights of human nature. The honest seamen ought to be examined, and they may give evidence against the guilty.
Dean belongs to Boston; he came from West Indies, and was seized here and released; loaded with flour and went out.
Extract from the Journals of Congress.
Wednesday, 4 October, 1775.
“Agreeable to the order of the day, the Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole, to take into consideration the state of the trade of the thirteen United Colonies.”
1775. October 4. Johnson. I should be for the resolutions about imports and exports standing till further order. I should be against giving up the carriage. The grower, the farmer, gets the same, let who will be the exporter, but the community does not. The shipwright, rope-maker, hemp-grower, all shipbuilders, the profits of the merchant, are all lost, if foreigners are our sole carriers, as well as seamen, &c. I am for the report standing;1 the association standing.
The question is, whether we shall shut our ports entirely, or adhere to the association. The resolutions we come to ought to be final.
North Carolina is absent; they are expected every hour; we had better suspend a final determination. I fear our determination to stop trade will not be effectual.
North Carolina promised to put themselves in the same situation with other Colonies. New York have done the same. Our gold is locked up at present; we ought to be decisive; interest is near and dear to men. The Committee of Secrecy find difficulties; merchants dare not trade.
Sumptuary laws, or a non-importation, were necessary, if we had not been oppressed; a non-export was attended with difficulty; my Colony could do as well as others. We should have acquiesced in an immediate non-export, or a partial one. Many voted for it as an object in terrorem. Merchants, mechanics, farmers, all call for an establishment.
Whether we are to trade with all nations, except Britain, Ireland, and West Indies, or with one or two particular nations, we cannot get ammunition without allowing some exports; for the merchant has neither money nor bills, and our bills will not pass abroad.
R. R. Livingston.
We should go into a full discussion of the subject; every gentleman ought to express his sentiments. The first question is, how far we shall adhere to our association; what advantages we gain, what disadvantages we suffer by it. An immediate stoppage last year would have had a great effect, but at that time the country could not bear it. We are now out of debt nearly; the high price of grain, in Boston, will be an advantage to the farmer. The price of labor is nearly equal in Europe; the trade will be continued, and Great Britain will learn to look upon America as insignificant. If we export to Britain, and don’t import, they must pay us in money; of great importance that we should import. We employ our ships and seamen; we have nothing to fear but disunion among ourselves. What will disunite us more than the decay of all business? The people will feel, and will say, that Congress tax them and oppress them worse than Parliament.
Ammunition cannot be had, unless we open our ports. I am for doing away our non-exportation agreement entirely. I see many advantages in leaving open the ports, none in shutting them up. I should think the best way would be to open all our ports. Let us declare all those bonds illegal and void. What is to become of our merchants, farmers, seamen, tradesmen? What an accession of strength should we throw into the hands of our enemies, if we drive all our seamen to them!
Is it proper the non-exportation agreement should continue? For the interest of Americans to open our ports to foreign nations, that they should become our carriers, and protect their own vessels.
Johnson never had an idea that we should shut our export agreement closer than it is at present. If we leave it as it is, we shall get powder by way of New York, the lower counties, and North Carolina. In winter, our merchants will venture out to foreign nations. If Parliament should order our ships to be seized, we may begin a force in part to protect our own vessels, and invite foreigners to come here and protect their own trade.
We ought to postpone it, rather than not come to a decisive resolution.
We shall be prevented from exporting, if British power can do it. We ought to stop our own exports, and invite foreign nations to come and export our goods for us. I am for opening our exportations, to foreigners, further than we have.
The gentleman’s favorite plan is to induce foreigners to come here. Shall we act like the dog in the manger, not suffer New York and the lower counties and North Carolina to export, because we can’t? We may get salt and ammunition by those ports. Can’t be for inviting foreigners to become our carriers; carriage is an amazing revenue. Holland and England have derived their maritime power from their carriage. The circulation of our paper will stop, and lose its credit, without trade. Seven millions of dollars have been struck by the continent and by the separate Colonies. Lee. The end of administration will be answered by the gentleman’s plan; jealousies and dissensions will arise, and disunion and division. We shall become a rope of sand. Zubly. The question should be, whether the export should be kept or not.
I am for adhering to the association, and think that we ought not to determine these questions this day. Differ from R. Livingston that our exports are to be relaxed, except as to tobacco and lumber. This will produce a disunion of the Colonies. The advantage of cultivating tobacco is very great; the planters would complain; their negro females would be useless without raising tobacco; the country must grow rich that exports more than they import. There ought not to be a partial export to Great Britain. We affect the revenue and the remittance by stopping our exports; we have given a deadly blow to Britain and Ireland by our non-export; their people must murmur, must starve. The nation must have become bankrupt before this day if we had ceased exports at first. I look upon Britain, Ireland, and West Indies, as our enemies, and would not trade with them while at war. We can’t support the war and our taxes without trade. Emissions of paper cannot continue. I dread an emission for another campaign. We can’t stand it without trade. I can’t agree that New York, the lower counties, and North Carolina, should carry on trade; upon giving a bond, and making oath, they may export. I am against these Colonies trading according to the restraining act. It will produce division. A few weeks will put us all on a footing; New York, &c. are now all in rebellion, as the ministry call it, as much as Massachusetts Bay.
We must trade with foreign nations, at the risk indeed, but we may export our tobacco to France, Spain, or any other foreign nation. If we treat with foreign nations, we should send to them as well as they to us. What nation or countries shall we trade with? Shall we go to their ports and pay duties, and let them come here and pay none? To say you will trade with all the world deserves consideration.
I have not absolutely discarded every glimpse of a hope of a reconciliation; our prospect is gloomy. I can’t agree that we shall not export our own produce. We must treat with foreign nations upon trade. They must protect and support us with their fleets. When you once offer your trade to foreign nations, away with all hopes of reconciliation.
E. Rutledge differs with all who think the non-exportation should be broke, or that any trade at all should be carried on. When a commodity is out of port, the master may carry it where he pleases. My Colony will receive your determination upon a general non-exportation; the people will not be restless. Proposes a general non-exportation until next Congress. Our people will go into manufactures, which is a source of riches to a country. We can take our men from agriculture and employ them in manufactures. Agriculture and manufactures cannot be lost; trade is precarious.
R. R. Livingston not convinced by any argument; thinks the exception of tobacco and lumber would not produce disunion. The Colonies affected can see the principles, and their virtue is such that they would not be disunited. The Americans are their own carriers now, chiefly; a few British ships will be out of employ. I am against exporting lumber. I grant that if we trade with other nations, some of our vessels will be seized, and some taken. Carolina is cultivated by rich planters; not so in the northern Colonies; the planters can bear a loss, and see the reason of it; the northern Colonies can’t bear it. Not in our power to draw people from the plough to manufactures. We can’t make contracts for powder without opening our ports. I am for exporting where Britain will allow us, to Britain itself. If we shut up our ports, we drive our sailors to Britain; the army will be supplied, in all events. Lee makes a motion for two resolutions. The trade of Virginia and Maryland may be stopped by a very small naval force. North Carolina is badly off. The northern Colonies are more fortunate. The force of Great Britain on the water being exceedingly great, that of America almost nothing, they may prevent almost all our trade in our own bottoms. Great Britain may exert every nerve next year to send fifteen, twenty, or even thirty thousand men to come here. The provisions of America are become necessary to several nations. France is in distress for them.—Tumults and attempts to destroy the grain in the ear. England has turned arable into grass; France into vines. Grain cannot be be got from Poland, nor across the Mediterranean. The dissensions in Poland continue. Spain is at war with the Algerines, and must have provisions; it would be much safer for them to carry our provisions than for us. We shall get necessary manufactures, and money, and powder. This is only a temporary expedient, at the present time and for a short duration, to end when the war ends. I agree we must sell our produce; foreigners must come in three or four months; the risk we must pay in the price of our produce. The insurance must be deducted. Insurance would not be high to foreigners on account of the novelty; it is no new thing; the British cruisers will be the danger.
The Same Debate Continued.
October 5. Thursday. Gadsden. I wish we may confine ourselves to one point. Let the point be, whether we shall shut up all our ports, and be all on a footing. The ministry will answer their end, if we let the custom-houses be open in New York, North Carolina, and the lower counties, and Georgia; they will divide us. One Colony will envy another, and be jealous. Mankind act by their feelings. Rice sold for three pounds; it wont sell now for thirty shillings. We have rich and poor there as well as in other Colonies; we know that the excepted Colonies don’t want to take advantage of the others.
Whether the custom-houses be stopped, and the trade opened to all the world? The object is so great, that I would not discuss it, on horseback, riding post haste; it requires the debate of a week. We are lifting up a rod; if you don’t repeal the acts, we will open our ports. Nations, as well as individuals, are sometimes intoxicated. It is fair to give them notice. If we give them warning, they will take warning; they will send ships out. Whether they can stop our trade, is the question. New England, I leave out of the question; New York is stopped by one ship; Philadelphia says her trade is in the power of the fleet; Virginia and Maryland are within the capes of Virginia; North Carolina is accessible; only one good harbor, Cape Fear. In Georgia, we have several harbors; but a small naval force may oppose or destroy all the naval force of Georgia. The navy can stop our harbors and distress our trade; therefore it is impracticable to open our ports. The question is, whether we must have trade or not. We can’t do without trade; we must have trade; it is prudent not to put virtue to too serious a test. I would use American virtue as sparingly as possible, lest we wear it out. Are we sure one canoe will come to trade? Has any merchant received a letter from abroad that they will come? Very doubtful and precarious whether any French or Spanish vessel would be cleared out to America; it is a breach of the Treaty of Peace. The Spaniards may be too lazy to come to America; they may be supplied from Sicily. It is precarious and dilatory; extremely dangerous and pernicious. I am clearly against any proposition to open our ports to all the world; it is not prudent to threaten; the people of England will take it we design to break off, to separate. We have friends, in England, who have taken this up, upon virtuous principles.
I will follow Mr. Gadsden, and simplify the proposition, and confine it to the question, whether the custom-houses shall be shut. If they are open, the excepted Colonies may trade, others not, which will be unequal; the consequence, jealousy, division, and ruin. I would have all suffer equally. But we should have some offices set up, where bonds should be given that supplies shall not go to our enemies.
Extract from the Journals.
Friday, October 6th.
“Resolved, That it be recommended to the several Provincial Assemblies or Conventions, and Councils or Committees of Safety, to arrest and secure every person in their respective Colonies, whose going at large may, in their opinion, endanger the safety of the Colony, or the liberties of America.”
I don’t think the resolution goes far enough. Lord Dunmore has been many months committing hostilities against Virginia, and has extended his piracies to Maryland. I wish he had been seized by the Colony months ago. They would have received the thanks of all North America. Is it practicable now? Have the Committee any naval force? This order will be a mere piece of paper. Is there a power in the Committee to raise and pay a naval force? Is it to be done at the expense of the Continent? Have they ships or men?
I wish Congress would advise Virginia and Maryland to raise a force by sea to destroy Lord Dunmore’s power. He is fond of his bottle, and may be taken by land, but ought to be taken at all events.
I am sorry to see the very threatening condition that Virginia is likely to be in. I look on the plan we heard of yesterday, to be vile, abominable, and infernal; but I am afraid it is practicable.1 Will these mischiefs be prevented by seizing Dunmore? Seizing the King’s representatives will make a great impression in England, and probably things will be carried on afterwards with greater rage. I came here with two views; one, to secure the rights of America; second, a reconciliation with Great Britain.
They can’t be more irritated at home than they are; they are bent upon our destruction; therefore, that is no argument against seizing them. Dunmore can do no mischief in Virginia; his connections in England are such that he may be exchanged to advantage. Wentworth is gone to Boston; Franklin is not dangerous, Penn is not, Eden is not.
Dunmore a very bad man. A defensive conduct was determined on in the Convention of Virginia. I am for leaving it to Virginia. We ought not to lay down a rule in a passion. I see less and less prospect of a reconciliation every day; but I would not render it impossible; if we should render it impossible, our Colony would take it into their own hands, and make concessions inconsistent with the rights of America. North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, at least, have strong parties in each of them of that mind. This would make a disunion. Five or six weeks will give us the final determination of the people of Great Britain. Not a Governor on the Continent has the real power, but some have the shadow of it. A renunciation of all connection with Great Britain will be understood by a step of this kind. Thirteen Colonies connected with Great Britain in sixteen months have been brought to an armed opposition to the claims of Great Britain. The line we have pursued has been the line we ought to have pursued; if what we have done had been proposed two years ago, four Colonies would not have been for it. Suppose we had a dozen Crown officers in our possession, have we determined what to do with them? shall we hang them?
Those who apply general reasons to this particular case will draw improper conclusions. Those Crown officers who have advised his Lordship against his violent measures, have been quarrelled with by him. Virginia is pierced in all parts with navigable waters. His Lordship knows all these waters, and the plantations on them. Shuldham is coming to assist him in destroying these plantations. We see his influence with an abandoned administration is sufficient to obtain what he pleases. If six weeks may furnish decisive information, the same time may produce decisive destruction to Maryland and Virginia. Did we go fast enough when we suffered the troops at Boston to fortify?
This is a sudden motion; the motion was yesterday to apprehend Governor Tryon. We have not yet conquered the army or navy of Great Britain; a navy, consisting of a cutter, rides triumphant in Virginia. There are persons in America who wish to break off with Great Britain; a proposal has been made to apply to France and Spain; before I agree to it, I will inform my constituents. I apprehend the man who should propose it would be torn to pieces like De Witt.
It was from a reverence for this Congress that the Convention of Virginia neglected to arrest Lord Dunmore; it was not intended suddenly to form a precedent for Governor Tryon. If Maryland have a desire to have a share in the glory of seizing this nobleman, let them have it. The first objection is the impracticability of it. I don’t say that it is practicable; but the attempt can do no harm. From seizing clothing in Delaware, seizing the transports, &c., the Battles of Lexington, Charlestown, &c., every man in Great Britain will be convinced by ministry and Parliament, that we are aiming at an independency on Great Britain; therefore, we need not fear from this step disaffecting our friends in England. As to a defection in the Colonies, I can’t answer for Maryland, Pennsylvania, &c.; but I can for Virginia.
I am not against allowing liberty to arrest Lord Dunmore; there is evidence that the scheme he is executing was recommended by himself. Maryland does not regard the connection with Great Britain as the first good.
If we signify to Virginia that it will not be disagreeable to us if they secure Lord Dunmore, that will be sufficient.
Lewis moves an amendment, that it be recommended to the Council of Virginia, that they take such measures to secure themselves from the practices of Lord Dunmore, either by seizing his person, or otherwise, as they think proper.
A material distinction between a peremptory order to the Council of Virginia, to seize his Lordship, and a recommendation to take such measures as they shall judge necessary to defend themselves against his measures.
Extract from the Journals.
“Resolved, That the Committee appointed for the importation of powder, be directed to export, agreeable to the Continental Association, as much provisions or other produce of these Colonies, as they shall judge expedient for the purchase of arms and ammunition.”
Motion to Export Produce for Powder.
I think we must have powder, and we may send out produce for powder. But upon some gentlemen’s principles we must have a general exportation.
From the observations some gentlemen have made, I think this proposition of more importance than it appeared at first. In theory, I could carry it further, even to exportation and importation to Great Britain. A large continent can’t act upon speculative principles, but must be governed by rules. Medicines we must have, some clothing, &c. I wish we could enter upon the question at large, and agree upon some system.
By that resolution we may send to Great Britain, Ireland, and West Indies.
Suppose provisions should be sold in Spain for money, and cash sent to England for powder.
We must have powder; I would send for powder to London or anywhere. We are undone if we have not powder.
I hope the words, “agreeable to the Association” will be inserted, but I would import from Great Britain powder.
R. R. Livingston.
We are between hawk and buzzard; we puzzle ourselves between the commercial and warlike opposition.
If ammunition was to be had from England only, there would be weight in the gentleman’s argument. The Captain, Reed, told us yesterday that he might have brought one thousand barrels of powder. Why? because he was not searched. But if he had attempted to bring powder, he would have been searched. I would let the Association stand as it is, and order the Committee to export our provisions consistent with it.
When a vessel comes to England against our Association, she must be observed and watched; they would keep the provisions, but not let us have the powder.
I have not the most distant idea of infringing the Association.
The resolution with the amendment amounts to nothing. The Committee may import now consistent with the Association. I apprehend that, by breaking the Association, we may import powder; without it, not. We must have powder. We must fight our battles, in two or three months, in every Colony.
They may export to any other place, and thence send money to England.
Extract from the Journals.
“The Congress, taking into consideration the letter from New York, respecting the fortifications ordered to be erected on Hudson’s River,—
“Resolved, That a Committee of three be appointed to report to-morrow morning, an answer to the Convention of New York.
“The following members were chosen by ballot, namely, Mr. Morton, Mr. Deane, and Mr. R. Livingston.”
New York Letter concerning a fortification on the Highlands considered.
Can’t say how far it would have been proper to have gone upon Romain’s plan in the Spring, but thinks it too late now. There are places upon that river that might be thrown up in a few days, that would do. We must go upon some plan that will be expeditious.
Romain says a less or more imperfect plan would only be beginning a strong-hold for an enemy.
An order went to New York; they have employed an engineer. The people and he agree in the spot and the plan. Unless we rescind the whole we should go on; it ought to be done.
Saturday, October 7.
No trace of the next debate appears upon the Journals as originally printed, but much light is shed upon it in the extract from the Autobiography, which follows these reports.
On the third of October is this entry on the Journals: “One of the delegates for Rhode Island laid before the Congress a part of the instructions given them by their two Houses of Legislature, August 26, 1775.
“Resolved, That the Congress will, on Friday next, take the above into consideration.”
From these words it is clear that the instructions were themselves to be inserted as a part of the record, which they are not. But in the republication by Mr. Force in the American Archives, 4th series, vol. iv. c. 1888-9, they are found in full. The purport of them was to recommend to the Congress the building a fleet at the Continental expense.
In the Journals as originally printed, it would appear as if, when the subject came up on the appointed day, Friday, the consideration of it had been put off until Monday the 16th, which would make this debate seem entirely out of place.
Mr. Force has here again rectified the first edition of the Journals by showing that the vote on Friday was to postpone to Saturday; so that it then came up the first thing in the order of business, and was again postponed until Monday the 16th.
From the report of the debate it would seem as if, notwithstanding this reference, a motion was then made to refer the matter to a Committee.
It is the maddest idea in the world to think of building an American fleet; its latitude is wonderful; we should mortgage the whole Continent. Recollect the intelligence on your table—defend New York—fortify upon Hudson’s River. We should provide, for gaining intelligence, two swift sailing vessels.
The affair of powder from New York should be referred to the Committee.
No objection to putting off the instruction from Rhode Island, provided it is to a future day.
Seconds Chase’s motion that it be put off to a future day, sine die.
The gentleman from Maryland never made such a motion. I never used the copulative; the gentleman is very sarcastic, and thinks himself very sensible.
If the plans of some gentlemen are to take place, an American fleet must be a part of it, extravagant as it is.
Randolph moves that all the orders of the day should be read every morning.
I wish it may be seriously debated. I don’t think it romantic at all.
J. Rutledge moves that some gentlemen be appointed to prepare a plan and estimate of an American fleet. Zubly seconds the motion.
I am against the extensiveness of the Rhode Island plan; but it is absolutely necessary that some plan of defence, by sea, should be adopted.
I shall not form a conclusive opinion, till I hear the arguments. I want to know how many ships are to be built, and what they will cost.
The committee can’t make an estimate, until they know how many ships are to be built.
Rhode Island has taken the lead. I move that the delegates of Rhode Island prepare a plan; give us their opinion.
The motion is entirely out of order. The subject is put off for a week, and now a motion is to appoint a committee to consider the whole subject.
Zubly, Rutledge, Paine, Gadsden,—lightly skirmishing.
It is like the man that was appointed to tell the dream and the interpretation of it. The expense is to be estimated, without knowing what fleet there shall be, or whether any at all.
The design is, to throw it into ridicule. It should be considered, out of respect to the Colony of Rhode Island, who desired it.
Determined, against the appointment of a committee.
Report of the Committee, for fortifying upon Hudson’s River, considered.1
I think we should add to the report, that they take the most effectual measures to obstruct the navigation of Hudson’s River, by booms, or otherwise. Gadsden seconds the motion. Deane doubts the practicability of obstructing it with booms, it is so wide. The committee said, four or five booms chained together, and ready to be drawn across, would stop the passage.
The Congress of New York is to consult the Assembly of Connecticut, and the Congress of New Jersey, on the best method of taking posts, and making signals, and assembling forces for the defence of the river.
Gadsden moves that all the letters laid before us, from England, should be sent to the Convention of New York. Tryon is a dangerous man, and the Convention of that Colony should be upon their guard. Lee. I think the letters should, by all means, be sent. Rutledge. Dr. Franklin desired they might not be printed. Moves that General Wooster, with his troops, may be ordered down to New York. Duane moves that Wooster’s men may be employed in building the fortifications. Dyer seconds the motion, allowing the men what is usual.
Sherman would have the order conditional, if Schuyler don’t want them; understands that New York has the best militia upon the continent.
They will be necessary at the Highlands. Dyer thinks they ought to have the usual allowance for work.
S. Adams understands that the works at Cambridge were done without any allowance, but that General Washington has ordered, that, for future works, they be allowed half a pistareen a day.
Langdon would not have the order to Wooster,1 but to Schuyler; for he would not run any risk of the northern expedition.
Rutledge thinks Schuyler can’t want them; he waited only for boats to send five hundred men more. Sherman. Would it not be well to inform Schuyler of our endeavors to take the transports, and desire him to acquaint Colonel Arnold of it?
He may cooperate with Arnold in taking the transports. I hope he is in possession of Montreal before now.
I wish that whatever money is collected, may be sent along to Schuyler.
We have been represented as beggarly fellows, and the first impressions are the strongest. If we eat their provisions, and don’t pay, it will make a bad impression.
Ross produces a Resolve of the Assembly of Pennsylvania, that their delegates lay the Connecticut Intrusion2 before Congress, that something may be done to quiet the minds.
J. Rutledge moves that the papers be referred to the delegates of the two Colonies.
Willing thinks them parties, and that they must have an umpire. Sherman thinks they may agree on a temporary line.
Debate on the Report for fortifying upon Hudson’s River, resumed.
Lee3 moves that parliamentary or ministerial posts may be stopped, as a constitutional post is now established from New Hampshire to Georgia. Langdon seconds the motion.
Willing thinks it is interfering with that line of conduct which we have hitherto prescribed to ourselves; it is going back beyond the year 1763.
When the Ministry are mutilating our correspondence in England, and our enemies here are corresponding for our ruin, shall we not stop the ministerial post?
Willing looks upon this to be one of the offensive measures which are improper at this time. It will be time enough to throw this aside, when the time comes that we shall throw every thing aside; at present, we don’t know but there may be a negotiation.
We have already superseded the Act of Parliament effectually.
Deane is for a recommendation to the people to write by the constitutional post; not forbid a man to ride.
S. Adams thinks it a defensive measure; and advising people not to write by it, looks too cunning for me. I am for stopping the correspondence of our enemies.
Administration are taking every method to come at our intentions. Why should not we prevent it? Duane. I shall vote against it. It may be true that we are come to the time when we are to lay aside all. I think there should be a full representation of the Colonies. North Carolina should be here. Deane seconds the motion for postponing it.
The necessity of this measure does not appear to me. If we have gone beyond the line of 1763 and of defence, without apparent necessity, it was wrong; if with necessity, right. I look upon the invasion of Canada as a very different thing; I have a right to defend myself against persons who come against me, let them come from whence they will. We, in Georgia, have gained intelligence, by the King’s Post, that we could not have got any other way. Some gentlemen think all merit lies in violent and unnecessary measures.
The gentleman’s argument would prove that we should let the post go into Boston. Morton. Would not this stop the packet? Would it not be ordered to Boston? Does the packet bring any intelligence to us that is of use?
No intelligence comes to us, but constant intelligence to our enemies. Stone thinks it an innocent motion, but is for postponing it, because he is not at present clear. He thinks that the setting up a new post has already put down the old one.
My opinion was, that the ministerial post will die a natural death; it has been under a languishment a great while; it would be cowardice to issue a decree to kill that which is dying; it brought but one letter last time, and was obliged to retail newspapers to bear its expenses. I am very loth to say that this post shall not pass.
Is there not a Doctor, Lord North, who can keep this creature alive?
R. R. Livingston.
I don’t think that Tory letters are sent by the royal post. I consider it rather as a convenience than otherwise; we hear five times a week from New York. The letters, upon our table, advise us to adopt every conciliatory measure, that we may secure the affections of the people of England.
October 10. On the preceding day, the Congress had adopted a resolution, in the following words:—
“That it be recommended to the Convention of New Jersey, that they immediately raise, at the expense of the continent, two battalions, consisting of eight companies each, and each company of sixty-eight privates, officered with one captain, one lieutenant, one ensign, four sergeants, and four corporals.”
Who shall have the appointment of the officers, in the two battalions to be raised in New Jersey?
Best to leave it to the Provincial Conventions. Ward seconds the motion.
This is persisting in error, in spite of experience; we have found, by experience, that giving the choice of officers to the people is attended with bad consequences. The French officers are allowed to exceed any in Europe, because a gentleman is hardly entitled to the smiles of the ladies, without serving a campaign. In my Province, we want officers. Gentlemen have recommended persons, from personal friendships, who were not suitable; such friendships will have more weight in the Colonies. Dyer. We must derive all our knowledge from the delegates of that Colony. The representatives at large are as good judges, and would give more satisfaction. You can’t raise an army, if you put officers over the men, whom they don’t know. It requires time to bring people off from ancient usage. E. Rutledge. We don’t mean to break in upon what has been done. In our Province we have raised our complement of men in the neighboring Colonies. I am for it, that we may have power to reward merit.
The motion is intended for a precedent. In the expedition to Carthagena and Canada, the Crown only appointed a lieutenant in my Colony; the men will not enlist. When the Militia Bill was before us, I was against giving the choice to the men. I don’t know any man in the Jerseys. Duane. A subject of importance; a matter of delicacy; we ought to be all upon a footing; we are to form the grand outlines of an American army; a general regulation. Will such a regulation be salutary? The public good alone will govern me. If we were to set out anew, would the same plan be pursued? It has not been unprecedented in this Congress. Mr. Campbell, Allen, Warner, were promoted here. We ought to insist upon it; we shall be able to regulate an army better. Schuyler and Montgomery would govern my judgment. I would rather take the opinion of General Washington than of any convention. We can turn out the unworthy, and reward merit; the usage is for it. Governors used to make officers, except in Connecticut and Rhode Island. But we can’t raise an army! We are then in a deplorable condition indeed. We pay!—can’t we appoint, with the advice of our Generals?
Langdon looks upon this as a very extraordinary motion, and big with many mischiefs. Deane. It is the people’s money, not ours; it will be fatal. We can’t set up a sale for offices, like Lord Barrington. E. Rutledge. The appointment, hitherto, has been as if the money belonged to particular Provinces, not to the Continent. We can’t reward merit; the Governor appointed officers with us.
My sentiments coincide with those of the gentlemen from New York and Carolina, and would go further and appoint every officer, even an ensign. We have no command of the army. They have different rules and articles. Jay. Am of opinion with the gentleman who spoke last. The Union depends much upon breaking down Provincial Conventions; the whole army refused to be mustered by your Muster-Master.
Debate on the State of Trade, continued from Page 457.
October 12. Report, on Trade, considered in a committee of the whole.
It has been moved to bring the debate to one point by putting the question, whether the custom-houses shall be shut up, and the officers discharged from their several functions. This would put New York, North Carolina, the lower Counties, and Georgia, upon the same footing with the other Colonies. I, therefore, move you, that the custom-houses be shut, and the officers discharged; this will remove jealousies and divisions.
The measure we are now to consider is extremely interesting. I shall offer my thoughts. If we decide properly, I hope we shall establish our cause; if improperly, we shall overthrow it altogether.
1st Proposition. Trade is important. 2. We must have a reconciliation with Great Britain, or the means of carrying on the war; an unhappy day when we shall . . . A republican government is little better than government of devils. I have been acquainted with it from six years old. We must regulate our trade, so as that a reconciliation be obtained, or we enabled to carry on the war. Can’t say, but I do hope for a reconciliation, and that this winter may bring it. I may enjoy my hopes for reconciliation; others may enjoy theirs, that none will take place. A vessel will not go without sails or oars. Wisdom is better than weapons of war. We don’t mean to oppose Great Britain, merely for diversion; if it is necessary, that we make war, and that we have the means of it. This Continent ought to know what it is about; the nation don’t. We ought to know what they mean to be about; we ought to have intelligence of the designs. King of Prussia and Count Daun marched and countermarched, until they could not impose upon each other any more. Every thing we want for the war is powder and shot. Second thing necessary, that we have arms and ammunition. Third, we must have money; the continental credit must be supported; we must keep up a notion that this paper is good for something; it has not yet a general circulation. The Mississippi scheme, in France, and the South Sea scheme, in England, were written for our learning; a hundred millions fell in one day. Twenty men-of-war may block up the harbor of New York, Delaware River, Chesapeake Bay, the Carolinas, and Georgia. Whether we can raise a navy, is an important question. We may have a navy, and, to carry on the war, we must have a navy. Can we do this without trade? Can we gain intelligence without trade? Can we get powder without trade? Every vessel you send out is thrown away. New England, where the war is, may live without trade; the money circulates there; they may live. Without trade our people must starve; we cannot live; we cannot feed or clothe our people. My resolution was, that I would do and suffer any thing, rather than not be free; but I am resolved not to do impossible things; if we must trade, we must trade with somebody, and with somebody that will trade with us; either with foreigners or Great Britain; if with foreigners, we must either go to them or they must come to us; we can’t go to them, if our harbors are shut up. I look upon the trade with foreigners as impracticable. St. Lawrence being open is a supposition. New England people, last war, went to Cape François. Spaniards are too lazy to come to us. If we can’t trade with foreigners, we must trade with Great Britain. Is it practicable? will it quit cost? will it do more hurt than good? This is breaking our association. Our people will think we are giving way, and giving all up; they will say, one mischievous man has overset the whole navigation. I speak from principle; it has been said here that the association was made in terrorem.
Gadsden seconds Lee’s motion, and affirms that we can carry on trade from one end of the continent to the other.
Custom-house officers discharged! Were they ever in our pay, in our service? Let them stand where they are; let this Congress establish what offices they please; let the others die. I think that all the Colonies ought to be upon a footing; we must have trade. I think we ought to apply abroad; we must have powder and goods; we can’t keep our people easy without.
The gentleman agrees that all ought to be upon a footing. Let him show how this can be done without shutting the custom-houses.
This should be the last business we undertake. It is like cutting the foot to the shoe, not making a shoe for the foot. Let us establish a system first.
I think we ought to consider the whole, before we come to any resolutions. Now gentlemen have their doubts whether the non-exportation was a good measure. I was, last year, clear against it. Because the enemy have burned Charlestown, would gentlemen have us burn New York? Let us lay every burden as equal on all the shoulders as we can. If Providence or Ministry inflict misfortunes on one, shall we inflict the same on all? I have one arm sore, why should not the other arm be made sore too? But jealousies will arise; are these reasonable? is it politic? We are to consult the general good of all America. Are we to do hurt, to remove unreasonable jealousies? Because Ministry have imposed hardships on one, shall we impose the same on all? It is not from affection to New York that I speak. If a man has lost his teeth, on one side of his jaws, shall he pull out the teeth from the other, that both sides may be upon a footing? Is it not realizing the quarrel of the belly and the members? The other Colonies may avail themselves of the custom-houses in the exempted Colonies.
All must bear a proportional share of the Continental expense. Will the exempted Colonies take upon themselves the whole expense? Virginia pays a sixth part, the lower Counties an eightieth; yet the lower counties may trade, Virginia not. The gentleman exercised an abundance of wit to show the unreasonableness of jealousies. If this ministerial bait is swallowed by America, another will be thrown out.
Why should not New York make money, and New Jersey not? One Colony can clothe them.
I have four reasons for putting the favored Colonies upon a footing with the rest. 1. To disappoint the ministry; their design was insidious. 2. I would not have it believed by ministry, or other Colonies, that those Colonies had less virtue than others. 3. I have a reconciliation in view; it would be in the power of those Colonies, it might become their interest, to prolong the war. 4. I believe Parliament has done, or will do it for us, that is, put us on the same footing. I would choose that the exempted Colonies should have the honor of it; not clear that this is the best way of putting them upon a footing. If we should be successful in Canada, I would be for opening our trade to some places in Great Britain, Jamaica, &c.
wonders that a subject so clear has taken up so much time. I was for a general non-exportation. Is it not surprising that there should so soon be a motion for breaking the Association? We have been reproached for our breach of faith in breaking the non-importation. I have the best authority to say that if we had abided by a former non-importation we should have had redress. We may be obliged hereafter to break the Association; but why should we break it before we feel it? I expected the delegates from the exempted Colonies would have moved to be put upon the same footing. Don’t like shutting the custom-houses and discharging the officers, but moves that the resolve be, that people in New York, North Carolina, and lower Counties don’t apply to the custom-house.
Georgia is settled along Savannah River, two hundred miles in extent, and one hundred miles the other way. I look upon it, the Association altogether will be the ruin of the cause. We have ten thousand fighting Indians near us. Carolina has already smuggled goods from Georgia.
I will undertake to prove that if the reverend gentleman’s positions are true, and his advice followed, we shall all be made slaves. If he speaks the opinion of Georgia, I sincerely lament that they ever appeared in Congress. They cannot, they will not comply! Why did they come here? Sir, we are deceived! Sir, we are abused! Why do they come here? I want to know why their Provincial Congress came to such resolutions. Did they come here to ruin America? The gentleman’s advice will bring destruction upon all North America. I am for the resolution upon the table. There will be jealousies, if New York and the other exempted Colonies are not put upon a footing. It is not any great advantage to the exempted Colonies. What can they export, that will not be serviceable to Great Britain and the West Indies? The exports of North Carolina are of vast importance to Great Britain. If these Colonies are in rebellion, will not their effects be confiscated and seized even upon the ocean? Arms and ammunition must be obtained by what is called smuggling. I doubt not we shall have the supply. Leaving open New York &c. will prevent our getting arms and ammunition.
Where the protection of this room did not extend, I would not sit very tamely. Chase. I think the gentleman ought to take offence at his brother delegate.
Wythe agrees with the gentleman from New York that we don’t proceed regularly. The safety of America depends essentially on a union of the people in it. Can we think that union will be preserved if four Colonies are exempted? When New York Assembly did not approve the proceedings of the Congress, it was not only murmured at, but lamented as a defection from the public cause. When Attica was invaded by the Lacedemonians, Pericles ordered an estate to be ravaged and laid waste, because he thought it would be exempted by the Spartan King. Nothing was ever more unhappily applied than the fable of the stomach and the limbs.
Another argument for putting . . .
On Trade, continued.
October 13. R. Livingston hopes the whole matter will be put off. Is willing, as it seems the general sense, that all should be put upon a footing.
Gadsden hopes it will not be put off. South Carolina will be in the utmost confusion if this matter is not decided. Let the Continent determine.
Stone can see no particular inconvenience to Carolina; seconds the motion of Mr. Livingston, for postponing the question, and gives his reasons. The Powder Committee must take clearances. If they are allowed to take clearances, and no other, then whenever they take a clearance, it will be known that it is for powder, and the vessel will be watched.
I see very clearly that the best time for putting a question is when it is best understood. That time is the present. As to powder, time may be allowed for the Committee to clear vessels.
J. Rutledge thinks this motion extraordinary; this subject has been under consideration three weeks. It is really trifling. The Committee may have time allowed to clear vessels for powder; but I had rather the Continent should run the risk of sending vessels without clearances. What confusion would ensue, if Congress should break up without any resolution of this sort! The motion seems intended to defeat the resolution entirely. Those who are against it are for postponing.
We have complied with the restraining act. The question is, whether we shall have trade or not? and this is to introduce a most destructive scheme, a scheme which will drive away all your sailors, and lay up all your ships to rot at the wharves.
October 20. Their plunder only afforded one meal of fresh meat for the privates; all the rest was reserved for the officers, and their friends among the inhabitants. I would have traders prohibited from importing unnecessary articles, and from exporting live stock, except horses.
If we give one leave, when there are one hundred who have an equal right, it will occasion jealousy. Let each Colony export to the amount of so many thousand pounds, and no more.
We have letters from Guadaloupe, Martinique, and the Havana, that they will supply us with powder for tobacco.
France and Spain would be glad to see Great Britain despotic in America. Our being in a better state than their Colonies occasions complaints among them, insurrections and rebellions. But these powers would be glad we were an independent State.
The proposition is for exporting for a special purpose,—importing powder. I would not permit our cash to go for rum. Live stock is an inconsiderable part of our cargoes. I don’t wish to intermix any thing in this debate. I would restrain the merchant from importing any thing but powder, &c. Molasses was an article of importance in the trade of the Northern Colonies. But now they can’t carry on the African trade, and the rum is pernicious. If you give a latitude for any thing but arms and ammunition, we shan’t agree what articles are necessary and what unnecessary. Each Colony should carry on this trade, not individuals. I would not limit the quantity of ammunition to be imported by each Colony. A hundred tons a Colony would supply the West Indies, mediately all the army and navy. Twenty tons would be a considerable adventure for a Colony. Debts are due from the British West India Islands to the inhabitants of these Colonies. I am not for permitting vessels to go in ballast and fetch cash; I wish to import cash from every place as much as possible.
It cannot be done with secrecy or despatch. I rather think it would be as well to leave it to traders.
It is of great weight that there be no favorites.
There will be such continual applications to the Assemblies by their friends among the traders, it will open a complete exportation; it would completely supply the West Indies.
We have more to expect from the enterprise, activity and industry of private adventurers, than from the lukewarmness of assemblies. We want French woollens, Dutch worsteds, duck for tents, German steel, &c. Public virtue is not so active as private love of gain. Shall we shut the door against private enterprise?
The gentleman may move for those things as exceptions to the general rule.
We are making laws contradictory in terms. We say nobody shall export, and yet somebody shall. Against all rule.
It is a common rule in making laws, to make a rule and then make a proviso for special cases.
The rule and the proviso are passed at once in the same act, though. If I give my voice for an unconditional proposition, what security have I that the condition or proviso will be added afterwards? The greatest impropriety in the world.
Both sides are right; and it arises from this, that one proposition is to be made public, and the other kept secret. We have very little confidence in each other.
If half the law is to be public and the other half secret, will not half the people be governed by one half and the other half by the other? Will they not clash?
Lest your produce fall into the hands of your enemies, you publish a law that none go from the Continent; yet to get powder, we keep a secret law that produce may be exported. Then come the wrangles among the people. A vessel is seen loading,—a fellow runs to the committee.
The inconvenience may arise in some measure; but will not the people be quieted by the authority of the Conventions? If we give public notice, our enemies will be more active to intercept us. On the contrary, the people may be quieted by the committees of safety.
The only persons who can be affected by this resolution, are those, who, on the other side of the water, will be called smugglers. Consider the danger these smugglers will run; liable to seizure by custom-house officers, by men of war at sea, and by custom-house officers in the port they go to. What can they bring? Cash, powder, or foreign manufactures? Can’t see the least reason for restraining our trade, as little can be carried on. My opinion is, we had better open our trade altogether. It has long been my opinion, and I have heard no arguments against it.
We can’t do without trade. To be or not to be is too trifling a question for many gentlemen. All that wise men can do among many difficulties, is to choose the least.
Cannot agree to the propositions made by the gentleman from Maryland,—not for binding the people closer than they are bound already,—the proposition is the same with that which was made, that our vessels should be stopped, and foreigners invited to come here for our produce and protect their own trade. This appears to be a destructive system. It was a laborious task to get America into a general non-exportation to Great Britain, Ireland, and West Indies,—shall we now combine with Britain to distress our people in their trade, more than by the Association? People have looked up to this, and are unwilling to go further. The restraining bill, a most cruel, unjust, unconstitutional act; yet we are going to greater cruelties than they. We are all to be in the same circumstances of poverty and distress. Will the West Indies be supplied by a circuitous trade? I think not. How can the West Indies get supplies from Holland, France, or Spain? The whole produce will not be carried; it is said the men of war will take their produce; this argument will operate against exporting for powder. The army will be supplied; it is impossible to prevent their getting supplies, at least of bread. It appears to me this is not a temporary expedient, but will have a perpetual influence. It is a destructive, ruinous expedient, and our people never will bear it. Under the faith that your ports would be kept open to foreigners, people have made contracts with foreigners. You are giving a sanction to the Act of Parliament, and going further. Under such a regulation we never can exist. I would export produce to foreign West Indies, or anywhere for powder; but the mode of doing it will defeat it. The Assemblies never will turn merchants successfully. I would have private adventurers give bond to return powder, or the produce itself.
Differs from his colleague; a different proposition from that for restraining our people and inviting foreigners. This proposition invites your people. If you carry on your exports, without the protection of a foreign power you destroy America. If you stop provisions and not other produce, you create a jealousy. If you export provisions and not other produce, you create a jealousy. Don’t think the risk will prevent supplies to the West India Islands.
We must prevent them lumber as well as provisions; great quantities will be exported, notwithstanding the risk. All the fleet of Britain cannot stop our trade; we can carry it all on. We must starve the West India Islands, and prevent them exporting their produce to Great Britain. There will be great quantities of provisions and lumber exported. It will enhance the expense, to carry them to Spain or France first, and thence to the West Indies; but the price will be such that the West Indies will get them. I hold it clearly, we can do without trade; this country produces all the necessaries, many of the conveniences, and some of the superfluities, of life. We can’t grow rich; our provisions will be cheap; we can maintain our army and our poor. We shan’t lose our sailors; the fishermen will serve in another capacity. We must defend the lakes and cities. Merchants will not grow rich; there is the rub. I have too good an opinion of the virtue of our people, to suppose they will grumble. If we drop our commercial system of opposition, we are undone; we must fail; we must give up the profits of trade, or lose our liberties. Let the door of reconciliation be once shut, I would trade with foreign powers, and apply to them for protection. Leave your ports open, and every man that can, will adventure; the risk will not prevent it.
It was strongly contended, at the first Congress, that trade should be stopped to all the world; that all remittances should cease. You would have saved a civil war, if you had; but it could not be carried; the gentlemen from South Carolina could not prevail to stop our exports to Britain, Ireland, and West Indies. Our vessels will all be liable to seizure; our trade must be a smuggling trade. Yet we can trade considerably, and many vessels will escape. No vessel can take a clearance. Many vessels will go out, unless you restrain them; all America is in suspense; the common sense of the people has pointed out this measure; they have stopped their vessels.
We possess a fine climate and a fertile soil; wood, iron, sheep, &c. We make eleven or twelve hundred thousand pounds’ worth of provisions more than is necessary for our own consumption. Don’t think it necessary to combat the opinion of some gentlemen, that we cannot live without trade. Money has debauched States, as well as individuals, but I hope its influence will not prevail over America against her rights and dearest interests. We shall distress the West Indies, so as immediately to quit coin for corn. Four millions go yearly from the West Indies to Britain, and a million at least returns. If our provisions go from these shores, then they will go where the best price is to be had. West Indies and our enemies will get them. If it was not proper a year ago, it may be now; this proposition is not perpetual. When we get powder, we may make ourselves strong by sea, and carry on trade.
A question of the greatest magnitude that has come before this Congress. If it is necessary to do without trade, our constituents will submit to it. The army will be supplied with flour from England, where it is now cheaper than here; but they would be supplied here, if they were to demand it upon pain of destroying our towns. West Indies are supplied, and have laid up stores, and some of them have been raising provisions on their own lands. It will bear hard upon the farmer, as well as the merchant. Don’t think the reasons the same now as last year; it would then have destroyed the linen manufactory and the West Indies; but now they have had notice of it, they are prepared against it.
Same Subject continuea.
October 21. Zubly.
We can’t do without powder, intelligence, drugs. Georgia must have an Indian war, if they can’t supply the Indians. The Creeks and Cherokees are in our Province; we must have Indian trade. Four millions have been spent in six months. We have been successful, but we have gained little; all the power of Great Britain, it is true, has gained very little. New England has been at great expense, so has New York; Pennsylvania has spent a hundred thousand pounds of their money, to fortify their river; Virginia as much; North Carolina a great deal; South Carolina have issued a million. Eighteen millions of dollars is an enormous sum of money; whenever your money fails, you fail too. We are to pay six millions now, twelve millions more presently, and have no trade. I would bear the character of a madman, or that of an emissary of Lord North, rather than believe it possible to pay eighteen millions of dollars without trade. Can we make bricks without straw? We can live upon acorns; but will we?
The rule, that the question should be put upon the last motion that is made and seconded, is productive of great confusion in our debates; six or seven motions at once. Commerce, whether we consider it in an economical, a moral, or political light, appears to be a great good; civility and charity, as well as knowledge, are promoted by it. The auri sacra fames is a fine subject for philosophers and orators to display themselves upon; but the abuse of a thing is not an argument against it. If the gentleman was possessed of the philosopher’s stone, or Fortunatus’s cap, would he not oblige the continent with the use of it? Why should not America have a navy? No maritime power near the sea-coast can be safe without it. It is no chimera. The Romans suddenly built one in their Carthaginian war. Why may not we lay a foundation for it? We abound with firs, iron ore, tar, pitch, turpentine; we have all the materials for construction of a navy. No country exceeds us in felicity of climate or fertility of soil. America is one of the wings upon which the British eagle has soared to the skies. I am sanguine and enthusiastical enough to wish and to hope that it will be sung, that America inter nubila condit.
British navy will never be able to effect our destruction. Before the days of Minos, nations round the Archipelago carried on piratical wars. The Moors carry on such wars now, but the pillars of Hercules are their ne plus ultra. We are too far off for Britain to carry on a piratical war. We shall, sometime or other, rise superior to all the difficulties they may throw in our way. I wont say, there is none that doeth good in Britain, no, not one; but I will say, she has not righteous persons enough to save their State. They hold those things honorable which please them, and those for just which profit them. I know of no instance where a Colony has revolted, and a foreign nation has interposed to subdue them; but many of the contrary. If France and Spain should furnish ships and soldiers, England must pay them. Where are her finances? Why should we divert our people from commerce, and banish our seamen? Our petition may be declared to be received graciously, and promised to be laid before Parliament, but we can expect no success from it. Have they ever condescended to take notice of you? Rapine, depopulation, burning, murder. Turn your eyes to Concord, Lexington, Charlestown, Bristol, New York; there you see the character of Ministry and Parliament. We shall distress our enemies by stopping trade; granted. But how will the small quantities we shall be able to export supply our enemies? Tricks may be practised. If desire of gain prevails with merchants, so does caution against risks.
I wish we could keep to a point. I have heard the two gentlemen with a great deal of pleasure. I have argued for opening our ports, but am for shutting them until we hear the event of our petition to the King, and longer until the Congress shall determine otherwise. I am for a navy, too, and I think that shutting our ports for a time will help us to a navy. If we leave our ports open, warm men will have their ships seized, and moderate ones will be favored.
When you hoist out a glimmering of hope that the people are to be furnished from abroad, you give a check to our own manufactures. People are now everywhere attending to corn and sheep and cotton and linen.
A glove has been offered by the gentleman from Georgia, and I beg leave to discharge my promise to that gentleman, to answer his arguments. My position was this; that the gentleman’s system would end in the total destruction of American liberty. I never shall dispute self-evident propositions.
The present state of things requires reconciliation or means to carry on war. Intelligence we must have; we must have powder and shot; we must support the credit of our money. You must have a navy to carry on the war. You can’t have a navy, says the gentleman. What is the consequence? I say, that we must submit. Great Britain, with twenty ships, can destroy all our trade, and ravage our sea-coast; can block up all your harbors, prevent your getting powder. What is the consequence? That we should submit. You can’t trade with nobody; you must trade with somebody; you can’t trade with anybody but Great Britain, therefore, I say, we must submit. We can’t trade with foreigners, the gentleman said. The whole train of his reasoning proved that we must break our whole association, as to exports and imports. If we trade with Great Britain, will she furnish us with powder and arms? Our exports are about three millions; would Britain permit us to export to her, and receive cash in return? It would impoverish and ruin Great Britain. They will never permit a trade on our side, without a trade on theirs. Gentlemen from New York would not permit tobacco and naval stores to be sent to Great Britain; nothing that will support their naval power or revenue. But will not this break the Union? Would three Colonies stop their staple when the other Colonies exported theirs? Fifteen hundred seamen are employed by the tobacco Colonies—one hundred and twenty-five sail of British ships; but you may drop your staple, your tobacco; but it is difficult to alter old habits. We have a great number of female slaves that are best employed about tobacco. North Carolina cannot, will not, give up their staple. The gentleman from Georgia was for trading with Great Britain and all the world. He says we can’t trade with any nation but Britain, therefore we must trade with Britain alone. What trade shall we have, if we exclude Britain, Ireland, West Indies, British and foreign? Eastern Provinces might carry it on with a small fleet, if their harbors were fortified. Southern Colonies cannot. Eastern Colonies can’t carry on their trade to that extent, without a naval power to protect them, not only on the coast, but on the ocean, and to the port of their destination. The same force that would assist the Eastern Colonies, would be of little service to us in summer time; it must be a small, narrow, and limited trade.
The best instrument we have, is our opposition by commerce. If we take into consideration Great Britain in all her glory; Commons voted eighteen, twenty millions last war; eighty thousand seamen, from her trade alone; her strength is all artificial, from her trade alone. Imports from Great Britain to the United Colonies are three millions per annum; fifteen millions to all the world; one fifth; three quarters is British manufactures. A thousand British vessels are employed in American trade; twelve thousand sailors; all out of employ. What a stroke! I don’t take into view Ireland or West Indies. Colonies generally indebted about one year’s importation; the revenue of tobacco alone half a million, if paid. North Britain enter less than the quantity, and don’t pay what they ought; it employs a great number of manufacturers; reëxported abroad, is a million; it is more. Eighty thousand hogsheads are reëxported, and it pays British debts. The reëxport employs ships, sailors, freight, commissions, insurance.
Ireland; the flax seed, forty thousand pounds sterling. Linen brought two million one hundred and fifty thousand pounds from Ireland to England; yards, two hundred thousand. Ireland can raise some flax seed, but not much.
West Indies. Glover, Burke, and other authors. They depend for Indian corn and provisions and lumber, and they depend upon us for a great part of the consumption of their produce. Indian corn and fish are not to be had, but from the Colonies, except pilchards and herrings. Jamaica can best provide for her wants, but not entirely. Ireland can send them beef and butter, but no grain. Britain can send them wheat, oats; not corn, without which they cannot do.
Stop rum and sugar, how do you affect the revenue and the trade?
They must relax the Navigation Act, to enable foreign nations to supply the West Indies. This is dangerous, as it would force open a trade between foreigners and them.
Britain can never support a war with us, at the loss of such a valuable trade. African trade dependent upon the West India trade; seven hundred thousand pounds.
Twenty-five thousand hogsheads of sugar are imported directly into these Colonies, and as much more, from Britain, manufactured. Jamaica alone takes one hundred and fifty thousand pounds sterling of our produce.
National debt, one hundred and forty millions; ten millions, the peace establishment; twenty millions, the whole current cash of the nation. Blackstone. I never read anybody that better understood the subject. For the state of the revenue he calculates the taxes of Ireland and England; taxes of Britain, perpetual and annual; funds, three, the aggregate, general, and South Sea; taxes, upon every article of luxuries and necessaries. These funds are mortgaged, for the civil list, eight hundred thousand pounds, as well as the interest of the debt.
October 27. R. R. Livingston.
Clothing will rise, though provisions will fall; laborers will be discharged; one quarter part of Rhode Island, New York, and Pennsylvania, depend upon trade, as merchants, shopkeepers, shipwrights, blockmakers, riggers, smiths, &c. &c.: the six northern Colonies must raise nine millions of dollars to support the poor. This vote will stop our trade for fourteen months, although it professes to do it only to the 20th of March; for the winter, when the men of war cannot cruise upon the coast, is the only time that we can trade. Wealthy merchants and moneyed men cannot get the interest of money. More virtue is expected from our people, than any people ever had. The low countries did not reason as we do about speculative opinions, but they felt the oppression for a long course of years, rich and poor.
Concludes that the sense and bent of the people are against stopping trade, by the eagerness with which they exported before the 10th of September. We can’t get intelligence without trade. All that are supported by trade, must be out of business. Every argument which shews that our association will materially affect the trade of Great Britain, will shew that we must be affected too, by a stoppage of our trade. Great Britain has many resources. I have bought two barrels of rice in Carolina for fifteen shillings, and negro cloth was three shillings instead of eighteen pence.
The West Indies will get supplies to keep soul and body together; the ingenious Dutchmen will smuggle some Indian corn from America. Is it right to starve one man because I have quarrelled with another? I have a great scruple whether it is just or prudent. In December, 1776, we shall owe between twenty and thirty millions of money.
Am for adhering to the Association, and going no further; the non export in terrorem, and generally agreed; the consequences will be dreadful if we ruin the merchants. Will not the army be supplied if vessels go from one Province to another? We may pass a resolution that no live stock shall be exported.
October 30. Monday. Ross.1
We can’t get seamen to man four vessels. We could not get seamen to man our boats, our galleys. Wythe, Nelson, and Lee, for fitting out four ships.
Extract from the Journals.
1776. February 16. Friday.
“Agreeable to the order of the day, the Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole, to take into consideration the propriety of opening the ports, and the restrictions and regulations of the trade of these Colonies after the first of March next.”
(This discussion was continued from time to time until the sixth of April, when the Congress came in to sundry resolutions taking off the restrictions on trade.)
In Committee of the Whole.
Can’t we oblige Britain to keep a navy on foot, the expense of which will be double to what they will take from us? I have heard of bullion Spanish flotas being stopped, lest they should be taken, but perishable commodities never were stopped. Open your ports to foreigners; your trade will become of so much consequence that foreigners will protect you.
A gentleman from Massachusetts thinks that a middle way should be taken; that trade should be opened for some articles, and to some places, but not for all things and to all places. I think the merchants ought to judge for themselves of the danger and risk. We should be blamed if we did not leave it to them. I differ from the gentleman of Massachusetts. Trade ought in war to be carried on with greater vigor. By what means did Britain carry on their triumphs last war? the United Provinces their war against Spain? If we determine that our ports shall not be opened, our vessels abroad will not return. Our seamen are all abroad; will not return unless we open our trade. I am afraid it will be necessary to invite foreigners to trade with us, although we lose a great advantage, that of trading in our own bottoms.
I fear we shall maintain the armies of our enemies at our own expense with provisions. We can’t carry on a beneficial trade, as our enemies will take our ships. A treaty with a foreign power is necessary, before we open our trade, to protect it.
We have hobbled on under a fatal attachment to Great Britain. I felt it as much as any man, but I feel a stronger to my country.
The ports will be open the 1st March. The question is whether we shall shut them up. Fæce Romuli non Republicâ Platonis. Americans will hardly live without trade. It is said our trade will be of no advantage to us, because our vessels will be taken, our enemies will be supplied, the West Indies will be supplied at our expense. This is too true, unless we can provide a remedy. Our Virginia Convention have resolved, that our ports be opened to all nations that will trade with us, except Great Britain, Ireland, and West Indies. If the inclination of the people should become universal to trade, we must open our ports. Merchants will not export our produce, unless they get a profit.
We might get some of our produce to market, by authorizing adventurers to arm themselves, and giving letters of marque, make reprisals. 2d. By inviting foreign powers to make treaties of commerce with us.
But other things are to be considered, before such a measure is adopted; in what character shall we treat?—as subjects of Great Britain,—as rebels? Why should we be so fond of calling ourselves dutiful subjects? If we should offer our trade to the Court of France, would they take notice of it any more than if Bristol or Liverpool should offer theirs, while we profess to be subjects? No. We must declare ourselves a free people. If we were to tell them, that after a season, we would return to our subjection to Great Britain, would not a foreign Court wish to have something permanent? We should encourage our fleet. I am convinced that our fleet may become as formidable as we wish to make it. Moves a resolution.
Resolved, That the Committee of Secret Correspondence be directed to lay their letters before this Congress.
Resolved, That NA be a committee to prepare a draught of firm confederation, to be reported as soon as may be to this Congress, to be considered and digested and recommended to the several Assemblies and Conventions of these United Colonies, to be by them adopted, ratified, and confirmed.
Resolved, That it be recommended to the several Assemblies, Conventions, Councils of Safety, and Committees of Correspondence and Inspection, that they use their utmost endeavors, by all reasonable means, to promote the culture of flax, hemp, and cotton, and the growth of wool, in these United Colonies.1
Resolved, That it be recommended to the Assemblies, Conventions, and Councils of Safety, that they take the earliest measures for erecting, in each and every Colony, a society for the encouragement of agriculture, arts, manufactures, and commerce; and that a correspondence be maintained between such societies, that the numerous natural advantages of this country, for supporting its inhabitants, may not be neglected.
Resolved, That it be recommended to the said Assemblies, Conventions, and Councils of Safety, that they consider of ways and means of introducing the manufactures of duck and sailcloth2 into such Colonies where they are not now understood, and of increasing and promoting them where they are.
Resolved, That NA be a committee to receive all plans and proposals for encouraging and improving the agriculture, arts, manufactures, and commerce, both foreign and domestic, of America, to correspond with the several Assemblies, Conventions, Councils, and Committees of Safety, Committees of Correspondence and of Observation, in these United Colonies, upon these interesting subjects.
That these be published.
1776. March 1.3 How is the interest of France and Spain affected, by the dispute between Britain and the Colonies?
Is it the interest of France to stand neuter, to join with Britain, or to join with the Colonies? Is it not her interest to dismember the British empire? Will her dominions be safe, if Britain and America remain connected? Can she preserve her possessions in the West Indies? She has, in the West Indies, Martinico, Guadaloupe, and one half of Hispaniola. In case a reconciliation should take place between Britain and America, and a war should break out between Britain and France, would not all her islands be taken from her in six months? The Colonies are now much more warlike and powerful than they were during the last war. A martial spirit has seized all the Colonies. They are much improved in skill and discipline; they have now a large standing army; they have many good officers; they abound in provisions; they are in the neighborhood of the West Indies. A British fleet and army, united with an American fleet and army, and supplied with provisions and other necessaries from America, might conquer all the French Islands in the West Indies in six months, and a little more time than that would be required to destroy all their marine and commerce.
4. Monday. Resentment is a passion implanted by nature for the preservation of the individual. Injury is the object which excites it. Injustice, wrong, injury, excite the feeling of resentment as naturally and necessarily as frost and ice excite the feeling of cold, as fire excites heat, and as both excite pain. A man may have the faculty of concealing his resentment, or suppressing it, but he must and ought to feel it; nay, he ought to indulge it, to cultivate it; it is a duty. His person, his property, his liberty, his reputation, are not safe without it. He ought, for his own security and honor, and for the public good, to punish those who injure him, unless they repent, and then he should forgive, having satisfaction and compensation. Revenge is unlawful. It is the same with communities; they ought to resent and to punish.
Is any assistance attainable from France?
What connection may we safely form with her?
1. No political connection. Submit to none of her authority; receive no governors or officers from her. 2. No military connection. Receive no troops from her. 3. Only a commercial connection; that is, make a treaty to receive her ships into our ports; let her engage to receive our ships into her ports; furnish us with arms, cannon, saltpetre, powder, duck, steel.
Whereas the present state of America, and the cruel efforts of our enemies, render the most perfect and cordial union of the Colonies, and the utmost exertions of their strength, necessary for the preservation and establishment of their liberties, therefore,
Resolved, That it be recommended to the several Assemblies and Conventions of these United Colonies, who have limited the powers of their delegates in this Congress, by any express instructions, that they repeal or suspend those instructions for a certain time, that this Congress may have power, without any unnecessary obstruction or embarrassment, to concert, direct, and order such further measures as may seem to them necessary for the defence and preservation, support and establishment of right and liberty in these Colonies.1
Extract from the Journals of Congress, for Friday, 10 May, 1776.
Congress resumed the consideration of the resolution reported from the Committee of the Whole, and the same was agreed to, as follows:—
“Resolved, That it be recommended to the respective Assemblies and Conventions of the United Colonies, where no government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs hath been hitherto established, to adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general.
“Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to prepare a preamble to the foregoing resolution.
“The members chosen, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Rutledge, and Mr. R. H. Lee.”
A significant form of preamble was accordingly reported on Wednesday, the 15th of May, debated, and adopted. The following remarks were made in the course of the discussion:—
Mr. Duane moves that the delegation from New York might be read.
When we were invited by Massachusetts Bay to the first Congress, an objection was made to binding ourselves by votes of Congress. Congress ought not to determine a point of this sort about instituting government. What is it to Congress how justice is administered? You have no right to pass the resolution, any more than Parliament has. How does it appear that no favorable answer is likely to be given to our petitions? Every account of foreign aid is accompanied with an account of commissioners. Why all this haste? why this urging? why this driving? Disputes about independence are in all the Colonies. What is this owing to but our indiscretion? I shall take the liberty of informing my constituents that I have not been guilty of a breach of trust. I do protest against this piece of mechanism, this preamble. If the facts in this preamble should prove to be true, there will not be one voice against independence. I suppose the votes have been numbered, and there is to be a majority.
McKean construes the instructions from New York as Mr. Sherman does, and thinks this measure the best to procure harmony with Great Britain. There are now two governments in direct opposition to each other. Don’t doubt that foreign mercenaries are coming to destroy us. I do think we shall lose our liberties, properties, and lives too, if we do not take this step.
We have been favored with a reading of the instructions from New York; I am glad of it. The first object of that Colony is no doubt the establishment of their rights. Our petitions have not been heard, yet answered with fleets and armies, and are to be answered with myrmidons from abroad. The gentleman from New York, Mr. Duane, has not objected to the preamble, but this, that he has not a right to vote for it. We cannot go upon stronger reasons than that the King has thrown us out of his protection. Why should we support governments under his authority? I wonder that people have conducted so well as they have.
Was not present in Congress when the resolution passed, to which this preamble is proposed. I was present, and one of the committee who reported the advice to Massachusetts Bay. New Hampshire, Carolina, and Virginia, had the same advice, and with my hearty concurrence.
The claim of Parliament will meet with resistance to the last extremity. Those Colonies were royal governments; they could not subsist without some government. A maxim, that all government originates from the people. We are the servants of the people, sent here to act under a delegated authority. If we exceed it, voluntarily, we deserve neither excuse nor justification. Some have been put under restraints by their constituents; they cannot vote without transgressing this line. Suppose they should hereafter be called to an account for it. This Province has not, by any public act, authorized us to vote upon this question; this Province has done much and asked little from this Congress; the Assembly, largely increased, will (not) meet till next Monday. Will the cause suffer much, if this preamble is not published at this time? if the resolve is published without the preamble? The preamble contains a reflection upon the conduct of some people in America. It was equally irreconcilable to good conscience, nine months ago, to take the oaths of allegiance, as it is now. Two respectable members, last February, took the oath of allegiance in our Assembly. Why should we expose any gentlemen to such an invidious reflection? In Magna Charta there is a clause which authorizes the people to seize the King’s castles and oppose his arms when he exceeds his duty.
In this Province, if that preamble passes, there will be an immediate dissolution of every kind of authority; the people will be instantly in a state of nature. Why then precipitate this measure? Before we are prepared to build the new house, why should we pull down the old one, and expose ourselves to all the inclemencies of the season?
R. H. Lee.
Most of the arguments apply to the resolve, not to the preamble.
On the eleventh of June, 1776, Congress voted that a committee should be appointed to prepare and report a plan of confederation for the Colonies. The next day, it was decided that the committee should consist of one member from each Colony. The following persons were appointed:—Mr. Bartlett, Mr. S. Adams, Mr. Hopkins, Mr. Sherman, Mr. R. R. Livingston, Mr. Dickinson, Mr. McKean, Mr. Stone, Mr. Nelson, Mr. Hewes, Mr. E. Rutledge and Mr. Gwinnett.
To whom Mr. Hopkinson was added on the 28th.
This committee reported on Friday the 12th of July, a draught, consisting of twenty articles. On Monday, the 22d, the Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole to take the report into consideration, which continued from day to day to debate it until Tuesday the 20th of August, when the amended form was reported back to the House. It was laid aside until the 8th of April, 1777, when the articles were again taken up, and discussed until the 15th of November, at which time, having been reduced to thirteen, they were finally adopted.
The following discussions all took place in committee of the whole, upon the original draught of twenty articles. They embrace the main points upon which there was a marked difference of opinion: the western territories, the Indians, representation, and taxation.
In Committee of the Whole.
1776. July 25. Article 14 of the confederation.1 Terms in this Article equivocal and indefinite.
The limits of the Southern Colonies are fixed. Moves an amendment, that all purchases of lands, not within the boundaries of any Colony, shall be made by Congress of the Indians in a great Council.
Sherman seconds the motion.
The intention of this Article is very obvious and plain. The Article appears to me to be right, and the amendment wrong. It is the intention of some gentlemen to limit the boundaries of particular States. No Colony has a right to go to the South Sea; they never had; they can’t have. It would not be safe to the rest. It would be destructive to her sisters and to herself.1
Article 15.2 What are reasonable limits? What security have we, that the Congress will not curtail the present settlements of the States? I have no doubt that the Colonies will limit themselves.
Every gentleman has heard much of claims to the South Sea. They are extravagant. The grants were made upon mistakes. They were ignorant of the Geography. They thought the South Sea within one hundred miles of the Atlantic Ocean. It was not conceived that they extended three thousand miles. Lord Camden considers the claims to the South Sea, as what never can be reduced to practice. Pennsylvania has no right to interfere in those claims, but she has a right to say, that she will not confederate unless those claims are cut off. I wish the Colonies themselves would cut off those claims.3
Article 16.4Chase moves for the word deputies, instead of delegates, because the members of the Maryland Convention are called delegates, and he would have a distinction. Answer. In other Colonies the reverse is true. The members of the House are called deputies.5
Objects to the first of November. Der Hall moves for May, for the time to meet. Jefferson thinks that Congress will have a short meeting in the Fall, and another in the Spring. Heyward. Thinks the Spring the best time. Wilson. Thinks the Fall, and November better than October; because September is a busy month everywhere. Dr. Hall. September and October the most sickly and mortal months in the year. The season is more forward in Georgia in April, than here in May.1
Hopkinson moves that the power of recalling delegates be reserved to the State, not to the Assembly, because that may be changed.2
Article 17. “Each Colony shall have one vote.”3
July 26.4Rutledge and Lynch oppose giving the power of regulating the trade and managing all affairs of the Indians to Congress. The trade is profitable, they say. Gwinnett is in favor of Congress having such power. Braxton is for excepting such Indians as are tributary to any State. Several nations are tributary to Virginia. Jefferson explains it to mean the Indians who live in the Colony. These are subject to the laws in some degree.
We have no right over the Indians, whether within or without the real or pretended limits of any Colony. They will not allow themselves to be classed according to the bounds of Colonies. Grants made three thousand miles to the eastward, have no validity with the Indians. The trade of Pennsylvania has been more considerable with the Indians than that of the neighboring Colonies.
The Indian trade is of no essential service to any Colony. It must be a monopoly. If it is free, it produces jealousies and animosities and wars. Carolina, very passionately, considers this trade as contributing to her grandeur and dignity. Deerskins are a great part of the trade. A great difference between South Carolina and Georgia. Carolina is in no danger from the Indians at present. Georgia is a frontier and barrier to Carolina. Georgia must be overrun and extirpated before Carolina can be hurt. Georgia is not equal to the expense of giving the donations to the Indians, which will be necessary to keep them at peace. The emoluments of the trade are not a compensation for the expense of donations.
Rutledge differs from Walton in a variety of points. We must look forward with extensive views. Carolina has been run to an amazing expense to defend themselves against Indians; in 1760, &c., fifty thousand guineas were spent. We have now as many men on the frontiers, as in Charleston. We have forts in the Indian countries. We are connected with them by treaties.
Congress may regulate the trade, if they will indemnify Carolina against the expense of keeping peace with the Indians, or defending us against them.
Here are two adjacent provinces, situated alike with respect to the Indians, differing totally in their sentiments of their interests.
South Carolina claims to the South Sea; so does North, Virginia and Massachusetts Bay. South Carolina says they have a right to regulate the trade with the Indians; if so, four Colonies have all the power of regulating trade with the Indians. South Carolina could not stand alone against the Indian nations.
Sherman moves that Congress may have a superintending power, to prevent injustice to the Indians or Colonies.
No lasting peace will be with the Indians, unless made by some one body. No such language as this ought to be held to the Indians. “We are stronger, we are better, we treat you better than another Colony.” No power ought to treat with the Indians, but the United States. Indians know the striking benefits of confederation; they have an example of it in the union of the Six Nations. The idea of the union of the Colonies struck them forcibly last year. None should trade with Indians without a license from Congress. A perpetual war would be unavoidable, if everybody was allowed to trade with them.
This expedient is worse than either of the alternatives. What is the meaning of this superintendency? Colonies will claim the right first. Congress can’t interpose until the evil has happened. Disputes will arise when Congress shall interpose.1
July 30. Article 17. “In determining questions, each Colony shall have one vote.”
Let the smaller Colonies give equal money and men, and then have an equal vote. But if they have an equal vote without bearing equal burthens, a confederation upon such iniquitous principles will never last long.
We all agree that there must and shall be a confederation, for this war. It will diminish the glory of our object, and depreciate our hope; it will damp the ardor of the people. The greatest danger we have, is of disunion among ourselves. Is it not plausible that the small States will be oppressed by the great ones? The Spartans and Helotes. The Romans and their dependents. Every Colony is a distinct person. States of Holland.
We must apply for pardons if we don’t confederate.
We should settle upon some plan of representation.2
3 Moves that the word “white,” should be inserted in the eleventh Article. The negroes are wealth. Numbers are not a certain rule of wealth. It is the best rule we can lay down. Negroes a species of property, personal estate. If negroes are taken into the computation of numbers to ascertain wealth, they ought to be, in settling the representation. The Massachusetts fisheries, and navigation, ought to be taken into consideration. The young and old negroes are a burthen to their owners. The eastern Colonies have a great advantage in trade. This will give them a superiority. We shall be governed by our interests, and ought to be. If I am satisfied in the rule of levying and appropriating money, I am willing the small Colonies should have a vote.1
If the war continues two years, each soul will have forty dollars to pay of the public debt. It will be the greatest encouragement to continue slave-keeping, and to increase it, that can be, to exempt them from the numbers which are to vote and pay. Slaves are taxables in the Southern Colonies. It will be partial and unequal. Some Colonies have as many black as white; these will not pay more than half what they ought. Slaves prevent freemen from cultivating a country. It is attended with many inconveniences.
If it is debated, whether their slaves are their property, there is an end of the confederation. Our slaves being our property, why should they be taxed more than the land, sheep, cattle, horses, &c.?
Freemen cannot be got to work in our Colonies; it is not in the ability or inclination of freemen to do the work that the negroes do. Carolina has taxed their negroes; so have other Colonies their lands.
Slaves rather weaken than strengthen the State, and there is therefore some difference between them and sheep; sheep will never make any insurrections.
I shall be happy to get rid of the idea of slavery. The slaves do not signify property; the old and young cannot work. The property of some Colonies is to be taxed, in others, not. The Eastern Colonies will become the carriers for the Southern; they will obtain wealth for which they will not be taxed.
August 1. Hooper.
North Carolina is a striking exception to the general rule that was laid down yesterday, that the riches of a country are in proportion to the numbers of inhabitants. A gentleman of three or four hundred negroes don’t raise more corn than feeds them. A laborer can’t be hired for less than twenty-four pounds a year in Massachusetts Bay. The net profit of a negro is not more than five or six pounds per annum. I wish to see the day that slaves are not necessary. Whites and negroes cannot work together. Negroes are goods and chattels, are property. A negro works under the impulse of fear, has no care of his master’s interest.1
The Consideration of the Seventeenth Article, resumed.1
Article 17. Dr. Franklin moves that votes should be in proportion to numbers. Mr. Middleton moves that the vote should be according to what they pay.
Sherman thinks we ought not to vote according to numbers. We are representatives of States, not individuals. States of Holland. The consent of every one is necessary. Three Colonies would govern the whole, but would not have a majority of strength to carry those votes into execution. The vote should be taken two ways; call the Colonies, and call the individuals, and have a majority of both.
Abbé Raynal has attributed the ruin of the United Provinces to three causes. The principal one is, that the consent of every State is necessary; the other, that the members are obliged to consult their constituents upon all occasions. We lose an equal representation; we represent the people. It will tend to keep up colonial distinctions. We are now a new nation. Our trade, language, customs, manners, don’t differ more than they do in Great Britain. The more a man aims at serving America, the more he serves his Colony. It will promote factions in Congress and in the States; it will prevent the growth of freedom in America; we shall be loth to admit new Colonies into the confederation. If we vote by numbers, liberty will be always safe. Massachusetts is contiguous to two small Colonies, Rhode Island and New Hampshire; Pennsylvania is near New Jersey and Delaware; Virginia is between Maryland and North Carolina. We have been too free with the word independence; we are dependent on each other, not totally independent States. Montesquieu pronounces the confederation of Lycia, the best that ever was made; the cities had different weights in the scale. China is not larger than one of our Colonies; how populous! It is said that the small Colonies deposit their all; this is deceiving us with a word. I would not have it understood that I am pleading the cause of Pennsylvania; when I entered that door, I considered myself a citizen of America.
Representation in England is unequal. Must I have three votes in a county, because I have three times as much money as my neighbor? Congress are to determine the limits of Colonies.
A momentous question; many difficulties on each side; four larger, five lesser, four stand indifferent. Virginia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, make more than half the people.
Connecticut, New York, two Carolinas, not concerned at all. The disinterested coolness of these Colonies ought to determine. I can easily feel the reasoning of the larger Colonies; pleasing theories always gave way to the prejudices, passions, and interests of mankind. The Germanic Confederation. The King of Prussia has an equal vote. The Helvetic confederacy. It can’t be expected that nine Colonies will give way to be governed by four. The safety of the whole depends upon the distinctions of Colonies.
I hear many ingenious arguments to persuade us that an unequal representation is a very good thing. If we had been born and bred under an unequal representation, we might bear it; but to set out with an unequal representation, is unreasonable. It is said the great Colonies will swallow up the less. Scotland said the same thing at the union.
Dr. Witherspoon rises to explain a few circumstances relating to Scotland; that was an incorporating union, not a federal; the nobility and gentry resort to England.
In determining all questions, each State shall have a weight, in proportion to what it contributes to the public expenses of the United States.1
August 2.2 “Limiting the bounds of States, which by charter, &c. extend to the South Sea.”
Sherman thinks the bounds ought to be settled. A majority of States have no claim to the South Sea. Moves this amendment to be substituted in place of this clause, and also instead of the fifteenth article;—“No lands to be separated from any State, which are already settled, or become private property.”
Chase denies that any Colony has a right to go to the South Sea.
How came Maryland by its land, but by its charter? By its charter, Virginia owns to the South Sea. Gentlemen shall not pare away the Colony of Virginia. Rhode Island has more generosity than to wish the Massachusetts pared away. Delaware does not wish to pare away Pennsylvania.
Admit there is danger from Virginia, does it follow that Congress has a right to limit her bounds? The consequence is, not to enter into confederation. But as to the question of right, we all unite against mutilating charters. I can’t agree to the principle. We are a spectacle to all Europe. I am not so much alarmed at the danger from Virginia as some are; my fears are not alarmed; they have acted as noble a part as any. I doubt not the wisdom of Virginia will limit themselves. A man’s right does not cease to be a right, because it is large; the question of right must be determined by the principles of the common law.
This argument is taken up upon very wrong ground. It is considered as if we were voting away the territory of particular Colonies, and gentlemen work themselves up into warmth upon that supposition. Suppose Virginia should. The small Colonies have a right to happiness and security; they would have no safety if the great Colonies were not limited. We shall grant lands, in small quantities, without rent or tribute or purchase-money. It is said that Virginia is attacked on every side. Is it meant that Virginia shall sell the lands for their own emolument? All the Colonies have defended these lands against the King of Britain, and at the expense of all. Does Virginia intend to establish quit rents? I don’t mean that the United States shall sell them, to get money by them.
I protest against the right of Congress to decide upon the right of Virginia. Virginia has released all claims to the land settled by Maryland, &c.1
[1 ]This is probably all that has been saved of the celebrated speech of Patrick Henry at the opening of the Congress, which earned for him the national reputation he has ever since enjoyed.
[1 ]“The mode of voting in this Congress was first resolved upon; which was, that each Colony should have one voice; but, as this was objected to as unequal, an entry was made on the journals to prevent its being drawn into precedent in future.” Letter of Connecticut Delegates to Governor Trumbull, 10 October, 1774.
[2 ]This rumor grew out of the seizure made by an armed force under orders from General Gage, of the gunpowder belonging to the Province, stored in Charlestown. See Frothingham’s History of the Siege of Boston, p. 13.
[3 ]The subsequent conduct of Mr. Duché did not prove him worthy of the commendation here awarded. In his letter to General Washington he most pointedly sneers at the New England delegates, to whom he was indebted for the distinction of being selected. Their motive is explained in Samuel Adams’s letter to Dr. Joseph Waren, dated 9 September. See Force’s American Archives, 1774, c. 802. Sparks’s Washington, vol. v. p. 476.
[4 ]This is more fully spoken of by the writer in a private letter to his wife, dated the 16th instant, of which, the following is the substance:—
[1 ]From this declaration it is clear that the delegation from Virginia was not unanimous in the policy imputed to them by Mr. Rutledge and the Carolinians. See the next note.
[1 ]This account, written in 1804, evidently from recollection only and without consulting the record, appears by comparison, though substantially corresponding with it, not to be precisely accurate in the details. And, inasmuch as every step in this commencement of the federative union, of which so little is now known, is of some interest, it may not be deemed out of place to subjoin here what it has been found possible to gather together concerning the formation and objects of these first committees.
[1 ]Richard Peters, long celebrated in Philadelphia for his wit, as well as for other and higher qualities. He served as Secretary of the Board of War, until 1781, and as Judge of the District Court of the United States until his death, in 1828, at an advanced age.
[1 ]On this day the celebrated resolutions of Suffolk County, in Massachusetts, had been laid before Congress, and resolutions were adopted by the Congress expressive of sympathy and support. See the Journals.
[1 ]The following extract from the writer’s letter of this date, to the late Judge Tudor, is of importance to elucidate the motives of action at this time.
[2 ]“Resolved, unanimously, That from and after the first day of December next, there be no importation into British America, from Great Britain or Ireland, of any goods, wares, or merchandises whatsoever, or from any other place, of any such goods, wares, or merchandises, as shall have been exported from Great Britain or Ireland, and that no such goods, wares, or merchandises imported after the said first day of December next, be used or purchased.”
[1 ]This was a common impression of the times. The whole action of this Congress was predicated upon the error. Yet the commercial position of China could not have been entirely unknown, even at that period.
[1 ]In the account, given by Judge Drayton, of the report made by the South Carolina delegates of the proceedings of this Congress, there is a little obscurity, which appears to grow out of a confounding of two separate positions taken by the Virginia delegates. The one related to the limitation of the statement of grievances to the period of the present reign. The other to the hesitation to come into a measure of non-exportation, on the ground of insufficient powers. The first case, however decided, would scarcely present sufficient cause for serious division. The second seems at one time to have threatened seriously to impair the harmony of the union. The language of Judge Drayton, if applied to this, receives some illustration from the remarks attributed in the text to Messrs. Gadsden and Chase. It runs thus:—
[1 ]This article of rice proved another great stumbling-block in the way of union, which was at last removed only by consenting to except it from the agreement of non-exportation to Europe. In the first instance, the bare proposition of excepting that and indigo, is stated by Mr. Gadsden, who disagreed with the rest of his colleagues, to have occasioned a cessation from business for several days, in order to give the refractory deputies time to recollect themselves, although it is difficult now to tell exactly when this cessation could have taken place. He further says, that even when the association was completing, without any exception, and the memberswere signing it, all the deputies from South Carolina, but himself, withdrew; and that State was on the point of being excluded, when a compromise was proposed, by which indigo being surrendered on the one side, the exception was admitted of rice on the other.
[1 ]This meeting, and the motives which induced it, are alluded to by General Washington in a letter to Captain Mackensie, of the 9th of October following.
[1 ]“Patience, forbearance, long suffering, are the lessons taught here for our Province, and, at the same time, absolute and open resistance to the new government. I wish I could convince gentlemen of the danger or impracticability of this, as fully as I believe it myself. The art and address of ambassadors from a dozen belligerent powers of Europe, nay, of a conclave of cardinals at the election of a Pope, or of the princes in Germany at the choice of an Emperor, would not exceed the specimens we have seen; yet the Congress all profess the same political principles. They all profess to consider our Province as suffering in the common cause, and indeed they seem to feel for us, as if for themselves. We have had as great questions to discuss as ever engaged the attention of men, and an infinite multitude of them.” J. A. to his wife, 29 September.
[2 ]Among the papers of Mr. Adams is the draught of the following resolutions, on which, in the handwriting of another person, is indorsed “J. Adams’s motion, September 30th.” No such motion is recorded in the journal, although some of the language is found incorporated into the resolution, adopted on the seventh of October, instructing a committee to prepare a letter to General Gage. The probability is, that the Congress was not at the moment ready to pledge all the Colonies quite so deeply as these resolutions would have done, although some of the measures recommended were ultimately adopted.
[1 ]It is worthy of notice that this is more than a fortnight before the resolution, directing such a memorial to be prepared, passed in Congress, and, further, that it is in the hands of General Lee. The committee afterwards appointed consisted of Mr. Cushing, R. H. Lee, and J. Dickinson. They reported on the 24th, and their report was recommitted. They again reported, on the 26th, the paper which was adopted.
[1 ]“There is a great spirit in the Congress. But our people must be peaceable. Let them exercise every day in the week, if they will; the more the better. Let them furnish themselves with artillery, arms, and ammunition. Let them follow the maxim, which you say they have adopted, ‘In times of peace prepare for war.’ But let them avoid war, if possible—if possible, I say.” J. A. to his wife, 7 October.
[1 ]This opinion is in marked opposition to that ascribed by Mr. Wirt to Mr. Henry, which is the more singular as, a few paragraphs below, the same gentleman betrays any thing but enthusiasm for, or admiration of the Rutledges. The truth must be told of Mr. Wirt’s volume. It is little to be relied on, excepting for the information directly obtained from witnesses of facts. How narrowly he escaped lauding Mr. Henry as a deep classical scholar, is shown in Mr. Jefferson’s letter lately published in Kennedy’s Biography, vol. i. p. 409. His own frank and playful admissions of his unfitness to write mere facts redeem a world of error. “What the deuce has a lawyer to do with truth?” See his letter in the same work, vol. i. page 388.
[2 ]On the first day of the month, R. H. Lee, J. Adams, T. Johnson, Patrick Henry, and Mr. J. Rutledge, were appointed a committee to prepare an address to his Majesty.
[1 ]In the appendix B to Mr. Duane’s “publication of Passages from the Remembrancer of Christopher Marshall,” is a somewhat curious account of Dr. Chovet and his lectures.
[1 ]No direction to perform this duty appears on the Journal. Undoubtedly it refers to the declaration of rights, as explained in the close of the extract from the Autobiography, in page 377.
[1 ]This judgment was not without foundation. The provincial legislature refused to sanction the proceedings of the Congress, declined to send any delegates to the next, and adopted a half way policy of its own, intended to satisfy the popular feeling without irritating the government at home. This led to a reaction in the city, where, after a trial of physical strength between the parties, the old committee of fifty-one was dissolved and a new one created, consisting of sixty members, through whom the patriots finally succeeded in effecting an independent organization in the Colony.
[1 ]This gentleman died at this place in the following year.
[1 ]Colonel Worthington was a moderate adherent of the government.
[2 ]This is a caption given to that Ode of Horace in some editions.
[1 ]Wednesday, 23 November, 1774. “Resolved, That John Adams, Esq. be desired to favor this Congress with his presence as soon as may be.” Extract from the Journals of the Provincial Congress.
[2 ]Massachusettensis is now understood to have been the work of Judge Leonard, although Mr. Adams, until a very late period of his life, supposed it to have come from the other gentleman named.
[3 ]The papers will be found in another portion of these volumes.
[1 ]The following entry is found by itself in a small book of accounts:—
[2 ]May 10. “This day arrived the Hon. John Hancock, and Thomas Cushing, Esquire, Samuel Adams, John Adams, and Robert Treat Paine, Esquires, delegates from the Colony of Massachusetts Bay.” Pennsylvania Gazette.
[1 ]Mr. Dickinson’s fear of the New-Englandmen was of early date, and his apprehensions were shared by almost all persons in the Middle, and by many in the Southern, States. Compare two letters in Quincy’s Life of Quincy, pp. 164-170.
[1 ]These letters produced a great effect at the moment on both sides of the Atlantic. They were thought by the timid and hesitating in America to justify the suspicions that had been entertained of the designs of the New-Englandmen to make the breach irreparable, whilst the government at home considered them grossly inconsistent with the professions of the second petition to the King, received from Congress at about the same moment. The originals are now in the State paper office in London. The following copies were found among Mr. Adams’s papers, but they are not in his handwriting. There is also a long letter of apology from Mr. Hichborn, for suffering them to be taken in his hands, which saves his honesty only at the expense of his character for presence of mind.
TO JAMES WARREN.
Philadelphia, 24 July, 1775.I am determined to write freely to you this time. A certain great fortune and piddling genius, whose fame has been trumpeted so loudly, has given a silly cast to our whole doings. We are between hawk and buzzard. We ought to have had in our hands, a month ago, the whole legislative, executive, and judicial of the whole continent, and have completely modelled a constitution; to have raised a naval power, and opened all our ports wide; to have arrested every friend of government on the continent and held them as hostages for the poor victims in Boston, and then opened the door as wide as possible for peace and reconciliation. After this, they might have petitioned, negotiated, addressed, &c. if they would. Is all this extravagant? Is it wild? Is it not the soundest policy? One piece of news, seven thousand pounds of powder arrived last night. We shall send you some of it as soon as we can, but you must be patient and frugal. We are lost in the extensiveness of our field of business. We have a continental treasury to establish, a paymaster to choose, and a committee of correspondence, or safety, or accounts, or something, I know not what, that has confounded us all this day.
Shall I hail you Speaker of the House, or counsellor, or what? What kind of an election had you? What sort of magistrates do you intend to make? Will your new legislative or executive feel bold or irresolute? Will your judicial hang and whip and fine and imprison without scruple? I want to see our distressed country once more, yet I dread the sight of devastation. You observe in your letter the oddity of a great man. He is a queer creature, but you must love his dogs if you love him, and forgive a thousand whims for the sake of the soldier and the scholar.
TO MRS. ADAMS.
It is now almost three months since I left you, in every part of which, my anxiety about you and the children, as well as our country, has been extreme. The business I have had upon my mind has been as great and important as can be entrusted to man, and the difficulty and intricacy of it prodigious. When fifty or sixty men have a constitution to form for a great empire, at the same time that they have a country of fifteen hundred miles extent to fortify, millions to arm and train, a naval power to begin, an extensive commerce to regulate, numerous tribes of Indians to negotiate with, a standing army of twenty-seven thousand men to raise, pay, victual, and officer, I really shall pity those fifty or sixty men. I must see you ere long. Rice has written me a very good letter, so has Thaxter, for which I thank them both. Love to the children.J. A.
P. S. I wish I had given you a complete history, from the beginning to the end of the journey, of the behavior of my compatriots. No mortal tale can equal it. I will tell you in future, but you shall keep it secret. The fidgets, the whims, the caprice, the vanity, the superstition, the irritability of some of us is enough to—.
[1 ]The same sentiment is expressed in Mr. Reed’s letter to Thomas Bradford, dated 21 August, and published in the Life written by his grandson, vol. i. p. 118.
[1 ]The writer does not seem to have relied upon any thing but his own recollection in this sketch. As General Lee’s letter remains, and is highly characteristic, it is here given in full. Considering the course which Mr. Adams took in opposing his nomination as the second Major-General, it is creditable to him, although he was really under obligations to him for his final appointment as the third. See Mr. Adams’s Letter to J. Quincy—Quincy’s Memoir of Quincy, p. 482.
Camp, 5 October, 1775.
My Dear Sir:—
As you may possibly harbor some suspicions that a certain passage in your intercepted letters (may) have made some disagreeable impressions on my mind, I think it necessary to assure you that it is quite the reverse. Until the bulk of mankind is much altered, I consider the reputation of being whimsical and eccentric rather as a panegyric than sarcasm, and my love of dogs passes with me as a still higher compliment. I have, thank Heaven, a heart susceptible of friendship and affection. I must have some object to embrace. Consequently, when once I can be convinced that men are as worthy objects as dogs, I shall transfer my benevolence, and become as staunch a philanthropist as the canting Addison affected to be. But you must not conclude from hence that I give in to general misanthropy. On the contrary, when I meet with a biped endowed with generosity, valor, good sense, patriotism, and zeal for the rights of humanity, I contract a friendship and passion for him amounting to bigotry or dotage; and let me assure you without compliments that you yourself appear to me possessed of these qualities. I give you my word and honor that I am serious; and I should be unhappy to the greatest degree if I thought you would doubt of my sincerity. Your opinion, therefore, of my attainments as a soldier and scholar is extremely flattering. Long may you continue in this, to me, gratissimus error. But something too much of this.
Before this reaches you, the astonishing and terrifying accusation, or rather detection, of Dr. Church, will be reported to the Congress. I call it astonishing, for, admitting his intentions not to be criminal, so gross a piece of stupidity in so sensible a man is quite a portent; and, supposing him guilty, it is terrifying to the last degree, as such a revolt must naturally infect with jealousy all political affiance. It will spread an universal diffidence and suspicion, than which nothing can be more pernicious to men embarked in a cause like ours, the corner stone of which is laid not only on honor, virtue, and disinterestedness, but on the persuasion that the whole are actuated by the same divine principles. I devoutly wish that such may not be the effects.
We long here to receive some news from the Congress. Now is the time to show your firmness. If the least timidity is displayed, we and all posterity are ruined; on the contrary, at this crisis, courage and steadiness must infuse the blessings of liberty not only to Great Britain but perhaps to all mankind. Do not go hobbling on, like the Prince of Lilliput, with one high-heeled shoe, one low one, for you will undoubtedly fall upon your noses every step you take. It is my humble opinion that you ought to begin by confiscating (or at least laying under heavy contributions) the estates of all the notorious enemies to American liberty through the continent. This would lighten the burthen which must otherwise fall heavy on the shoulders of the community. That afterwards you should invite all the maritime towns of the world into your ports. If they are so dull as not to accept the invitation, wean yourselves from all ideas of foreign commerce, and become entirely a nation of ploughmen and soldiers. A little habit, and I am persuaded you will bless yourselves for the resolution. But I am running into an essay; shall, therefore, to prevent pedantry and impertinence, stop short with once more assuring you that I am,
Most truly and affectionately yours,C. Lee.
My respects to your namesake, and let me hear from you. Spada sends his love to you, and declares, in very intelligible language, that he has fared much better since your allusion to him, for he is caressed now by all ranks, sexes, and ages.
[1 ]This will scarcely surprise those who know that Mr. Hancock’s prevailing foible was a fondness for official distinction. But the writer never was among those disposed on this account to depreciate the merit of this gentleman’s services in the Revolution. In the general correspondence will be found a letter addressed to Judge William Tudor, particularly on this subject. The Biography of Hancock, in Sanderson’s Collection, is a curious specimen of unfavorable judgment in the guise of eulogy.
[1 ]The emotion was smothered enough by the second day to enable him in writing to Mr. Gerry, in Massachusetts, to call Washington “a fine man.” But there can be little doubt that neither Hancock nor Ward was ever afterwards cordial towards him. Mr. Adams’s own letters of the same date will be found elsewhere. Austin’s Life of Gerry, vol. i. p. 82.
[1 ]Mr. Adams was one of the committee of three (Mr. Henry and Mr. Lynch) appointed to wait upon General Lee, to inform him of his appointment, and request his answer, whether he would accept the command. They reported immediately his words of acceptance. Journals of Congress, 19 June, 1775.
[1 ]There seems to be an accidental omission to carry out the sense with some such words as these, “we should not have lost Canada.”
[1 ]On his way to the Congress, at Philadelphia, after the recess. The fashion of travelling is now so completely changed, that it may be of some interest to the curious to know the course that was taken by Mr. Adams at this time. He was on horseback, and accompanied by a man-servant also mounted. The account book, from which the above entry is taken, gives the following list of his stops:—
[2 ]For the sake of preserving the continuity of the narrative in the Autobiography, embracing the remainder of Mr. Adams’s congressional life, it is placed by itself at the end of that portion of the Diary and Debates covering the same period.
[1 ]This account of Edward Rutledge is not flattering. But it derives some confirmation from the report of the rule which he is said to have adopted in speaking. In Sanderson’s Collection of Lives of the Signers, is the following account:—
[1 ]The intercepted letter in which allusion is made to him, as “a certain great fortune and piddling genius.” See page 411, note.
[2 ]The author of the History, which with some marked defects contains a great deal that is of value, and that can with difficulty be found in any other quarter.
[1 ]In the letters of General Washington, printed in the Life of Joseph Reed, by far the most natural and characteristic productions of his that have come down to this generation, is a sly hit at this gentleman’s fancy, which carried him all the way to Cambridge, in the November following, to submit his project to the approbation of the commander-in-chief. Vol. i. p. 126.
[1 ]This is Christopher Marshall, in whose Diary is the following entry, under same date.
[2 ]A true Captain Dalgetty. See page 167, note. Major Rogers was arrested on the next day by order of the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety, and submitted to the disposal of Congress, which ordered his release on his giving parole that he would not serve against America during the war. He proceeded to New York, and took a commission as Colonel in the British service. Force’s American Archives, fourth series, p. 865-866.
[1 ]An interesting report of this conference was made by Mr. Hogg, which is found in full in Force’s American Archives, fourth series, vol. iv. p. 543.
[1 ]“I suppose your ladyship has been in the twitters, for some time, because you have not received a letter by every post, as you used to do. But I am coming to make my apology in person. I yesterday asked and obtained leave of absence.” J. A. to his Wife, 11 October.
[1 ]The difficulties, growing out of Mr. Deane’s engagement with this officer, in France, were such that Congress refused to ratify it. See Sparks’s Washington, vol. iv. p. 490.
[1 ]The same complaint is made by General Washington, in a letter addressed to Richard Henry Lee, about this time. Sparks’s Washington, vol. iii. p. 68.
[2 ]Extract from the Secret Journals of Congress, 18 September, 1775:—
[1 ]See Journals: “Resolved, That a Committee of Accounts or Claims be now appointed, to consist of one member from each of the United Colonies, to whom all accounts against the continent are to be referred, who are to examine and report upon the same in order for payment, seven of them to be a quorum.”
[1 ]The new committee consisted of the following members:—
[2 ]Extract from the Journals of Congress, 27 September:—
[1 ]On Saturday, the 30th September, the committee appointed to consider the trade of America brought in their report. See Journals.
[1 ]Lord Dunmore had sworn “by the living God, that if any injury or insult was offered to himself, he would declare freedom to the slaves.” At this time he went to Norfolk, threatening to execute his pledge. Tucker’s Life of Jefferson, vol. i. pp. 74-76. His proclamation, fulfilling it, is dated a month later. Howison’s History of Virginia, vol. ii. p. 99.
[1 ]This Report will be found at large in the printed Journals of this date.
[1 ]The following resolution made a part of the report under consideration:—
[2 ]A brief, but clear, account of the controversy between Connecticut and Pennsylvania, respecting the lands at Wyoming, is found in the life of Roger Sherman, in Sanderson’s Biography of the Signers, &c. It was finally decided, in 1782, in favor of Pennsylvania. Reed’s Life of Reed, vol. ii. p. 388.
[3 ]One part of the report was in these words:—
[1 ]Extract from the Journals:—
[1 ]The first three of these resolutions are found, with only verbal amendments, in the Journals of the 21st of March. They were drawn, presented, and carried through by Mr. Adams, as may be seen in the Extract from the Autobiography, that follows these debates.
[2 ]In the resolutions, as adopted, the words “and steel,” are here inserted.
[3 ]The three entries, which follow, seem to be notes of speeches made by the writer, at this period, in Congress, although it is not easy to decide precisely upon the form of the question proposed.
[1 ]This is perhaps the first draught of the well known motion made in Committee of the Whole, on the sixth of May, which was reported to the House, on the tenth, in the shape in which it appears extracted from the Journal of that day.
[1 ]This, in the first draught, reads as follows: “No purchases of lands, hereafter to be made of the Indians, by Colonies or private persons, before the limits of the Colonies are ascertained, to be valid. All purchases of lands not included within those limits, where ascertained, to be made by contracts between the United States assembled, or by persons for that purpose authorized by them and the great councils of the Indians, for the general benefit of all the United Colonies.”
[1 ]This article was stricken out.
[2 ]“When the boundaries of any Colony shall be ascertained by agreement, or in the manner hereinafter directed, all the other Colonies shall guarantee to such Colony the full and peaceable possession of, and the free and entire jurisdiction in, and over the territory included within such boundaries.”
[3 ]The article was stricken out.
[4 ]“For the more convenient management of the general interests of the United States, delegates should be annually appointed in such manner as the Legislature of each Colony shall direct, to meet at the city of Philadelphia, in the Colony of Pennsylvania, until otherwise ordered by the United States assembled; which meeting shall be on the first Monday of November in every year, with a power reserved to those who appointed the said delegates, respectively, to re-call them, or any of them, at any time within the year, and to send new delegates in their stead for the remainder of the year. Each Colony shall support its own delegates in a meeting of the States, and while they act as members of the council of State, hereinafter mentioned.”
[5 ]This motion did not succeed.
[1 ]The motion did not succeed.
[2 ]This amendment prevailed in committee. The words “those who appointed the said delegates respectively,” were stricken out and the words “each State” inserted. The word “Colony” was also stricken out where it occurs, and “State” inserted. It should be recollected that the first draught was reported by John Dickinson. The article was again amended in the House by cutting off the last clause, and striking out the city of Philadelphia as the place of meeting. In this last shape, it was transferred to, and made the first part of, the fifth article, where it stands in the paper as finally adopted.
[3 ]Probably passed over for the moment.
[4 ]The eighteenth article of the first draught enumerates the rights and powers of the United States. Among these is that of “regulating the trade, and managing all affairs with the Indians.”
[1 ]The clause was retained in committee, with the addition of the following words, “not members of any of the States,” and makes a part of the ninth article as adopted.
[2 ]Probably passed over for the moment.
[3 ]The original draught of the eleventh article of the confederation, upon which this debate took place, was in these words:
[1 ]Notes of this speech of Mr. Chase, and of a portion of the debate, were also taken by Mr. Jefferson, and they are found in the first volume of his papers published by his grandson, Mr. Randolph. A comparison of the two reports, as far as they go, shows a substantial agreement between them. But Mr. Jefferson’s contains an abstract of two speeches by Mr. Adams, which are not found elsewhere. The first of them is inserted, as having been made immediately after that of Mr. Chase.
[1 ]Mr. Chase’s amendment was lost. Seven States, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, voting against it. Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, voting for it. Georgia divided.
[1 ]From page 494.
[2 ]The order of the speakers, in this debate, does not correspond with the report made by Mr. Jefferson. But, immediately before this speech of Dr. Rush, there is inserted, by him, a speech of Mr. Adams, which may properly find its place in this note.
[1 ]The seventeenth article was reported to the House, with only the change of the word “Colony” for “State,” as article thirteen of the new draught. The struggle was renewed on the 7th of October, but without effect. Mr. Adams’s vote stands recorded alone, north of Virginia, in favor of an amendment, basing representation upon population, every State to have one delegate for every thirty thousand of its inhabitants, and every delegate to have one vote. The vote by States was finally incorporated into the fifth article as at last adopted.
[2 ]This makes, in the first draught, a part of the eighteenth article, defining the rights and power of the United States:
[1 ]This clause was stricken out in committee. The subsequent history of the struggle is well known, terminating in the acts of cession of claims to the Western territory.
[1 ]This account, written in 1804, evidently from recollection only and without consulting the record, appears by comparison, though substantially corresponding with it, not to be precisely accurate in the details. And, inasmuch as every step in this commencement of the federative union, of which so little is now known, is of some interest, it may not be deemed out of place to subjoin here what it has been found possible to gather together concerning the formation and objects of these first committees.
[* ]“Committees were then appointed to state American rights and grievances, and the various acts of the British Parliament which affect the trade and manufactures of these Colonies. On these subjects the committees spent several days, when the Congress judged it necessary, previous to completing and resolving on these subjects, to take under consideration that of ways and means for redress.” Letter of Connecticut Delegates to Governor Trumbull, 10 October, 1774.This second report of the large committee is the one which, from its being made separately, Mr. Adams in his later recollection appears to have blended with the action of the second committee.On Monday and Tuesday, the 26th and 27th of September, the Congress proceeded to deliberate on the question, as stated above, and the result was the adoption of a non-importation agreement, as it stands upon the journals. The notes taken by Mr. Adams of this discussion will be found appended to the record of the 27th.On the 28th, Mr. Galloway, of Pennsylvania, made his celebrated motion, and proposed his plan of union, which he prefaced with a speech. The notes of that speech, and of a part of the debate which is known to have been the critical one in the career of this assembly, are appended to the record of that day. The plan is said to have been defeated only by a majority of one State.The Congress did not resume the consideration of the subject of rights and grievances until Wednesday, October 12; and on Friday, the 14th, they adopted the resolutions as they are found in the Journals of that day. Among the papers of Mr. Adams there is, in handwriting somewhat resembling that of Major Sullivan, a draught of the articles as they were doubtless first submitted to the committee. So little is known of the proceedings of this Congress, that it may not be deemed superfluous, in the Appendix C. to this volume, to place this draught in contrast with the resolutions as they were ultimately passed. From this comparison it will appear that the critical article alluded to by Mr. Adams, as finally drawn up by himself, is the fourth in the series. It was this article against which Mr. Galloway afterwards, in his pamphlet, directed his main attack, on the ground that it aimed at independence. It will likewise be seen that all after the tenth resolution constitutes that portion of the report which had its origin in the labors of the second committee, before it was merged in the larger one, and which was reported afterwards, to wit, on the 24th of September.