Front Page Titles (by Subject) 3 Jan. 1775: TO JAMES WARREN. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 9 (Letters and State Papers 1799-1811)
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3 Jan. 1775: TO JAMES WARREN. - John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 9 (Letters and State Papers 1799-1811) 
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. 9.
Part of: The Works of John Adams, 10 vols.
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TO JAMES WARREN.
Braintree, 3 January, 1775.
I have this morning received a line from Mrs. Warren, and will inclose her letter to Mrs. Macaulay by the first opportunity. Be pleased to make my compliments to Mrs. Warren.
Yesterday I had a letter from Annapolis, in Maryland, from my friend Mr. Chase, inclosing the resolutions of their provincial convention, consisting of eighty members, representing all their counties. I wish I could inclose it to you, but it must be printed here. They unanimously approve the proceedings of the Continental Congress, and determine to carry them punctually into execution; choose the same delegates, with two new ones, for the next Congress; vote to kill no lambs; to raise flour, cotton, and hemp; and unanimously vote a militia to be established through the whole province by the people themselves, who are to choose their own officers, and all persons between sixteen and fifty are to be embodied; unanimously vote to raise ten thousand pounds, to be laid out by the county committees in arms and ammunition to be kept and disposed of by the committees as they shall think proper; unanimously vote that contributions for Boston be continued as long as wanted; and resolve unanimously, “That if the late acts of parliament relative to the Massachusetts Bay shall be attempted to be carried into execution by force in that colony, or if the assumed power of parliament to tax the colonies shall be attempted to be carried into execution by force in that or any other colony, that, in such case, this province will support such colony to the utmost of their power;” recommend similar resolutions to all the other colonies, and vote similar letters to be sent them.
You will soon see the whole, I hope. There is a charming spirit in the whole, as well as in Chase’s letter. He says, “he thinks we may never have a more favorable crisis to determine the point; I mean the colonies will probably never be so cordially united, and their spirits in a higher tone, than at present.” He says, that “recent advices leave us little room to hope; and we must therefore trust to the goodness of our cause, our own virtue and fortitude.” He says, “he has no doubt that sentiments equally generous and wise prevail in our colony, who have hitherto exhibited an example of wisdom, patience, and fortitude, to the disgrace of the present, and the admiration of the future generations.”
We have no great news. The old rotten rascals are again chiefly chosen.1 I have seen the list; very few new members.
If you see Draper’s papers and Mills and Hicks’s, you will observe that the arch-enemy is at work again2 in his infernal council at Boston.
I never think of the junto there, immured as they are, without recollecting the infernal spirits in Milton after they had recovered from their first astonishment arising from their fall from the battlements of heaven to the sulphurous lake, not subdued, though confounded, and plotting a fresh assault on the skies.
Is not this rather too frolicsome and triumphant for the times, which are dull enough, and as bad as they can be? I doubt whether war, carnage, and havoc would make us more unhappy than this cruel state of suspense we suffer in the contemplation of them in prospect. In haste.
TO JAMES WARREN.
Braintree, 15 March, 1775.
I have had the pleasure and the honor of several letters from you, and one from an incomparable satirist of our acquaintance, and must own myself very faulty in neglecting so long to answer them; but you know the infirmity of my eyes, which still continues, and renders it very difficult for me to discharge my debts in the literary way. The speculations you read every week, as you say, in the papers, drop down from the clouds.1 Is it not impossible that they should be written without eyes?
As to my being of the Congress, I think our town did right in not choosing me, as they left out Thayer, and as Mr. Palmer is as good a hand as they can employ; and having been for some time in the centre of all their business in the county, town, and province, he is the best man they have. Indeed, I was not at the meeting, and never had been at any meeting in this town for eight years. To say the truth, I was much averse to being chosen, and shall continue so, for I am determined, if things are settled, to avoid public life. I have neither fortune, leisure, health, nor genius for it. Being a man of desperate fortune, and a bankrupt in business, I cannot help putting my hand to the pump, now the ship is in a storm, and the hold half full of water; but as soon as she gets into a calm, and a place of safety, I must leave her. At such a time as this, there are many dangerous things to be done, which nobody else will do, and therefore I cannot help attempting them; but in peaceful times there are always hands enough ready.
The accounts we have from every quarter are agreeable upon the whole. If we are prudent, a war will break out in England first, whatever the sanguine tories may hope, or the timid whigs dread.
Virginia has sown her wheat instead of tobacco; and so many of her planters have desisted from exporting the old crop, that the vessels cannot get freight. Their men are ready to march.
I think the petitions from Jamaica, and the behavior of the other islands, are great events in our favor; and on the whole, that the measures already concerted will as certainly insure us success as sun and rain, a deep soil and strong manure, will produce you a crop of grass. It may take time.
The people this way rather advance in resolution, I think. I have this day attended a town meeting, and we have voted three companies of minute men, and an association comprehending that of the Congress and all the votes of the Provincial Congress, and appointed a committee of thirty persons to see it faithfully observed. We have a few rascally Jacobites and Roman Catholics in this town, but they dare not show themselves.
The lies the tories make and spread to keep up the spirits of their party, are ridiculous enough. Forty thousand Russians, twenty thousand British and Irish troops, and sixteen capital ships and a thousand cutters, and all that. Such steps would produce another revolution.
I hope to have the pleasure of an evening with you in your way to Concord. Pray take a bed here.
My most friendly regards to a certain lady. Tell her that God Almighty (I use a bold style) has intrusted her with powers for the good of the world, which in the course of his providence he bestows upon very few of the human race; that instead of being a fault to use them it would be criminal to neglect them.
TO MOSES GILL.1
Philadelphia, 10 June, 1775.
It would be a relief to my mind, if I could write freely to you concerning the sentiments, principles, facts, and arguments which are laid before us in Congress; but injunctions and engagements of honor render this impossible. What I learn out of doors among citizens, gentlemen, and persons of all denominations, is not so sacred. I find that the general sense abroad is, to prepare for a vigorous defensive war, but at the same time to keep open the door of reconciliation; to hold the sword in one hand and the olive branch in the other; to proceed with warlike measures and conciliatory measures pari passu.
I am myself as fond of reconciliation, if we could reasonably entertain hopes of it upon a constitutional basis, as any man. But I think, if we consider the education of the sovereign, and that the Lords, the Commons, the electors, the army, the navy, the officers of excise, customs, &c., &c., have been now for many years gradually trained and disciplined by corruption to the system of the court, we shall be convinced that the cancer is too deeply rooted and too far spread to be cured by any thing short of cutting it out entire.
We have ever found by experience, that petitions, negotiations, every thing which holds out to the people hopes of a reconciliation without bloodshed, is greedily grasped at and relied on; and they cannot be persuaded to think that it is so necessary to prepare for war as it really is. Hence our present scarcity of powder, &c.
However, this continent is a vast, unwieldy machine. We cannot force events. We must suffer people to take their own way in many cases, when we think it leads wrong, hoping, however, and believing that our liberty and felicity will be preserved in the end, though not in the speediest and surest manner. In my opinion, powder and artillery are the most efficacious, sure, and infallible conciliatory measures we can adopt.
Pray write me by every opportunity, and beseech my friends to write. Every letter I receive does great good. The gentleman to whom most letters from our province are addressed, has not leisure to make the best use of them.
There are three powder mills in this province, two in New York, but no nitre. Cannot the Massachusetts begin to prepare both? Pray write me minutely the state of the people of Boston and our army.
Pray let me know if Mr. Gill and Mr. Boylston are out of prison. I have never heard, and have suffered much anxiety on their account. My best respects to them, if they are to be seen by you.
TO ELBRIDGE GERRY.
Philadelphia, 18 June, 1775.
I have at last obtained liberty, by a vote of Congress, to acquaint my friends with a few of the things that have been done.
The Congress have voted, or rather a committee of the whole house have unanimously agreed, that the sum of two million dollars be issued in bills of credit, for the redemption of which, in a certain number of years, twelve colonies have unanimously pledged themselves.
The Congress has likewise resolved that fifteen thousand men shall be supported at the expense of the continent; ten thousand at Massachusetts, and five thousand at New York; and that ten companies of riflemen be sent immediately, six from Pennsylvania, two from Maryland, and two from Virginia, consisting of sixty-eight privates in each company, to join our army at Boston. These are said to be all exquisite marksmen, and by means of the excellence of their firelocks, as well as their skill in the use of them, to send sure destruction to great distances.
General Washington is chosen commander-in-chief, General Ward the first major-general, and General Lee the second, (the last has not yet accepted,) and Major Gates adjutant-general. Lee and Gates are experienced officers. We have proceeded no further as yet.
I have never, in all my lifetime, suffered more anxiety than in the conduct of this business. The choice of officers, and their pay, have given me great distress. Lee and Gates are officers of such great experience and confessed abilities, that I thought their advice, in a council of officers, might be of great advantage to us; but the natural prejudices, and virtuous attachment of our countrymen to their own officers, made me apprehensive of difficulties. But considering the earnest desire of General Washington to have the assistance of these officers, the extreme attachment of many of our best friends in the southern colonies to them, the reputation they would give to our arms in Europe, and especially with the ministerial generals and army in Boston, as well as the real American merit of them both, I could not withhold my vote from either.
The pay which has been voted to all the officers, which the Continental Congress intends to choose, is so large, that I fear our people will think it extravagant, and be uneasy. Mr. Adams, Mr. Paine, and myself, used our utmost endeavors to reduce it, but in vain.
Those ideas of equality, which are so agreeable to us natives of New England, are very disagreeable to many gentlemen in the other colonies. They had a great opinion of the high importance of a continental general, and were determined to place him in an elevated point of light. They think the Massachusetts establishment too high for the privates, and too low for the officers, and they would have their own way.
I hope the utmost politeness and respect will be shown to these officers on their arrival. The whole army, I think, should be drawn up upon the occasion, and all the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war displayed;—no powder burned, however.
There is something charming to me in the conduct of Washington. A gentleman of one of the first fortunes upon the continent, leaving his delicious retirement, his family and friends, sacrificing his ease, and hazarding all in the cause of his country! His views are noble and disinterested. He declared, when he accepted the mighty trust, that he would lay before us an exact account of his expenses, and not accept a shilling for pay. The express waits.
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.1
Philadelphia, June, 1775.
In compliance with your request, I have considered of what you proposed, and am obliged to give you my sentiments very briefly, and in great haste.
In general, Sir, there will be three committees, either of a Congress, or of a House of Representatives, which are and will be composed of our best men, such whose judgment and integrity may be most relied on. I mean the committee on the state of the province, the committee of safety, and the committee of supplies.
But lest this should be too general, I beg leave to mention particularly James Warren, Esquire, of Plymouth, Joseph Hawley, Esquire, of Northampton, John Winthrop, Esquire, LL. D., of Cambridge, Dr. Warren, Dr. Church, Colonel Palmer, of Braintree, Elbridge Gerry, Esquire, of Marblehead. Mr. Bowdoin, Mr. Sever, Mr. Dexter, lately of the council, will be found to be very worthy men, as well as Mr. Pitts, who, I am sorry to hear, is in ill health. The recommendations of these gentlemen may be relied on.
Our president was pleased to recommend to you Mr. William Bant for one of your aides-de-camp. I must confess I know not where to find a gentleman of more merit, and better qualified for such a place.
Mr. Paine was pleased to mention to you Mr. William Tudor, a young gentleman of the law, for a secretary to the General. And all the rest of my brothers, you may remember, very cheerfully concurred with him. His abilities and virtues are such, as must recommend him to every man who loves modesty, ingenuity, or fidelity. But as I find an interest has been made in behalf of Mr. Trumbull, of Connecticut, I must submit the decision to your further inquiries, after you shall arrive at Cambridge. Mr. Trumbull’s merit is such, that I dare not say a word against his pretensions. I only beg to say, that Mr. Tudor is an exile from a good employment and fair prospects, in the town of Boston, driven by that very tyranny against which we are all contending.
There is another gentleman of liberal education and real genius, as well as great activity, who, I find, is a major in the army. His name is Jonathan Williams Austin. I mention him, Sir, not so much for the sake of recommending him to any particular favor, as to give the General an opportunity of observing a youth of great abilities, and of reclaiming him from certain follies which have hitherto, in other departments of life, obscured him.
There is another gentleman, whom I presume to be in the army, either as a captain, or in some higher station, whose name is William Smith. As this young gentleman is my brother-in-law, I do not recommend him for any other place than that in which the voice of his country has placed him. But the countenance of the General, as far as his conduct shall deserve it, which in an army is of great importance, will be gratefully acknowledged as a particular obligation by his brother.1
With great sincerity I wish you an agreeable journey, and a successful, a glorious campaign; and am, with great esteem, &c.
TO JOSIAH QUINCY.
Philadelphia, 29 July, 1775.
I had yesterday the honor of your letter of July 11th, and I feel myself much obliged by your kind attention to me and my family, but much more by your care for the public safety, and the judicious and important observations you have made. Your letters, Sir, so far from being “a burthen,” I consider as an honor to me, besides the pleasure and instruction they afford me. Believe me, Sir, nothing is of more importance to me, in my present most arduous and laborious employment, than a constant correspondence with gentlemen of experience, whose characters are known. The minutest fact, the most trivial event, that is connected with the great American cause, becomes important in the present critical situation of affairs, when a revolution seems to be in the designs of providence, as important as any that ever happened in the affairs of mankind.
We jointly lament the loss of a Quincy and a Warren, two characters as great, in proportion to their age, as any that I have ever known in America. Our country mourns the loss of both, and sincerely sympathizes with the feelings of the mother of the one, and the father of the other. They were both my intimate friends, with whom I lived and conversed with pleasure and advantage. I was animated by them in the painful, dangerous course of opposition to the oppressions brought upon our country, and the loss of them has wounded me too deeply to be easily healed. Dulce et decorum est pro patriâ mori. The ways of heaven are dark and intricate, but you may remember the words which, many years ago, you and I fondly admired, and which, upon many occasions, I have found advantage in recollecting.
I have a great opinion of your knowledge and judgment, from long experience, concerning the channels and islands in Boston harbor; but I confess your opinion, that the harbor might be blocked up, and seamen and soldiers made prisoners at discretion, was too bold and enterprising for me, who am not very apt to startle at a daring proposal; but I believe I may safely promise you powder enough, in a little time, for any purpose whatever. We are assured, in the strongest manner, of saltpetre and powder in sufficient plenty, another year, of our own make. That both are made in this city, you may report with confidence, for I have seen both; and I have seen a set of very large powder works, and another of saltpetre.
I hope, Sir, we shall never see a total stagnation of commerce for any length of time. Necessity will force open our ports; trade, if I mistake not, will be more free than usual. Your friend, Dr. Franklin, to whom I read your letter, and who desires his kind compliments to you, has been employed in directing the construction of row-galleys for this city. The committee of safety for this province have ordered twenty of them to be built; some of them are finished. I have seen one of them; it has twelve oars on each side. They rowed up the river the first time, four miles in an hour, against a tide which ran down four miles an hour. The Congress have recommended to the colonies to make provision for the defence of their navigation in their harbors, rivers, and on their sea-coasts. Of a floating battery I have no idea—am glad you are contriving one.
You tell me, Sir, that General Lee complained that “he did not find things as the Massachusetts delegates had represented them.” What General Lee could mean by this, Sir, I know not. What particular he found different from the representation, I do not know; nor do I know which delegate from the Massachusetts he received a mistaken representation from. I think he should have been particular, that he might not have run the risk of doing an injury. If General Lee should do injustice to two of the Massachusetts delegates, he would commit ingratitude at the same time; for to two of them he certainly owes his promotion in the American army, how great a hazard soever they ran in agreeing to it. I know him very thoroughly, I think, and that he will do great service in our army at the beginning of things, by forming it to order, skill, and discipline. But we shall soon have officers enough.
TO ELBRIDGE GERRY.
Philadelphia, 5 November, 1775.
I am under such restrictions, injunctions, and engagements of secrecy respecting every thing which passes in Congress, that I cannot communicate my own thoughts freely to my friends, so far as is necessary to ask their advice and opinions concerning questions, which many of them understand much better than I do. This, however, is an inconvenience which must be submitted to for the sake of superior advantages.
But I must take the liberty to say, that I think we shall soon attend to maritime affairs and naval preparations. No great things are to be expected at first, but out of a little a great deal may grow.
It is very odd that I, who have spent my days in researches and employments so very different, and who have never thought much of old ocean, or the dominion of it, should be necessitated to make such inquiries; but it is my fate and my duty, and therefore I must attempt it.1
I am to inquire what number of seamen may be found in our province, who would probably enlist in the service, either as marines or on board of armed vessels, in the pay of the continent or in the pay of the province, or on board of privateers, fitted out by private adventurers.
I must also entreat you to let me know the names, places of abode, and characters of such persons belonging to any of the seaport towns in our province, as are qualified for officers and commanders of armed vessels.
I want to be further instructed what ships, brigantines, schooners, &c., are to be found in any port of the province, to be sold or hired out, which will be suitable for armed vessels; what their tonnage, the depth of water they draw, their breadth, their decks, &c., and to whom they belong, and what is their age. Further, what places in our province are most secure and best accommodated for building new vessels of force, in case a measure of that kind should be thought of.
The committee have returned much pleased with what they have seen and heard, which shows that their embassy will be productive of happy effects. They say the only disagreeable circumstance was, that their engagements, haste, and constant attention to business was such as prevented them from forming such acquaintances with the gentlemen of our province as they wished. But as Congress was waiting for their return before they could determine upon affairs of the last moment, they had not time to spare.2
They are pretty well convinced, I believe, of several important points, which they and others doubted before.
New Hampshire has leave to assume a government, and so has South Carolina; but this must not be freely talked of as yet, at least from me.
New England will now be able to exert her strength, which a little time will show to be greater than either Great Britain or America imagines. I give you joy of the agreeable prospect in Canada. We have the colors of the seventh regiment as the first fruits of victory.
JOSEPH HAWLEY TO JOHN ADAMS.
Brookfield, 14 November, 1775.
En passant, as Church said in his letter to the regulars, “remember, I never deceived you.” If your Congress does not give better encouragement to the privates than at present is held forth to them, you will have no winter army. There must be some small bounty given them on the enlistment. A strange mistaken opinion obtains among the gentlemen of the army from the southward, and if I mistake not, in your Congress, that our privates have too high wages, and the officers too low.
Another thing I just hint. That if your Congress go about to repeal or explain away the resolutions of the 18th of July last, respecting the method of appointing military officers, and vest our council solely with that power, it will throw the colony into the utmost confusion, and end in the destruction of the council.1 I have wrote Mr. S. Adams on the last head. I am with great regard,2 &c.
TO JAMES OTIS.1
Philadelphia, 23 November, 1775.
I had the honor of your letter of November 11th by express, and am very sorry to learn that any difference of sentiment has arisen between the two honorable houses respecting the militia bill, as it is so necessary at this critical moment for the public service.
If I was of opinion that any resolution of Congress now in force was against the claim of the Honorable House, as the Honorable Board have proposed that we should lay the question before Congress, I should think it my duty to do it. But it appears to me that, supposing the two resolutions to clash, the last ought to be considered as binding, and as by this, it is left in the “discretion of the assembly either to adopt the foregoing resolutions in the whole or in part, or to continue their former, as they on consideration of all circumstances shall think fit,” I think it plain that the Honorable Board may comply with the desire of the Honorable House, if in their discretion they think fit.
I am the more confirmed in the opinion that it is unnecessary to lay this matter before Congress, as they have lately advised the colonies of New Hampshire, and one more, if they think it necessary, to establish such forms of government as they shall judge best calculated to promote the happiness of the people. Besides, the Congress are so pressed with business, and engaged upon questions of greater moment, that I should be unwilling, unless in a case of absolute necessity, to interrupt them by a question of this kind, not to mention that I would not wish to make known, so publicly and extensively, that a controversy had so soon arisen between the branches of our new government.
I have had frequent consultations with my colleagues since the receipt of your letter upon this subject; but as we are not unanimous,1 I think it my duty to write my private sentiments as soon as possible. If either of my colleagues shall think fit to propose the question to Congress, I shall there give my candid opinion, as I have done to you.
I have the honor to be, with great respect to the Honorable Board, &c.
TO JOSEPH HAWLEY.
Philadelphia, 25 November, 1775.
This afternoon, at five o’clock, I received your kind letter of November 14th, dated at Brookfield, which was the more agreeable because such favors from you, short as this is, are very rare.
You tell me, Sir, that “we shall have no winter army, if our Congress does not give better encouragement to the privates than at present is held forth to them,” and that “there must be some small bounty given them on the enlistment.” What encouragement is held forth, or at least has been, I know not; but before this time, no doubt, they have been informed of the ultimatum of the Congress. No bounty is offered. Forty shillings lawful money per month, after much altercation, is allowed. It is undoubtedly true that an opinion prevails among the gentlemen of the army from the southward, and indeed throughout all the colonies, excepting New England, that the pay of the privates is too high, and that of the officers too low; so that you may easily conceive the difficulties we have had to surmount. You may depend upon it that this has cost many an anxious day and night; and the utmost that could be done, has been. We cannot suddenly alter the temper, principles, opinions, or prejudices of men. The characters of gentlemen in the four New England colonies, differ as much from those in the others, as that of the common people differs; that is, as much as several distinct nations almost. Gentlemen, men of sense or any kind of education, in the other colonies, are much fewer in proportion than in New England.
Gentlemen in other colonies have large plantations of slaves, and the common people among them are very ignorant and very poor. These gentlemen are accustomed, habituated to higher notions of themselves, and the distinction between them and the common people, than we are. And an instantaneous alteration of the character of a colony, and that temper and those sentiments which its inhabitants imbibed with their mother’s milk, and which have grown with their growth and strengthened with their strength, cannot be made without a miracle. I dread the consequences of this dissimilitude of character, and without the utmost caution on both sides, and the most considerate forbearance with one another, and prudent condescension on both sides, they will certainly be fatal. An alteration of the southern Constitutions, which must certainly take place if this war continues, will gradually bring all the continent nearer and nearer to each other in all respects. But this is the most critical moment we have yet seen. This winter will cast the die. For God’s sake, therefore, reconcile our people to what has been done, for you may depend upon it that nothing more can be done here, and I should shudder at the thought of proposing a bounty. A burnt child dreads the fire. The pay of the officers is raised; that of a captain to twenty-six dollars and one third per month. Lieutenants and ensigns in proportion. Regimental officers not raised.
You then hint that “if Congress should repeal or explain away the resolutions of 18th July, respecting the appointment of military officers, and vest the council with the sole power, it would throw the colony into confusion, and end in the destruction of the council.”
The day before yesterday I wrote a letter to the Honorable Board, in answer to one from their President, by order, to us upon that subject, which letter Revere carried from this city yesterday morning. Therein I candidly gave my opinion to their honors, that our resolution was clear and plain, that the colony might use its own discretion, and therefore that they might yield this point to the House. And that the point was so plain, I did not see the least occasion for laying the controversy before Congress. But, my dear friend, I must take the freedom to tell you, that the same has happened upon this occasion, which has happened upon a thousand others. After taking a great deal of pains with my colleague, your friend Mr. Cushing, I could not get him to agree with the rest of us in writing a joint letter, nor could I get him to say what opinion he would give, if it was moved in Congress. What he has written I know not. But it is very hard to be linked and yoked eternally with people, who have either no opinions, or opposite opinions, and to be plagued with the opposition of our own colony to the most necessary measures, at the same time that you have all the monarchical superstition and the aristocratical domination of nine other colonies to contend with.1
TO MRS. MERCY WARREN.2
Philadelphia, 25 November, 1775.
I had the pleasure of yours of Nov. 4th, several days ago.
You know, Madam, that I have no pleasure or amusement which has any charms for me. Balls, assemblies, concerts, cards, horses, dogs, never engaged any part of my attention or concern. Nor am I ever happy in large and promiscuous companies. Business alone, with the intimate, unreserved conversation of a very few friends, books, and familiar correspondence, have ever engaged all my time; and I have no pleasure, no ease, in any other way. In this place, I have no opportunity to meddle with books, only in the way of business. The conversation I have here, is all in the ceremonious, reserved, impenetrable way.
Thus I have sketched a character for myself, of a morose philosopher and a surly politician, neither of which is very amiable or respectable, but, yet there is too much truth in it, and from it you will easily believe that I have very little pleasure here, excepting in the correspondence of my friends; and among these, I assure you, Madam, there is none whose letters I read with more pleasure and instruction than yours. I wish it was in my power to write you oftener than I do, but I am really engaged in constant business from seven to ten in the morning in committee, from ten to four in Congress, and from six to ten again in committee. Our assembly is scarcely numerous enough for the business; everybody is engaged, all day in Congress, and all the morning and evening in committees. I mention this, Madam, as an apology for not writing you so often as I ought; and as a reason for my request that you would not wait for my answers.
The dispute you mention between the House and Board, I hope will be easily settled. Yet I believe the Board acted with great honor and integrity, and with a wise design and a virtuous resolution to do nothing that should endanger the Union. But I am clear that it is best the two Houses should join in the appointment of officers of militia, and I am equally clear that the resolve of Congress was intended to leave it to the discretion of the colony to adopt such a mode as should please themselves; and I have done myself the honor to write these sentiments to the Board, who were pleased to write to us upon the occasion.
Am obliged to you for your account of the state of things in Boston. I am ever anxious about our friends who remain there, and nothing is ever more acceptable to me than to learn what passes there.
The inactivity of the two armies is not very agreeable to me. Fabius’s cunctando was wise and brave. But, if I had submitted to it in his situation, it would have been a cruel mortification to me. Zeal, and fire, and activity, and enterprise, strike my imagination too much. I am obliged to be constantly on my guard; yet the heat within will burst forth at times.
The characters drawn in your last, entertained me very agreeably. They were taken off by a nice and penetrating eye. I hope you will favor me with more of these characters. I wish I could draw a number of characters for you inspection. I should, perhaps, daub on the paint too thick, but the features would be very strong.
The General1 is amiable, and accomplished, and judicious, and cool; you will soon know the person and character of his lady. I hope she has as much ambition for her husband’s glory as Portia and Marcia1 have, and then—the Lord have mercy on the souls of Howe and Burgoyne, and all the troops in Boston!
[1 ]To Parliament.
[2 ]The papers of Massachusettensis were in course of publication.
[1 ]The papers of Novanglus.
[1 ]This letter was addressed to Mr. Gill as chairman of the committee of supplies, at Cambridge, and is preserved in the archives of Massachusetts.
[1 ]This is taken from what would seem to have been the original letter, so that it is uncertain whether it was ever delivered. It may have been superseded by a personal conference. It was written probably on the 19th or 20th.
[1 ]It is a curious coincidence that, whilst Mr. Adams, at Philadelphia, was recommending his wife’s brother to General Washington, Mrs. Adams, from Braintree, was asking a commission for her husband’s brother, in a letter to the council yet preserved in the archives of Massachusetts.
[1 ]Compare the Autobiography, vol. iii. pp. 6-11.
[2 ]Mr. Lynch, Dr. Franklin, and Mr. Harrison had been chosen a committee of Congress, to repair to camp at Cambridge, on business connected with the maintenance of the army.
[1 ]The resolutions relating to this point are as follows:
[2 ]Indorsed on the back of this letter by Mr. Adams:
[1 ]The elder, as President of the Council, which had proposed that its dispute with the House about the right of appointing military officers should be submitted to the consideration of the continental Congress.
[1 ]Samuel Adams wrote to the same effect. Messrs. Hancock and Cushing were in favor of submitting the matter to the consideration of Congress, and addressed a joint letter, explaining their views, to the council. All the letters are in the archives of Massachusetts.
[1 ]Copy incomplete.
[2 ]The wife of James Warren, and the sister of James Otis.
[1 ]These were names by which Mrs. Adams and Mrs. Warren were designated in the familiar letters of their friends during the revolution.