Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JOHN LANGDON. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO JOHN LANGDON. - John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes) 
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. 10.
Part of: The Works of John Adams, 10 vols.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
TO JOHN LANGDON.
Quincy, 24 January, 1813.
I feel an irresistible propensity to compare notes with you, in order to ascertain whether your memory and mine coincide in the recollection of the circumstances of a particular transaction in the history of this country. As it lies in my mind, Captain John Manly applied to General Washington, in Cambridge, in 1775, informed him that British transports and merchant ships were frequently passing and repassing unarmed, and asked leave to put a few guns on board a vessel to cruise for them. Washington, either shrinking from the boldness of the enterprise, or doubting his authority, prudently transmitted the information to Congress in a letter. When the letter was read, many members seemed much surprised; but a motion was made, and seconded, to commit it to a special committee. Opposition was made to this motion, and a debate ensued; but the motion prevailed by a small majority. The committee appointed were John Langdon, Silas Deane, and John Adams. We met, and at once agreed to report a resolution, authorizing General Washington to fit and arm one or more vessels for the purpose. A most animated opposition and debate arose upon this report, but the resolution was carried by a small majority. Under the authority of this resolution, Washington fitted out Manly, who soon brought in several prizes, the most important of which was that transport loaded with soldiers, arms, ammunition, and that immortal mortar, which was called the Congress, and finally drove the British army out of Boston, and their fleet out of the harbor. This splendid success inspired new courage into Congress. They appointed a new committee, consisting of yourself, Governor Hopkins, Richard Henry Lee, Mr. Gadsden, and me, to purchase, arm, equip, officer, and man ships. We met every night, and, in a short time, had the Alfred, Columbus, Cabot, Andrew Doria, Providence, at sea under Commodore Hopkins. The naval enterprise of Congress increased fast. They soon appointed a committee of one from each State, of which you was one, and ordered twelve frigates to be built.
My recollection has been excited lately by information from Philadelphia, that Paul Jones has written in his journal, “My hand first hoisted the American flag,” and that Captain Barry used to say, that the “first British flag struck to him.” Both these vain boasts I know to be false, and, as you know them to be so, I wish to have your testimony to corroborate mine.
It is not decent nor just that those emigrants, foreigners of the south, should falsely arrogate to themselves merit that belongs to New England sailors, officers, and men. Wishing you a healthy, pleasant year, I remain your old friend.