Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO WILLIAM TUDOR. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes)
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TO WILLIAM TUDOR. - 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.
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TO WILLIAM TUDOR.
Quincy, 10 September, 1818.
The charters were quoted or alluded to by Mr. Otis frequently in the whole course of his argument; but he made them also a more distinct and more solemn head of his discourse. And here, these charters ought to be copied verbatim. But an immense verbiage renders it impossible. Bishop Butler somewhere complains of this enormous abuse of words in public transactions, and John Read and Theophilus Parsons, of Massachusetts, have attempted to reform it. So did James Otis. All with little success. I hope, however, that their examples will be followed, and that common sense in common language will, in time, become fashionable. But the hope must be faint as long as clerks are paid by the line and the number of syllables in a line.
Some passages of these charters must, however, be quoted; and I will endeavor to strip them, as well as I can, of their useless words. They are recited in the charter of King William and Queen Mary, dated the seventh day of October, in the third year of their reign, that is, in 1691.
“Whereas King James I., in the eighteenth year of his reign, did grant to the Council at Plymouth, for the planting and governing New England, all that part of America, from the 40th to the 48th degree of latitude, and from sea to sea together with all lands, waters, fishings, and all and singular other commodities, jurisdictions, royalties, privileges, tranchises, and preeminences, both within the said tract of land upon the main, and also within the islands and seas adjoining, to have and hold all, unto the said council, their heirs and successors and assigns forever, to be holden of his said Majesty as of his manor of East Greenwich, in free and common socage, and not in capite, or by knights’ service; yielding to the king a fifth part of the ore of gold and silver, for and in respect of all and all manner of duties, demands, and services whatsoever.”
But I cannot pursue to the end this infinite series of words. You must read the charter again. For although you have and I have read it fifty times, I believe you will find it, as I do, much stronger in favor of Mr. Otis’s argument than I expected or you will expect. I doubt whether you will take the pains to read it again; but your son will, and to him I recommend it.
The Council of Plymouth, on the 19th of March, in the third year of the reign of Charles I., granted to Sir Henry Rosewell and others, part of New England by certain boundaries, with all the prerogatives and privileges.
King Charles I., on the 4th of March, in the fourth year of his reign, confirmed to Sir Henry Rosewell and others, all those lands before granted to them by the Council of Plymouth. King Charles I. created Sir Henry Rosewell and others, a body corporate and politic. And said body politic did settle a colony, which became very populous.
In 1684, in the 36th year of King William and Queen Mary’s dearest uncle, Charles II., a judgment was given in the court of chancery, that the letters-patent of Charles I. should be cancelled, vacated, and annihilated.
The agents petitioned to be reincorporated. I can easily conceive their perplexity, their timidity, their uncertainty, their choice of difficulties, their necessary preference of the least of a multitude of evils, for I have felt them all as keenly as they did.
William and Mary unite Massachusetts, New Plymouth, the Province of Maine and Nova Scotia into one province, to be holden in fee of the manor of East Greenwich, paying one fifth of gold and silver ore.
Liberty of conscience to be granted to all Christians, except papists. Good God! A grant from a king of liberty of conscience! Is it not a grant of the King of kings, which no puppet or roitelet upon earth can give or take away?
The general court empowered to erect judicatories and courts of record. The general court empowered to make laws, “not repugnant to the laws of England.” Here was an unfathomable gulf of controversy. The grant itself, of liberty of conscience, was repugnant to the laws of England. Every thing was repugnant to the laws of England. The whole system of colonization was beyond the limits of the laws of England, and beyond the jurisdiction of their national legislature. The general court is authorized to impose fines, &c., and taxes.
But the fell paragraph of all is the proviso in these words:—
“Provided always, and it is hereby declared, that nothing herein shall extend or to be taken to erect or grant, or allow the exercise of any admiralty court jurisdiction, power, or authority; but that the same shall be, and is hereby reserved to us and our successors, and shall from time to time be erected, granted, and exercised by virtue of commissions to be issued under the great seal of England, or under the seal of the high admiral, or the commissioners for executing the office of high admiral of England”
The history of this court of admiralty would require volumes. Where are its records and its files? Its libels and answers? Its interrogatories and cross-interrogatories? All hurried away to England, as I suppose, never to be seen again in America, nor probably to be inspected in Europe.
The records and files of the court of probate in Boston were transported to Halifax. Judge Foster Hutchinson had the honor to return them after the peace of 1783. But admiralty records have never been restored, as I have heard.
The subject may be pursued hereafter by your servant,