The Original Writings of Samuel Adams, Volume 4
Samuel Adams

Part 5 out of 7

Mr Lee will inform you how Matters go on here.

I must let you know that when your Kinsman Mr William Lee was in Boston
in Sept 1779 he borrowed five hundred Dollars of Moses Gill Esqr, and
drew his Bill on his Brother Mr George Lee of Westmoreland County. I
wish it may be paid on Sight, for it was advancd on my Application.

My Regards to Mrs Lee &c. Adieu & believe me to be

Your Friend


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

PHILAD. Jany 17 1781


Your favor of the 17th of Novr was duly receivd. It bodes very ill to
Government when Men are exalted to places of high trust through their
own Sollicitations. He only fills a place with Dignity, who is invited
to it by his Fellow Citizens, from the Experience they have had of his
adequate Abilities, & who does the Duties of it with Zeal & Fidelity.
Such a Man, being conscious that neither Smiles, Intreaties, Gifts,
Intrigue nor any dishonorable Practices have procured him his high
Station, may rely on the People who gave him their free Suffrages, to
approve of his honest Endeavors to serve them. And having Nothing in
View but that the Publick may be best servd, he will chearfully resign
his Place whenever the People shall make Choice of another whom they
judge more capable than he. The People are certainly the best Judges,
who are most likely to render them substantial Service; & whoever
interposes in their Elections, with his own Sollicitations for himself,
it is to be feard, if he is of any Consequence, will in time become a
dangerous Party Man. He ought therefore to be despisd as an obtruder. I
hope there are not many such Men in our Government. I am sorry to be
informd that there are any. They should be watchd; for if they have no
evil Designs, their Vanity may prompt them to do Mischief. The Express
waits. Adieu.


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

PHILADE Feb 1st 1781--


I have not had Leisure to write to you since the 20th of Novr. Indeed I
am not willing to trust a Confidential Letter to the Post, which has
shamefully been catchd in the same Trap more than once. I gladly
embrace the opportunity by Mr Otis, with whom I have had frequent &
candid Conversations concerning Men & Things. He will be able to tell
you some Truths which I do not think it prudent to commit to Paper. You
& I have been long struggling for the Liberty of our Country. I believe
its Independence will be finally acknowledgd by the World. But are not
many Nations England in particular called Independent? And do you think
the People of England are free. No People, in my opinion can be long
free who are not virtuous; and it is no Sign of Virtue, when the
Councils of an enlightned Country are directed by a foreign Influence.
If I were a Minister at a foreign Court, my Vanity might be flatterd,
in imagining that by having Address enough to rule its Measures, I
might fix myself in the Esteem and Confidence of my Country, but I
should entertain a contemptible Opinion of the Wisdom & Virtue of that
Court if it would suffer me to do it. The Councils of a Nation must be
weak in the extreme, or it must be reducd to the greatest Degree of
Dependence to submit to so servile a Condition. You will not think I
have the remotest Reference in what I now say, jealous as I allow my
self to be, to the Amphictyon of the United States of America. It is
presumd they will always have too high a Sense of their Dignity to
suffer themselves & their Nation to be degraded. But when Peace is
happily settled & a Number of foreign Ministers are about our Court, it
will require Men of great Knowledge of the World & Experience in
Affairs to penetrate their various Intrigues. I have been assured that
the Court of France would be highly disgusted with any of its Ministers
if they should improperly interfere in our Councils; and indeed when I
consider the Jealousy of a rising Republick, I think nothing would
equal the Impolicy of their attempting it, but the Imprudence of
Congress in submitting to it. ---- But I am unexpectedly called off and Mr
Otis is just going. I intended to have written to you largely but must
omit it till the next opportunity. Pray inform my worthy Friend Capt
Bradford that I must also omit writing to him, as I intended, for the
same Reason.

your affectionate,


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

PHILADE Feb. 1st 1781


My last was by Major Clarkson. He is a young officer of military Merit.
I wish you would entertain him with a Dish of Tea.

Our new AEra of Government, I fancy, has occasiond a Revolution in
political Circles & a Change of Connections. I cannot otherwise account
for the long Silence of my Friend Doctor Cooper. I used to correspond
with him very confidentially. We indeed thought aloud together. But I
have receivd only one Letter from him since I left Boston, which was
deliverd to me by Mr A Lee. I considerd it as a Compliment to that most
deserving Patriot, rather than a Letter of Friendship to me. I have
written several Times to him, & once desired particular Information,
which he might have given me without offending any Man, but he has not
done it. I hope the Doctor does not think his Letters troublesome to
me. He has no Reason to think so. But, he chuses to close the
Correspondence, & you know, that I am disposd on such Occasions, to
retaliate. It sometimes affects my Feelings, but I shall never be in
Debt on that Score. You may let the Dr read this Letter if he pleases,
but no other Person; for when I think amiss of the private Conduct of a
Friend, I let none know it, but him & you. Indeed I shall say nothing
to you at present that I would not wish him to know. I employ no Pimps
or Spies on my Fellow Citizens, & yet I hear of many things that are
said & done in Boston. I may sometimes be misinformd, & I am always
inclind to think I am, when I cannot reconcile what is said with the
Honor & Integrity of Friendship. If Mr W C1 has "spoken very
disrespectfully" of me, I am sorry for him. It gives me no Pain on my
Account because I deserve not his reproach. I know he is apt to be
sanguine in his Opinions of Men, & his Zeal in Elections has been
commendable. But as I did not interest myself at all in the late
Elections he might have spared me. I have candidly declared, when I was
asked in Boston, who I thought to be most endowd with those great
Qualities, which should characterize the first Magistrate of so
respectable a Commonwealth. This is the Right, it is the Duty of every
Citizen. And had I been present, I should most certainly have voted for
that Candidate. I may have been mistaken in my Judgment; and, as it
becomes a Citizen, I will, acquiesce in the Choice of a Majority of the
People, who ought to know & prefer the fittest Person. If they do not,
they are hardly worthy to be servd by any Man. I hope we shall never
fall into those Dregs of Time, when it shall be the Custom for one
Citizen to treat another ill, merely because a popular Man has markd
him as his Enemy, or because others, for servile Purposes, have
reported him as such. This may afford Sport for the Enemies of our
Cause, who are laying the Snare with great Art & Industry. James
Rivington has publishd in his Royal Gazette, that the Acrimony between
Mr Hancock & me, was owing to his Attachment to General Washington, &
my being on the Contrary, desirous of his Removal. This is an old Story
which Men have believd and disbelievd as they pleasd, without much
Concern of mine. It was a pityful Contrivance to render me obnoxious to
the General & our common Friends. If there has been any Difference
between Mr H and me, Rivington knows not the Origin of it. Mr Hancock
never thought me an Enemy to Gen1 Washington. He never thought that I
was desirous of his being removd, & therefore could never treat me with
Acrimony on that Account. I never wishd for the Removal of General
Washington, but if I had even attempted to effect it, it might have
been an Evidence of my Deficiency in Judgment, or Rashness, but it
could be no Evidence that I was his Enemy. Mr W C may think that I am
an Enemy to Mr Hancock, because he may have heard that I preferd
another as a Governor before him. At this Rate, I must be thought an
Enemy to every Man to whom I cannot give the Preference for an exalted
Station for which few of the Many can be supposd to be qualified.
Ridiculous [&] mischievous as this is, I am told that some carry their
opinions further and that it is not enough, that a Man who cannot
consistently vote for a Governor is to be reckon'd his Enemy, but he is
for this Reason to be excluded from every Department. Who could wish to
hold a Seat in Government on so slavish a Tenure? The People of
Massachusetts under the old Government have seen enough of the
mischievous Effects of the Governors having a Power to negative
Elections & I cannot see the Difference between this & his being able
to influence or prevent an Election by causing it to be believd that a
Candidate is his Enemy. He who gives his Suffrage according to the
Dictates of a well informd Judgment, is certainly a virtuous Citizen.
And is it to be supposd that such a Man would withhold his Influence in
favor of a wise Measure, because a Gentleman is placed in the Chair by
his Fellow Citizens, whom he did not vote for? Such a Supposition
savours so much of a Narrow, illiberal party Spirit, that I should
think no intelligent Man would countenance it. If it should prevail, it
would produce evil Consequences; for some Men, if they are made to
believe their political Existence depends on their being thought the
Governors Friends, will not easily prevail on themselves to risque that
Existence by giving him Advice, however salutary it might be, &
necessary for the Honor & Safety of the Commonwealth, if they think it
will disgust him.

You may wonder, my Dear, that I send this Budget of Politicks to you. I
see no Reason why a Man may not communicate his political opinions to
his Wife, if he pleases. But to tell you the truth I consider this
Epistle, after the License I have already given you, as indirectly
addressd to the Friend I have mentiond. I would gladly know his
opinion, Whether there is not more Parade among our Gentry than is
consistent with sober republican Principles. Is it to imitate the
Vanity of former times that every order of Men have been so fond of
addressing the Governor? Are we to pay the same Ceremonies to the next
& the next? Will not such high Strains of Panegyrick injure the
Feelings of modest Men? And if there should happen to be a weak Man,
will they not make him intollerably vain? Republicks should adopt the
Rule of another Society. The Yea should be Yea, and the Nay, Nay, for
whatsoever is more than these cometh of Evil. Adieu.

1 William Cooper.


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



Mr Bagnal, the Bearer of this Letter, this Moment informs me, that he
sets off in half an hour for Boston I am sorry he did not give me more
timely Notice, because I chuse to write to my Confidential Friends by
private Hands rather than the Post. I have in a Letter forwarded
yesterday, given Notice to the General Assembly, of my Wish to return
home as early as may be and requested to be relievd by one of my
Colleagues or otherwise as may be thought proper. I expect to have
General Wards Servant to attend me on my Journey. He is afterwards to
return here. I am much concernd at the Dissentions in the New South
Society, who have generally been remarkeable for Peace & Harmony. They
should strive for a conciliatory Spirit as far as is consistent with
good Conscience, condescend to each other in smaller Matters, and bear
with each others Tempers. I have not been unmindful of my Sons
Situation, as mentiond in his Letter to me some time ago. He will see
by the Journals of Congress (Sept. 30, 1780) that the officers in the
Medical Department, are intitled annually to draw Cloathing from the
Stores of the Cloathier General in the same Manner & under the same
Regulations as are establishd for officers of the Line by a Resolution
Novr 25, 1779-- such Cloathing to be deliverd by the Cloathier General or
any sub Cloathier in the State in which the officer to receive the
Cloathing shall reside. I have sent the Journals of the Dates above
mentiond, and wish Mr Davis or some other of my Friends would speak to
Mr Ruggles, who I think is the Sub Cloathier in the State, in Behalf of
my Son. I hope however that the Matter is already settled, & he gone to
Newport. I am uneasy at his being absent from his Station any length of
Time; for however necessary it may be, it may be turnd to the
Disadvantage of his Character, which if I am not flatterd, he has
hitherto kept unsullied. In this virtuous & important Struggle, he will
remember that all of us must ruff it as well as we can.----The medical
Committee inform me that it is the Duty of the State Cloathier to
furnish him without the intervention of the Commander in Chiefe or
Board of War.

Pray let Mrs Fogs know that Mr Level & I have done all we could for the
Release of her Son who was made a Sea Prisoner & carried to New York.
Our officers have some of them been sent to England, but not any of the
Seamen, so that it is hoped he is still there. Many of them have died.
They have lately been better treated than they were some time ago. The
British Sea Officers are retaind in close Confinement here till we hear
what is become of ours. We are in hopes there will soon be an Exchange
of the whole.

Remember me to Friends----Adieu.


[Boston Gazette, April 2, 1781; a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers,
Lenox Library.1]

Extract of a Letter from the Southward.

"As we have a Constitution which is admired for its genuine Principles,
I have been sollicitous to know, whether our Countrymen at large
partook of the Spirit of those who formed it. I have conceived strong
Hopes, that in organizing their Government and electing Persons to fill
the important Places of Trust, no Consideration would avail, to govern
their Suffrages in Favour of any Candidate, unless he was possessed of
those Qualities which are necessary, to enable him to perform the
Duties of the Office to be filled, to the Advantage of the Publick. I
have flattered my self, that both the Governors and the Governed would
have lain aside the gawdy Trappings of Monarchy, and put on that
Simplicity which is the Ornament and Strength of a free Republick. HOW
far it has been done, I am not able to judge at this Distance. It is a
great Satisfaction to me to be informed, that some of the best Men in
the Commonwealth have been elected into the Principal Departments of
Government. Men, who will dignify the Character of our Country--who will
revive and disseminate those Principles, moral and political, to
propagate which, our Ancestors transplanted themselves into this new
World--Men who by the Wisdom of their Councils and their exemplary
Manners, will establish the public Liberty on the Foundation of a
Rock.--These Men will secure to themselves more of the Esteem of their
virtuous, and even of their vicious Fellow-Citizens, than they could by
a thousand courtly Addresses which are commonly the Breath of Vanity
and Adulation.--There is a charm in Virtue to force Esteem.--If Men of a
different Character have by any Means been advanced to those hallow'd
Seats, who have even sollicited public Employments to give a Scope to
Views of Ambition and Avarice, Passions which have in all Ages been the
Bane of human Society; or, to gratify the raging Thirst for popular
Applause, a Disease with which little minds are usually tormented, it
is our Happiness that the Constitution requires annual Elections, and
such Mistakes may be corrected at the next.

"I was sorry to hear, that the Number of Votes returned, the last Time,
did not amount to a Quarter of the Number of qualified Electors in the
Commonwealth. The Choice of Legislators, Magistrates and Governors, is
surely a Business of the greatest Moment, and claims the Attention of
every Citizen. The Framers of our Constitution, while they gave due
Attention to Political were not forgetful of Civil Liberty--that personal
Freedom and those Rights of Property, which the meanest Citizen is
intitled to, and the Security of which is the great End of political
Society. It was not indeed their Province to make particular Laws for
these Purposes. To do this, and to provide for the equal and impartial
Execution of such Laws, agreeable to the Constitution, is the Duty of
the Legislature. Hence every Citizen will see, and I hope will be
deeply impressed with a Sense of it, how exceedingly important it is to
himself, and how intimately the welfare of his Children is connected
with it, that those who are to have a Share in making as well as in
judging and executing the Laws should be Men of singular Wisdom and
Integrity. Such as are conscious that they are deficient in either of
these Qualities, should even TREMBLE at being named as Candidates! I
hope the great Business of Elections will never be left by the Many, to
be done by the Few; for before we are aware of it, that few may become
the Engine of Corruption--the Tool of a Junto.--Heaven forbid! that our
Countrymen should ever be byass'd in their Choice, by unreasonable
Predilections for any man, or that an Attachment to the Constitution,
as has been the Case in other Countries, should be lost in Devotion to
Persons. The Effect of this would soon be, to change the Love of
Liberty into the Spirit of Faction. Let each Citizen remember, at the
Moment he is offering his Vote, that he is not making a Present or a
Compliment to please an Individual, or at least that he ought not so to
do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn Trusts in human
Society, for which he is accountable to GOD and his Country.

"When the great Body of the People are determined not to be imposed
upon by a false Glare of Virtues held before their Eyes, but, making up
their own Minds, shall impartially give in their Suffrages, after their
best Enquiries into the Characters of Candidates, for those whom they
judge to be the fittest Persons, there will be no Danger that the
generous Enthusiasm of Freedom, so characteristic of the People of
Massachusetts, will ever sink into the Violence and Rage of Party,
which has often proved fatal to free Republicks."

1 Endorsed by Adams: "The foregoing was sent to Mr Edes by the Post
March 13, 1781."


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

PHILADE April 3 1781


I have just receivd your favor of the 17th Ulto by Mr Dugan. The
Request he proposes to make to Congress for Liberty to bring his
Effects from Ireland, cannot be complied with consistently with the
inclosd ordinance, which strictly forbids all Intercourse between the
Citizens of the United States & the Subjects of Great Britain. There
have been so many undue Advantages taken from Indulgences of this Kind,
as to render the Continuance of them unsafe to us and disgustful to our
Ally. I shall always pay a due Regard to your Recommendations, and
should have been particularly desirous of rendering Service to your
Friend Mr Dugan whom I personally know & of whose Integrity I have no
Reason to doubt.

Your Letter of the 23d of Feby never came to hand; and I regret it the
more, because you tell me, you then wrote fully of the State of Affairs
in Boston which I should have been glad to have receivd. Let me observe
to you as a private Friend, the Delegates of Massachusetts are by no
means duly informd of what is done in their own State; & when they
receive any kind of Information, it is not in a Manner adapted to give
them Weight. I do not mention this on my own Account; for I intend very
soon to take Leave of Congress & get myself excusd from any future
Attendance. I will then explain the Hint I have now given you, more
fully than I chuse to do in a Letter by the Post. You mention a certain
Juncture when you wish me to return. I think I can discover your Motive
and your old Partiality for me. I do assure you, I am not at all
sollicitous about any thing of the Kind which your Letter seems to
intimate. I have always endeavord to confine my Desires in this Life
within moderate Bounds, and it is time for me to reduce them to a
narrower Compass. You speak of "Neglect," "Ingratitude" &c. But let us
entertain just Sentiments. A Citizen owes everything to the
Commonwealth. And after he has made his utmost Exertions for its
Prosperity, has he done more than his Duty? When Time enfeebles his
Powers & renders him unfit for further Service, his Country, to
preserve its own Vigour will wisely call upon others; and if he
decently retreats to make Room for them he will show that he has not
yet totally lost his Understanding. Besides, there is a Period in Life
when a Man should covet the exalted Pleasure of Reflection in

I thank you, my dear Sir, for the information you gave Mrs A of Mr
Dugans coming. Pray let her know that I receivd her Letter & am well.
My Compts to the Circle about you.

Your affectionate,

1 Speaker of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts.


[Boston Gazette, April 16, 1781; a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers,
Lenox Library.1]

Extract of a Letter from the Southward.

"BEFORE this will reach you, your Countrymen will have finished the
important business of electing their Legislators, Magistrates and
Governors for the ensuing year. I hope they have made a wise choice. At
least, from the opinion I entertain of their virtue, I am persuaded
they have acted with all that deliberation and caution which the
solemnity of the transaction required. They may then reflect, each one
on his own integrity, and appeal to the Monitor within his breast, that
he has not trifled with the sacred trust reposed in him by GOD and his
country--that he has not prostituted his honor and conscience to please a
friend or a patron --that he has not been influenced with the view of
private emolument to himself and his family, but has faithfully given
his vote for the candidate whom he thought most worthy the choice of
free and virtuous citizens--I congratulate that Legislator, Magistrate &
Governor, who knows that neither smiles, entreaties, gifts,
dissimulation, intrigue, nor any base and dishonorable practices have
procured him this exalted station. His fellow citizens, unsollicited by
him, have called him into their service, from the opinion they have
formed of his integrity and adequate abilities.--He feels himself happy in
their opinion of him--happy is he indeed, if he is conscious he deserves

But our countrymen will not imagine, that having filled the several
departments of government, they have no further concern about it. It
is, I humbly conceive, their duty and interest to attend to the manner
in which it is administered by those whom they have entrusted. HOW
often has the finishing stroke been given to public virtue, by those
who possessed, or seemed to possess many amiable virtues? GUSTAVUS VASA
was viewed by the Swedes as the deliverer of their country from the
Danish yoke. The most implicit obedience, says the historian, was
considered by them as a debt of gratitude, and a virtue. He had many
excellent qualities. His manners were conciliating--His courage and
abilities great--But the people by an entire confidence in him suffered
him to lay a foundation for absolute monarchy. They were charmed with
his moderation and wisdom, qualities which he really possessed; but
they did not consider his ambition, nor had they a thought of his
views. They found peace restored, order established, justice
administered, commerce protected, and the arts and sciences encouraged,
and they looked no further. They did not imagine, that he who had been
the instrument of recovering the independence of their country, could
be the very man who was to effect the ruin of their liberties. By the
Constitution of Sweden their kings were elective, and the powers of the
crown were exceedingly limited. The unsuspecting people even
voluntarily gave up their right of election, and suffered Gustavus to
enlarge the powers of the crown, and entail it in his own family! This
is the account which the history of Sweden has given us; and it affords
an instance among a thousand others, of the folly and danger of
trusting even good men with power, without regarding the use they make
of it. Power is in its nature incroaching; and such is the human make,
that men who are vested with a share of it, are generally inclined to
take more than it was intended they should have. The love of power,
like the love of money, increases with the possession of it; and we
know, in what ruin these baneful passions have involved human societies
in all ages, when they have been let loose and suffered to rage
uncontrouled-- There is no restraint like the pervading eye of the
virtuous citizens.--I hope therefore our countrymen will constantly
exercise that right which the meanest of them is intitled to, and which
is particularly secured to them by our happy constitution, of inquiring
freely, but decently, into the conduct of the public servants. The very
being of the Commonwealth may depend upon it. I will venture to appeal
to the experience of ancient Republicks, to evince the necessity of it;
and it is never more necessary than in the infancy of a Commonwealth,
and when the people have chosen honest men to conduct their affairs.
For, whatever is done at a time nearly contemporary with the
constitution, will be construed as the best exposition of it; and a
mistaken principle of a virtuous ruler, whose public conduct is
generally good, and always supposed to be honestly intended, carries
with it an authority scarcely to be resisted, and precedents are thus
formed which may prove dangerous--perhaps fatal."--

1 Endorsed by Adams: "The foregoing was sent to Mr Edes by the Post Mar
27, 81."


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

PHILADE Apr 23 1781


I did not receive your favor of the 3d Instt till yesterday; a week
later than Letters of the same Date from some others of my Boston
friends were brought to me by the Post. As the Subject is delicate, I
do not chuse to continue it in this Letter, which is to go thro a
Channel provd from repeated Experience to be uncertain & unsafe. It was
for this Reason that I committed to the Care of a private friend, my
Letter to Mrs A of the 1st of Feby which she communicated to you. I am
glad she did it in a Manner so acceptable. Indeed I never found Reason
to doubt her Discretion. What you have written is very obliging &
satisfactory to me. I hope to have the Pleasure of seeing you next
Month. We will then, after our usual Manner, disclose each others

Your Letter of the 31st Decr was not long ago deliverd to me by the
Count Chartres. He appears to me to be an amiable & fine-spirited young
Nobleman. After a short stay here, he preceded with the Marqs de la
Fayette to the Southward.

You will recollect a Design which I mentiond to you respecting our
Friend Mr L, & the Omission which, we were informd the Evening before I
left Boston, had happend thro Mistake. I early wrote to you & requested
your Influence to have it rectified. I have heard Nothing of it since.
In my Opinion the most essential Interest of the Town of Boston will be
servd by it, & therefore I cannot look upon it as a Matter of
Indifference. Not being acquainted with that Gentleman in the early
Times of our Contest, I had by some means conceivd an Opinion of him
not so favorable; but having had an Opportunity of critically observing
him in the late Convention at Cambridge, I am satisfied he is a
Virtuous Citizen, and possessd of the genuine Principles of New
England. That Mr Rivington, if this Letter should fall into his Hands,
may not pretend to be at a LOSS to know what is here meant, I will
inform him that the genuine Principles of New England are Republican
Principles which have been admired by some of the greatest Characters,
whom (if he is an Englishman) his Country can boast of. You & I, among
others, have had the Honor of being abusd by Rivingtons Press. A labord
Performance has lately crept out, called the Times. I have had a
cursory reading of it. It appears to me so much like the Productions of
certain Geniuses who figurd in Mr Popes Time, that had the Author been
cotemporary with them, a Page might have been added to the Dunciad, to
immortalize his Works. I will endeavor to get some Parts of it
transcribd & carry them to Boston. I am sure the reading it would serve
to divert rather than to give you the least Pain. My due Regards to

Your affectionate


[MS., Historical Society of Pennsylvania.]

BOSTON Augt 29th 1781


I have not yet acknowledgd your obliging Letter of the 8th of July,
deliverd to me by Mr Davidson. Bodily Indisposition prevented my
writing, when he returnd. I fancy he settled his Affairs here to his
own Satisfaction. He is much esteemd by those who were favord with his
Company, & I hope he met with Nothing disagreable to him during his
short Stay among us.

Colo John Laurens with our Friend Mr Pain arrivd here a few Days ago
from France. He left the Town the Day after his Arrival. His Visit to
me was so short that I could not converse with him so fully as I wishd.
I hope he will be able to inform you of his complete Success in his
Negociation. Will you be so kind as to give me such Intelligence as you
may receive from him or any other Person from Europe. I wish to know
the true State of our Affairs. Are we soon to have Peace? However
desireable this may be, we must not wish for it on any Terms but such
as shall he honorable & safe to our Country. Let us not disgrace our
selves by giving just Occasion for it to be said hereafter, that we
finishd this great Contest with an inglorious Accommodation. Things are
whisperd here which, if true, will cause much Discontent. The Citizens
of this Part of America will say, and judge, my dear Sir, whether it
would not be just, that the fishing Banks are at least as important as
Tobacco yards, or Rice Swamps, or the flourishing Wheat Fields of
Pennsylvania. The Name only of Independence is not worth the Blood of a
single Citizen. We have not been so long contending for Trifles. A Navy
must support our Independence; and Britain will tell you, that the
Fishery is a grand Nursery of Seamen. --I understand that G M,2 is
appointed Deputy Financier, R R L,3 Secretary of foreign Affairs, and
if Gl S4 is appointed to the War Department and Gl M5 to the" Marine,
there will be a compleat N Y Administration. It may be well to enquire,
what Influence has brought this about, & whether so much Power vested
in the Citizens of any one State will excite the reasonable Jealousy of
the rest. Adieu my Friend. Find a Moments Leisure to write to me.

1 President of Congress.

2 Gouverneur Morris.

3 Robert R. Livingston.

4 Philip Schuyler.

5 Alexander McDougall.


[MS., Historical Society of Pennsylvania; a draft is in the Samuel
Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

BOSTON Sept 19 1781


The Bearer, Major Brown, is a Person who has deservd well of the United
States, and has for that Reason the Esteem of Men of Distinction in
this Commonwealth. He was formerly a Soldier in the British Service,
and before the Commencement of Hostilities, he left that
Service--Immediately after the Battle of Lexington he joynd the American
Army in which his Zeal & Activity was signalizd--In July 1776 he servd as
Major in the Militia of this State at Ticonderoga under Genl Gates--In
1777 he was appointed Depy Muster Master by Col Ward, and when the
Convention Troops arrivd at Cambridge he was employd by Genl Heath as
Town Major-- He has Certificates of his Fidelity from that General as well
as the Commissary of Musters Coll Ward-- Your Attention to a Request he
will make to Congress for Allowance for Depreciation (if you can find
Leisure) will much oblige me.

Will you suffer me Sir, in great Haste, to offer a few indigested Hints
for your Consideration. I take it for granted that a very great
Majority of the People in Each of the United States are determind to
support this righteous & necessary War, till they shall obtain their
grand Object, an undisputed Sovereignty. This must hereafter be
maintaind, under God, by the Wisdom and Vigour of their own Councils &
their own Strength-- Their Policy will lead them, if they mean to form any
Connections with Europe, to make themselves respectable in the Eyes of
the Nations by holding up to them the Benefits of their Trade-- Trade must
be so free to all as to make it the Interest of Each to protect it till
they are able to protect it themselves--This, the United States must do by
a Navy. Till they shall have erected a powerful Navy, they will be
lyable to Insults wch may injure & depreciate their Character as a
Sovereign & independent State; & while they may be incapable of
resenting it themselves, no friendly power may venture or care to
resent it on their Behalf. The U. S. must then build a Navy. They have
or may have all the Materials in Plenty--But what will Ships of War avail
them without Seamen? And Where will they find a Nursery for Seamen but
in THE FISHERY? Adieu my dear Sir.

Your affectionate


[MS., Historical Society of Pennsylvania.]

BOSTON Oct 11TH 1781


Altho' I am at this Juncture much pressd with pub-lick Business, I will
not omit writing a few Lines, to testify my sincere Regards for you--When
I left you in Philadelphia last June, I regretted the disagreable
Situation you was then in--deprivd of the Prospect of reaping fresh
Laurels, when an active Campaign was expected. Whether a Court of
Enquiry has yet been called, agreable to your Wishes, I know not. Till
that is done, I say it without Flattery, our Country will lose the
Assistance of one of its most able & faithful Servants.--We are at this
Distance in great Uncertainty of every thing that happens Southward of
New York. We hear of military Movements & naval Engagements, but not of
their Events--Pray inform me of the Situation of publick Affairs, and of
your own as far as you shall think proper. We hope, & are even sanguine
in our Expectations of great & decisive Events in our favor--God grant we
may not be disappointed! Doctor Gordon who kindly takes the Care of
this Letter, is well acquainted with the Internal State of this Common
Wealth--He knows my Mind, & will communicate to you, more than I can now
do for Want of Leisure. Adieu, & believe me to be with the warmest
Attachment----Your unalterd Friend


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

BOSTON Novr [21] 1781


The Bearer of this Letter Mr Edgar called on me the other Day with
General Baylie of Vermont a Gentleman of undoubted Integrity &
Attachment to the Cause of our Country & [who] has renderd himself very
useful by the Intelligence he has obtaind from Canada since the
Beginning of this War, & is well known to the Commander in Chief of our
Armies. Genl Bay-lie earnestly wishes that Mr Edgar may be introducd to
Head Quarters because he thinks from what he has to say it will appear
that if two Gentlemen who are now Prisoners in Canada whose Names he
will mention to you may be exchangd they will be able to make a full
Discovery to you, of the Plan of union which he says is actually
compleated between the Govr of Canada & the principal Leaders in
Vermont. One of these Gentlemen General Baylie tells me he has long
been acquainted with & confides in. It is possible you may be already
sufficiently acquainted with this Matter; & there may be a Scheme of
Policy on our Side which has not come to my Knowledge. In this
Uncertainty I hope I shall be excusd troubling you with this Letter.

Mr Edgar, according to his own Account was in the British Service on
the Lakes in 1774, afterwards was at Detroit as a private Trader, when
he renderd Services to Colo Clark as an Intelligencer, became suspected
he was sent a Prisoner to Montreal where he lay in Irons nine Months, &
after two years Imprisonment, he made an Escape.

After congratulating you on the Divine Blessing afforded to the Allied
forces under the Direction of his Excy Gen1 Washington, I am &c


[MS., Chamberlain Collection, Boston Public Library.]


The Inhabitants of the Town of Boston legally assembled, have taken
into Consideration a Matter which they conceive all the other Maritime
Towns in this & the Neighboring States are equally, and some of them
more nearly interested than they. It is the Subject of the Fishery, and
the great Importance of a Common Right therein being secured to the
United States, whenever a Treaty of Peace shall be concluded. To
flatter our selves with so happy a Prospect, so far as to neglect the
necessary Preparations for another vigorous Campaign, would indeed be
unbecoming the Wisdom of Americans; and yet, so important has been the
Success of the allied Arms, the last year, that it would seem to be
Madness in the Extreme for Britain any longer to persist in her
unrighteous Claims. But Wisdom has forsaken her Councils.

We ought to presume, that the supreme Representative of these States
will have an equal Regard in so momentuous a Crisis to the Rights of
each Individual. We would not suggest the Contrary. But, may it not be
supposd, that Persons whose Situation is remote from the Fishery, and
who derive Advantages from it in its more distant Effects & not
directly perceivable, are probably not so attentive to its unspeakeable
Importance, as others who are immediately concernd, & depend upon it as
the only Source of their Commerce & even their Subsistence? If this
should be the Fact, Would not States so immediately interested in the
Fishery as ours, be justly criminated by the others, if we should
neglect seasonably to lay before them our own Sense of the Necessity of
an express Article in a Treaty of Peace for its Security? Should we not
be wanting to our selves in a most essential Point, & be chargeable by
all Posterity, with sacrificing our and their invalueable Rights by
unpardonable Carelessness? Such is the Sentiment of this Town. And
though we would be far from obtruding this or any Sentiment of ours
upon others, we cannot but think our selves justifyable in candidly
recommending it to their serious Deliberation.

This Town have judgd it necessary to instruct their Representatives in
the General Court on the Subject. The instructions are inclosd. Many
other and cogent Reasons might have been urgd, & will undoubtedly be
made Use of by you, if you shall think it proper to take the Matter
into your Consideration. Should we be so fortunate as to have your full
Concurrence in Opinion with us, we assure our selves that we shall be
equally fortunate in the Aid we shall receive from your Concurrent

In the Name & by Order of the Town of Boston1 in Meeting legally
assembled December 14 1781.

1 Signed, in the original as published, by William Cooper, Town Clerk.
This letter and the instructions of the town of December 11, 1781, were
printed in a pamphlet of three pages. A copy is in the Boston Public


[MS., Adams Papers, Quincy; a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers,
Lenox Library.]

BOSTON 18 Decr 1781


I have already written to you this Day by the Marquis de Lafayette.
This passes thro the Hands of Count de Noailles, whom you did me the
Honor to introduce to me. I duly acknowledgd the Receipt of your Favor
which he brought me; but the LOSS of my Letter was attended with an
infinitely greater, that of Coll0 Palfrey. I wrote to you largely by

The Son in Law of one of our good Friends has lately arrivd here from
England, which gives great Disgust to more Persons than his near
Relations conceive of. On his Arrival, the Governor & Council directed
him to state his Reasons for going to England and returning hither
without the Leave of Government. He stated his Reasons; which in
general were to render Service to the United States, particularly by
removing the Ideas which the British Minister had conceivd of the
Attachment of nine tenths of the Americans to that Government, and
their Wishes to return to it. However frivolous this may appear to
others, his nearest Friends speak of it, can you believe me, in a high
Tone, and Mr ---- told me that Mr ------ was happy in being conscious not only of
Innocence, but of great Merit.2--Those who hope for a Change of Person in
our first Magistrate next Spring will be much embarrassd by this
Circumstance. Adieu my Friend.

1 Addressed to Adams at Amsterdam.

2 The draft at this point has the words. "the Affair is in the Hands of
the Attourney General by the Direction of the Govr & Council."


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

BOSTON Decr 19 1781


The Marquis La Fayette is so obliging as to take the Care of this
Letter, which, for the sake of him, the Count de Noailles and others
our french Friends who take Passage with him in the Alliance, I hope
will arrive safely. In the same Conveyance is a Packett intended for
you from Congress, by which you will doubtless he informd of what has
been doing there. It is six Months since I left Philadelphia; you
cannot therefore expect I should give you any of the Intelligence of
that City. I presume Mr L1 makes known to you every thing interesting.
I wrote to you frequently while I was there, but suppose all my Letters
miscarried, as well as yours if you have written to me; for I have not
receivd one for many Months. I except your favor by the Sieur de la
Etombe, to whom I pay great Attention, both on Account of your
Recommendation & his Merit. I give you Credit for a Packett of
Gazzettes lately receivd, because I knew the Direction on the Cover to
be your hand writing.

Matters go on here just as you would expect from your knowledge of the
People. Zealous in the great Cause, they hesitate at no Labor or
Expence for its Support. Anxious to have a Code of Laws for the
internal Government, adapted to the Spirit of their new Constitution
with which they continue to be highly pleasd, the General Court have
appointed the supreme Judges with Mr Bowdoin who is at present at
perfect Leisure, to revise the Laws and report necessary or proper
Amendments. The two great Vacancies in the offices of President &
Professor of Mathematicks &c in our University are filled with
Gentlemen of Learning & excellent Characters, the Revd Mr Willard of
Beverly & the Revd Mr Williams. The Academy of Arts & Sciences is in a
flourishing Way. A new Society is incorporated by the Name of the
Medical Society. And this Metropolis has lately appointed a Committee,
to consider the present Arrangement of the Schools & what further
Improvements may be made, in which the better Education of female
Children is designd to be comprehended. All these things I know are
pleasing to you. Our People treat Foreigners of Merit who come among
them, with good Humour & Civility, being desirous of adopting the
virtuous Manners of others, and ingrafting them into our Stock.
Laudable Examples on their side & ours will be productive of mutual
Benefits. Indeed the Men of Influence must form the Manners of the
People. They can operate more towards cultivating the Principles &
fixing the Habits of Virtue than all the Force of Laws. This I think is
verified in the Experience of the World; & should induce those People
who exercise the Right of electing their own Rulers, to be circumspect
in making their Choice. You are well enough acquainted with the
Character of our first Magistrate to judge what Effects his Influence
will have upon Manners.

Inclosd are some of the Proceedings of a late Town Meeting,2 which I
send to you as a private Citizen for your mere information. The Meeting
was called in Consequence of a Letter receivd by our Selectmen from
Marblehead, in which it was proposd that the Subject should be
considerd in a Convention of the Maritime Towns. But this Town judgd it
more proper to lay the Matter before the General Court, and have
accordingly instructed their Representatives & recommended it to the
others to take the same Method. They could not think it becoming in
them to write to you (tho a fellow Citizen) on a Subject which concerns
the American Republick. They have an entire Confidence in your
Attachment to the Interest of the United States & of this which makes
an essential Part of it.

The Count de Noailles tells me he has a Letter for you from your
Family. Please to pay my due Regards to Mr Dana Mr Th----3 &c. I rejoyce to
hear of the Welfare of one of your Sons, whom we had almost given up
for lost. Mrs Adams sends Compliments Miss has changed her Name & left
her Fathers House.

Your affectionate,

1 Laurens.

2 Boston Record Commissioners' Report, vol. xxvi., p. 214.

3 John Thaxter, private secretary to John Adams.



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

BOSTON May 13 1782.


Your Favors of 10th Decr & 7th Feb last were severally deliverd to me
by Major Gibbs & Dr Town-send. I am sometimes obligd to apologize for
omitting to answer Letters in Season. You, I am perswaded, will be
ready to believe that necessary Avocations have prevented my writing to
you, for there can be no Doubt in your Mind, of the Sincerity of my
Professions of Esteem & Friendship. The Present you sent me by Major
Gibbs gratified me exceedingly. I intend to transmit it to my
Posterity, as a Specimen of Spartan Frugality in an American General
Officer. The Citizen & the Soldier are called to the Exercise of Self
Denial and Patience, and to make the utmost Exertions in Support of the
great Cause we are engagd in. Providence has highly honord our Patriots
& Heroes in calling them into Existence at a Time when there is an
Object worthy their Views. The Romans fought for Empire. The Pride of
that haughty People was to domineer over the rest of Mankind. But this
is not our Object. We contend for the Liberty of our Country and the
Rights of human Nature. We hope to succeed in so righteous a Contest;
and it is our Duty to acquire such Habits, and to cultivate in those
who are to come after us such Principles and Manners as will perpetuate
to our Country the Blessings which are purchasd with our Toils and

I have been expecting your Confidential Letters under the Signature you
proposd. Pray let me hear of the Event of the Court Martial, and as
many particulars as are expedient--Complts to your Lady.



[Historical Magazine, 1st ser., vol. i., pp. 260, 261.]

BOSTON, May 15th, 1782.


The General Court was prorogu'd Friday, the tenth instant, previous to
which on the same day the Govr sent the Impost Bill to the house of
Representatives with his objections and reasons against it stated in
form. The house conceiving that the five days to which he was limited
by the Constitution, had expired the preceding day, sent it back to him
without reading the objections, as being in their opinion to all intent
and purposes a law. It seems the bill had been sent to the Governor on
Saturday. He excludes Sunday from the 5 days, in which the House differ
in opinion. This matter of difference which arises from an incidental
circumstance, would have been avoided if his Excellency had thought it
convenient to have sent the bill to the House a day sooner. It is a
subject of speculation among the political casuists. But how will it
affect the great public for whose benefit it was intended? If the bill
has become a law, how will it operate? What will be the opinion of
Congress concerning it under its present circumstances? I wish to hear
from you by return of this post.

Yesterday, this town made choice of the same gentlemen to represent
them in the G. C. who had served them the last year, except that Mr.
Lord1 is chosen in the room of Mr. Davis.2 No one doubts my personal
regard for Mr. L., but I think it may be highly dangerous, and attended
with very ill effects, to admit an undue influence of the
Superintendent of Finance into the general assemblies of these states,
and therefore could not help mentioning my objections, to such of the
inhabitants as I had an opportunity of conversing with, against his
agent's being chosen a member of ours. The post is just going.

Your affectionate,

1 The town records appear to indicate that John Rowe should have been
named in this connection.

2 Caleb Davis; cf. page 253.


[Historical Magazine, 1st ser., vol. i., p. 261.]

BOSTON, June 4th, 1782.


Last week the House of Representatives directed the attendance of the
Secretary, and enquired of him whether he had forwarded the Impost Act
to Congress. He answered he had not seen it since he left it on their
table, in the last session. The House then sent a message to the
Governor to the same purpose.

He returned a message acquainting them that he conceived the bill in
the same light he had before, and could not send it to Congress as a
law, or to that effect; adding, that if the House would signify their
desire of having it, the Secretary would be directed to lay it before
them. The House stated the matter, and sent it to the Senate with the
Governor's message and a vote to join a committee to consider them, and
the Senate concurred; the result of which is that the two houses have
resolved, that the Governor did not return the bill to the late House
of Representatives, where it had originated, within five days after it
was presented to him by the late General Court, and therefore that it
had passed all the forms prescribed by the Constitution to constitute
it a law of the Commonwealth. What the next step will be, may, I think,
be easily foreseen, that those who are against the law upon principle,
or those who would wish to gratify the Govr, will move for a repeal of
it, and have a new bill brought in. But it is difficult for me to
conceive how a bill can be framed which will remove his doubts, and
answer the end of Congress. You remember that matter was once tried. I
must break off abruptly.

Your affectionate,


[R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp. 229, 230.1]

BOSTON, Nov. 21st, 1782.

MY DEAR SIR,--In the late session of our general court, and in the hurry
of important business, a petition was presented signed William Burgess,
praying to be naturalized. This gentleman very lately arrived from
England, by way of Holland. The senate declined sustaining his
petition, and gave him leave to withdraw it. A few days after, an
authenticated resolution of congress came to hand, recommending it to
the states not to admit any British subject whatever. Yet this man has
had interest enough to prevail on the assembly to permit him to go to
congress, to have it decided there whether he comes within the meaning
of their resolution, because his arrival here was prior to the
reception of the resolution by this government. If it should be thought
there was in this instance a want of attention, it must be imputed to
the circumstance I first mentioned. The general court had before
directed his departure from the state; requesting the governor however,
to allow him convenient time to prepare for his voyage, which appeared
to me a sufficient indulgence. Some of our good citizens are disgusted
at the favour shown to Mr. B. They say that being a partner with
Messrs. Champion and Dickinson, the latter of whom is reported to have
been always inimical to America by his residence here, he will probably
be instrumental in the importation of as many English goods as he will
be able to vend; or in other words, that the new house in Boston will
be nearly if not quite as convenient in the time of war, as the old
house in London was in time of peace. Whether there will be any danger,
congress will judge. Jealousy is a necessary political virtue,
especially in times like these. Such a plan would gratify those among
us who are still hankering after the onions of Egypt, and would
sacrifice our great cause to the desire of gain. What need is there of
our admitting (to use the language of congress) any British subject
whatever? Congress surely had some good reason when they so earnestly
cautioned us against it. Our citizens are in more danger of being
seduced by art, than subjugated by arms. I give you this notice that
you may have an opportunity of conversing on the subject in your
patriotic circles (if you think it worth while) in season. Mr. B. will
set off next week in company with one of our new delegates, who I am
satisfied will favour his cause. My friendly regards to Dr. Shippen,
and my old friends in congress, if any such are there. Adieu.

Believe me to be very affectionately your friend,

1 A short note to Lee, also dated November 21, is in Ibid., p. 231.


[R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp. 231, 232.]

BOSTON, Dec 2d, 1782.

MY DEAR SIR,--A friend of mine to whom I give entire credit, who lived
many years in Canada, and was well acquainted with the bearer of this
letter, requests me to introduce him to you. After a long confinement
in prison in Quebec, where he was used with great severity, he found
means to make his escape, and came to this town. He is a Frenchman by
birth, and was a very respectable merchant in Canada. When the attempt
was made to gain that country in 1775, he privately aided our forces;
the suspicion of which rendered him obnoxious to the British
government, and was the real cause of his suffering. He will inform you
of the state and circumstances of British affairs there, and will tell
you it is an easy thing to unite that province with these states.
Possibly he may be influenced in some degree by a just resentment of
the ill-treatment he has received; but other intelligent persons
acquainted with the people of Canada, have zealously affirmed the same
to me. If it be so, it is hoped that a favourable opportunity to effect
it will be embraced, if any such should offer. I need not hint to you
the importance of that object. Adieu,

Your friend,



[R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp. 232-234, a draft is in
the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

BOSTON, Feb. 10th, 1783.

MY DEAR SIR,--It is a long time since I had the pleasure of a letter from
you. I hope you have not struck my name from the list of your
correspondents. Mr. Stephen Higginson, who will deliver you this
letter, is appointed a delegate of this state. He is a sensible and
very worthy man, and I think entertains sentiments like yours. I am
persuaded you will find him a valuable member, if his great modesty and
diffidence of himself will allow him to step forward as far as his good
understanding would lead him.

I feel myself constrained to mention to you the present situation of
Capt. Landais, though not at his request, or the smallest intimation
from him. He resides in this town, and sometimes calls to see me. As he
appears to be an injured man, I wish that justice may be done to him;
and I am the more solicitous about it, as I was, with your worthy
brother Mr. R. H. instrumental in his first appointment in the American
navy. Congress granted him 12,000 livres as a compensation for services
he had performed, and ordered that he should be paid by Dr. F. in
France; but for some reason which is or ought to be known, he has never
received that sum. Much the greater part of his wages as commander of
the Alliance remains unpaid. A large sum due to him for prize-money is
stopped in the hands of some person or persons in France; which indeed
is too common a complaint among those continental officers and seamen
who have carried prizes into ports in Europe. He made a journey to
Philadelphia to obtain a settlement of his accounts, and was offered by
Mr M.1 three months' pay, and a certificate for the balance, which he
would not accept, because he really wanted the whole of his wages to
supply him with the necessaries of life. I am sure that your own
feelings of justice and humanity will plead an excuse for my troubling
you with this detail. Perhaps his court-martial, by whose decree he was
broken, were too severe. If his conduct in his last passage from France
was blameable was not his mind to the greatest degree irritated by the
treatment he met with there? and should not reasonable allowances have
been made? He thinks it was an unrighteous decree. He may judge
partially; I know nothing of the matter. If it was, is not the wound
given to his honour sufficiently severe? But even if it was just,
should not a discarded officer be immediately paid? Should not congress
demand the reason why the prize-money has not been paid to those to
whom it has been long due? Complaints of this kind have to my knowledge
spread from Philadelphia to Boston. I am concerned for the honour of
congress. These complaints may appear of little consequence; but I am
afraid if they continue unattended to, they will cast a dark shade over
the public character. The state of Landais' affairs will appear in his
own memorial to congress, which was rejected, and perhaps may be on the
files. You will oblige me if you will interest yourself (if leisure
will admit of it) as far as you may think just, in his favour.

I have been applied to by some of the inhabitants of the island of
Nantucket, and have promised them to write to my friend respecting the
whale fishery. These people have been usually employed in that branch
of business chiefly. They have greatly reduced the number of their
vessels, since the commencement of the war, by which means they say
they are reduced to great distress and wish for some indulgence from
congress. Whether this can be consistently granted, and in what manner,
you will judge. The delegates of this state, I believe, can inform you
more particularly of this matter. You are sensible of the absolute
dependence of this state upon the fishery for its trade, and how great
an advantage will accrue from it to the United States, if they intend
ever to have a navy. I hope our peacemakers are instructed by all means
to secure a common right in it.

My respects to the Hon. Mr. Izard, if at Philadelphia, and other
friends. Adieu, and believe me very affectionately yours,

1 Morns.


[MS., Chamberlain Collection, Boston Public Library.]

MARCH 10 1783


Having been just now made acquainted by your Messenger that the
Freeholders and Inhabitants of Boston assembled in Town Meeting,1 have
chosen me their Moderator, I beg the Favor of you to inform them, that
I esteem my self greatly honourd by their Choice; but my Engagements in
the Senate, which it is not in my Power to dispense with, lay me under
a Necessity of praying that I may be excusd by the Town.----

With the warmest Wishes for their Prosperity, I am


Your obedient hbl Servt

1 Boston Record Commissioners' Report, vol. xxvi., p. 292.


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

BOSTON Apr 21 1783


I am indebted to you for several Letters which I have not acknowledged.
The Anecdote you gave me in one of them relating to a Mr Mercer & Colo
Griffin in Virginia was very diverting to me. The People in this part
of the Continent would never have fixed upon the Names of La Le or A1
to hold up to a publick Assembly as the Heads of a British Interest in
America. It would not have been sooner believed here than another Story
I have heard, that a certain french Politician of Consideration in
America had expressd his high Displeasure with Mr S A for stiring up
his Countrymen to attend to the Importance of our retaining a Common
Right to the Newfd Ld fishery. Many wonderful Tales are & will be told,
some of which a Sight of the secret Journals of Congress would unravel.
I think the sooner those Journals are publishd the better. The People
at large ought to know what that illustrious Body has been doing for
them and the Part each Member has acted. We are now at Peace, God be
thanked, with all the World--and I hope we shall never intermeddle with
the Quarrels of other Nations. Let the U S continue in peace & Union, &
in order to this Let them do Justice to each other. Let there be no
longer secret Journals or secret Comtees. Let the Debates in Congress
be open and the whole of their transactions publishd weekly--this will
tend to the speedy rectifying Mistakes & preserving mutual Confidence
between the People & their Representatives. And let Care be taken to
prevent Factions in America, foreign or domestick.

Will you suffer me to recommend to you my good friends & excellent
fellow Citizens Mr Appleton the Bearer of this Letter & his fellow
Traveller Mr Wendel. My Regards.


1 Laurens, Lee, Adams.


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

BOSTON May 1 1783


Coll0 John Allan will deliver you this Letter. This Gentleman soon
after the Commencement of the late Hostilities, left his Connections in
Nova Scotia which were respectable there & took a decided part with us
against Great Britain. In the Winter of 77 Congress appointed him
Superintendent or Agent for the Indians in Nova Scotia & the Tribes to
the Northward & Eastward thereof, with a Salary of 900 Dollars p Annum,
& afterwards requested this State to furnish him from time to time with
needful Supplies. The State raised an Artillery Company for the Defence
of the Post of Machias & gave him the Command with a Cols Commission.
Congress in Feb 81 if I mistake not, empowerd our supreme Executive to
enlarge that Compy to the Number of 65, officers included, & to officer
the same with the express Nomination of Colo Allan to the Command. This
Compy was by the Resolve to be raisd cloathed subsisted & paid as other
officers & Soldiers of the US. I believe Colo A has executed the trusts
reposed in him with Fidelity & to the Advantage of the Publick. As this
State has supplied him at the Expence of the U S, I suppose that his
Accots which remain to be settled, will as his former Accts have been,
be settled in the first Instance by our Assembly when it meets. He
takes the Oppty in the Interval (the War being finishd) to wait on
Congress for their further Direction. Your Notice of him & Care that he
may receive such Emoluments as he may be intitled to as an officer will
oblige me. I think he has too much Republican Pride to expect more than
is reasonable from Congress, & he is too much the Gentleman to be
troublesome to you. I write this without his knowledge.

Another calls upon me. You will think me a Man of Importance! But this
is one of my Days of Business. Is it not strange that an officer of the
American Army should apply to the Friendship of one whom they have been
led to look upon as their Enemy? But--I am informd that Colo Badlam was
among the first who flew to Arms, that he has sustained the Character
of a meritorious officer. If he has been unfortunate rather than faulty
or if guilty of a Fault it was attended with Circumstances very
alleviating why should an officer of Merit at the very close of the War
be deprivd of the Benefits which are allotted to others? I think I know
your feelings for that officer and perhaps your private Judgment of his
Case from your Letter to him which I have seen. What Advantage can he
expect from an Application to this State? Would not a Recommendation to
Congress from Head Quarters in his favor answer a much better Purpose?
This is only a Hint to you. Perhaps I am out of my Line. I will
conclude this Epistle with congratulating you most heartily on the
return of Peace with Liberty and Independence & assuring you that I am



[MS., Emmet Collection, Lenox Library.]

BOSTON May 2 1783


Our Friend Colo John Allan takes the Care of this Letter and will
deliver it to you. The War being finishd, he is going to Philadelphia
to receive such Directions as Congress shall think proper to give to
him. You remember he was appointed in 77, Agent of the St Johns & Nova
Scotia Indians, and he has since commanded an Artillery Company raised
by this State for the Defence of the Post at Machias, adopted by
Congress in Feb. 81 and cloathd subsisted & paid as other Officers &
Soldiers of the United States. He has I doubt not, executed the Trusts
reposed in him with Fidelity, and I think is entitled to the Emoluments
given to Officers of his Rank. I have given him a Letter to the
Secretary at War &c.

Your Recommendation first gaind him the Confidence of Congress and your
repeated Favor will still be a substantial Advantage to him.

I most heartily congratulate you on the Return of Peace with Liberty &
Independence.--Blessings for which Patriots have toiled & Heroes fought &
bled. Our Country may now be happy if she is not wanting to her self.
We have done our Duty. Future Generations can never curse the present
for carelessly surrendering their Rights.

I beg you, my Friend, not to impute my long Silence to a faulty Cause.
If you believe me to be a Man of Truth, be assured that I have
constantly participated with you in good & ill Fortune. I shall ever
rejoice that you was honord by Providence, in captivating Burgoyne &
his whole Army--An Event which wrought the most happy Change in the Face
of our Affairs in Europe, and which alone, in Spite of Envy, will give
you a brilliant Page in History.

Mr Yancey is gone to South Carolina. I have written by him to my old
Patriotick friend Gadsden and the stronger to enforce my Recommendation
of Mr Yancey have mentiond him as one whom you regard.

Oblige me with your Letters for I am sincerely and affectionately

Your Friend

& very humble Servant,


[J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 408-410; a draft is
in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

BOSTON, Sept. 9, 1783.


This is the first letter I have been able to write since I had the
pleasure of seeing you, excepting a short one to our delegates,
informing them that the general court had appointed a committee to
correspond with them. Mr. Appleton and Mr. Rowe are my colleagues in
this business. The correspondence is to be very extensive. "Any other
important matter which relates to the being and welfare of the United
States!" My bodily illness has prevented my engaging in it. I wish the
delegates would begin. The welfare, and perhaps the being of the United
States, in my opinion, depends much upon congress possessing the
confidence of the people at large; that upon the administration of
public affairs being manifestly grounded upon principles of equality
and justice, or upon the people being assured that congress merit their
confidence. The war is now over, and the people turn their eyes to the
disposition of their money, a subject, which I hope congress will
always have so clear a knowledge of, as to be able at any time to
satisfy the rational enquiries of the people. To prevent groundless
jealousies, it seems necessary not only that the principal in that
department should himself be immaculate, but that care should be taken
that no persons be admitted to his confidence but such as have the
entire confidence of the people. Should a suspicion prevail that our
high treasurer suffers men of bad principles or of no principles to be
about him and employed by him, the fidelity of congress itself would be
suspected, and a total loss of confidence would follow. I am much
concerned for the reputation of congress, and have laboured to support
it because that body is and must be the cement of the union of the
states. I hope, therefore, they will always make it evident to
reasonable men that their administration merits the public applause.
Will they be able to do this, if they should cease to be very watchful
over men whom they trust in great departments, especially those who
have the disposition of the public moneys? Power will follow the
possession of money, even when it is known that it is not the
possessor's property. So fascinating are riches in the eyes of mankind!
Were our financier, I was going to say, even an angel from heaven, I
hope he will never have so much influence as to gain the ascendency
over congress, which the first lord of the treasury has long had over
the parliament of Britain; long enough to effect the ruin of that
nation. These are the fears which I expressed in congress when the
department was first instituted. I was told, that the breath of
congress could annihilate the financier; but I replied, that the time
might come, and if they were not careful it certainly would, when even
congress would not dare to blow that breath. Whether these fears are
the mere creatures of the imagination you will judge.

My regards to Dr. Holten and Mr. Higgenson, if he is still in Congress.
Pray write to me often.


1 For a facsimile note by Adams to Gerry, dated September 11, 1783, see
Brotherhead, Signers of the Declaration of Independence (1872), p. 172.


[MS., Adams Papers, Quincy; the text is also in John Adams, Works, vol.
ix., pp. 519-521.]

BOSTON Novr 4 1783.


Colo John Trumbull, the Son of the worthy Governor of Connecticutt is
the Bearer of this Letter. I give the Governor this Epithet, because I
think his faithful Services to our Country entitle him to it. Yet even
he has undergone the Suspicions of some, unsupported by any solid
Reasons that I have heard of. We live in an Age of Jealousy, and it is
well enough. I was led to believe in early Life, that Jealousy is a
political Virtue. It has long been an Aphorism with me, that it is one
of the greatest Securities of publick Liberty. Let the People keep a
watchful Eye over the Conduct of their Rulers; for we are told that
Great Men are not at all times wise. It would be indeed a Wonder if in
any Age or Country they were always honest. There are however some Men
among us, who under the Guise of watchful Patriots, are finding Fault
with every publick Measure, with a Design to destroy that just
Confidence in Government, which is necessary for the Support of those
Liberties which we have so dearly purchas'd. Many of your Countrymen
besides myself, feel very grateful to you and those of our Negociators
who joyned you, in preventing the Tory Refugees from being obtruded
upon us. These would certainly have increasd the Number of such Kind of
Patriots as I have mentiond, and besides, their Return would have been
attended with other mischievous Effects. Mutual Hatred and Revenge
would have occasiond perpetual Quarrels between them & the people &
perhaps frequent Bloodshed. Some of them, by Art and Address might
gradually recover a Character & in time an Influence, and so become the
fittest Instruments in forming Factions either for one foreign Nation
or another. We may be in Danger of such Factions, and should prudently
expect them. One might venture to predict that they will sooner or
later happen. We should therefore guard against the evil Effects of
them. I deprecate the most favord Nation predominating in the Councils
of America, for I do not believe there is a Nation on Earth that wishes
we should be more free or more powerful than is consistent with their
Ideas of their own Interest. Such a disinterested Spirit is not to be
found in National Bodies; The World would be more happy if it prevaild
more in individual Persons. I will say it for my Countrymen, they are,
or seem to be, very grateful. All are ready freely to acknowledge our
Obligations to France for the Part she took in our late Contest. There
are a few who consider the Advantage derivd to her, by a total
Seperation of Britain & the Colonies, which so sagacious a Court
doubtless foresaw & probably never lost Sight of. This Advantage was so
glaring in the first Stages of our Controversy, that those who then ran
the Risque of exciting even an Appeal to Heaven rather than a
Submission to British tyranny, were well perswaded that the Prospect of
such a Seperation would induce France to interpose, and do more than
she has done if necessary. America with the Assistance of her faithful
Ally has secured and establishd her Liberty & Independence. God be
praisd! And some would think it too bold to assert, that France has
thereby saved the Being of her great Importance.--But if it be true why
may we not assert it? A punctual Fulfillment of Engagements solemnly
enterd into by Treaty is the Justice, the Honor & Policy of Nations. If
we, who have contracted Debts, were influenced only by Motives of sound
Policy, we should pay them as soon as possible & provide sure &
adequate Funds for the Payment of Interest in the mean time. When we
have done this we shall have the Sense of Independence impressd on our
Minds, no longer feeling that State of Inferiority which a wise King
tells us the Borrower stands in to the Lender.

Your Negociation with Holland, as "my old Friend" observd, is all your
own. The faithful Historian will do Justice to your Merits--Perhaps not
till you are dead. I would have you reconcile yourself to this Thought.
While you live you will probably be the Object of Envy. The leading
Characters in this great Revolution will not be fairly marked in the
present Age, It will be well if the leading Principles are rememberd
long. You, I am sure, have not the Vanity, which Cicero betrayed, when
he even urged his Friend Licinius to publish the History of the
Detection of Cataline in his Life Time that he might enjoy it. I am far
from thinking that Part of History redounds so much to the Honor of the
Roman Consul, as the Treaty of Holland does to its American Negociator.

Decr 4th I intended to have committed the Care of the foregoing Letter
to Mr Trumbull, but when he called on me I was confind to my Chamber by
severe bodily Indisposition unable to attend even to the lightest
Business. I am still kept at home, but hope soon to be abroad. Mr Jonn
Jackson will deliver this to you if he meets you in London, otherwise
he will convey it by some safe hand. When I shall be certain of your
being appointed for London, I will write to you as often as I can. May
Heaven bless you My Friend as I am

affectionately yours



[MS., Adams Papers, Quincy.]

BOSTON Feb 4 1784


I had laid up in my mind many things to say to you, but an hours notice
only of this opportunity and the hurry of business in the General Court
now sitting prevents my communicating them to you at present. The Son
of Mr Nathl Appleton will deliver to you this short epistle; written
for the sake of recommending him to your notice. He is a young
gentleman lately enterd into Business in the Commercial line. My
Affection for a young fellow Citizen, and Regard for his Father an
intimate friend & a Member of the old committee of Correspondence of
this town are strong Inducements to me to take this method of availing
the Son of your Advice & Patronage. I wrote to you the 4 Decr by Mr
Jonathan Jackson & will write again by the next opportunity. Your
Family was well a few Days ago. You will doubtless have heard, before
this will reach you, of the Death of our good Friend Dr Cooper.



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

BOSTON Feb 25 1784


When a Committee was appointed by the G C1 to correspond with the
Delegates in Congress for this C W2 I proposd that the Correspondence
shd be carried on in a liberal Manner; but it was apprehended that the
Sentiments of the G C might be mistaken by the Come & the Delegates
thereby misled & so the Idea was drop'd & nothing material was left for
the Court to do but to forward such Letters or papers as shd be from
time to time orderd by the Court. Had the Come pursued the first
proposal, I could have had no Share in the Correspondence having been
exceedingly sick the greatest part of the Time from June to January.
This I hope will apologize for my not having written to you & my other
Friends in Congress; which I mention because, not receiving your
favors, I have been affraid you imputed my Omission to Neglect. In the
September Session the Court thought fit to direct the Delegates
officially to write to the Govr once a fortnight which of Course
dissolved the Corresponding Come, & since that time no Letters from the
Delegates have been laid before the G C.

Your Letter of Sept 11 directed to the Come was through mere
forgetfulness omitted to be communicated in Season. This was attributed
by some Persons of illiberal Minds & Party Spirit to an abominable
Design to withhold from the Court the Sentiments of the Delegates
respecting the Expediency of refusing to yield Supplys to the
Continental Treasury till Justice should be done us with Regard to the
Old money now in our publick Treasury & private hands. I could not help
diverting my self with the Ebullitions of apparent Zeal for the publick
Good on this Occasion, and upon its being said by a Gentn in Senate
that it was the Subject of warm Conversation among the people without
Doors I observed the Clamour wd undoubtedly subside on the Afternoon of
the first Monday in April next. Your Letter has since been very
prudently published by an unknown Person in Edes' Paper.

Inclosd is a Letter to your Self from Colo Scar Gridley. It seems he
applied to this G C some time ago for Depretion of his pay while in the
Service, upon which the Govr was requested to write to G W to make
known to him the Rank held by Mr Gridley & . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . .but the Letter has never been written. I advisd
him to write you on the Subject, & hope you will excuse my giving you
the Trouble. As you are now near the Place of Residence of General
Washington, perhaps it may not be inconvenient to you to write to him,
in doing which you will gratify & oblige Mr Gridley.

I shall esteem a Letter from you one of the greatest favors being your
very affectionate Friend,

1 General Court.

2 Commonwealth.


[MS., Adams Papers, Quincy; a draft is in the Lenox Library.]

BOSTON April 16 1784


I have not receivd a Letter from you of a later Date than the 10th of
Septr last. Extracts of yours to D G of the same Date have been handed
about, with a View, as I conceivd, of giving the Sanction of your
Opinion to that of others respecting the Tories. It is often
inconvenient, perhaps unsafe, to trust ones Confidential Letters to
indiscrete, however honest, Friends. Detachd Parts of them being given
out, they may be made to bear a different Construction from what was
intended, and answer the Purpose of interrested & designing Men. When
the Recommendations of Congress in Pursuance of the 5th Article of the
Treaty were receivd here, they were treated with great Decency & very
seriously considerd. They were construed differently by Men of Sense,
who were above the Influence of old Prejudices or of Party or Family
Connections. This Difference, I supposed, was owing to certain
Ambiguities in the Treaty, which I afterwards found had been
acknowledgd in a joynt Letter to Congress of the 18th July, in which it
appeard that our Negociators had studiously avoided any Expressions in
the Articles of the Treaty which shd amount to absolute Stipulations in
Favor of the Tories. From the first Sight I had of the Articles, I have
been of opinion that no such Construction could fairly be put upon
them, but that it would finally lie with the several Legislatures of
the States, how far it would be proper to show Lenity to them, and I
was happy in being confirmd in this Opinion by an Expression in your
joynt Letter to Congress Septr 10th--"it is much to be wishd that the
Legislators may not involve all the Tories in Banishment and Ruin, but
that such Discrimination may be made as to intitle the Decisions to the
Approbation of disinterested Men and dispassionate Posterity." In this
View I early inculcated Moderation and Liberality towards them, as far
as could be consistent with that leading Principle of Nature which
ought to govern Nations as it does Individuals, Self Preservation. I
cannot think that all can be admitted consistently with the Safety of
the Commonwealth. I gave you my Reasons in my Letter of Nov. 4th. Nor
can I believe you intended to be understood universally in your private
Letter above referrd to. Some of them would be useful & good Citizens;
others, I believe highly dangerous. Our Act passed in the late Session
of the General Court declares them all Aliens, and excludes those of
them who in a former Act were called Conspirators from residing among
us. It restores the Estates of others which have not been confiscated
and refers their coming to reside within the Commonwealth in the first
Instance to the Governor with Advice of Council. The Licenses he may
give are to be valid if approvd of by the General Court at the Session
next after such License shall be given. It is thought that this will be
a difficult Task for the Governor & Council, but a constant Attention
to the publick Safety without Respect to Persons will prevent
Difficulties. "Much, says your joynt Letter, will depend upon our
Negociations with England." The sooner a Commercial Treaty is settled
with that Nation the better, as it appears to me. Our General Court, in
the late Session, thought of making Retaliation on England for her
prohibiting Importations from America into her West India Islands but
in British Bottoms. They were sensible of the Difficulty in the Way of
the United States coming into general Regulations of this Kind, & have
written to their Delegates on the Subject. Should the States agree to
give Congress a more extensive Power, it may yet be a great while
before it is compleated; and Britain in the mean time seeing our Trade
daily reverting to its old Channel, may think it needless and
impolitick to enter into express Stipulations in favor of any Part of
it while she promises her self the whole without them.

I am fully in the Sentiment expressd in your joynt Letter Sept 10th,
that now we have regular & constitutional Governments, popular
Committees and County Conventions are not only useless but dangerous.
They served an excellent Purpose & were highly necessary when they were
set up. I shall not repent the small Share I then took in them. But
what think you of the District & State Conventions of the Cincinnati, &
of the Cincinnati in Congress assembled? Do not these Assemblies
convene expressly to deliberate & adopt Measures on great and National
Concerns proper only for the Cognizance of the United States in
Congress assembled, and the different Legislators & Officers of
Government? And will they not, being an Order of Military Men, too soon
proceed to enforce their Resolutions, not only to the lessening the
Dignity of the States in the Eye of Europe, but the putting an End to
their free Existence! The Order is very unpopular here. By the inclosd
you will see the Sentiments of our Gen1 Court. The Governor of Sdeg.
Carolina in a late Speech to his Assembly inveighs against them with
the Vehemence of Luther.



[MS., Adams Papers, Quincy; a draft is in the Lenox Library.]

BOSTON April 17 1784


Several of my Fellow Citizens have desired me to mention to you certain
Difficulties they labour under & to request that you would inform me
whether it is probable they can obtain Reliefe, among whom are Dr Nath1
Noyes & Capt Saml Dashwood. Both of them I believe you knew. I inclose
Mr Noyess Questions as he has stated them himself.--Capt Dashwoods Goods
were taken from him by order of the Commanding officer of the British
Troops when they left this Town in 1776. I need not trouble you to
explain as I doubt not you well remember the Circumstances of these
Matters. It will be hard for such Persons to pay the British Creditors
for the same Goods which the British Nation took from them for its own
necessary Use & if I mistake not with a Promise to compensate them,
unless the Promise is complied with.

A few Lines on this Subject when you are at Leisure will very much
oblige them as well as

Your Friend


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text is in J. T. Austin,
Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 422-424.]

BOSTON April 19th 1784


Mr Higginson was so obliging as to show me your Letter to him dated the
4th of March. I was happy in having adopted an opinion of the
Cincinnati so similar to what I found yours to be. I think I am as
sensible as any Man ought to be of the important Services of our late
Army, and am very desirous that their full Share of Merit may be
gratefully acknowledgd & rewarded by the Country. This would have been
done, (for the Prejudice of the People against the Gratuity of five
years pay began to subside) had they not adopted a Plan so disgustfull
to the Common Feeling. It appears wonderful that they could imagine a
People who had freely spent their Blood & Treasure in Support of their
equal rights & Liberties, could so soon be reconciled to the odious
hereditary Distinction of Families. This Country must be humiliated &
debased to a great Degree, before they will patiently bear to see
Individuals stalking with their assumed honorary Badges, & proudly
boasting "These are the Distinctions of our Blood." I cannot think that
many of our Officers entertained such an Idea of haughty Pre-eminence;
but the human Mind is so captivated with the Thought of being elevated
above the ignoble Vulgar, that their Sons, if they should not
themselves, when they perceive the Multitude grown giddy with gazing,
may assume more than the mere Pageantry of Nobility. When Men begin to
applaud themselves, they are not easily perswaded to believe they can
take a greater Share of Honor than justly belongs to them. They will be
pleasd with the Adulatory Addresses of other Men & flatter themselves
that they are intitled to Power and Authority as well as the
ostentatious Show of Superiority above their Equals. I confess I do not
barely dislike the order. With you I think it dangerous & look upon it
with the Eye of Jealousy. When the Pride of Family possesses the Minds
of Men it is threatning to the Community in Proportion to the Good they
have done. The unsuspecting People, when they are in a Mood to be
grateful, will cry up the Virtues of their Benefactors & be ready to
say, Surely those Men who have done such great things for us, will
never think of setting up a Tyranny over us. Even Patriots & Heroes may
become different Men when new & different Prospects shall have alterd
their Feelings & Views; and the undiscerning People may too late repent
that they have sufferd them to exalt themselves & their Family upon the
Ruins of the Common Liberty. The Cincinnati are very unpopular here;
you will wonder then that one of the Order has had a Majority of the
Votes of this Town for a Senator for the County. I am affraid the
Citizens are not so vigilant as they used and ought still to be. It was
given out at the Moment of Election that he intended to withdraw
himself from the Society. If he does, it may weaken their Influence--if
not, he will probably destroy his own. You have doubtless seen the
Sentiments of the General Court of the Order. The Reprobating Speech of
the Governor of So Carolina has been publishd in our papers.

I had the Pleasure of receiving by the same Post your several Letters
of the 15th, 20th and 24th Ulto. If I have a Seat in the General Court
the ensuing year, (which is uncertain) I shall (tho very reluctantly)
communicate your Intention to leave Congress, unless you will gratify
the earnest Wishes of your Friends by altering your Determination. I
assure you there is no Friend to our Country within my Circle who is
not anxiously solicitous for your continuing there longer. I was in
hopes when you was prevailed upon again to take a Seat you would have
held it at least two years. Let me entreat you to release me from the
obligation of complying with your Request.

I have written so much in Spite of my trembling hand, concerning the
Cini, that I can at present only fulfill a Promise I gave our Navy
officers, to inclose their Petition to Congress and to beg your
Patronage of it. They appear to me to be injurd or at least neglected
Men. It is certainly high time they should receive their Prize Money
and Assurances of their Pay. I will write you by Mr Lowell (who sets
off for Phila in a few Days & intends making you a Visit) or by the
Post speedily. Mrs A desires her Complts

Adieu my Friend,


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text with modifications is
in J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 424-427.]

BOSTON April 23 1784


Mr Lowel thinks he shall not be able to make you a Visit at Annapolis
as he intended, so I have not written by him. Is the Court of Appeals1
of which he is a Member to continue now the War is over? I should think
it a needless Expence. If ever there should be Occasion for it, a new
Court might at any time be constituted. I observe by the inclosd, that
the Cincinnati in Congress assembled are to meet at Philadelphia on the
5th of May & that General Washington is to preside. That Gentleman has
an idea of the Nature & Tendency of the Order very different from mine,
otherwise I am certain he would never have given it his Sanction. I
look upon it to be as rapid a Stride towards an hereditary Military
Nobility as was ever made in so short a Time. My Fears may be ill
grounded, but if they are not, it is impossible for me not to think it
a very great Misfortune to these States that he is a Member; for the
Reputation he has justly acquired by his Conduct while Commander in
Chiefe of our Armies, and the Gratitude & warm Affection which his
Countrymen do & ought to feel towards him will give Weight to any thing
he patronizes, & Lustre to all who may be connected with him. It is a
Tribute due to the Man who has servd his Country well, to esteem him
highly & confide in him. We ought not however to think any Man
incapable of Error. But so it is with the Bulk of Mankind & even in a
free Country. They will reprobate the Idea of implicit Faith; and at
the same time, while the Impression of Gratitude is deep in their
Minds, they will not admit of a Benefactor, which must be said of every
Man, "aliquando dormitat." I would never inculcate a mean & envious
Suspicion of any Man especially of those who have renderd signal
Services to their Country. But there is a Degree of Watchfulness over
all Men possessd of Power or Influence upon which the Liberties of
Mankind much depend. It is necessary to guard against the Infirmities
of the best as well as the Wickedness of the worst of Men. Such is the
Weakness of human Nature that Tyranny has oftener sprang from that than
any other Source. It is this that unravels the Mystery of Millions
being enslavd by a few. What was it that indued the Cincinnati
Gentlemen who have undertaken to deliberate and act upon Matters which
may essentially concern "the Happiness & future Dignity of the American
Empire," to admit foreign Military Subjects into their Society? Was
there not Danger before that a foreign Influence might prevail in
America? Do not Foreigners wish to have Weight in our Councils? Can
such a Junction of Subjects of different Nations (& those Nations
widely different in their principles of Government) to Deliberate upon
things which relate to the Union & national Honor, the Happiness &
future Dignity of one consist with sound Policy? Are we sure that those
foreign Nations will never have separate Views & very national &
interrested ones too, because they once united in the same object & it
was accidentally their mutual Interest to fight Side by Side? If the
Cincinnati had a Right to erect themselves into an order for the
national Purposes of their Institution, had they a Right to call in
foreign Aid for those Purposes? It appears to me as impolitic,
preposterous & dangerous as it would be for the United States to invite
& admit a Delegation from that foreign Power into their Congress.

I take Notice that the Committee of Congress propose that the Govts of
the ten new States to be formd shall be in Republican form & shall
admit no Person to be a Citizen who holds any hereditary Title. I hope
Congress will not fail to make this an indispensible Condition.

Your Letter of the 2d relating to Colo Gridleys Affair came to hand. I
am obligd to you for the Care you have taken.

Believe me to be yr sincere & affectionate Friend,

1 Cf. J. F. Jameson, Essays in Constitutional History, pp. 32 et seq.


[MS., Ford Collection, Lenox Library; a draft is in the Samuel Adams
Papers, Lenox Library,]

BOSTON April 30th 1784


I was favord with your Letter of 24th March, but by a Multiplicity of
Affairs, which, as it happened I was at that Time engaged in, I was
prevented returning an Answer so speedily as you desired. For this
Reason I afterwards thought an Answer would be of no Importance.
Decency alone should, however, have induced me to have acknowledgd the
Favor. I hope you will excuse the Omission.

Some time in the Month of September last, a Gentleman in Connecticutt
requested me to give him my Opinion of a Subject, perhaps too much
altercated in that State as well as this, The Commutation of half Pay
granted by Congress to the Officers of the late Army for Life for full
Pay during the Term of five years. I did not hesitate to say in Return,
that in my Opinion Congress was, in the Nature of their Appointment,
the sole Judge of the necessary Means of supporting the late Army
raised for the Defence of our Common Rights against the Invasions of
Great Britain; and if, upon their own deliberate Councils & the
repeated Representations of the Commander in Chiefe of the Army, they
judgd that the Grant of half Pay for Life was a Measure absolutely
necessary for the Support of a disciplined Army for the Purpose before
mentiond, they had an undoubted Right to make it; and as it was made in
behalf of the United States by their Representative authorizd to do it,
each State was bound in Justice & Honor to comply with it, even tho it
should seem to any to have been an ill judgd Measure; because States &
Individual Persons are equally bound to fulfill their Obligations, and
it is given as Characteristick of an honest Man, that "though he
sweareth (or promiseth) to his own hurt he changeth not." I moreover
acquainted him, that although I was never pleasd with the Idea of half
Pay for Life, for Reasons which appeard satisfactory to myself, some of
which I freely explaind to him, yet I had always thought, that as the
Opportunities of the Officers of the Army of acquiring moderate
Fortunes or making such Provision for their Families as Men generally
wish to make, were not equal to those of their Fellow Citizens at home,
it would be but just & reasonable, that an adequate Compensation should
be made to them at, or as soon as conveniently might be after, the End
of the War; and that he might therefore conclude, that the Commutation,
if it be an adequate Compensation had fully coincided with my Ideas of
Justice & Policy.

Nothing was mentiond in his Letter to me, of the Nature or the
Proceedings of County Conventions, & therefore I made no Observation
upon them. I hope it will not be in the Power of any designing Men, by
imposing upon credulous tho' well meaning Persons long to keep this
Country, who may be happy if they will, long in a State of Discord &
Animosity. We may see, from the present State of Great Britain, how
rapidly such a Spirit will drive a Nation to destruction. It is prudent
for the People to keep a watchful Eye over the Conduct of all those who
are entrusted with Publick Affairs. Such Attention is the Peoples great
Security.1 But there is Decency & Respect due to Constitutional
Authority, and those Men, who under any Pretence or by any Means
whatever, would lessen the Weight of Government lawfully exercised,
must be Enemies to our happy Revolution & the Common Liberty. County
Conventions & popular Committees servd an excellent Purpose when they
were first in Practice. No one therefore needs to regret the Share he
may then have had in them. But I candidly own it is my Opinion, with
Deferrence to the Opinions of other Men, that as we now have
constitutional & regular Governments and all our Men in Authority
depend upon the annual & free Elections of the People, we are safe
without them. To say the least, they are become useless. Bodies of Men,
under any Denomination whatever, who convene themselves for the Purpose
of deliberating upon & adopting Measures which are cognizable by
Legislatures only will, if continued, bring Legislatures to Contempt &
Dissolution. If the publick Affairs are illy conducted, if dishonest or
incapable Men have crept unawares into Government, it is happy for us,
that under our American Constitutions the Remedy is at hand, & in the
Power of the great Body of the People. Due Circumspection & Wisdom at
the next Elections will set all right, without the Aid of any self
Created Conventions or Societies of Men whatever.2 While we retain
those simple Democracies in all our Towns which are the Basis of our
State Constitutions, and make a good Use of them, it appears to me we
cannot be enslaved or materially injured. It must however be confessd,
that Imperfection attends all human affairs.

I am


your very humble Servant

1 At this point the draft included the words: "for the wisest & best of
Men are liable to Error & Misconduct."

2 At this point the draft included the words "The whole People will not
probably mistake their own true Interests, nor err in their Judgment of
the Men to whom they may safely commit the Care of them."


[MS, Adams Papers, Quincy]

BOSTON June 20 1784


The Hurry of the General Court which is now sitting prevents my writing
a Letter at this Time.

Your amiable Lady who with her Daughter embarks this day will, I hope,
deliver you this Note, which is only to express a fervent Wish that
they may be favord in their Passage & shortly have a joyful Meeting
with you.

It is a long time since I receivd a Letter from you.

Adieu--Believe me

Your affectionate friend

& humble servt


[MS., Adams Papers,1 Quincy.]

BOSTON 2d Decr 1784.


I received several of your Letters with Pleasure, particularly that of
May, which I will answer at a Time of more Leisure. Captn Dashwood of
this Town is going to London, to sollicit Payment of the British Crown,
for Goods taken from him when the Troops left the Town, not as
forfeited, but under the Apprehension that they would be of Use to our
Army, & with an Express Promise that they should be paid for. It


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