The Writings of Samuel Adams, vol. III.

Part 5 out of 7


[J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 119-122; the
text is in Force, American Archives, 4th ser., vol. iii., p.

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 29, 1775.


I wrote to you a few days ago by young Mr. Brown, and then
acknowledged your favour of the 9th instant.

You tell me that a committee of both houses of assembly is
appointed to bring in a militia bill. I am of your opinion, that
this matter requires great attention, and I wish with you to see
our militia formed not only into battalions, but also brigades.
But should we not be cautious of putting them under the direction
of the generals of the continent, at least until such a
legislative shall be established over all America, as every
colony shall consent to?

The continental army is very properly under the direction of the
continental congress. Possibly, if ever such a legislative should
be formed, it may be proper that the whole military power in
every Colony should be under its absolute direction. Be that as
it may, will it not till then be prudent that the militia of each
colony should be and remain under the sole direction of its own
legislative, which is and ought to be the sovereign and
uncontrollable power within its own limits or territory? I hope
our militia will always be prepared to aid the forces of the
continent in this righteous opposition to tyranny. But this ought
to be done upon an application to the government of the colony.
Your militia is your natural strength, which ought under your own
direction to be employed for your own safety and protection. It
is a misfortune to a colony to become the seat of war. It is
always dangerous to the liberties of the people to have an army
stationed among them, over which they have no control. There is
at present a necessity for it; the continental army is kept up
within our colony, most evidently for our immediate security. But
it should be remembered that history affords abundant instances
of established armies making themselves the masters of those
countries, which they were designed to protect. There may be no
danger of this at present, but it should be a caution not to
trust the whole military strength of a colony in the hands of
commanders independent of its established legislative.

It is now in the power of our assembly to establish many
wholesome laws and regulations, which could not be done under the
former administration of government. Corrupt men may be kept out
of places of public trust; the utmost circumspection I hope will
be used in the choice of men for public officers. It is to be
expected that some who are void of the least regard to the
public, will put on the appearance and even speak boldly the
language of patriots, with the sole purpose of gaining the
confidence of the public, and securing the loaves and fishes for
themselves or their sons or other connexions. Men who stand
candidates for public posts, should be critically traced in their
views and pretensions, and though we would despise mean and base
suspicion, there is a degree of jealousy which is absolutely
necessary in this degenerate state of mankind, and is indeed at
all times to be considered as a political virtue. It is in your
power also to prevent a plurality of places incompatible with
each other being vested in the same persons. This our patriots
have loudly and very justly complained of in time past, and it
will be an everlasting disgrace to them if they suffer the
practice to continue. Care I am informed is taking to prevent the
evil with as little inconvenience as possible, but it is my
opinion that the remedy ought to be deep and thorough.

After all, virtue is the surest means of securing the public
liberty. I hope you will improve the golden opportunity of
restoring the ancient purity of principles and manners in our
country. Every thing that we do, or ought to esteem valuable,
depends upon it. For freedom or slavery, says an admired writer,
will prevail in a country according as the disposition and
manners of the inhabitants render them fit for the one or the

P.S. Nov. 4th. Yesterday the colours of the 7th regiment were
presented to the Congress. They were taken at Fort Chamblee; the
garrison surrendered prisoners of war to Major Brown of the
Massachusetts forces, with one hundred and twenty-four barrels of
gunpowder! May heaven grant us further success.1

1In the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library, is the draft of a
letter, endorsed as to James Warren, the body of which is almost
identical with the foregoing. The postscript, however, is as

Novr 4th

My Time is so little at my own Disposal that I am obligd to
improve a Moment as I can catch it to write to a Friend. I wish I
was at Liberty to communicate to you some of our Proceedings, but
I am restraind, and though it is painful to me to keep Secrets
from a few confidential Friends, I am resolvd that I will not
violate my Honor. I may venture to tell you one of our
Resolutions which in the Nature of it must be immediately made
publick, and that it is to recommend to our Sister Colony of N
Hampshire to exercise Government in such a form as they shall
judge necessary for the preservation of peace and good order,
during the continuance of the present Contest with Britain. This
I would not have you mention abroad till you see it published or
hear it publickly talkd of. The Government of the N England
Colonies I suppose will soon be nearly on the same Footing, and I
am of opinion that it; will not be long before every Colony will
see the Necessity of setting up Government within themselves for
reasons that appear to me to be obvious.

Yesterday the Congress was presented with the Colors of the 7th
Regiment taken at Fort Chamblee which was a few days ago
surrendered to Major Brown--ONE HUNDRED & TWENTY FOUR BARRILS OF
GUN POWDER--May Heaven grant us further success. I am

Your affectionate Friend,


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

PHILADA, Novr 7th 1775


My last Letter to you I sent by young Mr Gowen Brown who left
this place about a fortnight ago. I know not how many I have
written. I wish you would send me the Dates of those you have
receivd, in your next.

My Son informs me in a late Letter, that you were about removing
to little Cambridge. I am exceedingly pleasd with it, because I
am sure you could not be comfortable in your house at Dedham in
the cold Season. When we shall return to our Habitation in
Boston, if ever, is uncertain. The Barbarity of our Enemies in
the Desolations they have wantonly made at Falmouth and
elsewhere, is a Presage of what will probably befall that Town
which has so long endur'd the Rage of a merciless Tyrant. It has
disgracd the Name of Britain, and added to the Character of the
Ministry, another indelible Mark of Infamy. We must be content to
suffer the Loss of all things in this Life, rather than tamely
surrender the publick Liberty. The Eyes of the People of Britain
seem to be fast closed; if they should ever be opened they will
rejoyce, and thank the Americans for resisting a Tyranny which is
manifestly intended to overwhelm them and the whole British
Empire. Righteous Heaven will surely smile on a Cause so
righteous as ours is, and our Country, if it does its Duty will
see an End to its Oppressions. Whether I shall live to rejoyce
with the Friends of Liberty and Virtue, my fellow Laborers in the
Common Cause, is a Matter of no Consequence. I will endeavor by
Gods Assistance, to act my little part well--to approve my self
to Him, and trust every thing which concerns me to his all-
gracious Providence.

The Newspapers will give you an Account of the Surrender of the
Garrison at Fort Chambly to Major Brown of the Massachusetts. The
Colors of the 7th Regiment were taken there and were brought to
the Congress on Fryday last.

I wrote to my Daughter not long ago. I hope she has receivd the
Letter. Remember me to her and to Sister Polly and all the other

You will believe, my dear Betsy, without the Formality of my
repeating it to you, that I am, most affectionately,



[Proceedings of Massachusetts Historical Society, 1st ser., vol.
xii., pp. 226, 227.]

PHILADELPHIA. Nov. 16. 1775.

SIR,--I embrace this opportunity of writing to you by your son,
whose unexpected arrival from London the last week gave me much
pleasure. He seems in a great degree to have recovered his
health; & I dare say it will be still more satisfactory to you to
find, that he is warmly attached to the Rights of his Country &
of mankind. Give me leave to congratulate you, & also to express
to you the joy I feel on another occasion; which is, that your
own health is so far restored to you, as to enable you again, &
at so important a crisis, to aid our Country with your council.
For my own part, I had even buried you, though I had not forgot
you. I thank God who had disappointed our fears; & it is my
ardent prayer that your health may be perfectly restored & your
eminent usefulness long continued.

We live, my Dear Sir, in an important age--an age in which we are
called to struggle hard in support of the public Liberty. The
conflict, I am satisfied, will the next spring be more severe
than ever. The Petition of Congress has been treated with
insolent contempt. I cannot conceive that there is any room to
hope from the virtuous efforts of the people of Britain. They
seem to be generally unprincipled and fitted for the yoke of
arbitrary power. The opposition of the few is feeble and languid-
-while the Tyrant is flushed with expectations from his fleets &
armies, & has, I am told, explicitly declared, that "Let the
consequences be what they may, it is his UNALTERABLE
determination, to COMPEL the colonists to absolute obedience."

The plan of the British Court, as I was well informed the last
winter, was, to take possession of New York, make themselves
masters of Hudson's River & the Lakes, cut off all communication
between the Northern & Southern Colonies, & employ the Canadians
upon whom they greatly relied, in distressing the frontiers of
New England. Providence has smiled upon our northern expedition.
Already St. Johns is reduced, & if we gain the possession of all
Canada this winter, of which there is a fair prospect, their
design, so far as it respects this part of their plan, will be
totally frustrated.

I will not further trespass upon your time. If you can find
leisure, a letter from you will exceedingly oblige me, for you
may believe me when I assure you that I am with the greatest

Your Friend and very humble Servant,


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a certified copy is in
the Massachusetts Archives, 194: 160; and a text is in Force,
American Archives, 4th ser., vol. iii, p. 1654, and in Acts and
Resolves of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, vol v., pp. 524,



Having maturely considerd your Letter of the 11th of Novr written
in the Name & by order of the Honb the Council of the
Massachusetts Bay & directed to the Delegates of that Colony,2
and consulted with my Colleagues3 thereon, I beg Leave to offer
it as my opinion, that the Resolve of Congress passed on the 9th
of June last relative to establishing Civil Government must be
superseeded by the subsequent resolve of the 3 of July following
so far as they appear to militate with each other. By the last of
these Resolves the Conventions, or Assemblies of the several
Colonies annually elective are at their Discretion either to
adopt the Method pointed out for the regulation of their Militia
in whole or in part or to continue their former Regulations as
they on Consideration of all Circumstances shall think fit; It
seems manifest therefore that the Honbl Council are under no
restraint from yielding to the Honbl House a Voice . . . . them
in the Choice of the Militia officers in the Colony.

I am prevaild upon to believe that this is the Sense of the
Congress because they have lately recommended to the Colony of
New Hampshire to set up & exercise Government in such form as
they shall judge most conducive to the promotion of peace & good
order among themselves--without Restriction of any kind.

As the Hon Board have been pleasd to direct us to give our
opinion either with or without consulting our Brethren of the
Congress as we shall judge best, I hope I shall be justified in
declining on my part to have the Matter laid before Congress for
Reasons which were of Weight in my own Mind; and indeed I am of
opinion that the Congress would not chuse to take any order of
that kind, they having constantly declind to determine on any
Matter which concerns the internal Police of either of the united

It is my most ardent Wish that a cordial Agreement between the
two Houses may ever take place, and more especially in the
Establishment of the Militia, upon which the Safety of the Colony
so greatly depends.

I am with all due regards to the Honbl Board,

Sir, your most humble Servant,

1Addressed as President of the Council of Massachusetts Bay.
2The words "in the Continental Congress" were stricken from the
3Originally "Brethren."


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

PHILADELPHIA, Decr 26 1775


I have receivd your obliging Letter of the 5th Instt by Fessenden
for which I am very thankful to you. The present Government of
our Colony, you tell me, is not considerd as permanent. This
affords the strongest Motive to improve the Advantages of it,
while it continues. May not Laws be made and Regulations
establishd under this Government, the salutary Effects of which
the People shall be so convincd of from their own Experience, as
never hereafter to suffer them to be repeald or alterd. But what
other Change is expected? Certainly the People do not already
hanker after the Onions & the Garlick! They cannot have so soon
forgot the Tyranny of their late Governors, who, being dependent
upon and the mere Creatures of a Minister of State, and
subservient his Inclinations, have FORBID them to make such Laws
as would have been beneficial to them or to repeal those that
were not. But, I find EVERY WHERE some Men, who are affraid of a
free Government, lest it should be perverted, and made Use of as
a Cloke for Licenciousness. The fear of the Peoples abusing their
Liberty is made an Argument against their having the Enjoyment of
it; as if any thing were so much to be dreaded by Mankind as
Slavery. But the Bearer Mr Bromfield, of whose Departure I did
not know, till a few Minutes past, is waiting. I can therefore
say no more at present but that I am,

Your affectionate Friend,

Mr Bromfield who went in a Stage Coach, set off before I could
close my Letter. I shall therefore forward it by the Post or any
other Conveyance that may next offer. Your last Letter informd me
that "the late Conduct of the _______ had weakned that Confidence
& Reverence necessary to give a well disposd Government its full
operation and Effect." I am sorry for it; and presume it is not
to be imputed to a fault in the Institution of that order but a
Mistake in the Persons of whom it is composd. All Men are fond of
Power. It is difficult for us to be prevaild upon to believe that
we possess more than belongs to us. Even publick Bodies of men
legally constituted are too prone to covet more Power than the
Publick hath judgd it safe to entrust them with. It is happy when
their Power is not only subject to Controul while it is exercisd,
but frequently reverts into the hands of the People from whom it
is derivd, and to whom Men in Power ought for ever to be
accountable. That venerable Assembly, the Senate of Areopagus in
Athens, whose Proceedings were so eminently upright and impartial
that we are told, even "foreign States, when any Controversies
happend among them, would voluntarily submit to their Decisions,"
"not only their Determinations might be called into Question and
if need was, retracted by an Assembly of the People, but
themselves too, if they exceeded the due Bounds of Moderation
were liable to account for it." At present our Council as well as
our House of Representatives are annually elective. Thus far they
are accountable to the people, as they are lyable for Misbehavior
to be discarded; but this is not a sufficient Security to the
People unless they are themselves VIRTUOUS. If we wish for
"another Change," must it not be a Change of Manners? If the
youth are carefully educated--If the Principles of Morality are
strongly inculcated on the Minds of the People--the End and
Design of Government clearly understood and the Love of our
Country the ruling Passion, uncorrupted Men will then be chosen
for the representatives of the People. These will elect Men of
distinguishd Worth to sit at the Council Board, and in time we
may hope, that in the purity of their Manners, the Wisdom of
their Councils, and the Justice of their Determinations our
Senate may equal that of Athens, which was said to be "the most
sacred and venerable Assembly in all Greece." I confess, I have a
strong desire that our Colony should excell in Wisdom and Virtue.
If this proceeds from Pride, is it not . . . . . . Pride? I am
willing that the same Spirit of Emulation may pervade every one
of the Confederated Colonies. But I am calld off and must
conclude with again assuring you that I am, with the most
friendly Regards to Mrs Warren, very affectionately,


Regina Azucena


[J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 125-127; a
text is in Force, American Archives, 4th ser., vol. iv., p. 541;
and a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 2, 1776.


Your very acceptable letter of the 13th of December is now before
me. Our opinions of the necessity of keeping the military power
under the direction and control of the legislative, I always
thought were alike. It was far from my intention in my letter to
you on the subject, to attempt the correcting any imagined errour
in your judgment, but rather shortly to express my own
apprehensions at this time, when it is become necessary to
tolerate that power, which is always formidable, and has so often
proved fatal to the liberties of mankind.

It gives me great satisfaction to be informed, that the members
of the house of representatives are possessed of so warm a spirit
of patriotism, as that "an enemy to America may as well attempt
to scale the regions of bliss, as to insinuate himself into their
favour." Whatever kind of men may be denominated enemies to their
country, certainly he is a very injudicious friend to it, who
gives his suffrage for any man to fill a public office, merely
because he is rich; and yet you tell me there are recent
instances of this in our government. I confess it mortifies me
greatly. The giving such a preference to riches is both
dishonourable and dangerous to a government. It is indeed equally
dangerous to promote a man to a place of public trust only
because he wants bread, but I think it is not so dishonourable;
for men may be influenced to the latter from the feelings of
humanity, but the other argues a base, degenerate, servile temper
of mind. I hope our country will never see the time, when either
riches or the want of them will be the leading considerations in
the choice of public officers. Whenever riches shall be deemed a
necessary qualification, ambition as well as avarice will prompt
men most earnestly to thirst for them, and it will be commonly
said, as in ancient times of degeneracy,

Quaerenda pecunia primum est,
Virtus post nummos.

"Get money, money still,
And then let virtue follow if she will."

I am greatly honoured, if my late letter has been acceptable to
the house. I hope the militia bill, to which that letter
referred, is completed to the satisfaction of both houses of the

The account you give me of the success our people meet with in
the manufacture of salt-petre is highly pleasing to me. I
procured of a gentleman in the colony of New-York, the plan of a
powder mill, which I lately sent to Mr. Revere. I hope it may be
of some use.

I have time at present only to request you to write to me by the
post, and to assure that I am

Your affectionate friend,

JANUARY 5, 1776.1

[W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. ii., pp. 342, 343; a
text is in Journals of the Continental Congress (Library of
Congress edition), vol. iv., pp. 32, 33.]

The committee appointed to consider the letter of General
Washington, dated the 18th of December, and the enclosed papers,
brought in a report upon that part which relates to James Lovell,
who has long been, and still is, detained a close prisoner in
Boston, by order of General Howe, which, being taken into
consideration, was agreed That it appears to your committee that
the said Mr. Lovell hath for years past been an able advocate for
the liberties of America and mankind; that by his letter to
General Washington, which is a part of said enclosed papers, he
exhibits so striking an instance of disinterested patriotism, as
strongly recommends him to the particular notice of this

Whereupon, RESOLVED, That Mr. James Lovell, an inhabitant of
Boston, now held a close prisoner there by order of General Howe,
has discovered under the severest trials the warmest attachment
to public liberty, and an inflexible fidelity to his country;
that by his late letter to General Washington he has given the
strongest evidence of disinterested public affection, in refusing
to listen to terms offered for his relief, till he could be
informed by his countrymen that they were compatible with their
safety and honor.

RESOLVED, That it is deeply to be regretted that a British
general can be found degenerate enough, so ignominiously and
cruelly to treat a citizen who is so eminently virtuous.

RESOLVED, That it be an instruction to General Washington to make
an offer of Governor Skene in exchange for the said Mr. Lovell
and his family.

RESOLVED, That General Washington be desired to embrace the first
opportunity which may offer of giving some office to Mr. Lovell
equal to his abilities, and which the public service may require.

ORDERED, That a copy of the foregoing resolutions be transmitted
to the General as speedily as possible.

1See below, page 254. Wells, at vol. ii., pp. 364-366, prints
certain resolutions of the Continental Congress of
January 2, 1776, attributing them to Adams.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; Cf, R. Frothingham,
Rise of the Republic, p. 470.]

PHILADA Jany 7 1776


I verily believe the Letters I write to you are three, to one I
receive from you--however I consider the Multiplicity of Affairs
you must attend to in your various Departments, and am willing to
make due Allowance. Your last is dated the 19th of December. It
contains a List of very important Matters lying before the
General Assembly. I am much pleased to find that there is an End
to the Contest between the two Houses concerning the
Establishment of the Militia--and that you are in hopes of making
an effectual Law for that Purpose. It is certainly of the last
Consequence to a free Country that the Militia, which is its
natural Strength, should be kept upon the most advantageous
Footing. A standing Army, however necessary it may be at some
times, is always dangerous to the Liberties of the People.
Soldiers are apt to consider themselves as a Body distinct from
the rest of the Citizens. They have their Arms always in their
hands. Their Rules and their Discipline is severe. They soon
become attachd to their officers and disposd to yield implicit
Obedience to their Commands. Such a Power should be watchd with a
jealous Eye. I have a good Opinion of the principal officers of
our Army. I esteem them as Patriots as well as Soldiers. But if
this War continues, as it may for years yet to come, we know not
who may succeed them. Men who have been long subject to military
Laws and inured to military Customs and Habits, may lose the
Spirit and Feeling of Citizens. And even Citizens, having been
used to admire the Heroism which the Commanders of their own Army
have displayd, and to look up to them as their Saviors may be
prevaild upon to surrender to them those Rights for the
protection of which against Invaders they had employd and paid
them. We have seen too much of this Disposition among some of
our Countrymen. The Militia is composd of free Citizens. There is
therefore no Danger of their making use of their Power to the
destruction of their own Rights, or suffering others to invade
them. I earnestly wish that young Gentlemen of a military Genius
(& many such I am satisfied there are in our Colony) might be
instructed in the Art of War, and at the same time taught the
Principles of a free Government, and deeply impressd with a Sense
of the indispensible Obligation which every member is under to
the whole Society. These might be in time fit for officers in the
Militia, and being thorowly acquainted with the Duties of
Citizens as well as soldiers, might Command of our Army at such
times as Necessity might require so dangerous a Body to exist.

I am glad that your Attention is turnd so much to the Importation
of Powder & that the manufacture of Salt-petre is in so
flourishing a way. I cannot think you are restraind from
exporting fish to Spain, by the resolve of Congress. I will make
myself more certain by recurring to our Records when the
Secretary returns tomorrow, he being at this time (6 o'clock P.
M.) at his House three miles from Town; and I will inform you by
a Postscript to this Letter, or by another Letter p Post. I have
the Pleasure to acquaint you that five Tons of Powder CERTAINLY
arrivd at Egg harbour the Night before last besides two Tons in
this River--a part of it is consignd to the Congress--the rest is
private property, partly belonging to Mr Thos Boylston and partly
to a Gentleman in this City. Congress has orderd the whole to be
purchasd for publick Use. We are also informd that 6 Tons more
arrivd a few days ago in New York which I believe to be true. But
better still a Vessel is certainly arrivd in this River with
between 50 & 6o Tons of Salt petre. This I suppose will give you
more Satisfaction for the present than telling you Congress News
as you request.

You ask me "When you are to hear of our Confederation?" I answer,
when some Gentlemen (to use an Expression of a Tory) shall "feel
more bold." You know it was formerly a Complaint in our Colony,
that there was a timid kind of Men who perpetually hinderd the
progress of those who would fain run in the path of Virtue and
Glory. I find wherever I am that Mankind are alike variously
classd. I can discern the Magnanimity of the Lyon the Generosity
of the Horse the Fearfulness of the Deer and the CUNNING OF THE
FOX--I had almost overlookd the Fidelity of the Dog. But I
forbear to indulge my rambling Pen in this Way lest I should be
thought chargeable with a Design to degrade the Dignity of our
nature by comparing Men with Beasts. Let me just observe that I
have mentiond only the more excellent Properties that are to [be]
found among Quadrupeds. Had I suggested an Idea of the Vanity of
the Ape the Tameness of the Ox or the stupid Servility of the Ass
I might have been lyable to Censure.

Are you sollicitous to hear of our Confederation? I will tell
you. It is not dead but sleepeth. A Gentleman of this City told
me the other day, that he could not believe the People without
doors would follow the Congress PASSIBUS AEQUIS if such Measures
as SOME called spirited were pursued. It put me in mind of a
Fable of the high mettled horse and the dull horse. My excellenct
Colleague Mr J. A. can repeat this fable to you; and if the
Improvement had been made of it which our very valueable Friend
Coll M----- proposd, you would have seen that Confederation
compleated long before this time. I do not despair of it--since
our Enemies themselves are hastening it. While I am writing an
Express has come in from Baltimore in Maryland with the
Deposition of Cap Horn of the Snow bird belonging to Providence.
The Deponent says that on Monday the first Instant, he being at
Hampton in Virginia heard a constant firing of Cannon--that he
was informd a Messenger had been sent to enquire where the firing
was who reported that the ships of War were cannonading the Town
of Norfolk--that about the Middle of the Afternoon they saw the
smoke ascending from Norfolk as they supposd--that he saild
[from] Hampton the Evening of the same day and the firing
continued till the following afternoon. This will prevail more
than a long train of Reasoning to accomplish a Confederation and
other Matters which I know your heart as well as mine is much set

I forgot to tell you that a Vessel is arrivd in Maryland having
four thousand yards of Sail Cloth--an Article which I hope will
be much in Demand in America.

Adieu my Friend,


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

PHILADELPHIA January 10 1776


I wrote to you the 7th Instant by Mr Anthony by the way of
Providence, and should not so soon have troubled you with another
Letter, but to inform you that upon looking over the journals of
Congress I find that the Recommendation of the 26th of October to
export Produce for a certain Purpose is confind to the foreign
West Indies--and the Resolution to stop all Trade till the first
of March is subsequent to it. This last Resolution prevents your
exporting merchantable Fish to Spain, for the purpose mentiond,
which I am satisfied was not intended, because I am very certain
the Congress means to encourage the Importation of those
necessary Articles under the Direction of proper Persons, from
every part of the World. I design to propose to my Colleagues to
joyn with me in a Motion, to extend the Recommendation so as to
admit of exporting fish to any Place besides the foreign West

A few days ago, being one of a Committee to consider General
Washington's last Letter to Congress, I proposd to the Committee
and they readily consented to report the Inclosd Resolution1
which were unanimously agreed to in Congress. The Committee
reorted that a certain sum should be paid to Mr [Lovell] out of
the military Chest towards enabling him to remove himself & his
Family from Boston, but Precedent was objected to and the last
Resolve was substituted in its stead. The Gentlemen present
however contributed and put into my hands Eighty-two Dollars
for the Benefit of Mrs [Lovell], which I shall remit either in
Cash or a good Bill. I hope I shall soon be so happy as to hear
that he is releasd from Bondage. I feel very tenderly for the
rest of my fellow Citizens who are detaind in that worst of
Prisons. Methinks there is one Way speedily to release them all.


1See above, page 248.


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

PHILADe Jany 21 1776


It is a long time since I had the pleasure of receiving a Letter
from you. I flatter myself that you still place me among your
Friends. I am not conscious of having done any thing to forfeit
your Regards for me and therefore I will attribute your Omission
not to a designd Neglect, but to a more probable Cause, the
constant Attention you are called upon to give to the publick
Affairs of our Colony. It is for this Reason that I make myself
easy, though one post arrives and one Express after another
without a Line from you; assuring myself that your Time is
employd to much better purpose than writing to or thinking of me.
I speak Truth when I tell you, that I shall be exceedingly
gratified in receiving your Favors, whenever your Leisure may
admit of your suspending your Attention to Matters of greater
Importance. I will add that your Letters will certainly be
profitable to me; for I shall gain that Intelligence and
Instruction from them which will enable me the better to serve
the Publick in the Station I am placed in here. Give me Leave to
tell you therefore, that I think it is a part of the Duty you owe
to our Country to write to me as often as you can.

You have seen the MOST GRACIOUS Speech--Most Gracious! How
strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of
Words! It discovers, to be sure, the most BENEVOLENT & HUMANE
Feelings of its Author. I have heard that he is his own Minister
--that he follows the Dictates of his own Heart. If so, why
should we cast the odium of distressing Mankind upon his Minions
& Flatterers only. Guilt must lie at his Door. Divine Vengeance
will fall on his head; for all-gracious Heaven cannot be an
indifferent Spectator of the virtuous Struggles of this people.

In a former Letter I desired you to acquaint me of your Father's
health and the Circumstances of the Family. I have a very great
Regard for them and repeat the Request.


1Of Boston. In the preceding year he had been a member of the
second and third provincial congresses of


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

PHILADE Jany 12 1776


Your very acceptable Letter of the 3d Inst duly came to hand. I
thank you heartily for the favor and shall be much obligd to you
if you will write to me as often as your Leisure will admit of

It gave me pain to be informd by you, that by an unlucky
Circumstance you were prevented from executing a plan, the
Success of which would have afforded you Laurels, and probably in
its immediate Effects turnd the present Crisis in favor of our
Country. We are indebted to you for your laudable Endeavor;
Another Tryal will, I hope, crown your utmost Wish.

I have seen the Speech which is falsly & shamefully called MOST
GRACIOUS. It breathes the most malevolent Spirit, wantonly
proposes Measures calculated to distress Mankind, and determines
my Opinion of the Author of it as a Man of a wicked Heart. What a
pity it is, that Men are become so degenerate and servile, as to
bestow Epithets which can be appropriated to the Supreme Being
alone, upon Speeches & Actions which will hereafter be read &
spoken of by every Man who shall profess to have a spark of
Virtue & Honor, with the utmost Contempt and Detestation.--What
have we to expect from Britain, but Chains & Slavery? I hope we
shall act the part which the great Law of Nature Points out. It
is high time that we should assume that Character, which I am
sorry to find the Capital of your Colony has publickly and
expressly disavowd. It is my most fervent prayer to Almighty God,
that he would direct and prosper the Councils of America, inspire
her Armies with true Courage, shield them in every Instance of
Danger and lead them on to Victory & Tryumph.

I am yr affectionate Friend,

1Of Biddeford; a member of each provincial congress of


[MS., Adams Papers, Quincy; a modified text is in John Adams,
Works, vol. ix., pp. 371-373, and a draft is in the Lenox

PHILADE Jany 15 1776.


Altho I have at present but little Leisure, I can not omit
writing you a few Lines by this Express.

I have seen certain Instructions which were given by the Capital
of the Colony of New Hampshire to its Delegates in their
provincial Convention,1 the Spirit of which I am not altogether
pleasd with. There is one part of them at least, which I think
discovers a Timidity which is unbecoming a People oppressd and
insulted as they are, and who at their own request have been
advisd & authorizd by Congress to set up and exercise Government
in such form as they should judge most conducive to their own
Happiness. It is easy to understand what they mean when they
speak of "perfecting a form of Govt STABLE and PERMANENT"-They
indeed explain themselves by saying that they "SHOULD PREFER THE
GOVT OF CONGRESS, (their provincial Convention) till quieter
times." The Reason they assign for it, I fear, will be considerd
as showing a Readiness to condescend to the Humours of their
Enemies, and their publickly expressly & totally disavowing
Independency either on the Nation or THE MAN who insolently &
perseveringly demands the Surrender of their Liberties with the
Bayonet pointed at their Breasts may be construed to argue a
Servility & Baseness of Soul for which Language doth not afford
an Epithet. It is by indiscrete Resolutions and Publications that
the Friends of America have too often given occasion to their
Enemies to injure her Cause. I hope however that the Town of
Portsmouth doth not in this Instance speak the Sense of that
Colony. I wish, if it be not too late, that you would write your
Sentiments of the Subject to our worthy Friend Mr L------ who I
suppose is now in Portsmouth.--If that Colony should take a wrong
Step, I fear it would wholly defeat a Design which, I confess I
have much at heart.

A motion was made in Congress the other Day to the following
purpose--that whereas we had been chargd with aiming at
Independency, a Comte should be appointed to explain to the
People at large the Principles & Grounds of our Opposition &c.
The Motion alarmd me. I thought Congress had already been
explicit enough, & was apprehensive that we might get our selves
upon dangerous Ground. Some of us prevaild so far as to have the
Matter postpond but could not prevent the assigning a Day to
consider it.--I may perhaps have been wrong in opposing this
Motion, and I ought the rather to suspect it, because the
Majority of your Colony as well as of the Congress were of a
different Opinion.

I had lately some free Conversation with an eminent Gentleman
whom you well know, and whom your Portia, in one of her Letters,
admired if I recollect right, for his EXPRESSIVE SILENCE, about a
Confederation--A Matter which our much valued Friend Coll W------
is very sollicitous to have compleated. We agreed that it must
soon be brought on, & that if all the Colonies could not come
into it, it had better be done by those of them that inclind to
it. I told him that I would endeavor to unite the New England
Colonies in confederating, if NONE of the rest would joyn in it.
He approvd of it, and said, if I succeeded, he would cast in his
Lot among us.


Jany 16th

As this Express did not sett off yesterday, according to my
Expectation, I have the Opportunity of acquainting you that
Congress has just receivd a Letter from General Washington
inclosing the Copy of an Application of our General Assembly to
him to order payment to four Companies stationd at Braintree
Weymouth & Hingham. The General says they were never regimented,
& he can not comply with the Request of the Assembly without the
Direction of Congress. A Come is appointed to consider the
Letter, of which I am one. I fear there will be a Difficulty, and
therefore I shall endeavor to prevent a Report on this part of
the Letter, unless I shall see a prospect of justice being done
to the Colony, till I can receive from you authentick Evidence of
those companies having been actually employed by the continental
officers, as I conceive they have been, in the Service of the
Continent. I wish you wd inform me whether the two Companies
stationd at Chelsea & Malden were paid out of the Continents
Chest. I suppose they were, and if so, I cannot see Reason for
any Hesitation about the paymt of these. I wish also to know how
many Men our Colony is at the Expence of maintaining for the
Defence of its Sea Coasts. Pray let me have some Intelligence
from you, of the Colony which we represent. You are sensible of
the Danger it has frequently been in of suffering greatly for
Want of regular information.

1Cf. New Hampshire Provincial Papers, vol. vii., pp. 701, 702.


[W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams,1 vol. ii., pp. 360-363.]

[February 3, 1776.]

When the little pamphlet, entitled " Common Sense," first made
its appearance in favor of that so often abjured idea of
independence upon Great Britain, I was informed that no less than
three gentlemen of respectable abilities were engaged to answer
it. As yet, I have seen nothing which directly pretends to
dispute a single position of the author. The oblique essay in
Humphrey's paper, and solemn "Testimony of the Quakers," however
intended, having offered nothing to the purpose, I shall take
leave to examine this important question with all candor and
attention, and submit the result to my much interested country.

Dependence of one man or state upon another is either absolute or
limited by some certain terms of agreement. The dependence of
these Colonies, which Great Britain calls constitutional, as
declared by acts of Parliament, is absolute. If the contrary of
this be the bugbear so many have been disclaiming against, I
could wish my countrymen would consider the consequence of so
stupid a profession. If a limited dependence is intended, I would
be much obliged to any one who will show me the Britannico-
American Magna Charta, wherein the terms of our limited
dependence are precisely stated. If no such thing can be found,
and absolute dependence be accounted inadmissible, the sound we
are squabbling about has certainly no determinate meaning. If we
say we mean that kind of dependence we acknowledged at and before
the year 1763, I answer, vague and uncertain laws, and more
especially constitutions, are the very instruments of slavery.
The Magna Charta of England was very explicit, considering the
time it was formed, and yet much blood was spilled in disputes
concerning its meaning.

Besides the danger of an indefinite dependence upon an
undetermined power, it might be worth while to consider what the
characters are on whom we are so ready to acknowledge ourselves
dependent. The votaries of this idol tell us, upon the good
people of our mother country, whom they represent as the most
just, humane, and affectionate friends we can have in the world.
Were this true, it were some encouragement; but who can pretend
ignorance, that these just and humane friends are as much under
the tyranny of men of a reverse character as we should be could
these miscreants gain their ends? I disclaim any more than a
mutual dependence on any man or number of men on earth; but an
indefinite dependence upon a combination of men who have, in the
face of the sun, broken through the most solemn covenants,
debauched the hereditary, and corrupted the elective guardians of
the people's rights; who have, in fact, established an absolute
tyranny in Great Britain and Ireland, and openly declared
themselves competent to bind the Colonies in all cases
whatsoever,--I say, indefinite dependence on such a combination
of usurping innovators is evidently as dangerous to liberty, as
fatal to civil and social happiness, as any one step that could
be proposed even by the destroyer of men. The utmost that the
honest party in Great Britain can do is to warn us to avoid this
dependence at all hazards. Does not even a Duke of Grafton
declare the ministerial measures illegal and dangerous? And shall
America, no way connected with this Administration, press our
submission to such measures and reconciliation to the authors of
them? Would not such pigeon-hearted wretches equally forward the
recall of the Stuart family and establishment of Popery
throughout Christendom, did they consider the party in favor of
those loyal measures the strongest? Shame on the men who can
court exemption from present trouble and expense at the price of
their posterity's liberty! The honest party in England cannot
wish for the reconciliation proposed. It is as unsafe to them as
to us, and they thoroughly apprehend it. What check have they now
upon the Crown, and what shadow of control can they pretend, when
the Crown can command fifteen or twenty millions a year which
they have nothing to say to? A proper proportion of our commerce
is all that can benefit any good man in Britain or Ireland; and
God forbid we should be so cruel as to furnish bad men with the
power to enslave both Britain and America. Administration has now
fairly dissevered the dangerous tie. Execrated will he be by the
latest posterity who again joins the fatal cord!

"But," say the puling, pusillanimous cowards, "we shall be
subject to a long and bloody war, if we declare independence." On
the contrary, I affirm it the only step that can bring the
contest to a speedy and happy issue. By declaring independence we
put ourselves on a footing for an equal negotiation. Now we are
called a pack of villainous rebels, who, like the St. Vincent's
Indians, can expect nothing more than a pardon for our lives, and
the sovereign favor respecting freedom, and property to be at the
King's will. Grant, Almighty God, that I may be numbered with the
dead before that sable day dawns on North America.

All Europe knows the illegal and inhuman treatment we have
received from Britons. All Europe wishes the haughty Empress of
the Main reduced to a more humble deportment. After herself has
thrust her Colonies from her, the maritime powers cannot be such
idiots as to suffer her to reduce them to a more absolute
obedience of her dictates than they were heretofore obliged to
yield. Does not the most superficial politician know, that while
we profess ourselves the subjects of Great Britain, and yet hold
arms against her, they have a right to treat us as rebels, and
that, according to the laws of nature and nations, no other state
has a right to interfere in the dispute? But, on the other hand,
on our declaration of independence, the maritime states, at
least, will find it their interest (which always secures the
question of inclination) to protect a people who can be so
advantageous to them. So that those shortsighted politicians, who
conclude that this step will involve us in slaughter and
devastation, may plainly perceive that no measure in our power
will so naturally and effectually work our deliverance. The
motion of a finger of the Grand Monarch would produce as gentle a
temper in the omnipotent British minister as appeared in the
Manilla ransom and Falkland Island affairs. From without,
certainly, we have everything to hope, nothing to fear. From
within, some tell us that the Presbyterians, if freed from the
restraining power of Great Britain, would overrun the peaceable
Quakers in this government. For my own part, I despise and detest
the bickerings of sectaries, and am apprehensive of no trouble
from that quarter, especially while no peculiar honors or
emoluments are annexed to either. I heartily wish too many of the
Quakers did not give cause of complaint, by endeavoring to
counteract the measures of their fellow-citizens for the common
safety. If they profess themselves only pilgrims here, let them
walk through the men of this world without interfering with their
actions on either side. If they would not pull down kings, let
them not support tyrants; for, whether they understand it or not,
there is, and ever has been, an essential difference in the

Finally, with M. de Vattel, I account a state a moral person,
having an interest and will of its own; and I think that state a
monster whose prime mover has an interest and will in direct
opposition to its prosperity and security. This position has been
so clearly demonstrated in the pamphlet first mentioned in this
essay, that I shall only add, if there are any arguments in favor
of returning to a state of dependence on Great Britain, that is,
on the present Administration of Great Britain, I could wish they
were timely offered, that they may be soberly considered before
the cunning proposals of the Cabinet set all the timid, lazy, and
irresolute members of the community into a clamor for peace at
any rate.


1Wells, at vol. ii,, pp. 349-352, prints an article entitled " An
Earnest Appeal to the People," and signed "Sincerus,"
attributing the authorship to Adams.


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

PHILADA Feby 26 1776.


I have been impatiently waiting for a Letter from you. I think
your last was dated the 21st of January--you cannot do me a
greater Pleasure than by writing to me often. It is my Intention
to make you a Visit as soon as the Roads which are now
excessively bad shall be settled. Perhaps it may be not before
April. I have tarried through the Winter, because I thought my
self indispensably obligd so greatly to deny my self. Some of my
Friends here tell me that I ought not to think of leaving this
City at so critical a Season as the Opening of the Spring, but I
am happy in the return of Mr Adams with Mr Gerry and in being
assured that my Absence from Duty for a short time may be
dispensd with and though I am at present in a good State of
Health, the Jaunt may be necessary for the Preservation of it.
Whenever I shall have the pleasure of seeing you, to me it will
be inexpressible, and I dare say our Meeting, after so long an
Absense, will not be disagreeable to you.

I have nothing new to write to you. In one of your Letters you
told me that Dr C had requested that I would sometimes write you
on the Politicks of this place, and that he might see my Letters
of that kind. Pay my due Regards to the Doctor when you see him &
tell him that I can scarsely find time to write you even a Love
Letter. I will however for once give you a political Anecdote. Dr
Smith Provost of the College here, by the Invitation of the
Continental Congress, lately deliverd a funeral Oration on the
gallant General Montgomery who fell at the Walls of Quebec.
Certain political Principles were thought to be interwoven with
every part of the Oration which were displeasing to the Auditory.
It was remarkd that he could not even keep their Attention. A
Circle of Ladies, who had seated themselves in a convenient place
on purpose to see as well as hear the Orator, that they might
take every Advantage for the Indulgence of Griefe on so
melancholly an Occasion, were observd to look much disappointed
and chagrind. The next day a Motion was made in Congress for
requesting a Copy for the Press. The Motion was opposd from every
Quarter, and with so many Reasons that the Gentleman who made the
Motion desired Leave to withdraw it. Such was the fate of that
Oration which is celebrated in the NEWSPAPERS of this City,
perhaps by some one of the Orators Friends for I will not presume
that HE was privy to the Compliment paid to it as "VERY ANIMATED


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

PHILADE March 8 1776


I now sit down just to acknowledge the Receipt of your favor of
the 14th of Feby, and to mention to you a Matter which considerd
in it self may appear to be of small Moment but in its Effects
may be mischievous. I believe I may safely appeal to all the
Letters which I have written to my Friends since I have been in
this City to vindicate my self in affirming that I have never
mentiond Mr C or referrd to his Conduct in any of them, excepting
one to my worthy Colleague Mr A when he was at Watertown a few
Weeks ago, in which I informd him of the side Mr C had taken in a
very interresting Debate; and then I only observd that he had a
Right to give his opinion whenever he was prepard to form one.
Yet I have been told that it has been industriously reported that
Mr J A & my self have been secretly writing to his Prejudice and
that our Letters had operated to his being superceded. So fully
perswaded were Gentlemen of the Truth of this Report, and Mr D of
N Y in particular whom I have heard express a warm Affection for
Mr C, that he seemd scarcely willing to credit me when I
contradicted it. Whether the report and a Beliefe of it engagd
the confidential Friends of Mr C to open a charitable
Subscription in support of his Character, I am not able to say.
If it was so, they ought in justice to him to have made
themselves certain of the Truth of it; for to offer Aid to the
Reputation of a Gentleman without a real Necessity is surely no
Advantage to it. A Letter was handed about addressed to Mr C. The
Contents I never saw--his Friends signd it. Other Gentlemen at
their request also set their hands to it, perhaps with as much
Indifference as a Man of Business would give a shilling to get
rid of the Importunity of a Beggar. I hear it is supposd in
Watertown to be an Address of Thanks from the Congress to Mr C
for his eminent Services, in which his recall from Business here
is mentiond with Regret--but this is most certainly a Mistake.
The Gentlemen signd it in their private Capacity. With Submission
they should not have addressd it to another Person or publishd it
to the World after the Manner of other Addressers; for if they
intended it to recommend Mr C to his own Constituents, was it not
hard to oblige him to blow the Trumpet himself which they had
prepared to sound his Praise. But Majr Osgood is in haste. I must
therefore drop this Subject FOR THE PRESENT and conclude with
assuring you that I am affectionately yours,


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

PHILADELPHIA March 10th 1776


I arrivd in this City from Baltimore last Saturday. Having been
indisposd there so as to be obligd to keep my Chamber ten days, I
was unable to travel with my Friends, but through the Goodness of
God I have got rid of my Disorder and am in good Health. Mrs
Ross, at whose House I took Lodging in Baltimore treated me with
great Civility and Kindness and was particularly attentive to me
in my Sickness, and Wadsworth is as clever a young Man, as I ever
met with. Tell Mr Collson, if you see him, he more than answers
my Expectation even from the good Character he gave me of him.

I hope, my dear, that you and my Faniily enjoy a good Share of
Health. It is my constant & ardent Prayer that the best of
Heavens Blessings may rest on you and on them. I lately receivd a
Letter from my Son, and since I came to this Place, General
Morris of New York tells me he frequently saw him at Peeks Kill,
and that he behavd well. Nothing gives me greater Satisfaction
than to hear that he supports a good Reputation. I hope my
Friends do not flatter me.

I am greatly disappointed in not receiving your last Letter. It
was owing to the Friendship of Mr Hancock who took it up in this
place, and not expecting my Return from Baltimore so soon, he
forwarded it by a careful hand who promisd him to deliver it to
me there. I shall receive it in a day or two by the Post. Pray
write to me by every opportunity and believe me to be,

Your affectionate,

P. S.

Just as I was going to close this Letter I receivd from Baltimore
your kind Letter of the 26th of January. The Post being now ready
to set off I have only time to acknowledge the favor.

March 12th


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a part of the letter is
in New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. xxx.,
p. 310; a portion of the text is in W. C. Ford, Writings of
George Washington, vol. iii., p. 103, from MS. owned by Mrs. J.
S. H. Fogg.]

PHILAD April 2 1776


I am yet indebted to you for the obliging Letter I received from
you some Months ago. The Subject of it was principally concerning
a young Gentleman whom I personally know, and whose Merit in my
opinion intitles him to singular Notice from his Country. This
may seem like Flattery--you may be assured it is not--nor indeed
do I know how flatter. Words however are oftentimes, though
spoken in Sincerity, but Wind. If I had had it in my power
substantially to have servd that young Gentleman you would have
long ago heard from me. The Want of that opportunity causd me to
lay down my pen divers times after I had even begun to write to
you--you will not therefore, I hope, construe my long Delay as
the least Want of that just Regard which I owe to you.

Many Advantages arose to our Colony by the Congress adopting the
Army raisd in N Engd the last Spring but among the Misfortunes
attending it this was one, namely that it being now a Continental
Army, the Gentlemen of all Colonies had a Right to and put in for
a Share in behalf of their Friends in filling up the various
offices. By this means it was thought that military knowledge and
Experience as well as the military Spirit would spread thro the
Colonies and besides that they would all consider themselves the
more interrested in the Success of our Army and in providing for
its support. But then there was the less Room for Persons who
were well worthy of Notice in the Colonies which had first raisd
the Army. This was the Cause why many of our Friends were
discontented who did not advert to it. When the Quarter Master
was appointed, I question whether any of your Friends knew, I am
sure I did not, that the Gentleman I have referrd to sustaind
that office; there was therefore no designd Neglect of him here.
Mr Ms Character stood so high that no Gentleman could hesitate to
put him into a place which was understood to be vacant & which he
was so well qualified to fill. The Truth is, we have never had
that Information from our Friends at Watertown of the State of
things which we have thought we had good reason to expect from
them. I do assure you I have often been made acquainted with the
State of Affairs in our Colony, as well as I could from Letters
shown to me by Gentlemen of other Colonies. I do not mention this
without duly considering that the Attention of our Friends must
have been turnd to a great Variety of Business.

I heartily congratulate you upon the sudden and important Change
of our Affairs in the Removal of the Barbarians from the Capital.
We owe our grateful Acknowledgments to him who is, as he is
frequently stiled in sacred Writ "The Lord of Hosts" "The God of
Armies"--We have not yet been informd with Certainty what Course
the Enemy have steerd. I hope we shall be upon our Guard against
future Attempts. Will not Care be taken immediately to fortify
the Harbour & thereby prevent the Entrance of Ships of War ever
hereafter? But I am called to Duty and must break off abruptly.

Adieu my Friend and be assured I am affectionately yours,

1Of Braintree. A member of each provincial congress of


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

PHILADA April 3 1776.


I lately recd a very obliging Letter from you for which I now
return you my hearty Thanks. I wish your Leisure would admit of
your frequently favoring me with your Thoughts of our publick
Affairs. I do assure you I shall make use of them, as far as my
Ability shall extend, to the Advantage of our Country. If you
please, I will employ a few Minutes in giving you my own Ideas,
grounded on the best Intelligence I have been able to obtain.

Notwithstanding Shame and Loss attended the Measures of the
British Court the last Summer and Fall, yet by the latest
Accounts recd from our Friends in that Country, it appears that
they are determind to persevere. They then reckond (in December)
upon having 20,000 Troops in America for the next Campaign. Their
Estimate was thus-- 6000 in Boston--7000 to go from Ireland--3000
Highlanders raising under General Frazier and the rest to be in
Recruits--of the 7000 from Ireland, we are told, that 3000 were
to sail for Virginia and North Carolina & were expected to be on
that Coast in March or the Beginning of April. It is probable
then that the Ministry have not quitted the Plan which they had
agreed upon above a twelvemonth ago; which was, to take
Possession of New York--make themselves Masters of Hudsons River
& the Lakes, thereby securing Canada and the Indians--cut off all
Communication between the Colonies Northward & Southward of
Hudsons River, and thus to subdue the former in hopes by
instigating the Negroes to make the others an easy Prey. Our
Success, a great Part of which they had not then heard of, it is
to be hoped has renderd this Plan impracticable; yet it is
probable that the main Body of these Troops is designd to carry
it into Execution, while the rest are to make a Diversion in the
Southern Colonies. Those Colonies, I think, are sufficiently
provided for. Our Safety very much depends upon our Vigilance &
Success in N York & Canada. Our Enemies did not neglect Hudsons
River the last year. We know that one of their Transports arrivd
at N York, but Gage, seizd with a Panick orderd that & the other
transports destind for that Place, to Boston. I have ever thought
it to be their favorite Plan; not only because it appeard to me
to be dictated by sound Policy, but because from good
Intelligence which I receivd from England the last Winter, they
revivd it after it had been broken in upon by Gage, and sent
Tryon to New York to remove every obstacle in the Way of landing
the Troops there, and to cooperate with Carleton in the Execution
of it.--

The Kings Troops have now abandond Boston, on which I sincerely
congratulate you. We have not yet heard what Course they have
steerd. I judge for Hallifax. They may return if they hear that
you are off your Guard. Or probably they may go up St Lawrence
River as early as the Season will admit of it. Does it not behove
N England to secure her self from future Invasions, while the
Attention of Congress is turnd to N York & Canada. We seem to
have the Game in our own hands; if we do not play it well,
Misfortune will be the Effect of our Negligence and Folly. The
British Court sollicited the Assistance of Russia; but we are
informd that they faild of it through the Interposition of France
by the Means of Sweden. The ostensible Reason on the Part of
Russia was, that there was no Cartel settled between Great
Britain and America; the Want of which will make every Power
reluctant in lending their Troops. France is attentive to this
Struggle and wishes for a Separation of the two Countries. I am
in no Doubt that she would with Chearfulness openly lend her Aid
to promote it, if America would declare herself free and
independent; for I think it is easy to see what great though
different Effects it would have in both those Nations. Britain
would no longer have it in her Power to oppress.

Is not America already independent? Why then not declare it? Upon
whom was she ever supposd to be dependent, but upon that Nation
whose most barbarous Usage of her, & that in multiplied Instances
and for a long time has renderd it absurd ever to put Confidence
in it, & with which she is at this time in open War. Can Nations
at War be said to be dependent either upon the other? I ask then
again, why not declare for Independence? Because say some, it
will forever shut the Door of Reconciliation. Upon what Terms
will Britain be reconciled with America? If we may take the
confiscating Act of Parliamt or the Kings last Proclamation for
our Rule to judge by, she will be reconciled upon our abjectly
submitting to Tyranny, and asking and receiving Pardon for
resisting it. Will this redound to the Honor or the Safety of
America? Surely no. By such a Reconciliation she would not only
in the most shameful Manner acknowledge the Tyranny, but most
wickedly, as far as would be in her Power, prevent her Posterity
from ever hereafter resisting it.

But the Express now waits for this Letter. I must therefore break
off. I will write to you again by another opportunity. Pay my
Respects to the Speaker pro Temp. and tell him that I have never
receivd a Line from him since I have been in this City. My
Respects are also due to Mr S P S,1 from whom I yesterday receivd
a kind Letter, which I shall duly acknowledge to him when I have
Leisure to write. Give me Leave to assure you that I am with the
most friendly Regards for your Lady & Family very affectionately,


1Samuel P. Savage.


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

PHILADE April 15 1776


Your obliging Letter of the 1st Instt came duly to my hand. So
early as the last Winter was a twelve month past I was informd by
a worthy and very intelligent Friend in London, that the
Subduction of the New England Colonies was the FIRST Object of
our Enemies. This was to be effected, in a Manner coincident with
your Ideas, by establishing themselves on Hudsons River. They
were thereby at once to secure Canada and the Indians, give
Support and Protection to the numerous Tories in New York, supply
their Army at Boston with Provisions from that Colony and
intirely prevent the southern from affording any Aid to those
invaded Colonies. This Plan was in my opinion undoubtedly
dictated by sound Policy; and it would have been put in Execution
the last Summer, had not the necessities to which Gage was reducd
& his Apprehensions from our having a formidable Army before
Boston, obligd him to break in upon it. They did not neglect
Hudsons River the last year; for we know that two of their
Transports actually arrivd at New York; But these were
immediately orderd by Gage, together with the rest of the Fleet
to Boston. My Friend in London whose Intelligence I have never
yet found to fail, informd me the last Fall, that our Enemies did
not quit this Plan. Upon hearing that it had been thus
interrupted, they revivd it, and sent Tryon to New York to keep
the People there in good Humour and cooperate with Carleton in
the Execution of it. They reckond the last Winter upon having
20,000 Troops in America for the ensuing Campaign, of which 3000
were to go to Virginia or one of the Carolinas. These last I
suppose are designd for a Diversion, while the main Body of all
the Troops they will be able to send, will be employd in
executing their original & favorite Plan. Thus, my Friend, I am
yet happy in concurring with you in Sentiments; and I shall
persevere in using the small Influence I have here, agreable to
your repeated Advice, "to prevent the Enemies establishing
themselves & making Advances on Hudson & St Lawrence Rivers."

The Mercenary Troops have at length abandond Boston on which, I
perceive, you will not allow me YET to give you joy. May I not
however advise, that the favorable opportunity which this
important Event, added to the Season of the year has offerd, be
improvd in fortifying the Harbour so as to render it
impracticable for the Enemies Ships to enter it hereafter. I hope
this fortunate Change of Affairs has not put you off your Guard.
Should you not immediately prepare against future Invasions,
which may be made upon you before you are aware? Your Sea Coasts
must still be defended. We shall soon realize the Destination of
the Enemies Forces. Those under the Command of General Howe will
probably remain at Hallifax till the Season of the year will
admit of their going up St Lawrence River. The Troops coming from
Ireland may be destind to New York & will expect to get
Possession there. At least they will attempt it. A failure may
lead their Views back to Boston; for I am in no Apprehensions
that they will think of subduing the Southern Colonies till they
shall have first subdued those of the North. The Southern
Colonies, I think, are sufficiently provided for, to enable them
to repell any Force that may come against them the ensuing
Summer. Our Safety therefore much depends upon the Care which New
England shall take for her own Preservation and our Vigilance and
Success in New York and Canada. There are Forces enough already
ORDERD to answer all our Purposes. Our business is, to imitate
our Enemies in Zeal Application & Perseverance in carrying our
own Plans into Execution.

I am perfectly satisfied with the Reasons you offer to show the
Necessity of a publick & explicit Declaration of Independency. I
cannot conceive what good Reason can be assignd against it. Will
it widen the Breach? This would be a strange Question after we
have raised Armies and fought Battles with the British Troops,
set up an American Navy, permitted the Inhabitants of these
Colonies to fit out armed Vessels to cruize on all Ships &c
belonging to any of the Inhabitants of Great Britain declaring
them the Enemies of the united Colonies, and torn into Shivers
their Acts of Trade, by allowing Commerce subject to Regulations
to be made by OUR SELVES with the People of all Countries but
such as are Subjects of the British King. It cannot surely after
all this be imagind that we consider our selves or mean to be
considerd by others in any State but that of Independence. But
moderate Whigs are disgusted with our mentioning the Word!
Sensible Tories are better Politicians. THEY know, that no
foreign Power can consistently yield Comfort to Rebels, or enter
into any kind of Treaty with these Colonies till they declare
themselves free and independent. They are in hopes that by our
protracting this decisive Step we shall grow weary of War; and
that for want of foreign Connections and Assistance we shall be
driven to the Necessity of acknowledging the Tyrant and
submitting to the Tyranny. These are the Hopes and Expectations
of Tories, while moderate Gentlemen are flattering themselves
with the Prospect of Reconciliation when the Commissioners that
are talked of shall arrive. A mere Amusement indeed! When are
these Commissioners to arrive? Or what Terms of Reconciliation
are we to expect from them that will be acceptable to the People
of America? Will the King of Great Britain empower his
Commissioners even to promise the Repeal of all or any of their
obnoxious and oppressive Acts? Can he do it? Or if he could, has
he ever yet discoverd a Disposition which shew the least Degree
of that princely virtue, Clemency? I scruple not to affirm it as
my opinion that his heart is more obdurate, and his Disposition
towards the People of America is more unrelenting and malignant
than was that of Pharaoh towards the Israelites in Egypt. But let
us not be impatient. It requires Time to convince the doubting
and inspire the timid. Many great Events have taken place "since
the stopping the Courts in Berkshire"--Events at that time
unforeseen. Whether we shall ever see the Commissioners is Matter
of Uncertainty. I do not, I never did expect them. If they do
come the Budget must open and it will be soon known to all
whether Reconciliation is practicable or not. If they do not come
speedily, the hopes which some Men entertain of reconciliation
must vanish. I am my dear Sir very respectfully,



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

PHILADA April 30 1776


I am to acknowledge the Receipt of your Favor of the 18th Instant
by the Post. The Ideas of Independence spread far and wide among
the Colonies. Many of the leading Men see the absurdity of
supposing that Allegiance is due to a Sovereign who has already
thrown us out of his Protection. South Carolina has lately assumd
a new Government. The Convention of North Carolina have
unanimously agreed to do the same & appointed a Committee to
prepare & lay before them a proper Form. They have also revokd
certain Instructions which tied the Hands of their Delegates
here. Virginia whose Convention is to meet on the third of next
month will follow the lead. The Body of the People of Maryland
are firm. Some of the principal Members of their Convention, I am
inclind to believe, are timid or lukewarm but an occurrence has
lately fallen out in that Colony which will probably give an
agreable Turn to their affairs. Of this I will inform you at a
future time when I may be more particularly instructed concerning
it. The lower Counties on Delaware are a small People but well
affected to the Common Cause. In this populous and wealthy Colony
political Parties run high. The News papers are full of the
Matter but I think I may assure you that Common Sense, prevails
among the people--a Law has lately passed in the Assembly here
for increasing the Number of Representatives and tomorrow they
are to come to a Choice in this City & diverse of the Counties--
by this Means it is said the representation of the Colony will be
more equal. I am told that a very popular Gentleman who is a
Candidate for one of the back Counties has been in danger of
losing his Election because it was reported among the Electors
that he had declared his Mind in this City against Independence.
I know the political Creed of that Gentleman. It is, so far as
relates to a Right of the British Parliament to make Laws binding
the Colonies in any Case whatever, exactly correspondent with
your own. I mention this Anecdote to give you an Idea of the
Jealousy of the People & their attention to this Point. The
Jerseys are agitating the great Question. It is with them rather
a Matter of Prudence whether to determine till some others have
done it before them. A Gentleman of that Colony tells me that at
least one half of them have New Engd Blood running in their
Veins--be this as it may their Sentiments & Manners are I believe
similar to those of N England. I forbear to say any thing of New
York, for I confess I am not able to form any opinion of them. I
lately recd a Letter from a Friend in that Colony informing me
that they would soon come to a Question of the Expediency of
taking up Government; but to me it is uncertain what they will
do. I think they are at least as unenlightned in the Nature &
Importance of our political Disputes as any one of the united
Colonies. I have not mentiond our little Sister Georgia; but I
believe she is as warmly engagd in the Cause as any of us, & will
do as much as can be reasonably expected of her. I was very
sollicitous the last Fall to have Governments set up by the
people in every Colony. It appears to me to be necessary for many
reasons. When this is done, and I am inclind to think it will be
soon, the Colonies will feel their Independence--the Way will be
prepared for a Confederation, and one Government may be formd
with the Consent of the whole--a distinct State composd of all
the Colonies with a common Legislature for great & General
Purposes. This I was in hopes would have been the Work of the
last Winter. I am disappointed but I bear it tollerably well. I
am disposd to believe that every thing is orderd for the best,
and if I do not find my self chargeable with Neglect I am not
greatly chagrind when things do not go on exactly according to my
mind. Indeed I have the Happiness of believing that what I most
earnestly wish for will in due time be effected. We cannot make
Events. Our Business is wisely to improve them. There has been
much to do to confirm doubting Friends & fortify the Timid. It
requires time to bring honest Men to think & determine alike even
in important Matters. Mankind are governed more by their feelings
than by reason. Events which excite those feelings will produce
wonderful Effects. The Boston Port bill suddenly wrought a Union
of the Colonies which could not be brot about by the Industry of
years in reasoning on the necessity of it for the Common Safety.
Since the memorable 19th of April one Event has brot another on,
till Boston sees her Deliverance from those more than savage
Troops upon which the execrable Tyrant so much relyed for the
Completion of his horrid Conspiracys and America has furnishd her
self with more than seventy Battalions for her Defence. The
burning of Norfolk & the Hostilities committed in North Carolina
have kindled the resentment of our Southern Brethren who once
thought their Eastern Friends hot headed & rash; now indeed the
Tone is alterd & it is said that the Coolness & Moderation of the
one is necessary to allay the heat of the other. There is a
reason that wd induce one even to wish for the speedy arrival of
the British Troops that are expected at the Southward. I think
our friends are well prepared for them, & one Battle would do
more towards a Declaration of Independency than a long chain of
conclusive Arguments in a provincial Convention or the
Continental Congress. I am very affectionately yours,


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

PHILADELPHIA April 30 1776


While I was sitting down to write you a friendly Letter I had the
pleasure of receiving your Favor of the 22 Instant by the Post.
My Intention was to congratulate you and your Brethren the
Selectmen, upon the precipitate Flight of the British Army & its
Adherents from the Town of Boston, and to urge on you the
Necessity of fortifying the Harbour so as that the Enemies Ships
might never approach it hereafter. Our grateful Acknowledgments
are due to the Supreme Being who has not been regardless of the
multiplied Oppressions which the Inhabitants of that City have
sufferd under the Hand of an execrable Tyrant. Their Magnanimity
& Perseverance during the severe Conflict has afforded a great
Example to the World, and will be recorded by the impartial
Historian to their immortal Honor. They are now restored to their
Habitations & Privileges; and as they are purgd of those Wretches
a Part of whose Policy has been to corrupt the Morals of the
People, I am perswaded they will improve the happy opportunity of
reestablishing ancient Principles and Purity of Manners--I
mention this in the first place because I fully agree in Opinion
with a very celebrated Author, that, "Freedom or Slavery will
prevail in a (City or) Country according as the Disposition &
Manners of the People render them fit for the one or the other";
and I have long been convincd that our Enemies have made it an
Object, to eradicate from the Minds of the People in general a
Sense of true Religion & Virtue, in hopes thereby the more easily
to carry their Point of enslaving them. Indeed my Friend, this is
a Subject so important in my Mind, that I know not how to leave
it. Revelation assures us that "Righteousness exalteth a Nation"-
-Communities are dealt with in this World by the wise and just
Ruler of the Universe. He rewards or punishes them according to
their general Character. The diminution of publick Virtue is
usually attended with that of publick Happiness, and the publick
Liberty will not long survive the total Extinction of Morals.
"The Roman Empire, says the Historian, MUST have sunk, though the
Goths had not invaded it. Why? Because the Roman Virtue was
sunk." Could I be assured that America would remain virtuous, I
would venture to defy the utmost Efforts of Enemies to subjugate
her. You will allow me to remind you, that the Morals of that
City which has born so great a Share in the American Contest,
depend much upon the Vigilance of the respectable Body of
Magistrates of which you are a Member.

I am greatly concernd at the present defenceless State of Boston,
& indeed of the whole Eastern District which comprehends New
England. We have applied for and obtaind a Committee of Congress
to consider the State of that District. In the mean time I hope
the General Assembly and the Town are exerting themselves for the
Security of the Harbour. I could indeed earnestly wish that the
Inhabitants of Boston, who have so long born the Heat & Burden of
the Day might now have some Respite. But this is uncertain. Their
generous Exertions in the American Cause, have renderd them
particularly obnoxious to the Vengeance of the British Tyrant. It
is therefore incumbent on them to be on their Guard, and to use
the utmost Activity in putting themselves in a Posture of

I trust their Spirits are not depressd by the Injuries they have
sustaind. The large Experience they have had of military Tyranny
should rather heighten their Ideas of the Blessings of civil
Liberty and a free Government. While THEIR OWN troops are posted
among them for their Protection, they surely will not lose the
Feelings and resign the Honor of Citizens to the military; but
remember always that standing Armies are formidable Bodies in
civil Society, & the Suffering them to exist at any time is from
Necessity, & ought never to be of Choice.

It is with heartfelt Pleasure that I recollect the Meetings I
have had with my much esteemd Fellow Citizens in Faneuil Hall,
and I am animated with the Prospect of seeing them again in that
Place which has long been sacred to Freedom. There I have seen
the Cause of Liberty & of Mankind warmly espousd & ably
vindicated; and that, at Times when to speak with Freedom had
become so dangerous, that other Citizens possessd of less Ardour,
would have thought themselves excusable in not speaking at all.

Be so kind as to pay my due Respects to my Friends & be assured
that I am with the most friendly Regards for Mrs Scollay &

Very Affectionately,


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

PHILADA May 12 1776


I had the pleasure of receiving your very friendly Letter of the
2d Instant by a Mr Parks. I can readily excuse your not writing
to me so often as I could wish to receive your Letters, when I
consider how much you are engagd in the publick Affairs; and so
you must be while your Life is spared to your Country. I am
exceedingly concernd to find by your Letter as well as those of
my other Friends that so little attention has been given to a
Matter of such weighty Importance as the fortifying the Harbour
of Boston. To what can this be attributed? Is it not wise to
prevent the Enemies making Use of every Avenue especially those
which lead into the Capital of our Country. I hope no little
party Animosities even exist much less prevail in our Councils to
obstruct so necessary a Measure. Such Contentions you well
remember that Fiend Hutchinson & his Confederates made it their
constant Study to stir up between the friends of the Colony in
the different parts of it, in order to prevent their joynt
exertions for the Common Good. Let us with great Care avoid such
Snares as our Enemies have heretofore laid for our ruin, and
which we have found by former Experience have provd too
successfull to their wicked purposes. This will, I think be an
important Summer to America; I confide therefore in the Wisdom of
our Colony, and that they will lay aside the Consideration of
smaller Matters for the present, and bend their whole Attention
to the necessary Means for the common Safety. I hope the late
Situation of Boston is by this time very much alterd for the
better; if not, it must needs be a strong Inducement to the Enemy
to reenter it, and whether we ought not by all means in our Power
to prevent it, I will leave to you and others to judge.

Yesterday the Congress resolvd into a Committee of the whole to
take under Consideration the report of a former Committee
appointed to consider the State of the Eastern District which
comprehends New Engd. It was then agreed that the Troops in
Boston be augmented [to] Six Thousand. The Question lies before
the Congress and will be considerd tomorrow. I am inclind to
think the Vote will obtain. [But] what will avail the ordering
additional Regiments if Men will not inlist? Do our Countrymen
want animation at a time when [all] is at Stake! Your Presses
have been too long silent. What are your Committees of
Correspondence about? I hear Nothing of circular Letters--of
joynt Committees, &c. Such Methods have in times past raised
[the] Spirits of the people--drawn off their Attention from
PICKING UP PINS, & directed their Views to great objects--But,
not having had timely Notice of the Return of this Express, I
must conclude (with my earnest prayers for the recovery of your
Health,) very affectionately,



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

PHILADA May 15 1776


It was not till the Beginning of this Month that I had the Honor
of receiving your Favor of the 22d of March, respecting a
Proposition of Coll Baillie for opening a Road from Connecticutt
River to Montreal. The President, soon after, laid before
Congress your Letter of the 5th, a Paragraph of which referrs to
the same Subject. The Resolution of Congress thereon has, I
presume, before this Time been transmitted to you by him; by
which it appears that they have fully concurrd with you in
Opinion of the Utility of the Measure proposd.

I beg Leave by this Opportunity to acquaint your Excellency, that
the Letters I have receivd from some Gentlemen of the Colony of
Massachusetts Bay express great Concern at the present
defenceless state of the Town of Boston, while they are not
without Apprehension of another Visit from the Enemy. They
thought themselves extremely happy in your Presense there, and
regretted very much the Necessity of your Departure, to which
Nothing reconciles them, but their earnest Desire that the
general Service may be promoted. Congress have resolvd that the
five Battalions in that Colony be filled up, and new ones raisd
for the Defence of the Eastern District. As two General Officers
will be sent thither, it would, I am perswaded, give great
Satisfaction to the People, if General Gates and Mifflin might be
fixed upon. This however, I chearfully submit to your Excellencys
Judgment and Determination; being well assurd, that the Safety of
that distressd City will have as full a Share of your Attention
as shall be consistent with the good of the whole. I have the
Honor to be with very great Esteem and Affection,

Your Excellencys most humbe servt


[MS., Lenox Library.]

PHILADE June 10 1776


Your Favor of the 8th Instant was brought to me by Express. I am
exceedingly concernd that a General Officer is not yet fixed upon
to take the Command of the Troops in Boston--ever since the Enemy
abandond that place I have been apprehensive that a renewed
attack would probably be made on some part of Massachusetts Bay.
Your Reasons clearly show that it will be the Interest of the
Enemy to make a grand push there if they are not properly
provided for a Defence. Congress judgd it necessary that a Major
& Brigr Genl should be sent to Boston or they would not have
orderd it three Weeks ago. The Wish of the Colony with regard to
particular Gentlemen has been repeatedly urgd, and I thought that
an appointment which has been made since you left us would have
given a favorable Issue to our request. The Necessity of YOUR
taking the Command in the Eastern District immediately, has been
in my mind most pressing since I have been informd by your Letter
that your Intelligence in respect to the Attack on the
Massachusetts is direct & positive.

It will be a great Disappointment to me if General Mifflin does
not go with you to Boston. I believe that to prevent the apparent
necessity for this, Genl Whitcomb was thrown into View. He is
indeed in many respects a good Man, but to the other I think the
preference must be given.

The Hint you gave me when I last saw you respecting the Enemies
offering to treat, I have revolvd in my Mind. It is my opinion
that no such offers will be made but with a Design to take
Advantage by the Delay they may occasion. We know how easily our
people, too many of them, are still amusd with vain hopes of
reconciliation. Such Ideas will, no doubt, be thrown out to them,
to embarrass the Army as others have been; but I conceive that
the General in whose Wisdom & Valor I confide, will, without
Hesitation employ all his Force to annoy & conquer immediately
upon the Enemies Approach. We want our most stable Councellors
here. To send Gentlemen of INDECISIVE Judgments to assist as
field Deputies would answer a very ill purpose. The sole Design
of the Enemy is to subjugate America. I have therefore no
Conception that any terms can be offerd but such as must be
manifestly affrontive. should those of a different Complexion be
proposd, under the hand of their Commanding officer, the General
will have the oppty of giving them in to Congress in the space of
a Day. This I imagine he will think prudent to do--at the same
time, I am very sure, he will give no Advantage to the Enemy, and
that he will conduct our affairs in so critical a Moment in a
Manner worthy of himself.

I am affectionately yours,


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

PHILADA June 1776


When I was at Watertown in August last the General Assembly being
then sitting, a Crowd of Business prevented our coming to an
Agreement respecting an allowance adequate to your Services in
the Secretaries Office, or even conversing upon the Subject. I
have been very easy about it, because I have never had the least
Doubt of your Integrity and Honor. Publick Affairs have demanded
so much of my Attention here that I have scarcely had Time to
spend a thought on my domestick Concerns. But I am apprehensive
that Mrs A------ will soon be in Want of Money for her Support,
if that is not already her Case. I shall therefore be much obligd
to you if you will let her have such a part of the Fees you may
have receivd as you can conveniently spare. Her Receipt shall be
acknowledgd by me. And as I foresee that I shall not have the
opportunity of visiting my Friends in New England so soon as I
have intended, you will further oblige me by sending me an
Account of the Monies paid into the office together with your own
opinion of what may be a reasonable and generous Allowance for
your Service.

I am with great Esteem & Affection,
Your Friend & hbl Servt

1Cf., page 109. His name appears as "Morton" in Acts and Resolves
of the Province of Massachusetts, vol. v. He
was deputy secretary under Adams.


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

PHILADE July 9 1776--


I should sooner have acknowledgd the Receipt of your Letters
dated at Northampton & Springfield the 17th and 22d of May, had I
not expected that before this Time I should have had the pleasure
of seeing and conversing with you--but Business here has been so
pressing and important, that I have not thought it consistent
with my Duty as yet to absent myself.

Our repeated Misfortunes in Canada have greatly chagrind every
Man who wishes well to America. I dare not at present communicate
to you what I take to have been the real Causes of these
Disasters. Some of them indeed must be obvious to any Man who has
been attentive to that Department. Our secret Enemies have found
Means to sow the Seeds of Discord & Faction there and Heaven has
sufferd the small Pox to prevail among our Troops. It is our Duty
to try all Means to restore our Affairs to a good Footing but I
despair of that being effected till next Winter. To be acting
merely on the defensive at the Time when we should have been in
full possession of that Country is mortifying indeed. The Subject
is disgusting to me. I will dismiss it.

How[e] is arrivd, as you have heard, with his Troops at New York.
The People in this Colony & the Jerseys are in Motion and if the
New England Militia joyn our Army with their usual Alertness &
Spirit, I have no doubt but the Enemy will meet with a warm
Reception. A few days may probably bring on Event which will give
a favorable Turn to our Affairs.

The Congress has at length declared the Colonies free and
independent States. Upon this I congratulate you for I know your
heart has long been set upon it. Much I am affraid has been lost
by delaying to take this decisive Step. It is my opinion that if
it had been done Nine months ago we might have been justified in
the Sight of God and Man, three Months ago.1 If we had done it
then, in my opinion Canada would [by] this time have been one of
the united Colonies; but "Much is to be endurd for the hardness
of Mens hearts." We shall now see the Way clear to form a
Confederation, contract Alliances & send Embassadors to foreign
Powers & do other Acts becoming the Character we have assumd.
Adieu my Friend. Write to me soon.

1The first thirteen words of this sentence are crossed out in the


[MS., American Philosophical Society; a draft is in the Samuel
Adams Papers, Lenox Library; and a text is in R. H. Lee, Life of
R. H. Lee, vol. i., pp. 182-184.]

PHILADA July 15 1776


I must acknowledge that when you left Congress I gave you Reason
to expect a Letter from me before this Time. You will not, I am
very certain, attribute my omission to the Want of a most cordial
Esteem for you. The Truth is, I hardly knew how to write without
saying something of our Canadian Affairs; and this is a Subject
so thoroughly mortifying to me, that I could wish totally to
forget all that has past in that Country. Let me however just
mention to you that Schuyler & Gates are to command the Troops to
be employ'd there; the former, while they are without, and the
latter, while they are within the Bounds of Canada.--Admitting
both these Generals to have the military Accomplishments of
Marlborough and Eugene, I cannot conceive that such a Disposition
of them can be attended with any happy Effects, unless Harmony
subsists between them.--Alass! I fear this is not the Case--
Already Disputes have arisen, which they have referrd to
Congress! And though they appear to treat each other with a
Politeness becoming their Rank, in my Mind, Altercations between
Commanders who have Pretensions so nearly equal, I mean in Point
of COMMAND, forebode a Repetition of Misfortunes--I sincerely
wish my Apprehensions may prove to be groundless.

General Howe, as you have heard, is arrivd at New York. He has
brought with him from 8 to 10,000 troops. Lord Howe arrivd the
last Week, and the whole Fleet is hourly expected. The Enemy
landed on Staten Island. Nothing of Importance has been done,
saving that last Friday at about three in the afternoon a 40 and
a 20 Gun Ship with several Tenders, taking the Advantage of a
fair and fresh Gale and flowing Tide, passd by our Forts as far
as the Encampment at Kings bridge. General Mifflin who commands
there in a Letter of the 5 Instant informd us he had twenty one
Cannon planted and hoped in a Week to be formidable.
Reinforcements are arrivd from N England, and our Army are in
high Spirits. I am exceedingly pleasd with the calm & determind
Spirit, which our Commander in Chiefe has discoverd in all his
Letters to Congress. May Heaven guide and prosper Him! The
Militia of the Jerseys--Pennsylvania & Maryland are all in
Motion--General Mercer commands the flying Camp in the jerseys.
We have just now appointed a Committee to bring in a Plan for
Reinforcement to compleat the Number of 20,000 Men to be posted
in that Colony.

Our Declaration of Independency has given Vigor to the Spirits of
the People. Had this decisive Measure been taken Nine Months ago,
it is my opinion that Canada would at this time have been in our
hands. But what does it avail to find fault with what is past.
Let us do better for the future. We were more fortunate than
expected in having 12 of the 13 Colonies in favor of the all
important Question. The Delegates of N York were not impowered to
give their Voice on either Side. Their Convention has since
acceeded to the Declaration & publishd it even before they
receivd it from Congress. So mighty a Change in so short a Time!
N Jersey has finishd their Form of Government, a Copy of which I
inclose. They have sent us five new Delegates, among whom are Dr
Witherspoon & judge Stockden.1 All of them appear to be attachd
to the American Cause. A Convention is now meeting in this City
to form a Constitution for this Colony. They are empowerd by
their Constituents to appoint a new Committee of Safety to act
for the present & to chuse new Delegates for Congress. I am told
there will be a Change of Men, and if so, I hope for the better.

A Plan for Confederation has been brot into Congress wch I hope
will be speedily digested and made ready to be laid before the
several States for their approbation. A Committee has now under
Consideration the Business of foreign Alliance.

It is high time for us to have Ambassadors in foreign Courts. I
fear we have already sufferd too much by Delay. You know upon
whom our Thoughts were turnd when you was with us.

I am greatly obligd to you for favoring me with the Form of
Governt agreed upon by your Countrymen. I have not yet had time
to peruse it, but dare say it will be a Feast to our little
Circle. The Device on your great Seal pleases me much.

Pray hasten your journey hither. Your Country most pressingly
sollicits, or will you allow me to say, DEMANDS your Assistance
here. I have written in great haste. Adieu to my dear Sir, and be
assured that I am very Affectionately,

Your Friend,



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

PHILAD July 16--1776


There is no Necessity of my troubling you with a lon Epistle at
present, for my very worthy Friend and Colleague1 who kindly
takes the Charge of this will fully inform you of the State of
Affairs here. He will tell you some things which I have often
wishd to communicate to you, but have not thought it prudent to


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