Government is dissolved. Fleets and armies and the present state of things show that government is dissolved. Where are your landmarks, your boundaries of Colonies? We are in a state of nature, sir. I did propose that a scale should be laid down; that part of North America which was once Massachusetts Bay, and that part which was once Virginia, ought to be considered as having a weight. Will not people complain? Ten thousand Virginians have not outweighed one thousand others.
I will submit, however; I am determined to submit, if I am overruled.
A worthy gentleman (ego) near me seemed to admit the necessity of obtaining a more adequate representation.
I hope future ages will quote our proceedings with applause. It is one of the great duties of the democratical part of the constitution to keep itself pure. It is known in my Province that some other Colonies are not so numerous or rich as they are. I am for giving all the satisfaction in my power.
The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders, are no more. I am not a Virginian, but an American.
I differ in one point from the gentleman from Virginia, that is, in thinking that numbers only ought to determine the weight of Colonies. I think that property ought to be considered, and that it ought to be a compound of numbers and property that should determine the weight of the Colonies.
I think it cannot be now settled.
We have no legal authority; and obedience to our determinations will only follow the reasonableness, the apparent utility and necessity of the measures we adopt. We have no coercive or legislative authority. Our constituents are bound only in honor to observe our determinations.
There are a great number of counties, in Virginia, very unequal in point of wealth and numbers, yet each has a right to send two members.
But one reason, which prevails with me, and that is, that we are not at this time provided with proper materials. I am afraid we are not.
I can’t see any way of voting, but by Colonies.
I agree with the gentleman (ego) who spoke near me, that we are not at present provided with materials to ascertain the importance of each Colony. The question is, whether the rights and liberties of America shall be contended for, or given up to arbitrary powers.
If the committee should find themselves unable to ascertain the weight of the Colonies, by their numbers and property, they will report this, and this will lay the foundation for the Congress to take some other steps to procure evidence of numbers and property at some future time.
I agree that authentic accounts cannot be had, if by authenticity is meant attestations of officers of the Crown.
I go upon the supposition that government is at an end. All distinctions are thrown down. All America is thrown into one mass. We must aim at the minutiæ of rectitude.
Could I suppose that we came to frame an American constitution, instead of endeavoring to correct the faults in an old one—I can’t yet think that all government is at an end. The measure of arbitrary power is not full, and I think it must run over, before we undertake to frame a new constitution.
To the virtue, spirit, and abilities of Virginia, we owe much. I should always, therefore, from inclination as well as justice, be for giving Virginia its full weight.
7. Wednesday. Went to Congress again, heard Mr. Duché read prayers; the collect for the day, the 7th of the month, was most admirably adapted, though this was accidental, or rather providential. A prayer which he gave us of his own composition was as pertinent, as affectionate, as sublime, as devout, as I ever heard offered up to Heaven.3 He filled every bosom present.4
Dined with Mr. Miers Fisher, a young Quaker and a lawyer. We saw his library, which is clever. But this plain Friend and his plain though pretty wife, with her Thees and Thous, had provided us the most costly entertainment; ducks, hams, chickens, beef, pig, tarts, creams, custards, jellies, fools, trifles, floating islands, beer, porter, punch, wine, and a long &c. We had a large collection of lawyers at table; Mr. Andrew Allen, the Attorney-General, a Mr. Morris, the Prothonotary, Mr. Fisher, Mr. McKean, Mr. Rodney; besides these, we had Mr. Reed, Governor Hopkins, and Governor Ward. We had much conversation upon the practice of law in our different Provinces, but at last we got swallowed up in politics, and the great question of parliamentary jurisdiction. Mr. Allen asks me, from whence do you derive your laws? How do you entitle yourselves to English privileges? Is not Lord Mansfield on the side of power?
8. Thursday. Attended my duty on the committee all day, and a most ingenious, entertaining debate we had. The happy news were brought us from Boston, that no blood had been spilled, but that General Gage had taken away the provincial powder from the magazine at Cambridge. This last was a disagreeable circumstance. Dined at Mr. Powell’s, with Mr. Duché, Dr. Morgan, Dr. Steptoe, Mr. Goldsborough, Mr. Johnson, and many others; a most sinful feast again! every thing which could delight the eye or allure the taste; curds and creams, jellies, sweetmeats of various sorts, twenty sorts of tarts, fools, trifles, floating islands, whipped sillabubs, &c. &c., Parmesan cheese, punch, wine, porter, beer, &c. At evening we climbed up the steeple of Christ Church with Mr. Reed, from whence we had a clear and full view of the whole city, and of Delaware River.
September 8. In the Committee for stating rights, grievances, and means of redress.
The rights are built on a fourfold foundation; on nature, on the British constitution, on charters, and on immemorial usage. The Navigation Act, a capital violation.
It is necessary to recur to the law of nature, and the British constitution, to ascertain our rights. The constitution of Great Britain will not apply to some of the charter rights.
A mother country surcharged with inhabitants, they have a right to emigrate. It may be said, if we leave our country, we cannot leave our allegiance. But there is no allegiance without protection, and emigrants have a right to erect what government they please.
Mr. J. Rutledge.
Emigrants would not have a right to set up what constitution they please. A subject could not alienate his allegiance.
Consider how far we have a right to interfere with regard to the Canada constitution. If the majority of the people there should be pleased with the new constitution, would not the people of America and of England have a right to oppose it, and prevent such a constitution being established in our neighborhood?
It is contended that the Crown had no right to grant such charters as it has to the Colonies, and therefore, we shall rest our rights on a feeble foundation, if we rest them only on charters; nor will it weaken our objections to the Canada bill.
Our claims, I think, are well founded on the British constitution, and not on the law of nature.
Part of the country within the Canada bill is a conquered country, and part not. It is said to be a rule that the King can give a conquered country what law he pleases.
I can’t think the British constitution inseparably attached to the person of every subject. Whence did the constitution derive its authority? from compact; might not that authority be given up by compact?
Mr. William Livingston.
A corporation cannot make a corporation; charter governments have done it. King can’t appoint a person to make a justice of peace; all governors do it. Therefore it will not do for America to rest wholly on the laws of England.
The ministry contend that the Colonies are only like corporations in England, and therefore subordinate to the legislature of the kingdom. The Colonies not bound to the King or Crown by the act of settlement, but by their consent to it. There is no other legislative over the Colonies but their respective assemblies.
The Colonies adopt the common law, not as the common law, but as the highest reason.
Upon the whole, for grounding our rights on the laws and constitution of the country from whence we sprung, and charters, without recurring to the law of nature; because this will be a feeble support. Charters are compacts between the Crown and the people, and I think on this foundation the charter governments stand firm.
England is governed by a limited monarchy and free constitution. Privileges of Englishmen were inherent, their birthright and inheritance, and cannot be deprived of them without their consent.
Objection; that all the rights of Englishmen will make us independent. I hope a line may be drawn to obviate this objection.
James was against Parliament interfering with the Colonies. In the reign of Charles II. the sentiments of the Crown seem to have been changed. The Navigation Act was made; Massachusetts denied the authority, but made a law to enforce it in the Colony.
Life, and liberty which is necessary for the security of life, cannot be given up when we enter into society.
Mr. Rutledge. The first emigrants could not be considered as in a state of nature; they had no right to elect a new king.
I have always withheld my assent from the position that every subject discovering land (does it) for the state to which he belongs.
I never could find the rights of Americans in the distinction between taxation and legislation, nor in the distinction between laws for revenue and for the regulation of trade. I have looked for our rights in the law of nature, but could not find them in a state of nature, but always in a state of political society.
I have looked for them in the constitution of the English government, and there found them. We may draw them from this source securely.
Power results from the real property of the society. The states of Greece, Macedon, Rome were founded on this plan. None but landholders could vote in the comitia or stand for offices.
English constitution founded on the same principle. Among the Saxons, the landholders were obliged to attend, and shared among them the power. In the Norman period, the same. When the landholders could not all attend, the representatives of the freeholders came in. Before the reign of Henry IV. an attempt was made to give the tenants in capite a right to vote. Magna Charta—archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and barons, and tenants in capite held all the lands in England.
It is of the essence of the English constitution that no laws shall be binding, but such as are made by the consent of the proprietors in England.
How then, did it stand with our ancestors when they came over here? They could not be bound by any laws made by the British Parliament, excepting those made before. I never could see any reason to allow that we are bound to any law made since, nor could I ever make any distinction between the sorts of law.
I have ever thought we might reduce our rights to one—an exemption from all laws made by British Parliament since the emigration of our ancestors. It follows, therefore, that all the acts of Parliament made since, are violations of our rights.
These claims are all defensible upon the principles even of our enemies,—Lord North himself, when he shall inform himself of the true principles of the constitution, &c.
I am well aware that my arguments tend to an independency of the Colonies, and militate against the maxims that there must be some absolute power to draw together all the wills and strength of the empire.
9. Friday. Attended my duty upon committees; dined at home.
Extract from the Autobiography.
[The more we conversed with the gentlemen of the country, and with the members of Congress, the more we were encouraged to hope for a general union of the continent. As the proceedings of this Congress are in print, I shall have occasion to say little of them. A few observations may not be amiss.
After some days of general discussions, two committees were appointed of twelve members each, one from each state, Georgia not having yet come in. The first committee was instructed to prepare a bill of rights, as it was called, or a declaration of the rights of the Colonies; the second, a list of infringements or violations of those rights. Congress was pleased to appoint me on the first committee, as the member for Massachusetts.
It would be endless to attempt even an abridgment of the discussions in this committee, which met regularly every morning for many days successively, till it became an object of jealousy to all the other members of Congress. It was, indeed, very much against my judgment that the committee was so soon appointed, as I wished to hear all the great topics handled in Congress at large in the first place. They were very deliberately considered and debated in the committee, however. The two points which labored the most were: 1. Whether we should recur to the law of nature, as well as to the British constitution, and our American charters and grants. Mr. Galloway and Mr. Duane were for excluding the law of nature. I was very strenuous for retaining and insisting on it, as a resource to which we might be driven by Parliament much sooner than we were aware. 2. The other great question was, what authority we should concede to Parliament; whether we should deny the authority of Parliament in all cases; whether we should allow any authority to it in our internal affairs; or whether we should allow it to regulate the trade of the empire with or without any restrictions. These discussions spun into great length, and nothing was decided. After many fruitless essays, the committee determined to appoint a sub-committee to make a draught of a set of articles that might be laid in writing before the grand committee, and become the foundation of a more regular debate and final decision. I was appointed on the sub-committee, in which, after going over the ground again, a set of articles were drawn and debated one by one. After several days deliberation, we agreed upon all the articles excepting one, and that was the authority of Parliament, which was indeed the essence of the whole controversy; some were for a flat denial of all authority; others for denying the power of taxation only; some for denying internal, but admitting external, taxation. After a multitude of motions had been made, discussed, negatived, it seemed as if we should never agree upon any thing. Mr. John Rutledge of South Carolina, one of the committee, addressing himself to me, was pleased to say, “Adams, we must agree upon something; you appear to be as familiar with the subject as any of us, and I like your expressions,—‘the necessity of the case,’ and ‘excluding all ideas of taxation, external and internal;’ I have a great opinion of that same idea of the necessity of the case, and I am determined against all taxation for revenue. Come, take the pen and see if you can’t produce something that will unite us.” Some others of the committee seconding Mr. Rutledge, I took a sheet of paper and drew up an article. When it was read, I believe not one of the committee was fully satisfied with it; but they all soon acknowledged that there was no hope of hitting on any thing in which we could all agree with more satisfaction. All therefore agreed to this, and upon this depended the union of the Colonies. The sub-committee reported their draught to the grand committee, and another long debate ensued, especially on this article, and various changes and modifications of it were attempted, but none adopted.1
The articles were then reported to Congress, and debated, paragraph by paragraph. The difficult article was again attacked and defended. Congress rejected all amendments to it, and the general sense of the members was, that the article demanded as little as could be demanded, and conceded as much as could be conceded with safety, and certainly as little as would be accepted by Great Britain; and that the country must take its fate, in consequence of it. When Congress had gone through the articles, I was appointed to put them into form and report a fair draught for their final acceptance. This was done, and they were finally accepted.
The committee of violations of rights reported a set of articles which were drawn by Mr. John Sullivan of New Hampshire; and these two declarations, the one of rights and the other of violations, which are printed in the journals of Congress for 1774, were two years afterwards recapitulated in the Declaration of Independence, on the Fourth of July, 1776.]
10. Saturday. Attended my duty upon the sub-committee. Dined at home. Dr. Morgan, Dr. Cox, Mr. Spence, and several other gentlemen, Major Sullivan and Colonel Folsom, dined with us upon salt fish. Rambled in the evening with Jo Reed, and fell into Mr. Sprout’s meeting, where we heard Mr. Spence preach. Mr. Reed returned with Mr. Adams and me to our lodgings, and a very sociable, agreeable, and communicative evening we had. He says we never were guilty of a more masterly stroke of policy, than in moving that Mr. Duché might read prayers; it has had a very good effect, &c. He says the sentiments of people here are growing more and more favorable every day.
11. Sunday. There is such a quick and constant succession of new scenes, characters, persons, and events, turning up before me, that I can’t keep any regular account. This Mr. Reed is a very sensible and accomplished lawyer, of an amiable disposition, soft, tender, friendly, &c.; he is a friend to his country and to liberty. Mr. Reed was so kind as to wait on us to Mr. Sprout’s meeting, where we heard Mr. Spence. These ministers all preach without notes. We had an opportunity of seeing the custom of the Presbyterians in administering the sacrament. The communicants all come to a row of seats, placed on each side of a narrow table spread in the middle of the alley, reaching from the deacons’ seat to the front of the house. Three sets of persons of both sexes came in succession. Each new set had the bread and the cup given them by a new minister. Mr. Sprout first, Mr. Treat next, and Mr. Spence last. Each communicant has a token which he delivers to the deacons or elders, I don’t know which they call them. As we came out of meeting, a Mr. Webster joined us, who has just come from Boston, and has been a generous benefactor to it in its distresses. He says he was at the town meeting, and he thinks they managed their affairs with great simplicity, moderation, and discretion. Dined at Mr. Willing’s, who is a judge of the supreme court here, with the gentlemen from Virginia, Maryland, and New York. A most splendid feast again,—turtle and every thing else. Mr. Willing told us a story of a lawyer here, who the other day gave him, upon the bench, the following answer to a question, Why the lawyers were so increased?
- “You ask me why lawyers so much are increased,
- Tho’ most of the country already are fleeced;
- The reason, I’m sure, is most strikingly plain;—
- Tho’ sheep are oft sheared, yet the wool grows again;
- And tho’ you may think e’er so odd of the matter,
- The oftener they’re fleeced, the wool grows the better.
- Thus downy chin’d boys, as oft I have heard,
- By frequently shaving, obtain a large beard.”
By Mr. Peters,1 written at the bar, and given to a judge, Mr. Willing, who had asked the question at dinner in pleasantry. Mr. Willing is the most sociable, agreeable man of all. He told us of a law of this place, that whereas oysters, between the months of May and September, were found to be unwholesome food, if any were brought to market they should be forfeited and given to the poor. We drank coffee, and then Reed, Cushing, and I strolled to the Moravian lecture, where we heard soft, sweet music, and a Dutchified English prayer and preachment.
12. Monday. Attended my duty on the committee until one o’clock, and then went with my colleagues and Messrs. Thomson and Mifflin to the Falls of Schuylkill, and viewed the Museum at Fort St. David’s; a great collection of curiosities. Returned and dined with Mr. Dickinson at his seat at Fair Hill, with his lady, Mrs. Thomson, Miss Norris, and Miss Harrison. Mr. Dickinson has a fine seat, a beautiful prospect of the city, the river, and the country, fine gardens, and a very grand library. The most of his books were collected by Mr. Norris, once Speaker of the House here, father of Mrs. Dickinson. Mr. Dickinson is a very modest man, and very ingenious as well as agreeable; he has an excellent heart, and the cause of his country lies near it. He is full and clear for allowing to Parliament the regulation of trade, upon principles of necessity, and the mutual interest of both countries.
13. Tuesday. Attended my duty all day on the sub-committee. Agreed on a report.
14. Wednesday. Visited Mr. Gadsden, Mr. Deane, Colonel Dyer, &c. at their lodgings. Gadsden is violent against allowing to Parliament any power of regulating trade, or allowing that they have any thing to do with us. “Power of regulating trade,” he says, “is power of ruining us; as bad as acknowledging them a supreme legislative in all cases whatsoever; a right of regulating trade is a right of legislation, and a right of legislation in one case is a right in all; this I deny.” Attended the Congress and committee all the forenoon; dined with Dr. Cox. Dr. Morgan, Dr. Rush, Mr. Bayard, and old Mr. Smith, dined with us. Dr. Rush lives upon Water Street, and has, from the window of his back room and chamber, a fine prospect of Delaware River and of New Jersey beyond it. The gentlemen entertained us with absurdities in the laws of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland. This, I find, is a genteel topic of conversation here. A mighty feast again; nothing less than the very best of Claret, Madeira, and Burgundy; melons, fine beyond description, and pears and peaches as excellent. This day Mr. Chase introduced to us a Mr. Carroll, of Annapolis, a very sensible gentleman, a Roman Catholic, and of the first fortune in America. His income is ten thousand pounds sterling a year now, will be fourteen in two or three years, they say; besides, his father has a vast estate which will be his after his father.
16. Friday. Dined with Mr. Wallace with a great deal of company at an elegant feast again.
17. Saturday. This was one of the happiest days of my life. In Congress we had generous, noble sentiments, and manly eloquence. This day convinced me that America will support the Massachusetts or perish with her.1 Dined with old Mr. Smith, with much company; visited the Bettering House, a large building, very clean, neat, and convenient for the poor; viewed the gardens, &c.
18. Sunday. Went to church and heard Mr. Coombs read prayers, and Mr. Duché preach—a fine preacher indeed; dined at home. Went to Dr. Allison’s meeting in the afternoon; heard Mr.—, a very ingenious preacher of benevolence and humanity. Spent the evening at home with General Lee, Captain Dagworthy, Mr. McDougall and others; wrote many letters to go by Mr. Paul Revere.
19. Monday. Dined with Dr. Rush, in company with Dr. Shippen and many others, Folsom and Sullivan from New Hampshire, Mr. Blair, &c. &c.
20. Tuesday. Had cards a week ago to dine with Mr. Mease, but forgot it and dined at home. After we had dined, after four o’clock, Mr. Mease’s brother came to our lodgings after us. We went, after dinner, and found Mr. Dickinson, Mifflin, Dr. Rush, Mr. West, Mr. Biddle, and Captain Allen, and Mr. Mease’s brother; a very agreeable company. Our regret at the loss of this company was very great. Mr. Dickinson was very agreeable. A question was started about the conduct of the Bostonian merchants, since the year 1770, in importing tea and paying the duty. Mr. Hancock, it is said, has received the freight of many chests of tea. I think the Bostonian merchants are not wholly justifiable, yet their conduct has been exaggerated; their fault and guilt have been magnified. Mr. Hancock, I believe, is justifiable, but I am not certain whether he is strictly so. He owned a ship in partnership with George Hayley, who is agreed here to be a ministerial man, and Hayley, I suppose, sent the tea in the ship.
21. Wednesday. Captain Callender came to breakfast with us. Colonel Dagworthy and his brother, Captain Dagworthy, breakfasted with us. Mrs. Yard entertained us with muffins, buckwheat cakes, and common toast. Buckwheat is an excellent grain, and is very plenty here. Attended Congress from nine to after three. Rode out of town six miles, to Mr. Hill’s, where we dined with Mr. Hill and lady, Mr. Dickinson and his lady, Mr. Thomson and his lady, old Mr. Meredith, father of Mrs. Hill, Mr. Johnson of Maryland, and Mr. Jo Reed.
22. Thursday. Dined with Mr. Chew, Chief Justice of the Province, with all the gentlemen from Virginia, Dr. Shippen, Mr. Tilghman, and many others. We were shown into a grand entry and stair-case, and into an elegant and most magnificent chamber, until dinner. About four o’clock, we were called down to dinner. The furniture was all rich. Turtle, and every other thing, flummery, jellies, sweetmeats of twenty sorts, trifles, whipped sillabubs, floating islands, fools, &c. and then a dessert of fruits, raisins, almonds, pears, peaches. Wines most excellent and admirable. I drank Madeira at a great rate, and found no inconvenience in it. In the evening, General Lee and Colonel Lee, and Colonel Dyer, and Mr. Deane, and half a score friends from Boston came to our lodgings. Colonel Lee staid till twelve o’clock, and was very social and agreeable.
23. Friday. Walked along Second Street, southward, until I got out of the city into the country. The uniformity of this city is disagreeable to some. I like it. Dined with the late Chief Justice Allen, with all the gentlemen from North Carolina, and Mr. Hamilton, late Governor, and Mr. Andrew Allen, Attorney-General. We had much conversation about Mr. Franklin. The Chief Justice and Attorney-General had much droll chat together.
24. Saturday. Dined with Mr. Charles Thomson, with only Mr. Dickinson, his lady and niece in company. A most delightful afternoon we had; sweet communion, indeed, we had. Mr. Dickinson gave us his thoughts and his correspondence very freely.
25. Sunday. Went in the evening to Quaker meeting, and afterwards went to supper at Stephen Collins’s.
26. Monday. Dined at old Dr. Shippen’s, with Mr. and Mrs. Blair, young Dr. Shippen, the Jersey delegates, and some Virginians.1 Afterwards went to the hospital, and heard another lecture upon anatomy from young Dr. Shippen.
27. Tuesday. Dined at Mr. Bayard’s, with Dr. Cox, Dr. Rush, Mr. Hodge, Mr. Deane, Colonel Dyer. Dr. Cox gave us a toast: “May the fair dove of liberty, in this deluge of despotism, find rest to the sole of her foot in America.”
Mr. Lee made a motion for a non-importation.
The first of November ought to be fixed; for no honest orders were sent after the first of June. Orders are generally sent in April and May. But the intention was known of a non-importation.
I think the time ought to be fixed, when goods are shipped in Great Britain, because a ship may have a long voyage.
For the first of November; we may be deceived and defrauded if we fix the time, when goods are shipped.
Invoices have been antedated.
Mr. John Rutledge.
I think all the ways and means should be proposed.
Mr. Mifflin proposes stoppage of flax-seed and lumber to the West Indies, and non-importation of dutied articles; to commence 1 August, 1775.
Force, I apprehend, is out of the question in our present inquiry. In 1770, the annual tax was thirteen millions; last year it was only ten millions. Land tax, malt tax, perpetual funds, amount to only ten millions. They are compelled to raise ten millions in time of peace.
The emigrations from Great Britain prove that they are taxed as far as they can bear. A total non-importation and non-exportation to Great Britain and the West Indies must produce a national bankruptcy, in a very short space of time.1 The foreign trade of Great Britain is but four millions and a half; as great a man as ever Britain produced calculated the trade with the Colonies at two millions. I believe the importation to the Colonies now represented, may be three millions. A non-exportation amounts to three millions more, and the debt due to four millions. Two thirds in the Colonies are clothed in British manufactures. Non-exportation of vastly more importance than a non-importation; it affects the merchants as well as manufacturers, the trade as well as the revenue. Sixty thousand hogsheads of tobacco. Two hundred and twenty-five British ships employed.
I am for a non-exportation of lumber to the West Indies immediately.
The importance of the trade of the West Indies to Great Britain almost exceeds calculation. The sugar carries the greatest revenue; the rum a great deal. If you don’t stop the lumber immediately, you can’t stop it at all. If it takes place immediately, they can’t send home their next year’s crop.
A non-exportation at a future day cannot avail us. What is the situation of Boston and the Massachusetts?
A non-exportation at the Virginia day will not operate before the fall of 1776. I would not affect the trade of the Colonies to the Mediterranean or other parts of the world.
I am for a more distant day than the first of November.
We want not only redress, but speedy redress. The mass can’t live without government, I think, one year. Nothing less than what has been proposed by the gentleman last speaking, will put the Colonies in the state I wish to see them in. I believe the Parliament would grant us immediate relief. Bankruptcy would be the consequence if they did not.
By saving our own liberties, we shall save those of the West Indies. I am for being ready, but I am not for the sword. The only way to prevent the sword from being used, is to have it ready.
Though the Virginians are tied up,1 I would be for doing it without them. Boston and New England can’t hold out. The country will be deluged in blood, if we don’t act with spirit. Don’t let America look at this mountain and let it bring forth a mouse.
We can’t come into a non-exportation, immediately, without Virginia.
Mr. Cushing for a non-importation, non-exportation, and non-consumption; and immediately.
It has been our glory—
We make some tobacco. I was instructed to protest against petitioning alone. Tar, pitch, and turpentine, we can ship nowhere but to Great Britain. The whole of the subsistence of the people in the southern ports is from naval stores. Great Britain cannot do without naval stores from North Carolina.
Mr. Edward Rutledge.
A gentleman from the other end of the room talked of generosity. True equality is the only public generosity. If Virginia raises wheat, instead of tobacco, they will not suffer. Our rice is an enumerated commodity. We shall, therefore, lose all our trade.1 I am both for non-importation and non-exportation, to take place immediately.
We don’t mean to hurt even our rascals, if we have any. I move that December may be inserted instead of November.
Negotiation, suspension of commerce, and war, are the only three things. War is, by general consent, to be waved at present. I am for negotiation and suspension of commerce.
All considerations of interest, and of equality of sacrifice, should be laid aside.
Produce of the other Colonies is carried to market in the same year when it is raised, even rice. Tobacco is not until the next year.
We export masts, boards, plank, fish, oil, and some potash. Ships we load with lumber for the West Indies, and thence carry sugar to England, and pay our debts that way. Every kind of lumber we export to the West Indies. Our lumber is made in the winter. Our ships sail in January or February for the West Indies.
Colonel Dyer. They have now drawn the sword, in order to execute their plan of subduing America; and I imagine they will not sheathe it, but that next summer will decide the fate of America. To withdraw all commerce with Great Britain at once, would come upon them like a thunderclap. By what I heard yesterday, Great Britain is much more in our power than I expected;—the masts from the northward, the naval stores from North Carolina.
We are struggling for the liberties of the West Indies and of the people of Great Britain, as well as our own, and perhaps of Europe.
Stopping the flax-seed to Ireland would greatly distress them.
Whoever considers the present state of Great Britain and America, must see the necessity of spirited measures. Great Britain has drawn the sword against us, and nothing prevents her sheathing it in our bowels, but want of sufficient force.
I think it absolutely necessary to agree to a non-importation and non-exportation immediately.
28. Wednesday. Dined with Mr. R. Penn; a magnificent house, and a most splendid feast, and a very large company. Mr. Dickinson and General Lee were there, and Mr. Moylan, besides a great number of the delegates. Spent the evening at home, with Colonel Lee, Colonel Washington, and Dr. Shippen, who came in to consult with us.1
Among all the difficulties in the way of effective and united action, in 1774,—and they were far greater than the members of the Congress were, at the time, for very obvious reasons, willing to admit, or than the people of the present generation, who judge only from results, are apt to imagine,—no more alarming one happened than the “plan of a proposed union between Great Britain and the Colonies,” presented, on the 28th of September, by Mr. Joseph Galloway, a delegate from Pennsylvania. Himself a gentleman of abilities, of property, and of extensive influence on the popular side, he seems to have accepted a seat in this Congress rather for the purpose of “sitting on the skirts of the American advocates,” than of promoting any valuable end. He prefaced his formidable motion with a speech, of which the outline is now to be given. How near he came to success, may be judged not only from his own account, which he afterwards gave in a pamphlet, but still more from the extreme earnestness of his opponents to expunge from the record all traces of the proceedings, and to discredit his statements as those of a renegade and a traitor. Nevertheless, there is no good reason for doubting his substantial accuracy. He says of the fate of his scheme:—
“The plan read, and warmly seconded by several gentlemen of the first abilities, after a long debate, was so far approved as to be thought worthy of further consideration, and referred, under a rule for that purpose, by a majority of the Colonies. Under this promising aspect of things, and an expectation that the rule would have been regarded, or at least that something rational would take place to reconcile our unhappy differences, the member proposing it was weakly led to sign the non-importation agreement, although he had uniformly opposed it; but in this he was disappointed. The measures of independence and sedition were soon after preferred to those of harmony and liberty, and no arguments, however reasonable and just, could prevail on a majority of the Colonies to desert them.” Candid Examination of the Mutual Claims of Great Britain and the Colonies.
The plan was not a new one. It had been suggested to Governor Hutchinson, and opposed by him, early in the controversy. Though it does not appear in the Journals, its details were published by Mr. Galloway himself in the pamphlet from which the preceding extract is taken, and it has been inserted in its place in the republication made by Mr. Force in the American Archives of 1774. It was defeated by the close vote of six Colonies to five. The mover continued, nevertheless, to act with the majority, and he actually signed the non-importation agreement and the Address to the King. But in the next year he got himself excused from further service in Congress, and, in 1776, he openly joined the royalist forces in New York.
The proposal I intended to make having been opposed, I have waited to hear a more effectual one. A general non-importation from Great Britain and Ireland has been adopted, but I think this will be too gradual in its operation for the relief of Boston. A general non-exportation I have ever looked on as an undigested proposition. It is impossible America can exist under a total non-exportation. We, in this Province, should have tens of thousands of people thrown upon the cold hand of charity. Our ships would lie by the walls, our seamen would be thrown out of bread, our shipwrights, &c. out of employ, and it would affect the landed interest. It would weaken us in another struggle, which I fear is too near.
To explain my plan, I must state a number of facts relative to Great Britain and relative to America. I hope no facts which I shall state will be disagreeable.
In the last war, America was in the greatest danger of destruction. This was held up by the Massachusetts, and by the Congress in 1754. They said we are disunited among ourselves. There is no indifferent arbiter between us.
Requisitions came over. A number of the Colonies gave most extensively and liberally; others gave nothing or late. Pennsylvania gave late, not for want of zeal or loyalty, but owing to their disputes with proprietors, their disunited state. These delinquencies were handed up to the parent State, and these gave occasion to the Stamp Act. America, with the greatest reason and justice, complained of the Stamp Act.
Had they proposed some plan of policy, some negotiation been set afoot, it would have terminated in the most happy harmony between the two countries. They repealed the Stamp Act, but they passed the Declaratory Act.
Without some supreme legislature, some common arbiter, you are not, say they, part of the State.
I am as much a friend of liberty as exists; and no man shall go further in point of fortune, or in point of blood, than the man who now addresses you.
Burlamaqui, Grotius, Puffendorf, Hooker. There must be a union of wills and strength; distinction between a State and a multitude; a State is animated by one soul.
As we are not within the circle of the supreme jurisdiction of the Parliament, we are independent States. The law of Great Britain does not bind us in any case whatever.
We want the aid and assistance and protection of the arm of our mother country. Protection and allegiance are reciprocal duties. Can we lay claim to the money and protection of Great Britain upon any principles of honor or conscience? Can we wish to become aliens to the mother state?
We must come upon terms with Great Britain.
Some gentlemen are not for negotiation. I wish I could hear some reason against it.
The minister must be at twenty or thirty millions [expense] to enforce his measures.
I propose this proposition. The plan,—two classes of laws. 1. Laws of internal policy. 2. Laws in which more than one Colony are concerned,—raising money for war. No one act can be done without the assent of Great Britain. No one without the assent of America. A British American Legislature.
As I mean to second this motion, I think myself bound to lay before the Congress my reasons. New York thought it necessary to have a Congress for the relief of Boston and Massachusetts, and to do more, to lay a plan for a lasting accommodation with Great Britain.
Whatever may have been the motive for departing from the first plan of the Congress, I am unhappy that we have departed from it. The Post-office Act was before the year 1763. Can we expect lasting tranquillity? I have given my full assent to a non-importation and non-exportation agreement.
The right of regulating trade, from the local circumstances of the Colonies, and their disconnection with each other, cannot be exercised by the Colonies. Massachusetts disputed the Navigation Act, because not represented, but made a law of their own, to inforce that Act. Virginia did the same nearly.
I think justice requires that we should expressly cede to Parliament the right of regulating trade. In the Congress of 1754, which consisted of the greatest and best men in the Colonies, this was considered as indispensable.
A civil war with America would involve a national bankruptcy.
How did we go on for one hundred and sixty years before the year 1763? We flourished and grew. This plan would make such changes in the Legislature of the Colonies, that I could not agree to it without consulting my constituents.
I am led to adopt this plan. It is objected that this plan will alter our constitutions, and therefore cannot be adopted without consulting constituents. Does this plan give up any one liberty, or interfere with any one right?
The original constitution of the Colonies was founded on the broadest and most generous base. The regulation of our trade was compensation enough for all the protection we ever experienced from her.
We shall liberate our constituents from a corrupt House of Commons, but throw them into the arms of an American Legislature, that may be bribed by that nation which avows, in the face of the world, that bribery is a part of her system of government.
Before we are obliged to pay taxes as they do, let us be as free as they; let us have our trade open with all the world.
We are not to consent by the representatives of representatives.
I am inclined to think the present measures lead to war.
Mr. Edward Rutledge.
I came with an idea of getting a bill of rights and a plan of permanent relief. I think the plan may be freed from almost every objection. I think it almost a perfect plan.
In every government, patriarchal, monarchial, aristocratical, or democratical, there must be a supreme legislature.
I know of no American constitution; a Virginia constitution, a Pennsylvania constitution we have; we are totally independent of each other.
Every gentleman here thinks the Parliament ought to have the power over trade, because Britain protects it and us. Why then will we not declare it?
Because Parliament and Ministry is wicked and corrupt, and will take advantage of such declaration to tax us, and will also reason from this acknowledgment to further power over us.
Answer. We shall not be bound further than we acknowledge it.
Is it not necessary that the trade of the empire should be regulated by some power or other? Can the empire hold together without it? No. Who shall regulate it? Shall the Legislature of Nova Scotia or Georgia regulate it? Massachusetts, or Virginia? Pennsylvania or New York? It can’t be pretended. Our legislative powers extend no further than the limits of our governments. Where then shall it be placed? There is a necessity that an American Legislature should be set up, or else that we should give the power to Parliament or King.
Protection. Acquiescence. Massachusetts. Virginia.
Advantages derived from our commerce.
October 1. Saturday. Dined with Mr. Webster; spent the evening with Stephen Collins; went to see the election at the State House. Mr. Dickinson was chosen.
2. Sunday. Went to Christ Church and heard Mr. Coombe upon “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” Went to Mr. Sprout’s, in the afternoon, and heard Mr. Tennent. Spent the evening at home with Mr. McDougall, Mr. Cary of Charlestown, Mr. Reed, and Colonel Floyd.
3. Monday. Breakfasted at home with Colonel Dagworthy, of Maryland, Captain Dagworthy, his brother, Major De Bois, Mr. Webb, Dr. Clopton, &c. The hurry of spirits I have been in, since my arrival in this city, has prevented my making remarks in my journal, as I wished to have done. The quick succession of objects, the variety of scenes and characters, have rendered it impracticable. Major De Bois says he will drink dispute this morning. The Congress not come to decision yet. Dined at home. This day, Charles Thomson and Thomas Mifflin were chosen burgesses for this city. The change in the elections for this city and county is no small event. Mr. Dickinson and Mr. Thomson, now joined to Mr. Mifflin, will make a great weight in favor of the American cause.
4. Tuesday. Dined with Mr. Alexander Wilcox, with all the delegates from New York, and several other gentlemen. This evening, General Lee came to my lodgings and showed me an Address from the C. to the people of Canada, which he had.1
5. Wednesday. Dined with Dr. Cadwallader, in company with Governor Hamilton, General Lee, Mr. Henry, Mr. Pendleton, Mr. De Hart, and many others. Spent the evening at home, with Mr. McDougall and Mr. Sherman, in sad and solemn consultation about the miseries and distresses of our dear town of Boston.
6. Thursday. Dined with Mr. Hodge, father-in-law to Mr. Bayard.
The following brief and fragmentary report of a discussion upon the proposition of a non-importation agreement has no date attached to it. The probability is that it took place on or before the 6th of October, when the committee appointed to consider and report upon the subject were finally instructed to insert the following clause:—
“That from and after the first day of December next, no molasses, coffee, or pimento, from the British plantations or from Dominica, or wines from Madeira and the Western Islands, or foreign indigo, be imported into these Colonies.”
There are numbers of men who will risk their all. I shudder at the thought of the blood which will be spilled, and would be glad to avoid it.
How is the purchaser to know whether the molasses, sugar, or coffee, has paid the duty or not? It can’t be known. Shan’t we by this hang out to all the world our intentions to smuggle?
Don’t we complain of these acts as grievances, and shan’t we insist on the repeal?
But this will give an advantage to the West Indians, and will make it their interest to oppose our obtaining any redress.
This subject, as every part of our deliberations, is important. The question is, how far to extend the non-importation of dutiable articles.
I am against the question before you. What are the ways and means of obtaining redress? In the manner it is penned it would not answer the end. How shall the buyer know whether the duties have been paid or not?
Our enemies will think that we mean to strike at the right of Parliament to lay duties for the regulation of trade.
I am one of those who hold the position that Parliament has a right to make laws for us in some cases to regulate the trade, and in all cases where the good of the whole empire requires it.
My fears were up when we went into the consideration of a bill of rights. I was afraid we should say too little or too much.
It is said, this is not a non-importation resolution. But it is; for there is no importation of goods but according to the law of the land.
I came here to get redress of grievances, and to adopt every means for that end which could be adopted with a good conscience.
In my idea, Parliament has no power to regulate trade. But these duties are all for revenue, not for regulation of trade.
Many gentlemen in this room know how to bring in goods, sugars and others, without paying duties.
Will any gentleman say he will never purchase any goods until he is sure that they were not smuggled?
We shall agree, I suppose, to a non-exportation of lumber to the West Indies. They cannot send their sugars to England nor to America, therefore they can’t be benefited.
Gentlemen have been transported, by their zeal, into reflections upon an order of men, who deserve it the least of any men in the community.
We ought not to deny the just rights of our mother country. We have too much reason, in this Congress, to suspect that independency is aimed at.
I am for a resolution against any tea, Dutch as well as English.
We ought to consider the consequences, possible as well as probable, of every resolution we take, and provide ourselves with a retreat or a resource.
What would be the consequence of an adjournment of the Congress for six months? or a recommendation of a new election of another, to meet at the end of six months? Is not it possible they may make it criminal, as treason, misprision of treason, or felony, or a præmunire, both in the assemblies who choose and in the members who shall accept the trust? Would the assemblies or members be intimidated? Would they regard such an act?
Will, can the people bear a total interruption of the West India trade? Can they live without rum, sugar, and molasses? Will not this impatience and vexation defeat the measure? This would cut up the revenue by the roots, if wine, fruit, molasses, and sugar were discarded as well as tea.
But a prohibition of all exports to the West Indies will annihilate the fishery, because that cannot afford to lose the West India market, and this would throw a multitude of families in our fishing towns into the arms of famine.
8. Saturday. Dined with Mr. George Clymer, Mr. Dickinson, and a large company again.
9. Sunday. Went to hear Dr. Allison, an aged gentleman. It was Sacrament day, and he gave us a sacramental discourse. This Dr. Allison is a man of abilities and worth; but I hear no preachers here like ours in Boston, excepting Mr. Duché. Coombe indeed is a good speaker, but not an original, but a copy of Duché. The multiplicity of business and ceremonies and company that we are perpetually engaged in, prevents my writing to my friends in Massachusetts as I ought, and prevents my recording many material things in my journal. Philadelphia, with all its trade and wealth and regularity, is not Boston. The morals of our people are much better; their manners are more polite and agreeable; they are purer English; our language is better, our taste is better, our persons are handsomer; our spirit is greater, our laws are wiser, our religion is superior, our education is better. We exceed them in every thing but in a market, and in charitable, public foundations. Went, in the afternoon, to the Romish chapel, and heard a good discourse upon the duty of parents to their children, founded in justice and charity. The scenery and the music are so calculated to take in mankind, that I wonder the Reformation ever succeeded. The paintings, the bells, the candles, the gold and silver; our Saviour on the Cross, over the altar, at full length, and all his wounds bleeding. The chanting is exquisitely soft and sweet.
10. Monday. The deliberations of the Congress are spun out to an immeasurable length. There is so much wit, sense, learning, acuteness, subtlety, eloquence, &c. among fifty gentlemen, each of whom has been habituated to lead and guide in his own Province, that an immensity of time is spent unnecessarily. Johnson of Maryland has a clear and a cool head, an extensive knowledge of trade as well as law. He is a deliberating man, but not a shining orator; his passions and imagination don’t appear enough for an orator; his reason and penetration appear, but not his rhetoric. Galloway, Duane, and Johnson are sensible and learned, but cold speakers. Lee, Henry, and Hooper, are the orators; Paca is a deliberator too; Chase speaks warmly; Mifflin is a sprightly and spirited speaker; John Rutledge don’t exceed in learning or oratory, though he is a rapid speaker; young Edward Rutledge is young and zealous, a little unsteady and injudicious, but very unnatural and affected as a speaker;1 Dyer and Sherman speak often and long, but very heavily and clumsily.
11. Tuesday. Dined with Mr. McKean in Market Street, with Mr. Reed, Rodney, Chase, Johnson, Paca, Dr. Morgan, Mr. R. Penn, &c. Spent the evening with Mr. Henry at his lodgings, consulting about a petition to the King.2 Henry said he had on public education; at fifteen he read Virgil and Livy, and has not looked into a Latin book since. His father left him at that age, and he has been struggling through life ever since. He has high notions, talks about exalted minds, &c. He has a horrid opinion of Galloway, Jay, and the Rutledges. Their system, he says, would ruin the cause of America. He is very impatient, to see such fellows, and not be at liberty to describe them in their true colors.
12. Wednesday. Dined with Captain Richards, with Dr. Coombe.
13. Thursday. Dined with Mr. Dickinson, with Chase, Paca, Low, Mifflin, Mr. Penn, and General Lee, at six o’clock. From ten o’clock until half after four, we were debating about the parliamentary power of regulating trade. Five Colonies were for allowing it, five against it, and two divided among themselves, that is, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Mr. Duane has had his heart set upon asserting in our bill of rights the authority of Parliament to regulate the trade of the Colonies. He is for grounding it on compact, acquiescence, necessity, protection, not merely on our consent.
14. Friday. Went in the morning to see Dr. Chovet and his skeletons and wax-works—most admirable, exquisite representations of the whole animal economy. Four complete skeletons; a leg with all the nerves, veins, and arteries injected with wax; two complete bodies in wax, full grown; waxen representations of all the muscles, tendons, &c. of the head, brain, heart, lungs, liver, stomach, &c. This exhibition is much more exquisite than that of Dr. Shippen at the hospital. The Doctor reads lectures for two half joes a course, which takes up four months. These wax-works are all of the Doctor’s own hands.1 Dined with Dr. Morgan, an ingenious physician and an honest patriot. He showed us some curious paintings upon silk which he brought from Italy, which are singular in this country, and some bones of an animal of enormous size found upon the banks of the river Ohio. Mr. Middleton, the two Rutledges, Mr. Mifflin, and Mr. William Barrell dined with us. Mrs. Morgan is a sprightly, pretty lady. In the evening we were invited to an interview, at Carpenters’ Hall, with the Quakers and Anabaptists. Mr. Backus is come here from Middleborough with a design to apply to the Congress for a redress of grievances of the anti-pedobaptists in our Province. The cases from Chelmsford, the case of Mr. White of Haverhill, the case of Ashfield and Warwick were mentioned by Mr. Backus. Old Israel Pemberton was quite rude, and his rudeness was resented; but the conference, which held till eleven o’clock, I hope will produce good.
[There is an anecdote which ought not to be omitted, because it had consequences of some moment at the time, which have continued to operate for many years, and, indeed, are not yet worn out, though the cause is forgotten, or rather was never generally known. Governor Hopkins and Governor Ward, of Rhode Island, came to our lodgings and said to us, that President Manning, of Rhode Island College, and Mr. Backus, of Massachusetts, were in town, and had conversed with some gentlemen in Philadelphia who wished to communicate to us a little business, and wished we would meet them at six in the evening at Carpenters’ Hall. Whether they explained their affairs more particularly to any of my colleagues, I know not; but I had no idea of the design. We all went at the hour, and to my great surprise found the hall almost full of people, and a great number of Quakers seated at the long table with their broad-brimmed beavers on their heads. We were invited to seats among them, and informed that they had received complaints, from some Anabaptists and some Friends in Massachusetts, against certain laws of that Province, restrictive of the liberty of conscience, and some instances were mentioned, in the General Court, and in the courts of justice, in which Friends and Baptists had been grievously oppressed. I know not how my colleagues felt, but I own I was greatly surprised and somewhat indignant, being, like my friend Chase, of a temper naturally quick and warm, at seeing our State and her delegates thus summoned before a self-created tribunal, which was neither legal nor constitutional.
Israel Pemberton, a Quaker of large property and more intrigue, began to speak, and said that Congress were here endeavoring to form a union of the Colonies; but there were difficulties in the way, and none of more importance than liberty of conscience. The laws of New England, and particularly of Massachusetts, were inconsistent with it, for they not only compelled men to pay to the building of churches and support of ministers, but to go to some known religious assembly on first days, &c.; and that he and his friends were desirous of engaging us to assure them that our State would repeal all those laws, and place things as they were in Pennsylvania.
A suspicion instantly arose in my mind, which I have ever believed to have been well founded, that this artful Jesuit, for I had been before apprized of his character, was endeavoring to avail himself of this opportunity to break up the Congress, or at least to withdraw the Quakers and the governing part of Pennsylvania from us; for, at that time, by means of a most unequal representation, the Quakers had a majority in their House of Assembly, and, by consequence, the whole power of the State in their hands. I arose, and spoke in answer to him. The substance of what I said, was, that we had no authority to bind our constituents to any such proposals; that the laws of Massachusetts were the most mild and equitable establishment of religion that was known in the world, if indeed they could be called an establishment; that it would be in vain for us to enter into any conferences on such a subject, for we knew beforehand our constituents would disavow all we could do or say for the satisfaction of those who invited us to this meeting. That the people of Massachusetts were as religious and conscientious as the people of Pennsylvania; that their consciences dictated to them that it was their duty to support those laws, and therefore the very liberty of conscience, which Mr. Pemberton invoked, would demand indulgence for the tender consciences of the people of Massachusetts, and allow them to preserve their laws; that it might be depended on, this was a point that could not be carried; that I would not deceive them by insinuating the faintest hope, for I knew they might as well turn the heavenly bodies out of their annual and diurnal courses, as the people of Massachusetts at the present day from their meeting-house and Sunday laws. Pemberton made no reply but this: “Oh! sir, pray don’t urge liberty of conscience in favor of such laws!” If I had known the particular complaints which were to be alleged, and if Pemberton had not broken irregularly into the midst of things, it might have been better, perhaps, to have postponed this declaration. However, the gentlemen proceeded, and stated the particular cases of oppression, which were alleged, in our general and executive courts. It happened that Mr. Cushing and Mr. Samuel Adams had been present in the General Court when the petitions had been under deliberation, and they explained the whole so clearly that every reasonable man must have been satisfied. Mr. Paine and I had been concerned at the bar in every action in the executive courts which was complained of, and we explained them all to the entire satisfaction of impartial men, and showed that there had been no oppression or injustice in any of them. The Quakers were not generally and heartily in our cause; they were jealous of independence; they were then suspicious, and soon afterwards became assured, that the Massachusetts delegates, and especially John Adams, were advocates for that obnoxious measure, and they conceived prejudices which were soon increased and artfully inflamed, and are not yet worn out.]
October 15. Saturday. Dined at Mr. West’s, with the Rutledges and Mr. Middleton; an elegant house, rich furniture, and a splendid dinner.
20. Thursday. Dined with the whole Congress, at the City Tavern, at the invitation of the House of Representatives of the Province of Pennsylvania. The whole House dined with us, making near one hundred guests in the whole; a most elegant entertainment. A sentiment was given: “May the sword of the parent never be stained with the blood of her children.” Two or three broad-brims over against me at table; one of them said, this is not a toast, but a prayer; come, let us join in it. And they took their glasses accordingly.
21. Friday. Dined at the Library Tavern, with Messrs. Markoe and a dozen gentlemen from the West Indies and North Carolina. A fine bowling-green here; fine turtle, and admirable wine.
22. Saturday. Dined in the country with Mr. Dickinson, with all the delegates from New England, Mr. Duane, Mr. Reed, Mr. Livingston, &c.
23. Sunday. Heard Mr. Percy, at Mr. Sprout’s. He is chaplain to the Countess of Huntingdon, comes recommended to Mr. Cary, of Charlestown, from her, as a faithful servant of the Lord; no genius, no orator.
In the afternoon I went to the Baptist Church, and heard a trans-Alleghanian, a preacher from the back parts of Virginia, behind the Alleghany mountains. He preached an hour and a half;—no learning, no grace of action or utterance, but an honest zeal. He told us several good stories. One was, that he was once preaching in Virginia, and said that those ministers who taught the people that salvation was to be obtained by good works or obedience, were leading them to ruin. Next day he was apprehended by a warrant from a magistrate for reviling the clergy of the Church of England. He asked for a prayer-book, and had it, turned to the eighteenth or twentieth article, where the same sentiment is strongly expressed; he read it to the magistrate; the magistrate, as soon as he heard it, dashed the warrant out of his hand, and said, Sir, you are discharged. In the evening, I went to the Methodist meeting, and heard Mr. Webb, the old soldier, who first came to America in the character of quarter-master under General Braddock. He is one of the most fluent, eloquent men I ever heard; he reaches the imagination and touches the passions very well, and expresses himself with great propriety. The singing here is very sweet and soft indeed; the first music I have heard in any society, except the Moravians, and once at church with the organ. Supped and spent the remainder of the evening at Mr. Jo Reed’s, with Colonel Lee, Dr. Shippen, Mr. Cary, Dr. Loring, &c.
24. Monday. In Congress, nibbling and quibbling as usual. There is no greater mortification than to sit with half a dozen wits, deliberating upon a petition, address, or memorial. These great wits, these subtle critics, these refined geniuses, these learned lawyers, these wise statesmen, are so fond of showing their parts and powers, as to make their consultations very tedious. Young Ned Rutledge is a perfect Bob-o-Lincoln,—a swallow, a sparrow, a peacock; excessively vain, excessively weak, and excessively variable and unsteady; jejune, inane, and puerile. Mr. Dickinson is very modest, delicate, and timid. Spent the evening at home. Colonel Dyer, Judge Sherman, and Colonel Floyd came in, and spent the evening with Mr. Adams and me. Mr. Mifflin and General Lee came in. Lee’s head is running upon his new plan of a battalion.
25. Tuesday. Dined with Mr. Clymer; General Lee, &c. there.
26. Wednesday. Dined at home. This day the Congress finished. Spent the evening together at the City Tavern; all the Congress, and several gentlemen of the town.
27. Thursday. Went this morning, with Mr. Tudor, to see the Carpenters’ Hall and the library, and to Mr. Barrell’s, and Bradford’s, and then to the State House, to see the Supreme Court sitting. Heard Mr. Wilcox and Mr. Reed argue a point of law, concerning the construction of a will. Three judges,—Chew, Willing, and Morton.
28. Friday. Took our departure, in a very great rain, from the happy, the peaceful, the elegant, the hospitable, and polite city of Philadelphia. It is not very likely that I shall ever see this part of the world again, but I shall ever retain a most grateful, pleasing sense of the many civilities I have received in it, and shall think myself happy to have an opportunity of returning them. Dined at Anderson’s, and reached Priestly’s, of Bristol, at night, twenty miles from Philadelphia, where we are as happy as we can wish.
29. Saturday. Rode to Princeton, where we dine, at the sign of Hudibras. Vacation at Nassau Hall. Dr. Witherspoon out of town. Paine recollected the story of Mr. Keith’s joke upon him at Howland’s, of Plymouth, in the time of the Stamp Act. Paine said he would go to making brass buckles. Keith said he might do that to great advantage, for his stock would cost him nothing. Lodged at Farmer’s, in Brunswick.
30. Sunday. My birthday; I am thirty-nine years of age. Rode to Elizabethtown, in New Jersey, where we are to dine; rode down to Elizabethtown Point, and put our carriage and all our horses into two ferry-boats; sailed, or rather rowed, six miles to a point on Staten Island, where we stopped and went into a tavern; got to Hull’s, in New York, about ten o’clock at night.
31. Monday. Mr. McDougall, Mr. Scott, Captain Sears, Mr. Platt, Mr. Hughes, came to see us; all but the last dined with us. Walked to see the new hospital; a grand building. Went to the Coffee House. Mr. Cary and Dr. Loring dined with us. The Sons of Liberty are in the horrors here; they think they have lost ground since we passed through this city. Their delegates have agreed with the Congress, which I suppose they imagine has given additional importance to their antagonists.1
November 1. Tuesday. Left Brother Paine at New York, to go by the packet to Newport; rode to Cock’s, at Kingsbridge, to breakfast, to Haviland’s, at Rye, to dinner, and to Knap’s, at Horse Neck, in Greenwich, to lodge.
2. Wednesday. Rode to Bulkeley’s, at Fairfield, to dinner, and to Captain Benjamin’s, of Stratford, to lodge.
3. Thursday. We design to Great Swamp to-day, forty-two miles. At New Haven, Colonel Dyer, Deane, and Sherman, Mr. Parsons, the new Speaker, Williams, Mr. Trumbull, and many other gentlemen came to see us, at Bears’s, as soon as we got in. Colonel Dyer presented the compliments of the Governor and Council to the Massachusetts delegates, and asked our company to spend the evening. I begged Colonel Dyer to present my duty to the Governor and Council, and my gratitude for the high honor they did us, but that we had been so long from home, and our affairs were so critical, we hoped they would excuse us if we passed through the town as fast as possible. Mr. Sherman invited us to dine, but Mr. Babcock claimed a promise, so we dined with him. Two or three carriages accompanied us a few miles out of town in the afternoon. We had the most pressing invitations from many gentlemen to return through New London, Windham, &c. &c. &c. but excused ourselves. The people had sent a courier to New Haven, on purpose to wait for our arrival and return to inform the people we were coming. Twenty miles from Middletown, we met two gentlemen from thence, who came on purpose to meet us and invite us to dine to-morrow at Middletown. We excused ourselves with great earnestness.
4. Friday. Dined at Hartford, at Bull’s, where we had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Adams’s minister, Mr. Howe,1 who is supposed to be courting here. Lodged at Dr. Chafy’s, in Windsor; very cordially entertained.
5. Saturday. Breakfasted at Austin’s, of Suffield. Went to see a company of men exercising upon the hill, under the command of a green-coated man, lately a regular; a company of very likely, stout men. Dined at Parsons’s, of Springfield. Captain Pynchon and another Pynchon and Mr. Bliss, came in to see us, and at last Colonel Worthington. Worthington behaved decently and politely.1 Said he was in hopes we should have staid the Sabbath in town, and he should have had the pleasure of waiting on us, &c. Captain Pynchon was of the late Provincial Congress, and gave us some account of their proceedings. Arrived, about seven o’clock, at Scott’s, of Palmer, alias Kingston, where we are to lodge. Scott and his wife are at this instant great patriots—zealous Americans. Scott’s faith is very strong that they will repeal all the acts this very winter. Dr. Dana told us all America and Great Britain and Europe owed us thanks, and that the ministry would lay hold of our consent that they should regulate trade, and our petition, and grant us relief this winter. But neither the Doctor’s nor Scott’s faith is my faith.
6. Sunday. Went all day to hear Mr. Baldwin, a Presbyterian minister at Kingston. We put up at Scott’s. Mr. Baldwin came in the evening to see us. Horat., book 3, ode 2: “Pueros ab ineunte ætate assuefaciendos esse rei militari et vitæ laboriosæ.”2 We walked to meeting above two miles at noon; we walked a quarter of a mile, and staid at one Quintain’s, an old Irishman; and a friendly, cordial reception we had; the old man was so rejoiced to see us he could hardly speak; more glad to see us, he said, than he should to see Gage and all his train. I saw a gun; the young man said, that gun marched eight miles towards Boston on the late alarm; almost the whole parish marched off, and the people seemed really disappointed when the news was contradicted.
7. Monday. Dined at Rice’s, of Brookfield. Major Foster came to see us, and gave us an account of the proceedings of the Provincial Congress. Lodged at Hunt’s, in Spencer.
8. Tuesday. Breakfasted at Colonel Henshaw’s, of Leicester; dined at Woodburn’s, of Worcester. Furnival made the two young ladies come in and sing us the new Liberty Song.
Lodged at Colonel Buckminster’s, of Framingham.
9. Wednesday. Breakfasted at Reeve’s, of Sudbury.
[Upon our return to Massachusetts, I found myself elected by the town of Braintree into the Provincial Congress, and attended that service as long as it sat.1 About this time, Draper’s paper in Boston swarmed with writers, and among an immense quantity of meaner productions appeared a writer under the signature of Massachusettensis, suspected, but never that I knew ascertained, to be written by two of my old friends, Jonathan Sewall and Daniel Leonard.2 These papers were well written, abounded with wit, discovered good information, and were conducted with a subtlety of art and address wonderfully calculated to keep up the spirits of their party, to depress ours, to spread intimidation, and to make proselytes among those whose principles and judgment give way to their fears; and these compose at least one third of mankind. Week after week passed away, and these papers made a very visible impression on many minds. No answer appeared, and indeed some who were capable, were too busy, and others too timorous. I began at length to think seriously of the consequences, and began to write under the signature of Novanglus, and continued every week in the Boston Gazette, till the 19th of April, 1775.3 The last number was prevented from impression by the commencement of hostilities, and Mr. Gill gave it to Judge William Cushing, who now has it in manuscript. An abridgment of the printed numbers was made by some one in England, unknown to me, and published in Almon’s Remembrancer, for the year 1775, and afterwards reprinted in a pamphlet, in 1783, under the title of “History of the Dispute with America.” In New England, they had the effect of an antidote to the poison of Massachusettensis; and the battle of Lexington, on the 19th of April, changed the instruments of warfare from the pen to the sword.
A few days after this event, I rode to Cambridge, where I saw General Ward, General Heath, General Joseph Warren, and the New England army. There was great confusion and much distress. Artillery, arms, clothing were wanting, and a sufficient supply of provisions not easily obtained. Neither the officers nor men, however, wanted spirits or resolution. I rode from thence to Lexington, and along the scene of action for many miles, and inquired of the inhabitants the circumstances. These were not calculated to diminish my ardor in the cause; they, on the contrary, convinced me that the die was cast, the Rubicon passed, and, as Lord Mansfield expressed it in Parliament, if we did not defend ourselves, they would kill us. On my return home, I was seized with a fever, attended with alarming symptoms; but the time was come to repair to Philadelphia to Congress, which was to meet on the fifth of May. I was determined to go as far as I could, and instead of venturing on horseback, as I had intended, I got into a sulky, attended by a servant on horseback, and proceeded on the journey. This year, Mr. Hancock was added to our number. I overtook my colleagues before they reached New York.1 At Kingsbridge we were met by a great number of gentlemen in carriages and on horseback, and all the way their numbers increased, till I thought the whole city was come out to meet us. The same ardor was continued all the way to Philadelphia.2
Congress assembled and proceeded to business, and the members appeared to me to be of one mind, and that mind after my own heart. I dreaded the danger of disunion and divisions among us, and much more among the people. It appeared to me that all petitions, remonstrances, and negotiations, for the future, would be fruitless, and only occasion a loss of time, and give opportunity to the enemy to sow divisions among the States and the people. My heart bled for the poor people of Boston, imprisoned within the walls of their city by a British army, and we knew not to what plunders or massacres or cruelties they might be exposed. I thought the first step ought to be to recommend to the people of every State in the Union, to seize on all the Crown officers, and hold them with civility, humanity, and generosity, as hostages for the security of the people of Boston, and to be exchanged for them as soon as the British army would release them; that we ought to recommend to the people of all the States to institute governments for themselves, under their own authority, and that without loss of time; that we ought to declare the Colonies free, sovereign, and independent States, and then to inform Great Britain we were willing to enter into negotiations with them for the redress of all grievances, and a restoration of harmony between the two countries, upon permanent principles. All this I thought might be done before we entered into any connections, alliances, or negotiations with foreign powers. I was also for informing Great Britain, very frankly, that hitherto we were free; but, if the war should be continued, we were determined to seek alliances with France, Spain, and any other power of Europe that would contract with us. That we ought immediately to adopt the army in Cambridge as a continental army, to appoint a General and all other officers, take upon ourselves the pay, subsistence, clothing, armor, and munitions of the troops. This is a concise sketch of the plan which I thought the only reasonable one; and, from conversation with the members of Congress, I was then convinced, and have been ever since convinced, that it was the general sense at least of a considerable majority of that body. This system of measures I publicly and privately avowed without reserve.
The gentlemen in Pennsylvania, who had been attached to the proprietary interest, and owed their wealth and honors to it, and the great body of the Quakers, had hitherto acquiesced in the measures of the Colonies, or at least had made no professed opposition to them; many of both descriptions had declared themselves with us, and had been as explicit and as ardent as we were. But now these people began to see that independence was approaching, they started back. In some of my public harangues, in which I had freely and explicitly laid open my thoughts, on looking round the assembly I have seen horror, terror, and detestation, strongly marked on the countenances of some of the members, whose names I could readily recollect; but as some of them have been good citizens since, and others went over afterwards to the English, I think it unnecessary to record them here. There is one gentleman, however, whom I must mention in self-defence; I mean John Dickinson, then of Philadelphia, now of Delaware. This gentleman had been appointed a member of Congress, by the Legislature of Pennsylvania, about a week before the close of the Congress of 1774, and now, in 1775, made his appearance again at the opening of the Congress of 1775.
In some of the earlier deliberations in May, after I had reasoned at some length on my own plan, Mr. John Rutledge, in more than one public speech, approved of my sentiments, and the other delegates from that State, Mr. Lynch, Mr. Gadsden, and Mr. Edward Rutledge, appeared to me to be of the same mind. Mr. Dickinson himself told me, afterwards, that when we first came together the balance lay with South Carolina. Accordingly, all their efforts were employed to convert the delegates from that State. Mr. Charles Thomson, who was then rather inclined to our side of the question, told me that the Quakers had intimidated Mr. Dickinson’s mother and his wife, who were continually distressing him with their remonstrances. His mother said to him, “Johnny, you will be hanged; your estate will be forfeited and confiscated; you will leave your excellent wife a widow, and your charming children orphans, beggars, and infamous.” From my soul I pitied Mr. Dickinson. I made his case my own. If my mother and my wife had expressed such sentiments to me, I was certain that if they did not wholly unman me and make me an apostate, they would make me the most miserable man alive. I was very happy that my mother and my wife and my brothers, my wife’s father and mother, and grandfather Colonel John Quincy and his lady, Mr. Norton Quincy, Dr. Tufts, Mr. Cranch, and all her near relations, as well as mine, had uniformly been of my mind, so that I always enjoyed perfect peace at home.
The proprietary gentlemen, Israel Pemberton and other principal Quakers now united with Mr. Dickinson, addressed themselves with great art and assiduity to all the members of Congress whom they could influence, even to some of the delegates of Massachusetts; but most of all to the delegates from South Carolina. Mr. Lynch had been an old acquaintance of the Penn family, particularly of the Governor. Mr. Edward Rutledge had brought his lady with him, a daughter of our former President Middleton. Mr. Arthur Middleton, her brother, was now a delegate in place of his father. The lady and the gentlemen were invited to all parties, and were visited perpetually by the party, and we soon began to find that Mr. Lynch, Mr. Arthur Middleton, and even the two Rutledges, began to waver and to clamor about independence. Mr. Gadsden was either, from despair of success, never attempted, or, if he was, he received no impression from them. I became the dread and terror and abhorrence of the party. But all this I held in great contempt. Arthur Middleton became the hero of Quaker and proprietary politics in Congress. He had little information, and less argument; in rudeness and sarcasm his forte lay, and he played off his artillery without reserve. I made it a rule to return him a Roland for every Oliver, so that he never got, and I never lost, any thing from these rencounters. We soon parted, never to see each other more,—I believe, without a spark of malice on either side; for he was an honest and generous fellow, with all his zeal in this cause.
The party made me as unpopular as they could, among all their connections, but I regarded none of those things. I knew and lamented that many of these gentlemen, of great property, high in office, and of good accomplishments, were laying the foundation, not of any injury to me, but of their own ruin; and it was not in my power to prevent it. When the party had prepared the members of Congress for their purpose, and indeed had made no small impression on three of my own colleagues, Mr. Dickinson made or procured to be made a motion for a second petition to the King, to be sent by Mr. Richard Penn, who was then bound on a voyage to England. The motion was introduced and supported by long speeches. I was opposed to it, of course, and made an opposition to it in as long a speech as I commonly made, not having ever been remarkable for very long harangues, in answer to all the arguments which had been urged. When I sat down, Mr. John Sullivan arose, and began to argue on the same side with me, in a strain of wit, reasoning, and fluency, which, although he was always fluent, exceeded every thing I had ever heard from him before. I was much delighted, and Mr. Dickinson, very much terrified at what he said, began to tremble for his cause. At this moment I was called out to the State House yard, very much to my regret, to some one who had business with me. I took my hat, and went out of the door of Congress Hall. Mr. Dickinson observed me, and darted out after me. He broke out upon me in a most abrupt and extraordinary manner; in as violent a passion as he was capable of feeling, and with an air, countenance, and gestures, as rough and haughty as if I had been a school-boy and he the master. He vociferated, “What is the reason, Mr. Adams, that you New-Englandmen oppose our measures of reconciliation? There now is Sullivan, in a long harangue, following you in a determined opposition to our petition to the King. Look ye! If you don’t concur with us in our pacific system, I and a number of us will break off from you in New England, and we will carry on the opposition by ourselves in our own way.”1 I own I was shocked with this magisterial salutation. I knew of no pretensions Mr. Dickinson had to dictate to me, more than I had to catechize him. I was, however, as it happened, at that moment, in a very happy temper, and I answered him very coolly. “Mr. Dickinson, there are many things that I can very cheerfully sacrifice to harmony, and even to unanimity; but I am not to be threatened into an express adoption or approbation of measures which my judgment reprobates. Congress must judge, and if they pronounce against me, I must submit, as, if they determine against you, you ought to acquiesce.” These were the last words which ever passed between Mr. Dickinson and me in private. We continued to debate, in Congress, upon all questions publicly, with all our usual candor and good humor. But the friendship and acquaintance was lost forever by an unfortunate accident, which must now be explained.
The more I reflected on Mr. Dickinson’s rude lecture in the State House yard, the more I was vexed with it; and the determination of Congress in favor of the petition did not allay the irritation. A young gentleman from Boston, Mr. Hichborn, whom I had known as a clerk in Mr. Fitch’s office, but with whom I had no particular connection or acquaintance, had been for some days soliciting me to give him letters to my friends in the Massachusetts. I was so much engaged in the business of Congress, in the daytime, and in consultations with the members, on evenings and mornings, that I could not find time to write a line. He came to me at last, and said he was immediately to set off on his journey home, and begged I would give him some letters. I told him I had not been able to write any. He prayed I would write, if it were only a line, to my family, for, he said, as he had served his clerkship with Mr. Fitch, he was suspected and represented as a Tory, and this reputation would be his ruin, if it could not be corrected, for nobody would employ him at the bar. If I would only give him the slightest letters to any of my friends, it would give him the appearance of having my confidence, and would assist him in acquiring what he truly deserved, the character of a Whig. To get rid of his importunity, I took my pen and wrote a very few lines to my wife, and about an equal number to General James Warren. Irritated with the unpoliteness of Mr. Dickinson, and more mortified with his success in Congress, I wrote something like what has been published, but not exactly. The British printers made it worse than it was in the original.1 Mr. Hichborn was intercepted in crossing Hudson’s River, by the boats from a British man-of-war, and my letters, instead of being destroyed, fell into the hands of the enemy, and were immediately printed with a little garbling. They thought them a great prize. The ideas of independence, to be sure, were glaring enough, and they thought they should produce quarrels among the members of Congress and a division of the Colonies. Me they expected utterly to ruin, because, as they represented, I had explicitly avowed my designs of independence. I cared nothing for this. I had made no secret, in or out of Congress, of my opinion that independence was become indispensable, and I was perfectly sure that in a little time the whole continent would be of my mind. I rather rejoiced in this as a fortunate circumstance, that the idea was held up to the whole world, and that the people could not avoid contemplating it and reasoning about it. Accordingly, from this time at least, if not earlier, and not from the publication of “Common Sense,” did the people in all parts of the continent turn their attention to this subject. It was, I know, considered in the same light by others. I met Colonel Reed, soon afterwards, who was then General Washington’s secretary, who mentioned those letters to me, and said that Providence seemed to have thrown those letters before the public for our good; for independence was certainly inevitable, and it was happy that the whole country had been compelled to turn their thoughts upon it, that it might not come upon them presently by surprise.1
There were a few expressions which hurt me, when I found the enemy either misunderstood them or wilfully misrepresented them. The expressions were, “Will your judiciary whip and hang without scruple?” This they construed to mean to excite cruelty against the Tories, and get some of them punished with severity. Nothing was further from my thoughts. I had no reference to Tories in this. But as the exercise of judicial power, without authority from the Crown, would be probably the most offensive act of government to Great Britain, and the least willingly pardoned, my question meant no more than,—“Will your judges have fortitude enough to inflict the severe punishments, when necessary, as death upon murderers and other capital criminals, and flagellation upon such as deserve it?” Nothing could be more false and injurious to me, than the imputation of any sanguinary zeal against the Tories; for I can truly declare, that, through the whole Revolution, and from that time to this, I never committed one act of severity against the Tories. On the contrary, I was a constant advocate for all the mercy and indulgence consistent with our safety. Some acts of treachery, as well as hostility, were combined together in so atrocious a manner that pardon could not be indulged, but, as it happened, in none of these had I any particular concern.
In a very short time after the publication of these letters, I received one from General Charles Lee, then in the army in the neighborhood of Boston, in which, after expressing the most obliging sentiments of my character, he said some gentlemen had hinted to him that I might possibly apprehend that he would take offence at them; but he assured me he was highly pleased with what was said of him in them. The acknowledgment from me, that he was a soldier and a scholar, he esteemed as an honor done to him; and as to his attachment to his dogs, when he should discover in men as much fidelity, honesty, and gratitude, as he daily experienced in his dogs, he promised to love men as well as dogs. Accordingly the cordiality between him and me continued till his death.1
This measure of imbecility, the second petition to the King, embarrassed every exertion of Congress; it occasioned motions and debates without end for appointing committees to draw up a declaration of the causes, motives, and objects of taking arms, with a view to obtain decisive declarations against independence, &c. In the mean time the New England army investing Boston, the New England legislatures, congresses, and conventions, and the whole body of the people, were left without munitions of war, without arms, clothing, pay, or even countenance and encouragement. Every post brought me letters from my friends, Dr. Winthrop, Dr. Cooper, General James Warren, and sometimes from General Ward and his aids, and General Heath and many others, urging in pathetic terms the impossibility of keeping their men together without the assistance of Congress. I was daily urging all these things, but we were embarrassed with more than one difficulty, not only with the party in favor of the petition to the King, and the party who were jealous of independence, but a third party, which was a Southern party against a Northern, and a jealousy against a New England army under the command of a New England General. Whether this jealousy was sincere, or whether it was mere pride and a haughty ambition of furnishing a southern General to command the northern army, (I cannot say); but the intention was very visible to me that Colonel Washington was their object, and so many of our staunchest men were in the plan, that we could carry nothing without conceding to it. Another embarrassment, which was never publicly known, and which was carefully concealed by those who knew it, the Massachusetts and other New England delegates were divided. Mr. Hancock and Mr. Cushing hung back; Mr. Paine did not come forward, and even Mr. Samuel Adams was irresolute. Mr. Hancock himself had an ambition to be appointed commander-in-chief.1 Whether he thought an election a compliment due to him, and intended to have the honor of declining it, or whether he would have accepted, I know not. To the compliment he had some pretensions, for, at that time, his exertions, sacrifices, and general merits in the cause of his country had been incomparably greater than those of Colonel Washington. But the delicacy of his health, and his entire want of experience in actual service, though an excellent militia officer, were decisive objections to him in my mind. In canvassing this subject, out of doors, I found too that even among the delegates of Virginia there were difficulties. The apostolical reasonings among themselves, which should be greatest, were not less energetic among the saints of the ancient dominion than they were among us of New England. In several conversations, I found more than one very cool about the appointment of Washington, and particularly Mr. Pendleton was very clear and full against it. Full of anxieties concerning these confusions, and apprehending daily that we should hear very distressing news from Boston, I walked with Mr. Samuel Adams in the State House yard, for a little exercise and fresh air, before the hour of Congress, and there represented to him the various dangers that surrounded us. He agreed to them all, but said, “What shall we do?” I answered him, that he knew I had taken great pains to get our colleagues to agree upon some plan, that we might be unanimous; but he knew that they would pledge themselves to nothing; but I was determined to take a step which should compel them and all the other members of Congress to declare themselves for or against something. “I am determined this morning to make a direct motion that Congress should adopt the army before Boston, and appoint Colonel Washington commander of it.” Mr. Adams seemed to think very seriously of it, but said nothing.
Accordingly, when Congress had assembled, I rose in my place, and in as short a speech as the subject would admit, represented the state of the Colonies, the uncertainty in the minds of the people, their great expectation and anxiety, the distresses of the army, the danger of its dissolution, the difficulty of collecting another, and the probability that the British army would take advantage of our delays, march out of Boston, and spread desolation as far as they could go. I concluded with a motion, in form, that Congress would adopt the army at Cambridge, and appoint a General; that though this was not the proper time to nominate a General, yet, as I had reason to believe this was a point of the greatest difficulty, I had no hesitation to declare that I had but one gentleman in my mind for that important command, and that was a gentleman from Virginia who was among us and very well known to all of us, a gentleman whose skill and experience as an officer, whose independent fortune, great talents, and excellent universal character, would command the approbation of all America, and unite the cordial exertions of all the Colonies better than any other person in the Union. Mr. Washington, who happened to sit near the door, as soon as he heard me allude to him, from his usual modesty, darted into the library-room. Mr. Hancock,—who was our President, which gave me an opportunity to observe his countenance while I was speaking on the state of the Colonies, the army at Cambridge, and the enemy,—heard me with visible pleasure; but when I came to describe Washington for the commander, I never remarked a more sudden and striking change of countenance. Mortification and resentment were expressed as forcibly as his face could exhibit them. Mr. Samuel Adams seconded the motion, and that did not soften the President’s physiognomy at all.1 The subject came under debate, and several gentlemen declared themselves against the appointment of Mr. Washington, not on account of any personal objection against him, but because the army were all from New England, had a General of their own, appeared to be satisfied with him, and had proved themselves able to imprison the British army in Boston, which was all they expected or desired at that time. Mr. Pendleton, of Virginia, Mr. Sherman, of Connecticut, were very explicit in declaring this opinion; Mr. Cushing and several others more faintly expressed their opposition, and their fears of discontents in the army and in New England. Mr. Paine expressed a great opinion of General Ward and a strong friendship for him, having been his classmate at college, or at least his contemporary; but gave no opinion upon the question. The subject was postponed to a future day. In the mean time, pains were taken out of doors to obtain a unanimity, and the voices were generally so clearly in favor of Washington, that the dissentient members were persuaded to withdraw their opposition, and Mr. Washington was nominated, I believe by Mr. Thomas Johnson of Maryland, unanimously elected, and the army adopted.
The next question was, who should be the second officer. General Lee was nominated, and most strenuously urged by many, particularly Mr. Mifflin, who said that General Lee would serve cheerfully under Washington, but, considering his rank, character, and experience, could not be expected to serve under any other. That Lee must be, aut secundus, aut nullus. To this I as strenuously objected, that it would be a great deal to expect of General Ward that he should serve under any man, but that under a stranger he ought not to serve; that though I had as high an opinion of General Lee’s learning, general information, and especially of his science and experience in war, I could not advise General Ward to humiliate himself and his country so far as to serve under him. General Ward was elected the second, and Lee the third.1 Gates and Mifflin, I believe, had some appointments, and General Washington took with him Mr. Reed, of Philadelphia, a lawyer of some eminence, for his private Secretary; and the gentlemen all set off for the camp. They had not proceeded twenty miles from Philadelphia, before they met a courier with the news of the battle of Bunker’s Hill, the death of General Warren, the slaughter among the British officers and men, as well as among ours, and the burning of Charlestown.
I have always imputed the loss of Charlestown, and of the brave officers and men who fell there, and the loss of a hero of more worth than all the town, I mean General Warren, to Mr. Dickinson’s petition to the King; and the loss of Quebec and Montgomery to his subsequent, unceasing, though finally unavailing efforts against independence. These impeded and paralyzed all our enterprises. Had our army been acknowledged in season, which acknowledgment ought to have been our first step, and the measures taken to comfort and encourage it, which ought to have been taken by Congress, we should not have lost Charlestown; and if every measure for the service in Canada, from the first projection of it to the final loss of the Province, had not been opposed and obstinately disputed by the same party, so that we could finally carry no measure but by a bare majority—.1 And every measure was delayed, till it became ineffectual.
In the fall of the year, Congress was much fatigued with the incessant labors, debates, intrigues, and heats of the summer, and agreed on a short adjournment. The delegates from Massachusetts returned home, and as, the two houses of the legislature had chosen us all into the Council, we went to Watertown and took our seats for such times as we could spare before our return to Congress. I had been chosen before, two years successively, that is, in 1773 and 1774, and had been negatived by the Governor, the first time by Hutchinson, and the second by Gage. My friend, Dr. Cooper, attempted to console me under the first negative, which he called a check; but I told him I considered it not as a check, but as a boost, a word of John Bunyan which the Doctor understood. These negatives were, indeed, no mortification to me, for, knowing that neither honor nor profit was to be obtained, nor good to be done in that body in those times, I had not a wish to sit there. When a person came running to my office to tell me of the first of them, I cried out, laughing, “Now I believe, in my soul, I am a clever fellow, since I have the attestation of the three branches of the Legislature.” This vulgar, familiar little sally, was caught as if it had been a prize, and immediately scattered all over the Province.
I went to head-quarters, and had much conversation with Generals Washington, Ward, Lee, Putnam, Gates, Mifflin, and others, and went with General Lee to visit the outposts and the sentinels nearest the enemy at Charlestown. Here Lee found his dogs inconvenient, for they were so attached to him that they insisted on keeping close about him, and he expected he should be known by them to the British officers in the fort, and he expected every moment a discharge of balls, grape, or langrage about our ears. After visiting my friends and the General Court, the army and the country, I returned to Philadelphia, but not till I had followed my youngest brother to the grave. He had commanded a company of militia all summer, at Cambridge, and there taken a fatal dysentery, then epidemic in the camp, of which he died, leaving a young widow and three young children, who are all still living. My brother died greatly lamented by all who knew him, and by none more than by me, who knew the excellence of his heart, and the purity of his principles and conduct. He died, as Mr. Taft, his minister, informed me, exulting, as his father had done, in the exalted hopes of a Christian.
An event of the most trifling nature in appearance, and fit only to excite laughter in other times, struck me into a profound reverie, if not a fit of melancholy. I met a man who had sometimes been my client, and sometimes I had been against him. He, though a common horse-jockey, was sometimes in the right, and I had commonly been successful in his favor in our courts of law. He was always in the law, and had been sued in many actions at almost every court. As soon as he saw me, he came up to me, and his first salutation to me was, “Oh! Mr. Adams, what great things have you and your colleagues done for us! We can never be grateful enough to you. There are no courts of justice now in this Province, and I hope there never will be another.” Is this the object for which I have been contending? said I to myself, for I rode along without any answer to this wretch. Are these the sentiments of such people, and how many of them are there in the country? Half the nation, for what I know; for half the nation are debtors, if not more, and these have been, in all countries, the sentiments of debtors. If the power of the country should get into such hands, and there is great danger that it will, to what purpose have we sacrificed our time, health, and every thing else? Surely we must guard against this spirit and these principles, or we shall repent of all our conduct. However, the good sense and integrity of the majority of the great body of the people came into my thoughts, for my relief, and the last resource was after all in a good Providence.]
Single Entry in Account Book.
15. Friday.2 Archibald Bullock and John Houston, Esquires, and the Rev. Dr. Zubly, appear as delegates from Georgia. Dr. Zubly is a native of Switzerland, and a clergyman of the independent persuasion, settled in a parish in Georgia. He speaks, as it is reported, several languages, English, Dutch, French, Latin, &c.; is reported to be a learned man. He is a man of a warm and zealous spirit; it is said that he possesses considerable property. Houston is a young gentleman, by profession a lawyer, educated under a gentleman of eminence in South Carolina. He seems to be sensible and spirited, but rather inexperienced. Bullock is clothed in American manufacture. Thomas Nelson, Esq., George Wythe, Esq., and Francis Lightfoot Lee, Esq., appeared as delegates from Virginia. Nelson is a fat man, like the late Colonel Lee of Marblehead. He is a speaker, and alert and lively for his weight. Wythe is a lawyer, it is said, of the first eminence. Lee is a brother of Dr. Arthur, the late sheriff of London, and of our old friend Richard Henry, sensible and patriotic, as the rest of the family.
Deane says that two persons of the name of De Witt, of Dutch extraction, one in Norwich, the other in Windham, have made saltpetre with success, and propose to make a great deal. That there is a mine of lead, at Middletown, which will afford a great quantity; that works are preparing to smelt and refine it, which will go in a fortnight. There is a mine at Northampton, which Mr. W. Bowdoin spent much money in working, with much effect, though little profit.
Langdon and Bartlett came in this evening from Portsmouth. Four hundred men are building a fort on Pierce’s Island to defend the town against ships of war. Upon recollecting the debates of this day in Congress, there appears to me a remarkable want of judgment in some of our members. Chase is violent and boisterous, asking his pardon; he is tedious upon frivolous points. So is E. Rutledge. Much precious time is indiscreetly expended; points of little consequence are started and debated with warmth. Rutledge is a very uncouth and ungraceful speaker; he shrugs his shoulders, distorts his body, nods and wriggles with his head, and looks about with his eyes from side to side, and speaks through his nose, as the Yankees sing. His brother John dodges his head too, rather disagreeably, and both of them spout out their language in a rough and rapid torrent, but without much force or effect.1 Dyer is long-winded and round-about, obscure and cloudy, very talkative and very tedious, yet an honest, worthy man, means and judges well. Sherman’s air is the reverse of grace; there cannot be a more striking contrast to beautiful action, than the motions of his hands; generally he stands upright, with his hands before him, the fingers of his left hand clenched into a fist, and the wrist of it grasped with his right. But he has a clear head and sound judgment; but when he moves a hand in any thing like action, Hogarth’s genius could not have invented a motion more opposite to grace;—it is stiffness and awkwardness itself, rigid as starched linen or buckram; awkward as a junior bachelor or a sophomore.
Mr. Dickinson’s air, gait, and action are not much more elegant.
16. Saturday. Walking to the State House, this morning, I met Mr. Dickinson, on foot, in Chesnut Street. We met, and passed near enough to touch elbows. He passed without moving his hat or head or hand. I bowed, and pulled off my hat. He passed haughtily by. The cause of his offence is the letter, no doubt, which Gage has printed in Draper’s paper.1 I shall, for the future, pass him in the same manner; but I was determined to make my bow, that I might know his temper. We are not to be upon speaking terms nor bowing terms for the time to come. This evening had conversation with Mr. Bullock, of Georgia. I asked him whether Georgia had a charter? What was the extent of the Province? What was their constitution? How justice was administered? Who was chancellor? who ordinary? and who judges? He says they have county courts for the trial of civil causes under eight pounds; and a Chief Justice appointed from home, and three other judges appointed by the Governor, for the decision of all other causes, civil and criminal, at Savannah; that the Governor alone is both chancellor and ordinary. Parson Gordon, of Roxbury,2 spent the evening here. I fear his indiscreet prate will do harm in this city. He is an eternal talker, and somewhat vain, and not accurate nor judicious; very zealous in the cause, and a well-meaning man, but incautious, and not sufficiently tender of the character of our Province, upon which at this time much depends; fond of being thought a man of influence at head-quarters, and with our Council and House, and with the general officers of the army, and also with gentlemen in this city and other Colonies. He is a good man, but wants a guide.
17. Sunday. Mr. Smith, Mr. Imlay, and Mr. Hanson, breakfasted with us. Smith is an Englishman. Imlay and Hanson New Yorkers. Heard Sprout on Titus iii. 5: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” There is a great deal of simplicity and innocence in this worthy man, but very little elegance or ingenuity. In prayer, he hangs his head in an angle of forty-five over his right shoulder; in sermon, which is delivered without notes, he throws himself into a variety of indecent postures, bends his body, points his fingers, and throws about his arms without any rule or meaning at all. He is totally destitute of the genius and eloquence of Duffield; has no imagination, no passions, no wit, no taste, and very little learning, but a great deal of goodness of heart.
18. Monday. This morning, John McPherson, Esq. came to my lodgings, and requested to speak with me in private. He is the owner of a very handsome country seat, about five miles out of this city; is the father of Mr. McPherson, an aid-de-camp to General Schuyler. He has been a captain of a privateer, and made a fortune in that way the last war; is reputed to be well skilled in naval affairs. He proposes great things; is sanguine, confident, positive, that he can take or burn every man-of-war in America.1 It is a secret, he says, but he will communicate it to any one member of Congress, upon condition that it be not divulged during his life at all, nor after his death, but for the service of this country. He says it is as certain as that he shall die, that he can burn any ship. In the afternoon, Mr. S. A. and I made a visit, at Mrs. Bedford’s, to the Maryland gentlemen. We found Paca and Chase, and a polite reception from them. Chase is ever social and talkative; he seems in better humor than he was before the adjournment. His Colony have acted with spirit in support of the cause; they have formed themselves into a system and enjoined an association, if that is not an absurdity.
19. Tuesday. This morning, Mr. Henry Hill, with his brother, Nat Barrett, came to visit us. Paine introduced him to Mrs. Yard as one of the poor of Boston. He is here with his wife on a visit to her brother. Paine cries, “You, H. Hill, what did you come here for? Who did you bring with you?—ha! ha! ha!”
20. Wednesday. Took a walk, in company with Governor Ward, Mr. Gadsden and his son, and Mr. S. Adams, to a little box in the country belonging to old Mr. Marshall,1 the father of three sons who live in the city; a fine, facetious old gentleman, an excellent Whig. There we drank coffee; a fine garden; a little box of one room; very cheerful and good-humored.
21. Thursday. The famous partisan, Major Rogers, came to our lodgings to make us a visit. He has been in prison; discharged by some insolvent or bankrupt act. He thinks we shall have hot work, next Spring. He told me an old half-pay officer, such as himself, would sell well next Spring; and when he went away, he said to S. A. and me, “If you want me, next Spring, for any service, you know where I am, send for me; I am to be sold.”2 He says, “the Scotchmen at home say, ‘d—n that Adams and Cushing; we must have their heads,’ &c. Bernard used to damn that Adams;—‘Every dip of his pen stung like a horned snake.’ Paxton made his will in favor of Lord Townsend, and by that manœuvre got himself made a commissioner. There was a great deal of beauty in that stroke of policy. We must laugh at such sublime strokes of politics,” &c. &c. &c. In the evening, Mr. Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant of Princeton, made a visit to the Secretary and me. He says he is no idolater of his namesake; that he was disappointed when he first saw him. Fame had given him an exalted idea; but he came to New Jersey upon a particular cause, and made such a flimsy, effeminate piece of work of it, that he sunk at once in his opinion. Sergeant is sorry to find such a falling off in this city;—not a third of the battalion men muster, who mustered at first. D. he says, sinks here, in the public opinion; that many gentlemen chime in with a spirited publication in the paper of Wednesday which blames the conduct of several gentlemen of fortune, D., Cad., R., and J. Allen, &c.
22. Friday. Mr. Gordon spent the evening here.
23. Saturday. Mr. Gordon came and told us news, opened his budget. Ethan Allen with five hundred Green Mountain boys was intrenched half way between St. Johns and Montreal, and had cut off all communication with Carlton, and was kindly treated by the French. A council of war had been held, and it was their opinion that it was practicable to take Boston and Charlestown; but as it would cost many lives, and expose the inhabitants of Boston to destruction, it was thought best to postpone it for the present. Major Rogers came here too this morning; said he had a hand and a heart, though he did not choose by offering himself, to expose himself to destruction. I walked a long time, this morning, backward and forward in the State House yard with Paca, McKean, and Johnson. McKean has no idea of any right or authority in Parliament. Paca contends for an authority and right to regulate trade, &c. Dyer, and Sergeant of Princeton, spent the evening here. S. says, that the Irish interest in this city has been the support of liberty. Mease, &c. are leaders in it. The Irish and the Presbyterian interest coalesce.
24. Sunday. Dyer is very sanguine that the two De Witts, one of Windham, the other of Norwich, will make saltpetre in large quantities. He produces a sample, which is very good. Harrison is confident that Virginia alone will do great things from tobacco houses; but my faith is not strong as yet. Lord North is at his old work again, sending over his anodynes to America; deceiving one credulous American after another into a belief that he means conciliation, when in truth he means nothing but revenge. He rocks the cradle and sings lullaby, and the innocent children go to sleep, while he prepares the birch to whip the poor babes. One letter after another comes, that the people are uneasy, and the ministry are sick of their systems, but nothing can be more fallacious. Next Spring we shall be jockied by negotiation, or have hot work in war; besides, I expect a reinforcement to Gage and to Carlton this fall or winter. Heard Mr. Smith, of Pecquea, about forty miles towards Lancaster, a Scotch clergyman of great piety, as Colonel Roberdeau says. The text was, Luke xiv. 18: “And they all, with one consent, began to make excuse.” This was at Duffield’s meeting. In the afternoon, heard our Mr. Gordon, in Arch Street: “The Lord is nigh unto all that call upon him.” Called upon Stephen Collins, who has just returned. Stephen has a thousand things to say to us, he says; a thousand observations to make. One thing he told me for my wife, who will be peeping here some time or other, and come across it. He says, when he called at my house, an English gentleman was with him; a man of penetration, though of few words; and this silent, penetrating gentleman was pleased with Mrs. Adams, and thought her the most accomplished lady he had seen since he came out of England. Down, vanity, for you don’t know who this Englishman is.
Dr. Rush came in. He is an elegant, ingenious body, a sprightly, pretty fellow. He is a republican; he has been much in London; acquainted with Sawbridge, Macaulay, Burgh, and others of that stamp. Dilly sends him books and pamphlets, and Sawbridge and Macaulay correspond with him. He complains of D.; says the Committee of Safety are not the representatives of the people, and therefore not their legislators; yet they have been making laws, a whole code, for a navy. This committee was chosen by the House, but half of them are not members, and therefore not the choice of the people. All this is just. He mentions many particular instances in which Dickinson has blundered; he thinks him warped by the Quaker interest and the church interest too; thinks his reputation past the meridian, and that avarice is growing upon him. Says that Henry and Mifflin both complained to him very much about him. But Rush, I think, is too much of a talker to be a deep thinker; elegant, not great. In the evening, Mr. Bullock and Mr. Houston, two gentlemen from Georgia, came into our room, and smoked and chatted the whole evening. Houston and Adams disputed the whole time in good humor. They are both dabs at disputation, I think. Houston, a lawyer by trade, is one of course, and Adams is not a whit less addicted to it than the lawyers. The question was, whether all America was not in a state of war, and whether we ought to confine ourselves to act upon the defensive only? He was for acting offensively, next spring or this fall, if the petition was rejected or neglected. If it was not answered, and favorably answered, he would be for acting against Britain and Britons, as, in open war, against French and Frenchmen; fit privateers, and take their ships anywhere. These gentlemen give a melancholy account of the State of Georgia and South Carolina. They say that if one thousand regular troops should land in Georgia, and their commander be provided with arms and clothes enough, and proclaim freedom to all the negroes who would join his camp, twenty thousand negroes would join it from the two Provinces in a fortnight. The negroes have a wonderful art of communicating intelligence among themselves; it will run several hundreds of miles in a week or fortnight. They say, their only security is this; that all the king’s friends, and tools of government, have large plantations, and property in negroes; so that the slaves of the Tories would be lost, as well as those of the Whigs.
I had nearly forgot a conversation, with Dr. Coombe, concerning assassination, Henry IV., Buckingham, Sully, &c. &c. &c. Coombe has read Sully’s Memoirs with great attention.
25. Monday. Rode out of town, and dined with Mr. McPherson. He has the most elegant seat in Pennsylvania, a clever Scotch wife, and two pretty daughters. His seat is on the banks of the Schuylkill. He has been nine times wounded in battle; an old sea commander; made a fortune by privateering; an arm twice shot off, shot through the leg, &c. He renews his proposals of taking or burning ships. Spent the evening with Lynch at the City Tavern. He thinks the row gallies and vaisseaux de frise inadequate to the expense.
27. Wednesday. Mr. Bullock and Mr. Houston, the gentlemen from Georgia, invited S. A. and me to spend the evening with them in their chamber, which we did very agreeably and sociably. Mr. Langdon, of New Hampshire was with us. Mr. Bullock, after dinner, invited me to take a ride with him in his phaeton, which I did. He is a solid, clever man. He was President of their Convention.
28. Thursday. The Congress and the Assembly of this Province were invited to make an excursion, upon Delaware River, in the new row gallies built by the Committee of Safety of this Colony. About ten in the morning we all embarked. The names of the gallies are the Washington, the Effingham, the Franklin, the Dickinson, the Otter, the Bull Dog, and one more whose name I have forgot. We passed down the river, by Gloucester, where the vaisseaux de frise are. These are frames of timber, to be filled with stones, and sunk in three rows in the channel. I went in the Bull Dog, Captain Alexander, commander, Mr. Hillegas, Mr. Owen Biddle, and Mr. Rittenhouse, and Captain Faulkner were with me. Hillegas is one of our continental treasurers; is a great musician; talks perpetually of the forte and piano, of Handel, &c. and songs and tunes. He plays upon the fiddle. Rittenhouse is a mechanic; a mathematician, a philosopher, and an astronomer. Biddle is said to be a great mathematician. Both are members of the American Philosophical Society. I mentioned Mr. Cranch to them for a member. Our intention was to have gone down to the fort, but the winds and tide being unfavorable, we returned by the city, and went up the river to Point-no-Point; a pretty place. On our return, Dr. Rush, Dr. Zubly, and Counsellor Ross, brother of George Ross, joined us. Ross is a lawyer of great eloquence, and heretofore of extensive practice; a great Tory, they say, but now begins to be converted. He said the Americans were making the noblest and firmest resistance to tyranny that ever was made by any people. The acts were founded in wrong, injustice, and oppression; the great town of Boston had been remarkably punished without being heard. Rittenhouse is a tall, slender man, plain, soft, modest, no remarkable depth or thoughtfulness in his face, yet cool, attentive, and clear.
October 25. Wednesday. Mr. Duane told me, at the funeral of our late virtuous and able President, that he, Mr. Duane, had accustomed himself to read the Year Books. Mr. De Lancey, who was Chief Justice of New York, he said, advised him to it, as the best method of imbibing the spirit of the law. De Lancey told him that he had translated a pile of cases from the Year Books, although he was a very lazy man. Duane says, that Jefferson is the greatest rubber off of dust that he has met with; that he has learned French, Italian, Spanish, and wants to learn German. Duane says he has no curiosity at all, not the least inclination, to see a city or a building, &c.; that his memory fails, is very averse to be burthened; that in his youth he could remember any thing; nothing but what he could learn; but it is very different now.
Last evening, Mr. Hewes, of North Carolina, introduced to my namesake and me a Mr. Hogg, from that Colony, one of the proprietors of Transylvania, a late purchase from the Cherokees upon the Ohio. He is an associate with Henderson, who was lately one of the associate judges of North Carolina, who is President of the Convention in Transylvania. These proprietors have no grant from the Crown, nor from any Colony; are within the limits of Virginia and North Carolina, by their charters, which bound those Colonies in the South Sea. They are charged with republican notions and Utopian schemes.1
29. Sunday. Paine brought in a large sample of saltpetre, made in this city by Mr. Ripsama. It is very good, large, and burns off, when laid upon a coal, like moist powder. I tried it. Heard Mr. Carmichael, at Mr. Duffield’s, on “Trust in the Lord and do good, so shall you dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.”
December 9. Saturday. Having yesterday asked and obtained leave of Congress to go home this morning, I mounted, with my own servant only, about twelve o’clock, and reached the Red Lion about two, where I dine. The roads very miry and dirty; the weather pleasant and not cold.
10. Sunday. Rode from Bristol to Trenton, breakfasted, rode to Princeton, and dined with a Captain Flahaven, in Lord Stirling’s regiment, who has been express to Congress from his lordship. Flahaven’s father lives in this Province. He has lived in Maryland. Says that the Virginia Convention, granting the Scotch petition to be neutral, has done all the mischief, and been the support of Lord Dunmore. He says the Scotch are, in some parts of Virginia, powerful; that, in Alexandria, he has heard them cursing the Congress, and vilifying not only their public proceedings, but their private characters. He has heard them decrying the characters of the Maryland delegates, particularly Chase, and the Virginia delegates, particularly Lee, Henry, and Washington. Last evening, when I dismounted at Bristol, the taverner showed me into a room where was a young gentleman very elegantly dressed, with whom I spent the evening; his name I could not learn. He told me he had been an officer in the army, but had sold out. I had much conversation with him, and some of it very free. He told me we had two valuable prizes among the prisoners taken at Chambly and St. Johns; a Mr. Barrington, nephew of Lord Barrington, and a Captain Williams, who, he says, is the greatest officer in the service. He gives a most exalted character of Williams as a mathematician, philosopher, engineer, and in all other accomplishments of an officer. In the evening, Mr. Baldwin came to see me. We waited on Dr. Witherspoon, the President of the college, where we saw Mr. Smith and two other of the light-horse, from Philadelphia, going to the camp with a wagon.
1776. January 24. Wednesday. Began my journey to Philadelphia. Dined at C. Mifflin’s, at Cambridge, with G. Washington and Gates and their ladies, and half a dozen sachems and warriors of the French Caghnawaga tribe, with their wives and children. Williams is one who was captured in his infancy and adopted. There is a mixture of white blood, French or English, in most of them. Louis, their principal, speaks English and French, as well as Indian. It was a savage feast, carnivorous animals devouring their prey; yet they were wondrous polite. The General introduced me to them as one of the grand council fire at Philadelphia, upon which they made me many bows and a cordial reception.
25. Thursday. About ten, Mr. Gerry called me, and we rode to Framingham, where we dined. Colonel Buckminster, after dinner, showed us the train of artillery brought down from Ticonderoga by Colonel Knox. It consists of iron, nine eighteen pounders, ten twelve, six six, four nine pounders; three thirteen inch mortars, two ten inch mortars; one eight inch and one six and a half howitzer; and one eight inch and a half, and one eight. Brass cannon: eight three pounders, one four pounder, two six pounders, one eighteen, and one twenty-four pounder; one eight inch and a half mortar, one seven inch and a half dts. and five cohorns.
After dinner, rode to Maynard’s, and supped there very agreeably.
26. Friday. Stopped at Stearns’s, in Worcester, and dined with Mr. Lincoln at Mr. Jonathan Williams’s. In Putnam’s office, where I formerly trimmed the midnight lamp, Mr. Williams keeps Law’s works, and Jacob Behmen’s, with whose mystical reveries he is much captivated.
28. Sunday. Mr. Upham informs that this town of Brookfield abounds with a stone, out of which alum, copperas, and sulphur are made. Out of one bushel of this stone, he made five pounds of copperas;—he put the stone into a tub, poured water on it, let it stand two or three days, then drew it off, and boiled the liquor away; let it stand and it shot into a kind of crystals; adding chamber-lye and alkaline salts to the copperas, and that makes alum. “We made some sulphur by sublimation; we put four quarts of stone into an iron kettle, laid a wooden cover over the kettle, leaving a hole in the middle, then we put an earthern pot over the top of the kettle, and cemented it with clay, then made a fire under the kettle, and the sulphur sublimated; we got about a spoonful. We have found a bed of yellow ochre in this town. I got twelve hundred weight. We make Spanish brown by burning the yellow ochre.”
29. Monday. Rode to Springfield. Dined at Scott’s. Heard that the cannon at Kingsbridge, in New York, were spiked up; that dry goods, English goods, were sent round to New York from Boston, and from New York sold all over New England, and sent down to camp; that Tryon has issued writs for the choice of a new Assembly, and that the writs were likely to be obeyed, and the Tories were likely to carry a majority of members.
October 13.1 Sunday. Set out from Philadelphia towards Boston. Oated at the Red Lion; dined at Bristol; crossed Trenton Ferry long before sunset; drank coffee at the ferry-house on the east side of the Delaware, where I put up, partly to avoid riding in the evening air, and partly because thirty miles is enough for the first day, as my tendons are delicate, not having been once on horseback since the eighth day of last February.
1777. February 6. Thursday. Lodged last night, for the first time, in my new quarters, at Mrs. Ross’s, in Market Street, Baltimore, a few doors below the Fountain Inn.
The gentlemen from Pennsylvania and Maryland complain of the growing practice of distilling wheat into whiskey. They say it will become a question, whether the people shall eat bread or drink whiskey. The Congress sits in the last house at the west end of Market Street, on the south side of the street; a long chamber, with two fire-places, two large closets, and two doors. The house belongs to a Quaker, who built it for a tavern.
7. Friday. Dined about half a mile out of town, at Mr. Lux’s, with Dr. Witherspoon, Mr. S. Adams, Mr. Lovel, Mr. Hall, Dr. Thornton, a Mr. Harrison, Dr. NA, and Mr. George Lux, and two ladies, Mrs. Lux and her sister. This seat is named Chatworth, and an elegant one it is; has a large yard, enclosed with stone in lime, and before the yard two fine rows of large cherry trees, which lead out to the public road; there is a fine prospect about it. Mr. Lux and his son are sensible gentlemen. I had much conversation, with George, about the new form of government adopted in Maryland. George is the young gentleman by whom I sent letters to my friends, from Philadelphia, when the army was at Cambridge, particularly to Colonel Warren, whom, and whose lady, Lux so much admired. The whole family profess great zeal in the American cause. Mr. Lux lives like a Prince.
8. Saturday. Dined at the President’s, with Mr. Lux, Messrs. Samuel and Robert Purviance, Captain Nicholson, of the Maryland frigate, Colonel Harrison, Wilson, Mr. Hall, upon New England salt fish. The weather was rainy, and the streets the muddiest I ever saw. This is the dirtiest place in the world. Our Salem and Portsmouth are neat in comparison. The inhabitants, however, are excusable, because they had determined to pave the streets, before this war came on, since which they have laid the project aside, as they are accessible to men-of-war. This place is not incorporated; it is neither a city, town, nor borough, so that they can do nothing with authority.
9. Sunday. Heard Mr. Allison. In the evening, walked to Fell’s Point, the place where the ships lie; a kind of peninsula, which runs out into the basin, which lies before Baltimore town. This basin, thirty years ago, was deep enough for large tobacco ships, but since then has filled up ten feet; between the town and the point, we pass a bridge, over a little brook, which is the only stream which runs into the basin, and the only flux of water, which is to clear away the dirt which flows into the basin from the foul streets of the town, and the neighboring hills and fields. There is a breast-work thrown up upon the Point with a number of embrasures, for cannon, facing the entrance into the harbor. The Virginia frigate, Captain Nicholson, lies off in the stream. There is a number of houses upon this Point; you have a fine view of the town of Baltimore from this Point. On my return, I stopped and drank tea at Captain Smith’s, a gentleman of the new Assembly.
16. Sunday. Last evening, I supped with my friends, Dr. Rush and Mr. Sergeant, at Mrs. Page’s, over the bridge. The two Colonel Lees, Dr. Witherspoon, Mr. Adams, Mr. Gerry, Dr. Brownson, made the company. They have a fashion, in this town, of reversing the picture of King George III. in such families as have it. One of these topsy-turvy kings was hung up in the room where we supped, and under it were written these lines, by Mr. Throop, as we are told.
- Behold the man, who had it in his power
- To make a kingdom tremble and adore,
- Intoxicate with folly. See his head
- Placed where the meanest of his subjects tread.
- Like Lucifer, the giddy tyrant fell;
- He lifts his heel to Heaven, but points his head to Hell.
17. Monday. Yesterday, heard Dr. Witherspoon, upon redeeming time; an excellent sermon. I find that I understand the Doctor better since I have heard him so much in conversation, and in the Senate; but I perceive that his attention to civil affairs has slackened his memory; it cost him more pains than heretofore to recollect his discourse. Mr. Hancock told C. W., yesterday, that he had determined to go to Boston in April. Mrs. Hancock was not willing to go till May, but Mr. Hancock was determined upon April. Perhaps the choice of a Governor may come on in May. What aspiring little creatures we are! How subtle, sagacious, and judicious this passion is! How clearly it sees its object, how constantly it pursues it, and what wise plans it devises for obtaining it!
21. Friday. Dined, yesterday, at Mr. Samuel Purviance’s. Mr. Robert, his brother and lady, the President and lady, the two Colonel Lees and their ladies, Mr. Page and his lady, Colonel Whipple, Mrs. K. Quincy, a young gentleman and a young lady, made the company; a great feast. The Virginia ladies had ornaments about their wrists which I don’t remember to have seen before. These ornaments were like miniature pictures, bound round the arms with some chains. This morning, received a long card from Mr. H. expressing great resentment about fixing the magazine at Brookfield, against the bookbinder and the General. The complaisance to me, and the jealousy for the Massachusetts, in this message, indicate to me the same passion and the same design with the journey to Boston in April.
23. Sunday. Took a walk, with Mr. Gerry, down to a place called Ferry Branch; a point of land which is formed by a branch of the Patapsco on one side, and the basin, before the town of Baltimore, on the other. At the point is a ferry over to the road which goes to Annapolis; this is a very pretty walk. At the point you have a full view of the elegant, splendid seat of Mr. Carroll, barrister. It is a large and elegant house; it stands fronting looking down the river into the harbor; it is one mile from the water. There is a most beautiful walk from the house down to the water; there is a descent not far from the house;—you have a fine garden, then you descend a few steps and have another fine garden; you go down a few more and have another. It is now the dead of winter; no verdure or bloom to be seen; but in the spring, summer, and fall, this scene must be very pretty. Returned and dined with Mr. William Smith, a new member of Congress. Dr. Lyon, Mr. Merriman, Mr. Gerry, a son of Mr. Smith, and two other gentlemen, made the company. The conversation turned, among other things, upon removing the obstructions and opening the navigation of Susquehannah River. The company thought it might easily be done, and would open an amazing scene of business. Philadelphia will oppose it, but it will be the interest of a majority of Pennsylvania to effect it.
This Mr. Smith is a grave, solid gentleman, a Presbyterian by profession; a very different man from the most of those we have heretofore had from Maryland.
The manners of Maryland are somewhat peculiar. They have but few merchants. They are chiefly planters and farmers; the planters are those who raise tobacco, and the farmers such as raise wheat, &c. The lands are cultivated, and all sorts of trades are exercised by negroes, or by transported convicts, which has occasioned the planters and farmers to assume the title of gentlemen; and they hold their negroes and convicts, that is, all laboring people and tradesmen, in such contempt, that they think themselves a distinct order of beings. Hence they never will suffer their sons to labor or learn any trade but they bring them up in idleness, or, what is worse, in horse-racing, cock-fighting, and card-playing.
28. Friday. Last evening, had a good deal of free conversation with Mr. R. Purviance. He seems to me to have a perfect understanding of the affairs of this State. Men and things are very well known to him.
The object of the men of property here, the planters, &c., is universally wealth. Every way in the world is sought to get and save money. Landjobbers, speculators in land; little generosity to the public, little public spirit.
September 15. Monday. Friday, the 12th, I removed from Captain Duncan’s, in Walnut Street, to the Rev. Mr. Sprout’s in Third Street, a few doors from his meeting-house. Mr. Marchant, from Rhode Island, boards here with me. Mr. Sprout is sick of a fever. Mrs. Sprout and the four young ladies, her daughters, are in great distress, on account of his sickness and the approach of Mr. Howe’s army; but they bear their affliction with Christian patience and philosophic fortitude. The young ladies are Miss Hannah, Olive, Sally, and Nancy. The only son is an officer in the army; he was the first clerk in the American war-office.
We live in critical moments! Mr. Howe’s army is at Middleton and Concord. Mr. Washington’s, upon the western banks of Schuylkill, a few miles from him. I saw, this morning, an excellent chart of the Schuylkill, Chester River, the Brandywine, and this whole country, among the Pennsylvania files. This city is the stake for which the game is played. I think there is a chance for saving it, although the probability is against us. Mr. Howe, I conjecture, is waiting for his ships to come into the Delaware. Will Washington attack him? I hope so; and God grant him success.
16. Tuesday. No newspaper this morning. Mr. Dunlap has moved or packed up his types. A note from General Dickinson, that the enemy in New Jersey are four thousand strong. Howe is about fifteen miles from us, the other way. The city seems to be asleep, or dead, and the whole State scarce alive. Maryland and Delaware the same. The prospect is chilling on every side; gloomy, dark, melancholy, and dispiriting. When and where will the light spring up? Shall we have good news from Europe? Shall we hear of a blow struck by Gates? Is there a possibility that Washington should beat Howe? Is there a prospect that McDougall and Dickinson should destroy the detachment in the Jerseys? From whence is our deliverance to come? or is it not to come? Is Philadelphia to be lost? If lost, is the cause lost? No; the cause is not lost, but it may be hurt. I seldom regard reports, but it is said that Howe has marked his course from Elk with depredation. His troops have plundered hen-roosts, dairy-rooms, the furniture of houses, and all the cattle in the country. The inhabitants, most of whom are Quakers, are angry and disappointed, because they were promised the security of their property. It is reported, too, that Mr. Howe lost great numbers in the battle of the Brandywine.
18. Thursday. The violent north-east storm, which began the day before yesterday, continues. We are yet in Philadelphia, that mass of cowardice and Toryism. Yesterday, was buried Monsieur Du Coudray, a French officer of artillery, who was lately made an Inspector-General of artillery and military manufactures, with the rank of Major-General. He was drowned in the Schuylkill, in a strange manner. He rode into the ferryboat, and rode out at the other end into the river, and was drowned. His horse took fright. He was reputed the most learned and promising officer in France. He was carried into the Romish Chapel, and buried in the yard of that church. This dispensation will save us much altercation.1
19. Friday. At three, this morning, was waked by Mr. Lovel, and told that the members of Congress were gone, some of them, a little after midnight; that there was a letter from Mr. Hamilton, aid-de-camp to the General, informing that the enemy were in possession of the ford and the boats, and had it in their power to be in Philadelphia before morning, and that, if Congress was not removed, they had not a moment to lose. Mr. Marchant and myself arose, sent for our horses, and, after collecting our things, rode off after the others. Breakfasted at Bristol, where were many members determined to go the Newtown road to Reading. We rode to Trenton, where we dined. Colonel Harrison, Dr. Witherspoon, all the delegates from New York and New England, except Gerry and Lovel. Drank tea at Mr. Spencer’s; lodged at Mr. S. Tucker’s, at his kind invitation.
20. Saturday. Breakfasted at Mrs. J. B. Smith’s. The old gentleman, his son Thomas, the loan officer, were here, and Mrs. Smith’s little son and two daughters. An elegant breakfast we had, of fine Hyson, loaf sugar, and coffee, &c. Dined at Williams’s, the sign of the Green Tree; drank tea with Mr. Thomson and his lady at Mrs. Jackson’s; walked with Mr. Duane to General Dickinson’s house, and took a look at his farm and gardens, and his greenhouse, which is a scene of desolation; the floor of the greenhouse is dug up, by the Hessians, in search for money; the orange, lemon, and lime trees, are all dead, with the leaves on; there is a spacious ball-room, above stairs, a drawing-room, and a whispering-room; in another apartment, a huge crash of glass bottles, which the Hessians had broke, I suppose. These are thy triumphs, mighty Britain! Mr. Law, Mr. Hancock, Mr. Thomson, Mr.—, were here. Spent the evening at Williams’s, and slept again at Tucker’s. Mrs. Tucker has about sixteen hundred pounds sterling, in some of the funds in England, which she is in fear of losing. She is, accordingly, passionately wishing for peace, and that the battle was fought once for all; says that private property will be plundered where there is an army, whether of friends or enemies; that if the two opposite armies were to come here, alternately, ten times, she would stand by her property until she should be killed; if she must be a beggar, it should be where she was known, &c. This kind of conversation shows plainly enough how well she is pleased with the state of things.
21. Sunday. It was a false alarm which occasioned our flight from Philadelphia. Not a soldier of Howe’s has crossed the Schuylkill. Washington has again crossed it, which I think is a very injudicious manœuvre. I think his army would have been best disposed on the west side of the Schuylkill. If he had sent one brigade of his regular troops to have headed the militia, it would have been enough. With such a disposition, he might have cut to pieces Howe’s army, in attempting to cross any of the fords. Howe will not attempt it. He will wait for his fleet in Delaware River; he will keep open his line of communication with Brunswick, and at last, by some deception or other, will slip unhurt into the city.
Burgoyne has crossed Hudson’s River, by which General Gates thinks he is determined at all hazards to push for Albany, which General Gates says he will do all in his power to prevent him from reaching. But I confess I am anxious for the event, for I fear he will deceive Gates, who seems to be acting the same timorous, defensive part, which has involved us in so many disasters. O, Heaven! grant us one great soul! One leading mind would extricate the best cause from that ruin which seems to await it for the want of it. We have as good a cause as ever was fought for; we have great resources; the people are well tempered; one active, masterly capacity, would bring order out of this confusion, and save this country.
22. Monday. Breakfasted at Ringold’s, in Quaker Town; dined at Shannon’s, in Easton, at the Forks; slept at Johnson’s, in Bethlehem.
23. Tuesday. Mr. Okeley, Mr. Hassey, and Mr. Edwine, came to see me. Mr. Edwine showed us the Children’s Meeting, at half after eight o’clock; music, consisting of an organ, and singing in the German language. Mr. Edwine gave a discourse in German, and then the same in English. Mrs. Langley showed us the Society of Single Women; then Mr. Edwine showed us the waterworks and the manufactures;—there are six sets of works in one building; a hemp-mill, an oil-mill, a mill to grind bark for the tanners; then the fullers-mill, both of cloth and leather, the dyer’s house, and the shearer’s house. They raise a great deal of madder. We walked among the rows of cherry trees, with spacious orchards of apple trees on each side of the cherry walk. The Society of Single Men have turned out for the sick.
24. Wednesday. Fine morning. We all went to meeting, last evening, where Mr. Edwine gave the people a short discourse in German, and the congregation sung, and the organ played. There were about two hundred women and as many men; the women sat together in one body, and the men in another; the women dressed all alike; the women’s heads resembled a garden of white cabbage heads.
25. Thursday. Rode from Bethlehem through Allentown, yesterday, to a German tavern, about eighteen miles from Reading; rode this morning to Reading, where we breakfasted, and heard for certain that Mr. Howe’s army had crossed the Schuylkill. Colonel Hartley gave me an account of the late battle between the enemy and General Wayne. Hartley thinks that the place was improper for battle, and that there ought to have been a retreat.
November 11. Tuesday. Set off from Yorktown; reached Lancaster. 12. From Lancaster to Reading; slept at General Mifflin’s. 13. Reached Strickser’s. 14. Dined at Bethlehem; slept at Easton, at Colonel Hooper’s; supped at Colonel Dean’s. Met Messrs. Ellery and Dana, and Colonel Brown, on the 15th, a few miles on this side of Reading. We have had five days of very severe weather; raw, cold, frosty, snowy; this cold comes from afar. The lakes, Champlain and George, have been boisterous, if not frozen.
Will the enemy evacuate Ticonderoga? Are they supplied with provisions for the winter? Can they bring them from Canada, by water or ice? Can they get them in the neighboring country? Can we take Mount Independence in the winter?
15. Saturday. At Willis’s, at the Log Jail in New Jersey, twenty-eight miles from Easton.
17. Monday. Rode yesterday from Log Jail, Willis’s; breakfasted at Hoffman’s, at Sussex Court House, and supped and lodged at David McCambly’s, thirty-four miles from Willis’s. The taverners, all along, are complaining of the guard of light-horse which attended Mr. H. They did not pay, and the taverners were obliged to go after them to demand their dues. The expense, which is supposed to be the country’s, is unpopular. The Tories laugh at the tavern keepers, who have often turned them out of their houses for abusing Mr. H. They now scoff at them for being imposed upon by their king, as they call him. Vanity is always mean; vanity is never rich enough to be generous. Dined at Brewster’s, in Orange county, State of New York. Brewster’s grandfather, as he tells me, was a clergyman, and one of the first adventurers to Plymouth; he died, at ninety-five years of age, a minister on Long Island; left a son who lived to be above eighty, and died leaving my landlord, a son who is now, I believe, between sixty and seventy. The manners of this family are exactly like those of the New England people; a decent grace before and after meat; fine pork and beef, and cabbage and turnip.
18. Tuesday. Lodged at Brooks’s, five miles from the North River. Rode to the Continental Ferry, crossed over, and dined at Fishkill, at the Dr’s. Mess, near the Hospital, with Dr. Samuel Adams, Dr. Eustis, Mr. Wells, &c. It was a feast;—salt pork and cabbage, roast beef and potatoes, and a noble suet pudding, grog, and a glass of Port.
Our best road home is through Litchfield and Springfield. Morehouse’s is a good tavern, about twenty-four miles, three or four miles on this side of Bull’s Iron Works; fifty miles to Litchfield; Captain Storm’s, eight miles; Colonel Vandeborough’s, five miles; Colonel Morehouse’s, nine miles; Bull’s Iron Works, four miles; no tavern; Cogswell’s Iron Works, ten miles; a tavern; Litchfield, eight miles; cross Mount Tom to get to Litchfield.
19. Wednesday. Dined at Storm’s. Lodged last night and breakfasted this morning at Loudoun’s, at Fishkill. Here we are, at Colonel Morehouse’s, a member of Assembly for Dutchess county.
20. Thursday. To Harrington, Phillips’s, five miles; to Yale’s, in Farmington, five miles; to Humphrey’s, in Simsbury, seven miles; to Owen’s, in Simsbury, seven miles; to Sheldon’s, in Suffield, ten miles; Kent’s, in Suffield, five miles; to Springfield, ten miles.
21. Friday. To Hays’s, Salmon Brook, five miles; to Southwick, Loomis’s, six miles; to Fowler’s, three miles; to Westfield, Clap’s, four miles; to Captain Clap’s, four miles this side N. H.; to North Hampton, Lyman’s or Clark’s.
Editors Note: This is Volume 2 of the 10 Volume “The Works of John Adams”, (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). The author, Charles Henry Adams is John Adams grandson. The copyright for the original text is in the Public Domain because its copyright has expired. The font, and formatting of this version of The Works of John Adams, as well as all other Americanist Library and Founders Corner selections are, unless otherwise specified, Copyright © 2011 Steve Farrell.