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The Original Writings of Samuel Adams, Volume 4 by Samuel Adams

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I will lay before you several papers transmitted to me by the Treasurer
and other matters which may occur during the Session by subsequent


1 The "whisky insurrection," in Pennsylvania.


[Collections of Massachusetts Historical Society, 1st ser., vol. iv.,
p. 83; a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

BOSTON, March 30, 1795.


I received your note, stating what Dr. Kippis had asserted, respecting
a recommendation of Dr. Franklin, minister from America in France, in
the year 1779, to the American cruisers, to treat Capt. Cook, on his
expected return from a voyage of discoveries, as a friend, and not an
enemy; assuring them, that in so doing, they would obtain the
approbation of Congress. But that the Doctor was mistaken, for that
assembly, at least the greater part of them, instantly reversed the
order of Dr. Franklin, and directed, that a special order should be
taken, to seize Capt. Cook, if an opportunity for doing it occurred.

You request me to give you a certificate respecting the matter, and to
express the years when I was in Congress.--I was a member from the first
sitting of Congress, in the year 1774, until the Spring of the year
1781. It was my constant practice, once in twelve or fifteen months, to
make a short visit to my constituents. In the year 1779, I was detained
in Boston a much longer time than usual, by a fit of sickness; in which
time, I constantly received from Mr. Lowell, and my other colleagues,
information of the most material transactions of Congress. I do now
declare to you, that I do not recollect, either while I was present in
Congress, or from any of my colleagues, while I was absent, that the
orders he (Dr. Franklin) had given to the American cruisers were
instantly or ever reversed, or that it was directed by Congress, that a
special order should be taken to seize Capt. Cook, if an opportunity
for so doing it occurred.

It appears to me that Dr. Kippis must have been misinformed. I am, with
respect, your friend and humble servant,


JUNE 3, 1795.

[Independent Chronicle, June4, 1795; a text is in the Massachusetts


The honor which the people have again conferred on me, by a majority of
their votes for a Governor of this respectable Commonwealth, while it
excites the warm feelings of gratitude in my heart, it reminds me of
the arduous task I am called to undertake, and the many attentions
which are requisite for a performance of the great duties of the
station. Having already been qualified agreeable to the Constitution
and Laws, next to a dependence upon Him who is the Fountain of all
Wisdom, I must rely upon your candor, and that of my Fellow Citizens at

The sovereignty of a nation, always of right, resides in the body of
the People; and while they have delegated to their freely elected
Legislative, the power of exercising that sovereignty in their behalf,
the Executive department, as well as the Magistrates who are appointed
to render the Constitution efficient by carrying the laws into effect,
are no less important to the people. For what avails the making of good
and wholesome laws, unless they are duly executed. As the happiness of
civil society may in a great measure depend upon a wise and a
consistent harmony between the various branches of the Government; a
free communication may have a tendency to cultivate and extend the
blessings of friendship and good humor. Indeed our constituents, under
whose authority and for whose benefit we are to exercise the functions
of our different departments, have a right to expect from us, as their
public agents, to avow our principles and intentions, and make them
acquainted with the true situation of their public affairs.

In the addresses from the Chair, while it was filled by Royal
appointment, uniform attempts were made to strengthen the prerogatives
of the Crown, and to bring the people obsequiously at the foot of the
Throne, for privileges holden by sufferance: Surely it becomes us, in
our happy state of Independence, to turn our attentive minds to the
great objects of securing the equal rights of the citizens, and
rendering those constitutions which they have voluntarily established,
respectable and efficacious.

Our ancestors, when under the greatest hardships and perils, they
opened to us the wilderness, they took possession of, and left for us
an inheritance, one of the best countries under the sun. Amidst their
toil, and fatigue they extended their views, and early laid the
foundation of Civil Liberty. Although they had in prospect, the
instruction of future youth in all literary science, they considered
morality and real goodness of heart, as the great basis upon which the
best interests of a nation could be safely laid. Under this idea, they
also provided for the institutions of Public Worship, and the support
of teachers in Piety, Religion and Morality. The great increase of our
numbers & happiness, is a standing witness to the world, of the wisdom
of their measures. Oppressed as they were by the supercilious
haughtiness of royal prerogative, and considered as a contemptible
people at a distance from the favors of the Crown, and the flattering
smiles of courtiers, their perseverance has in effect raised us, by the
blessing of Providence, to an exalted degree of prosperity and glory.

Fellow Citizens, we have a regular exercise of our Federal and State
Governments; and we owe our unceasing gratitude to the Supreme Ruler of
the Universe, who safely carried us through our arduous struggle for
freedom, for which other nations are now contending, at the expence of
their blood and treasure. We cannot but rejoice that the principles for
which we contended, and which are constitutionally established in
United America, are irresistibly spreading themselves through two
mighty nations in Europe. We are now able to embrace those powerful
sister Republics; and what adds much to our joy on this occasion is,
that those nations became allied to us in an hour, when we were engaged
in our hard conflict with an oppressive tyranny.

We ardently wish that the nations of the earth may sheath the sword of
war, and we as ardently pray, that the equal rights of men may go hand
in hand with peace. If our Federal Government shall with magnanimity
and firmness, support the principles of a free elective Representative
Government, and our honour and faith with our allies, and yet maintain
peace with all nations upon the principles of sound policy, and terms
honourable and safe to our country, it will be an acknowledged
approximation to that perfection in practical politics, which all
people should most earnestly covet.

It is with satisfaction that I have observed the patriotic exertions of
worthy citizens, to establish Academies in various parts of this
Commonwealth. It discovers a zeal highly to be commended. But while it
is acknowledged, that great advantages have been derived from these
institutions, perhaps it may be justly apprehended, that multiplying
them, may have a tendency to injure the ancient and beneficial mode of
Education in Town Grammar Schools. The peculiar advantage of such
schools is, that the poor and the rich may derive equal benefit from
them; but none excepting the more wealthy, generally speaking, can
avail themselves of the benefits of the Academies. Should these
institutions detach the attention and influence of the wealthy, from
the generous support of town Schools, is it not to be feared that
useful learning, instruction and social feelings in the early parts of
life, may cease to be so equally and universally disseminated, as it
has heretofore been. I have thrown out these hints with a degree of
diffidence in my own mind. You will take them into your candid
consideration, if you shall think them worthy of it. In support of the
public Schools, from whence have flowed so many great benefits, our
University has from its infancy furnished them with well educated and
fit persons to fill the places of Instructors; and they, in return,
have yearly brought forward fit pupils for the further instruction of
the University.--The University therefore claims a place among the first
attentions of the public.

The citizens of the Commonwealth have lately had before them a question
of the expediency of revising, at this period, the form of our present
Constitution. The conduct of the citizens on this occasion, has given
full proof, that an enlightened, free and virtuous people, can as a
body, be the keepers of their own Liberties, and the guardians of their
own rights. On which side soever the question may have been decided, I
have the pleasure of being informed that it has been discussed with
propriety, calmness and deliberation. If the event should be in favour
of a Convention, a future revision may be made at such period as may be
most fit and convenient, and there may be opportunity, in the mean
time, for the citizens at their leisure, to make their own remarks upon
the Constitution, in its operation, and thus prepare themselves for
cool deliberation, at another revision. Should the determination be
otherwise, I think it will clearly follow, that the citizens are happy
under the present Constitution, and that they feel themselves well
assured, that if there should be a future necessity for it, they can,
in a peaceable and orderly manner, revise, alter and amend it at their

A compleat, perfect and permanent system of jurisprudence, is one of
the greatest blessings which our country can possess. To have justice
administered promptly and without delay, is to gather the best fruits
of a free and regular Government. Uncorrupted Juries are an effectual
guard against the violations of our rights and property. Having an
Executive annually elected, and the Legislative elected as often, the
one branch of which is the grand inquest of the Commonwealth, and the
other branch to be constituted a Court, as there may be occasion, to
try and determine upon impeachments, we may be secured against
impartiality in the fountain, and corruption in the streams of justice.
The Legislative will examine all the machinery by which the Government
acts: TOO frequent speculative experiments may tend to render the
motions unsteady, and to annex insecurity to property. Where there are
no radical defects, a long exercise of Judicial Authority, in any
particular mode, brings the feelings of the people in unison with it,
and fixes habits to which they have been accustomed.

While we expect from our Judges and Magistrates and other civil
officers that justice be administered with alacrity and impartiality,
should we not be careful that ample justice be done to them. The
administration of justice should indeed be without oppressive or
unnecessary expences on the people; but the Ministers of justice should
have an equitable reward for their services. If therefore from accident
or peculiar or temporary circumstances, the established rewards are
inadequate, I doubt not but you will determine, that what is fit and
proper, will be done. The Executive should be enabled to find men of
superior knowledge and integrity, who may be inclined to fill the
important places in the Civil Departments, as they shall become vacant.
On such appointments, the dignity and just authority of the Government
very materially depends.

The Legislative will no doubt continue to guard the public credit, by
adequate provisions for discharging the interest and finally sinking
the principal of our public debt. The sale of our vacant Lands, and the
debts due to the Treasury, will contribute to ease the people from too
great a burthen of direct taxes. The Treasurer's statements will
ascertain the demands necessary for the ensuing year.

I must intreat you to give me opportunity to revise such Bills and
Resolves as you may think proper to lay before me, to which I shall
cheerfully attend, and do all within my power to dispatch the public
business, and render the session agreeable to you, and beneficial to
the Commonwealth.

Let us, Fellow Citizens, cultivate a due observance of the Laws which
are constitutionally made by the authority of this Government, as well
as those of the Federal Government, agreeable to the Constitution of
the United States. Let us transmit our Liberties, our Equal Rights, our
Laws and our free Republican Constitutions, with their various
concomitant blessings, to those who are coming upon the stage of
action, and hope in God, that they will be handed down, in purity and
energy, to the latest posterity.



JULY 4, 1795.

[Independent Chronicle, July 6, 1795.]


The Representatives of the people in the General Court assembled did
solemnly Resolve, that an Edifice be erected upon this spot of ground
for the purpose of holding the Public Council of the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts. By the request of their Agents and Commissioners, I do
now lay the Corner Stone.

May the Superstructure be raised even to the top Stone without any
untoward accident, and remain permanent as the everlasting mountains.--May
the principles of our excellent Constitution, founded in nature and in
the Rights of Man be ably defended here: And may the same principles be
deeply engraven on the hearts of all citizens, and thereby fixed
unimpaired and in full vigor till time shall be no more.


OCTOBER 14, 1795.

[Independent Chronicle, October 19, 1795.]

Published by Authority [Seal] Commonwealth of Massachusetts,



FORASMUCH as the occasional meeting of a People for the exercise of
Piety and Devotion towards God, more especially of those who enjoy the
Light of Divine Revelation, has a strong tendency to impress their
minds with a sense of Dependence upon HIM and their Obligations to HIM.

I have thought fit, according to the ancient and laudable Practice of
our renowned ancestors, to appoint a day of Public Thanksgiving to God,
for the great benefits which HE has been pleased to bestow upon us, in
the Year past. And I do by advice and consent of the Council, appoint
THURSDAY the Nineteenth day of November next, to be observed as a DAY
of PUBLIC THANKSGIVING and PRAISE throughout this Commonwealth: Calling
upon the Ministers of the Gospel of all Denominations, with their
respective Congregations to assemble on that Day to offer to God, their
unfained Gratitude, for his great Goodness to the People of the United
States in general, and of this Commonwealth in particular.

More especially in that he hath in his Good Providence united the
several States under a National Compact formed by themselves, whereby
they may defend themselves against external Enemies, and maintain Peace
and Harmony with each other.

That internal tranquillity has been continued within this Commonwealth;
and that the voice of Health is so generally heard in the habitations
of the People.

That the Earth has yielded her increase, so that the labours of our
industrious Husbandmen have been abundantly crowned with Plenty.

That our Fisheries have been so far prospered.--Our Trade notwithstanding
obstructions it has met with, has yet been profitable to us, and the
works of our Hands have been established.

That while other nations have been involved in War, attended with an
uncommon profusion of Human Blood, we in the course of Divine
Providence, have been preserved from so grievous a Calamity, and have
enjoyed so great a measure of the Blessing of Peace.

And I do recommend that together with our Thanksgiving, humble Prayer
may be offered to God, that we may be enabled, by the subsequent
obedience of our Hearts and Manners, to testify the sincerity of our
professions of Gratitude, in the sight of God and Man; and thus be
prepared for the Reception of future Divine Blessings.

That GOD would be pleased to Guide and Direct the Administration of the
Federal Government, and those of the several States, in Union, so that
the whole People may continue to be safe and happy in the
Constitutional enjoyment of their Rights, Liberties and Privileges, and
our Governments be greatly respected at Home and Abroad.

And while we rejoice in the Blessing of Health bestowed upon us, we
would sympathize with those of our Sister States, who are visited with
a Contagious and Mortal Disease; and fervently supplicate the FATHER of
Mercies that they may speedily be restored to a state of Health and

That HE would in HIS abundant Mercy regard our fellow Citizens and
others, who are groaning under abject Slavery, in Algiers, and direct
the most effectual measures for their speedy Relief.

That HE would graciously be pleased to put an end to all Tyranny and
Usurpation, that the People who are under the Yoke of Oppression, may
be made free; and that the Nations who are contending for freedom may
still be secured by HIS Almighty Aid, and enabled under His influence
to complete wise systems of Civil Government, founded in the equal
Rights of Men and calculated to establish their permanent Security and

And Finally, that the Peaceful and Glorious Reign of our Divine
Redeemer may be known and enjoyed throughout the whole Family of

And I do recommend to the People of this Commonwealth, to abstain from
all such Labour and Recreation, as may not be consistent with the
Solemnity of the said Day.

Given at the Council-Chamber, in Boston, the fourteenth Day of October
in the Year of our LORD, One Thousand seven Hundred and Ninety-five,
and in the Twentieth Year of the Independence of the United States of


True Copy--Attest,

JOHN AVERY, jun. Sec'ry.

God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts!



JANUARY 19, 1796.

[Independent Chronicle, January 21, 1796, two texts are in the
Massachusetts Archives.]


I CANNOT but congratulate you upon the many blessings which the
bountiful hand of Providence has bestowed upon us since your

We with our Fellow Citizens at large have observed a day solemnly to
recognize these blessings; and if sincere obedience to our gracious
Benefactor, shall accompany the gratitude which we then professed, we
may humbly rely upon him that he will continue his divine favors to the
citizens at large, and direct the public councils of our Nation and
Commonwealth to such measures as shall be productive of the safety and
welfare of all.

In my former address to this General Court I mentioned the duty
required by the Constitution, frequently to revise the laws, and amend
such of them as may still be necessary to secure the lives, liberty and
property of the citizens--The importance of civil commutative justice and
the good policy of making adequate compensations to those who
administer well --and the great advantages of cherishing the interests of
literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them among the body
of the people. Upon these I shall not now enlarge.

Agriculture and Commerce mutually depend upon each other. As foreign
markets are supplied from our fields, it is an object of importance,
that the transportation of heavy articles, and means of communication
from one part of the State to another, may be rendered as easy and
cheap as the nature of the country will admit. By the spirit of
enterprize, which so remarkably animates the citizens, countenanced by
the Legislature, much has been done and is still doing in various parts
of the Commonwealth.

The improvement of Arts and Manufactures is of interesting moment. The
encouragement of such manufactures in particular, as will diminish the
consumption of Foreign Articles and exhibit a real balance in our
favor, is the common concern of the whole Union--Such encouragement as
will spread the spirit of Industry individually through the body of the
people, will tend to increase their happy feelings of Independence, and
give them an exalted idea of the truly noble character of Free
Citizens. Industry naturally leads to sobriety of sentiment, rectitude
of manners, a due observance of wise and constitutional laws, and of
course to public and private virtue.

Fellow Citizens,

IT is wisdom often to recur to first principles. The people of this
Commonwealth, as well as those of the United States, have voluntarily
formed such constitutions of government, as they have judged well
adapted to secure their own political safety.--These Constitutions are
founded upon the same principles; and they avow the great and
fundamental political truth that all power is derived from the people.
As these and all new forms of Government which recognize principles,
never reduced to practice until the period of our illustrious
Revolution must be in their nature experiments, the provision of a
peaceable and constitutional remedy for such defects as experience may
point out, is with great propriety established in our State and
National Governments.--The citizens of this Commonwealth, have lately
discovered their acquiescence under their Constitution as it now
stands. But it still remains recorded in our declaration of rights,
that the people alone have an incontestible, unalienable and
indefeasible right to institute government; & to reform, alter, or
totally change the same when their protection, safety, prosperity and
happiness require it. And the Federal Constitution, according to the
mode prescribed therein has already undergone such amendments in
several parts of it, as from experience has been judged necessary.

The Government of the United States is entrusted solely with such
powers as regard our safety as a nation; and all powers not given to
Congress by the Constitution remain in the individual States and the
people. In all good Governments the Legislative, Executive and
Judiciary powers are confined within the limits of their respective
Departments. If therefore it should be found that the Constitutional
rights of our federal and local Governments should on either side be
infringed, or that either of the Departments aforesaid should interfere
with another, it will, if continued, essentially alter the
Constitution, and may in time, I hope far distant, be productive of
such convulsions as may shake the political ground upon which we now
happily stand.

Under these impressions, I cannot forbear to mention to you a subject
which has lately arrested the public attention and employed the pens of
ingenious men of different sentiments concerning it. In discussing a
subject so exceedingly momentous as a national Treaty, no personal
attachment or prejudice, no private or selfish feelings, no arts of
deception should be suffered to intermingle: Truth should be the
object, and reason the guide.

By the Constitution of the United States, it is provided, that all
Legislative powers therein granted, shall be vested in a Congress, to
consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives. These several
branches have, and exercise a positive negative upon each other: No
Legislative act, therefore, can pass without their joint concurrence.
But in another part of the Constitution, under the head of Executive,
the President has the power with the advice and consent of the Senate,
provided two thirds of the Senate present, concur, to make Treaties;
and all Treaties which are made or shall be made under the authority of
the United States, shall be among the Supreme Laws of the Land: The
Senate therefore partakes with the Executive, so far as to advise and
consent; but the most popular branch of Congress has no concern
therein. I do earnestly recommend to you to turn your attention to
those parts of the Constitution, at least, which relate to the
Legislative and Executive powers, and judge for yourself, whether they
may not be construed to militate with each other and lead to an absurd
conclusion--that there actually exists in the Government of the United
States, two distinct and decisive Legislatives.

I am far from being desirous that unnecessary alterations of our
Constitution, should be proposed: but it is of great consequence to the
liberties of a nation, to review its civil Constitution and compare the
practice of its administrators with the essential principles upon which
it is founded. We, fellow-citizens, are under the strongest
obligations, from the solemnity of our mutual compacts, and even our
sacred oaths, with a watchful eye at every point to defend and support
our Constitutions; and to strengthen the essential principles upon
which they are founded, when it shall be needful, falls in my opinion
within those solemn obligations.

I hope, fellow-citizens, that what I am now about to say will not be
deemed improper.

I have been accustomed to speak my mind upon matters of great moment to
our common country with freedom; and every citizen of the United States
has the same right that I have. I may never hereafter have an
opportunity of publicly expressing my opinion on the Treaty made with
the Court of London: I am therefore constrained with all due respect to
our Constituted Authority to declare, that the Treaty appears to me to
be pregnant with evil. It controuls some of the powers specially vested
in Congress for the security of the people; and I fear that it may
restore to Great Britain such an influence over the Government and
people of this country as may not be consistent with the general
welfare. This subject however it is expected will come before the
Congress whose immediate province it is to discuss it, and to
determine, so far as it may be in their power, as they shall think, for
the safety and welfare of the people.

I shall use my best endeavor to dispatch the business which you shall
lay before me. And it is my cordial wish that all your decisions may
tend to the prosperity of the Commonwealth, and afford to you the most
agreeable reflections.



MAY 31, 1796.

[Independent Chronicle, June 2, 1796; two texts are in the
Massachusetts Archives.]


It is not my intention to interrupt your business by a lengthy Address.
I have requested a meeting with you at this time, principally with a
view of familiarizing the several branches of government with each
other, of cultivating harmony in sentiment upon constitutional
principles, and cherishing that mutual friendship which always invites
a free discussion in matters of important concern.

The Union of the States is not less important than that of the several
departments of each of them. We have all of us recently laid ourselves
under a sacred obligation to defend and support our Federal and State
Constitutions: A principal object in the establishment of the former,
as it is expressed in the preamble, was "to form a more perfect Union:"
To preserve this Union entire, and transmit it unbroken to posterity,
is the duty of the People of United America, and it is for their
lasting interest, their public safety and welfare. Let us then be
watchful for the preservation of the Union, attentive to the
fundamental principles of our free Constitutions, and careful in the
application of those principles in the formation of our laws, lest that
great object which the people had in view in establishing the
independence of our country, may be imperceptibly lost.

The Members of the General Court, coming from all parts of the
Commonwealth, must be well acquainted with the local circumstances and
wants of the citizens; to alleviate and provide for which, it is
presumed you will diligently enquire into the state of the
Commonwealth, and render such Legislative aid as may be found
necessary, for the promoting of useful improvements, and the
advancement of those kinds of industry among the people, which
contribute to their individual happiness, as well as that of the
public.--Honest industry, tends to the increase of sobriety, temperance
and all the moral and political virtues--I trust also that you will attend
to the general police of the Commonwealth, by revising and making such
laws and ordinances, conformably to our Constitution, as in your wisdom
you may think further necessary to secure as far as possible, the
safety and prosperity of the people at large.

It is yours, Fellow Citizens, to legislate, and mine only to revise
your bills, under limited and qualified powers; and I rejoice, that
they are thus limited:-- These are features which belong to a free
government alone.

I do not, I ought not to forget that there are other important duties
constitutionally attached to the Supreme Executive--I hope I shall be
enabled within my department, with the continued advice of a wise and
faithful Council, so to act my part, as that a future retrospect of my
conduct may afford me consoling reflections; and that my administration
may be satisfactory to reasonable and candid men, and finally meet with
the approbation of God, the Judge of all.--May his wisdom preside in all
our Councils and deliberations, and lead to such decisions as may be
happily adapted to confirm and perpetuate the public liberty, and
secure the private and personal rights of the citizens from suffering
any injury.

I shall further communicate to you by subsequent message as occasion
may offer.



OCTOBER 6, 1796

[Independent Chronicle, October 17, 1796.]

Published by Authority [Seal] Commonwealth of Massachusetts.



WHEREAS it has pleased God, the Father of all Mercies, to bestow upon
us innumerable unmerited favours in the course of the year past; it
highly becomes us duly to recollect his goodness, and in a public and
solemn manner to express the greatful feelings of our hearts:

I have therefore thought fit, with the advice and consent of the
Council, to appoint THURSDAY the 15th day of December next, to be
observed as a Day of PUBLIC THANKSGIVING and PRAISE to our Divine
BENEFACTOR throughout this Commonwealth--Calling upon the Ministers of the
Gospel, with their respective Congregations, and the whole body of the
People, religiously to observe the said Day by celebrating the Praises
of that all-gracious Being, of whose Bounty we have experienced so
large a share.

He hath prevented Epidemical Diseases from spreading, and afforded us a
general state of Health. He hath regarded our Pastures and Fields with
an Eye of the most indulgent Parent, and rewarded the Industry of our
Husbandmen with a plentiful Harvest.

Notwithstanding the unreasonable obstructions to our trade on the seas,
it has generally been prosperous and our fisheries successful.

Our civil Constitutions of Government, formed by ourselves, and
administered by Men of our own free Election, are by His Grace
continued to us. And we still enjoy the inestimable Blessings of the
Gospel and right of worshipping God according to His own Institutions
and the honest dictates of our Consciences.

And, together with our thanksgiving, earnest Supplication to God is
hereby recommended for the forgiveness of our Sins which have rendered
us unworthy of the least of his Mercies; and that by the sanctifying
influence of his Spirit, our hearts and manners may be corrected, and
we become a reformed and happy People--That he would direct and prosper
the Administration of the Government of the United States, and of this
and the other States in the Union. That he would still afford his
Blessings on our Trade, Agriculture, Fisheries and all the labours of
our hands. That he would smile upon our University, and all Seminaries
of Learning--That Tyranny and Usurpation may everywhere come to an end--That
the Nations who are contending for true liberty may still be succeeded
by his Almighty aid--That every Nation and Society of Men may be inspired
with the knowledge and feeling of their natural and just rights, and
enabled to form such systems of Civil Government as shall be fully
adopted to promote and establish their Social Security and Happiness--And,
finally, that in the course of God's Holy Providence, the great Family
of Mankind may bow to the sceptre of the Prince of Peace so that mutual
Friendship and Harmony may universally prevail.

And I do recommend to the People of this Commonwealth to abstain from
all such Labours and Recreations as may not be consistent with the
Solemnity of the said Day.

Given at the Council Chamber in Boston, this sixth day of October, in
the year of our Lord, one Thousand seven Hundred and Ninety-six, and in
the twenty-first Year of the Independence of the United States of




GOD save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts!


NOVEMBER 17,1796.

[Independent Chronicle, November 21, 1796; two texts are in the
Massachusetts Archives.]

You are sensible, Fellow Citizens, that the principal motive which
induced your adjournment to the 16th current, was to transact the
business prescribed by law, respecting the Electors of a President and
Vice-President of the United States of America.

Not being able to determine in my own mind, whether you would probably
be inclined to begin the business of a winter session at this season,
or not, I did, by the advice of the Council, appoint a later day for a
Public Thanksgiving, than has been usual; intending thereby, to afford
you an opportunity to finish the business above mentioned, and, if you
should then think it proper, keep the festival in your respective
families. This matter, however, it becomes me to leave to your own
discretion. Which ever, you may determine upon, while you continue this
session, I will endeavour to finish the business which you may lay
before me, with all convenient dispatch, always considering, that
harmony and union among the several branches and governmental powers,
consistent with their respective Constitutional rights and duties, to
be essential to the security and welfare of our constituents at large.



NOVEMBER 23, 1796.

[Independent Chronicle, November 28, 1796.]


HAVING had before me a Resolve of the 22d inst. providing for filling
up any vacancies in the Electors of President and Vice President of the
United States, which may be occasioned by death or resignation before
the time of their meeting for the purpose of giving their suffrages,
have prematurely approved the same; since which, having more fully
considered the subject, I find a strong objection operating upon my
mind, and I have erased my name: That the Electors chosen by the People
and their Representatives for the great and important purpose of
electing a President and Vice-President of the United States, should
have the power of filling up vacancies in their own body, under any
circumstances whatever, appears to be dangerous to the Liberties of the
People, and ought not to form a precedent in a free government. If upon
further deliberation you should be of my opinion, I shall be happy to
concur with you, in a mode more consonant to the spirit of our



NOVEMBER 24, 1796.

[Independent Chronicle, November 28, 1796 , a text is in the
Massachusetts Archives, and a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers,
Lenox Library.]

Gentlemen of the Senate,

and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives.

BY a Message, which I yesterday laid before the Senate, I gave a full,
free and candid account of my proceedings respecting a Resolve of the
two Houses, for filling up vacancies which may possibly happen in the
Electors of President and Vice-President of the United States.

My mode of conduct on this occasion, I know is, and I flatter myself,
will be considered, to be as well the result of an ardent wish to
preserve free, important and secure the Elections of those very
important Officers, as a desire to dispatch the business at this
juncture before the Legislature.--I wish to promote the true interest of
my country--I have no other object in view; and therefore, it can be of no
consequence to me, in what mode this question is discussed nor in what
form your opinions shall be expressed. I am not, at present, for
supporting the idea that after the Resolve had been signed by me, and
delivered to the Secretary, that it was not a formal act of government.
Be that as it may--the question is now properly before the General Court,
and if the Resolve, to which I have made an objection, was, under all
considerations an Act of the Government upon my signing the same, the
only question now is whether it ought to be repealed, and another
provision made for the same object?

My objection to the Resolve, or my reason why it should be repealed,
(if it is one) is, that a delegation by the Legislature to the Electors
appointed by the Citizens in their individual capacity for the Election
of President and Vice President, to fill up vacancies in their own
number, by death or resignation, is a dangerous power, and tends to the
establishing a dangerous Precedent; but should my fellow citizens of
the Senate and House, think differently from me, while I shall feel
quite contented with your decision, I shall be happy, that I have
candidly acknowledged an error in signing that Resolve, and yet done,
with firmness, what has appeared to me as the true interest of the
State of which I am a Member, and of a Nation of which I am a Citizen.




JANUARY 27, 1797.

[Independent Chronicle, January 30, 1797; a text is in the
Massachusetts Archives].


SINCE your last adjournment, the President of the United States has
officially announced to the Legislature of the Union his determination
to retire from the cares of public life.--When a citizen so distinguished
by his country withdraws himself from the Councils of the Nation, and
retires to peaceful repose, it must afford very pleasurable feelings in
his own mind, to be conscious of the good will of the people towards
him--how much more consoling must his feelings be, in reflecting that he
has served them many years with purity of intention and disinterested
zeal. We sincerely wish him tranquility in his retirement and strong
consolation in the latter stage of life.

In pursuance of the provision in the Constitution, the people have
recently exercised their own sovereign power in the election of another
President. Elections to offices, even in the smallest Corporations, are
and ought to be deemed highly important; of how much more importance is
it, that elections to the highest offices in our extensive Republic,
should be conducted in a manner and with a spirit becoming a free,
virtuous and enlightened people, who justly estimate the value of their
sacred rights. In the late elections, the people have turned their
attention to several citizens, who have rendered eminent services to
our federal Commonwealth in exalted stations. Upon which ever of the
Candidates the lot may have fallen, the people have reason to expect,
that his administration will be strictly conformable to the letter and
true intent of the Constitution, that it may long continue to be the
guarantee of our freely elective Republican Government.--On fair and
uncontrouled elections, depend, under God, the whole superstructure of
our government--should corruption ever insert itself in our elections,
there would be great danger of corruption in our governments.--Although it
is not long since the subject of elections was under the consideration
of the Legislature, and a law passed for the purpose of further
security to the people in the free exercise of this invaluable right;
yet give me leave to suggest for your consideration, whether still
further securities may not be provided, so that the rightful electors
may not be frustrated in their honest intentions. That elections may
not be contaminated by strangers, or unqualified persons, may it not be
necessary that every man may be known, as far as possible, when he
presents himself to give his vote; this may be more especially
important in our seaports and other populous towns, in which many
foreigners of all sorts frequently reside. I would be far from
dictating to you, but I would submit to your judgment whether,
considering the liberality of this country to foreigners, and the
frequency of their naturalizations, it may not be eligible that such
foreigners should be required when they offer their votes to the
Selectmen of the towns, to produce authentic certificates from the
Courts, by which they were endowed with so high a privilege, as a test
of their citizenship. As Piety, Religion and Morality have a happy
influence on the minds of men, in their public as well as private
transactions, you will not think it unseasonable, although I have
frequently done it, to bring to your remembrance the great importance
of encouraging our University, town schools, and other seminaries of
education, that our children and youth while they are engaged in the
pursuit of useful science, may have their minds impressed with a strong
sense of the duties they owe to their God, their instructors and each
other, so that when they arrive to a state of manhood, and take a part
in any public transactions, their hearts having been deeply impressed
in the course of their education with the moral feelings--such feelings
may continue and have their due weight through the whole of their
future lives.

Permit me to call your attention to the subject of the Militia of the
Commonwealth.--A well regulated militia "held in an exact subordination to
the civil authority and governed by it," is the most safe de fence of a
Republic.--In our Declaration of Rights, which expresses the sentiments of
the people, the people have a right to keep and bear arms for the
common defence. The more generally therefore they are called out to be
disciplined, the stronger is our security. No man I should think, who
possesses a true republican spirit, would decline to rank with his
fellow-citizens, on the fancied idea of a superiority in circumstances:
This might tend to introduce fatal distinctions in our country. We can
all remember the time when our militia, far from being disciplined, as
they are at present, kept a well appointed hostile army for a
considerable time confined to the capital; and when they ventured out,
indeed they took possession of the ground they aimed at, yet they
ventured to their cost, and never forgot the battle of Bunker Hill. The
same undisciplined militia under the command and good conduct of
General Washington, continued that army confined in or near the
capital, until they thought proper to change their position and
retreated with haste to Halifax.--If the Militia of the Commonwealth can
be made still more effective, I am confident that you will not delay a
measure of so great magnitude. I beg leave to refer you to the
seventeenth article in our Declaration of Rights, which respects the
danger of standing armies in time of peace. I hope we shall ever have
virtue enough to guard against their introduction.--But may we not hazard
the safety of our Republic should we ever constitute, under the name of
a select militia, a small body to be disciplined in a camp with all the
pomp & splendor of a regular army? Would such an institution be likely
to be much less dangerous to our free government and to the morals of
our youth, than if they were actually enlisted for permanent service?
And would they not as usual in standing armies feel a distinct interest
from that of our fellow-citizens at large? The great principles of our
present militia system are undoubtedly good, constituting one simple
body, and embracing so great a proportion of the citizens as will
prevent a separate interest among them, inconsistent with the welfare
of the whole.--Those principles, however, I conceive should equally apply
to all the active citizens, within the age prescribed by law.--All are
deeply interested in the general security; and where there are no
invidious exemptions, partial distinctions or privileged bands, every
Man, it is presumed, would pride himself in the right of bearing arms,
and affording his personal appearance in common with his
fellow-citizens. If upon examination you shall find, that the duties
incident to our present system bear harder on one class of citizens,
than on another, you will undoubtedly endeavour, as far as possible, to
equalize its burthens.


I THINK it a duty incumbent upon me to acquaint you, and our
fellow-citizens at large, that having arrived to a stage of life,
marked in holy writ, and verified by constant experience, as a time of
labour and sorrow; it is highly proper both upon my own account, as
well as that of the public, to decline the future suffrages of my
fellow-citizens for the office I have now the honor to sustain.1 I have
had this in contemplation near a twelve month past. The infirmities of
age render me an unfit person in my own opinion, and very probably in
the opinion of others, to continue in this station; and I mention it
now, that those of the electors who may probably be too warmly attached
to me, may not nullify their own votes by giving them for me. I have
always been convinced that many others might have been found to fill my
place with greater advantage to the Commonwealth than is now or ever
has been in my power.--In the Civil Department during the times of War and
of Peace, I have served her in various stations to the best of my
ability, and I hope with general approbation; and I can say with truth,
that I have not enriched myself in her service.--My warmest thanks are
justly due to my constituents for the confidence they have repeatedly
placed in me.--When I shall be released from the burthens of my public
station, I shall not forget my country.-- Her welfare and happiness, her
peace and prosperity, her liberty and independence will always have a
great share in the best wishes of my heart.

I will endeavour to consider the business you may lay before me with
fidelity and dispatch. SAMUEL ADAMS.2

1 In May, 1797, Adams was succeeded as governor by Increase Sumner.

2 There are in the Massachusetts Archives additional papers by Adams
which have here been omitted, but certain of which may well be noted,
as follows: 1782, October 15, statement as to funds for South Carolina
and Georgia; 1790, May 28, letter accepting office of Lieutenant
Governor; 1794, February 3, veto message; 1795, February 18, veto
message; 1795, June 12, message on the resignation of Major General
Lithgow; 1795, June 17, message upon the election of an additional
major general; 1795, June 22, message as to suspicious vessel in Boston
Harbor; 1796, February 2, message on petition of Willard Griffith;
1796, February 24, message as to suit on bond of S. Ely; 1796, February
27, message as to vacancies in excise offices; 1796, June I, message as
to the Massachusetts-Connecticut boundary; 1796, June I, message as to
troubles in Hancock County; 1796, November 22, message as to vacancies
in Council; 1797, February 1, message on the militia system; 1797,
February 13, message on the Nantucket Bank.

The Independent Chronicle contains the following papers which have not
been used: 1794, June 27, proclamation upon rioting in Boston; 1795,
June 21, proclamation as to the burning of the "Betsey"; 1795, June 26,
proclamation offering a reward in connection with the "Betsey."

The Life of Samuel Adams, by W. V. Wells, vol. iii., pp. 379-381,
contains the will of Samuel Adams, dated December 29, 1790, and also a
number of letters printed only in part, which have not been used.

There have also been omitted a number of relatively unimportant papers,
such as a brief committee report of November 30, 1785 (Manuscript
Documents, 1785, Boston City Clerk's office); a brief letter to
Elbridge Gerry, recommending Thomas Melville, February 20, 1789 (Emmet
Papers, Lenox Library); a note of introduction to John Adams, June 18,
1782 (Washburn Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society); two letters
to Thomas McKean, November 7, 1781, and June 7, 1782, and one to
Woodbury Langdon, September 1, 1784 (Library of the Historical Society
of Pennsylvania); a note of introduction to Richard Henry Lee, December
9, 1784 (Lee Papers, American Philosophical Society); and a brief note
to Rochambeau, May, 17, 1794 (Library of Congress). A few original
manuscripts, such as a letter of November 8, 1784, to John Avery and a
letter of January 22, 1794, to George Clinton, have passed into private
hands at auction sales. Certain manuscripts have been withheld by their
owners; but in most instances the entire text of the same has been
available, so that it is believed that all the important existing
materials of Adams have been comprised in these volumes.


MARCH 20, 1797.

[Independent Chronicle, March 30, 1797; the text is in W. V. Wells,
Life of Samuel Adams, vol. iii., pp. 365, 366.]

By Authority. Commonwealth of Massachusetts.



IT having been the invariable practice derived from the days of our
renowned ancestors, at this season of the year to set apart a Day of
Public Fasting and Prayer: And the practice appearing to be in itself
productive, if well improved, of happy effects on the public mind--

I have therefore thought fit, by & with the advice and consent of the
Council, to appoint Thursday, the FOURTH day of May next ensuing, to be
observed and improved throughout this Commonwealth for the purpose of
PUBLIC FASTING AND PRAYER: Earnestly recommending to the Ministers of
the Gospel with their respective Congregations then to assemble
together and seriously to consider, and with one united voice confess
our past sins and transgressions, with holy resolutions, by the Grace
of God, to turn our feet into the path of His Law-- Humbly beseeching him
to endue us with all the Christian Spirit of Piety, Benevolence and the
Love of our Country; and that in all our public deliberations we may be
possessed of a sacred regard to the fundamental principles of our free
elective civil Constitutions--That we may be preserved from consuming
Fires and all other desolating Judgments.

And as at this season the general business of the year commences, it
seems highly proper humbly to implore the divine blessing on our
Husbandry, Trade, and Fishery, and all the labour of our hands--On our
University and Schools of Education--On the Administration of the
Government of the United States and of this and the other States of the
Union --On the foreign relations of the United States; and in a particular
manner that all misunderstanding between them and a Sister Republic may
be happily, so adjusted as to prevent an open Rupture, and establish

And as it is our duty to extend our wishes to the happiness of the
great Family of Man, I concede we cannot better express ourselves than
by humbly supplicating the Supreme Ruler of the World--That the rod of
tyrants may be broken into pieces, and the oppressed made Free--That wars
may cease in all the Earth, and that the confusions that are and have
been among the Nations may be overruled for the promoting and speedily
bringing on that holy and happy period, when the Kingdom of our Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ may be everywhere established, and all the
people willingly bow to the Sceptre of Him who is the Prince of Peace.

And I do hereby recommend that all unnecessary labour and recreation
may be suspended on the said day.

Given at the Council Chamber in Boston, this 20th day of March, in the
Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Ninety seven, and in
the twenty first Year of the Independence of the United States of


Attest, JOHN AVERY, Secretary.



[MS., Adams Papers, Quincy.]

BOSTON April 17th 1797


I am loth to trespass one moment upon your time, which at present must
be very precious. But I am induced even to offer Mr Wyllys this
recommendatory Letter to you. He is a native of our Commonwealth, and
lately a traveller in Europe. Tho his travels have been merely on
Mercantile Business, he appears to be very intelligent, observing, and
impartial. He has seen Italy; and conversed among others with Genl
Buonoparte and the Pope. He has visited a number of the Italian States,
also Algiers and France.--I flatter myself you will be pleased with his
conversation and hope you will find it usefull to you. This is the only
motive for my addressing a Letter to you at this Time. I congratulate
you as the first Citizen of the United States--I may add of the World. I
am my dear Sir, notwithstanding I have been otherwise represented in
party papers.

Your Old and unvaried Friend,



[MS., Library of Congress; a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox

BOSTON, April 24th, 1801


Your Letter of the 29th of March came duly to my hand. I sincerely
congratulate our Country on the arrival of the day of Glory which has
called you to the first office in the administration of our federal
Government. Your warm feeling of friendship must certainly have carried
you to a higher tone of expression than my utmost merits will bear. If
I have at any time been avoided or frowned upon, your kind ejaculation
in the language of the most perfect friend of Man, surpasses every
injury. The Storm is now over, and we are in port, and I dare say, the
ship will be rigged for her proper service; she must also be well man'd
and very carefully officered. No man can be fit to sustain an office
who cannot consent to the principles by which he must be governed. With
you, I hope, we shall once more see harmony restored; but after so
severe and long a storm, it will take a proportionate time to still the
raging of the waves. The World has been governed by prejudice and
passion, which never can be friendly to truth; and while you nobly
resolve to retain the principles of candour and of justice, resulting
from a free elective Representative Government, such as they have been
taught to hate and despise; you must depend upon being hated yourself,
because they hate your principles, not a man of them dare openly to
despise you; your inaugural speech, to say nothing of your eminent
services to the acceptance of our Country, will secure you from
contempt. It may require some time before the great body of our fellow
citizens will settle in harmony good humour and peace. When deep
prejudices shall be removed in some, the self interestedness of others
shall cease and many honest Men, whose minds for want of better
information have been clouded, shall return to the use of their own
understanding, the happy and wished for time will come. The Eyes of the
people have too generally been fast closed from the view of their own
happiness, such alass has been always the lot of Man! but Providence,
who rules the World, seems now to be rapidly changing the sentiments of
Mankind in Europe and America. May Heaven grant that the principles of
Liberty and virtue, truth and justice may pervade the whole Earth. I
have a small circle of intimate friends, among whom Doctr Charles
Jarvis is one; he is a man of much information and great integrity. I
heartily wish there may be an epistolary correspondence between him and
you. I should have written this Letter before, had not my faithfull
friend and amanuensis John Avery, who is your friend as well as mine,
been occupied in the business of his office of Secretary of this
Commonwealth, which he attends with great punctuality and integrity. It
is not in my power my dear friend, to give you council; an Old Man is
apt to flatter himself, that he stands upon an equal footing with
younger Men; he indeed cannot help feeling that the powers of his Mind,
as well as his body are weakened; but he relies upon his memory, and
fondly wishes his young friends to think that he can instruct them by
his Experience, when in all probability he has forgot every trace of
it, that was worth his memory. Be assured, that my esteem for you is as
cordial, if possible, as yours is to me. Though an Old Man cannot
advise you, he can give you his Blessing. You have devoutly my Blessing
and my Prayers.

My dear Mrs. Adams will not suffer me to close this Letter, till I let
you know, that she recollects the pleasure and entertainment you
afforded us, when you was about to embark for France, and hopes that
your administration may be happy to yourself and prosperous to our


[MS., Library of Congress , a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers,
Lenox Library.]

BOSTON Novemr 18th 1801


Doctr Eustis will be so kind as to deliver you this Letter.--I am
persuaded you will find him a man of a candid and fair Mind and liberal

I congratulate you on the return of Peace. The War both in America and
Europe was designed by Tyrant Kings to exterminate those rights and
liberties which the Gracious Creator has granted to Man, and to sink
the happiness resulting therefrom in ruin and oblivion.--Is there not, my
friend, reason to believe, that the principles of Democratic
Republicanism are already better understood than they were before; and
that by the continued efforts of Men of Science and Virtue, they will
extend more and more till the turbulent and destructive Spirit of War
shall cease?--The proud oppressors over the Earth shall be totally broken
down and those classes of Men who have hitherto been the victims of
their rage and cruelty shall perpetually enjoy perfect Peace and Safety
till time shall be no more.

I am

Your cordial friend



[W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol iii , pp 372, 373]

BOSTON, November 30, 1802.


I have frequently with pleasure reflected on your services to my native
and your adopted country. Your Common Sense, and your Crisis,
unquestionably awakened the public mind, and led the people loudly to
call for a declaration of our national independence. I therefore
esteemed you as a warm friend to the liberty and lasting welfare of the
human race. But when I heard you had turned your mind to a defence of
infidelity, I felt myself much astonished and more grieved, that you
had attempted a measure so injurious to the feelings and so repugnant
to the true interest of so great a part of the citizens of the United
States. The people of New England, if you will allow me to use a
Scripture phrase, are fast returning to their first love. Will you
excite among them the spirit of angry controversy at a time when they
are hastening to amity and peace? I am told that some of our newspapers
have announced your intention to publish an additional pamphlet upon
the principles of your Age of Reason. Do you think that your pen, or
the pen of any other man, can unchristianize the mass of our citizens,
or have you hopes of converting a few of them to assist you in so bad a
cause? We ought to think ourselves happy in the enjoyment of opinion,
without the danger of persecution by civil or ecclesiastical law. Our
friend, the President of the United States, has been calumniated for
his liberal sentiments by men who have attributed that liberality to a
latent design to promote the cause of infidelity. This, and all other
slanders, have been made without the least shadow of proof. Neither
religion nor liberty can long subsist in the tumult of altercation, and
amidst the noise and violence of faction. Felix qui cautus. Adieu.

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