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

Our military Affairs in the middle Department are in such a Situation as to afford us too much Reason to be chagrind. We have indeed sufferd no shameful Defeats, but a promising Campaign has however ended ingloriously.
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To Richard Henry Lee, January 1st

Military Affairs–European Politics–Articles of Confederation–Army Supplies.

To ——–, January l0th

New Haven Conference–Legislation on Trade–Baron Steuben.

To Archibald Campbell, January 14th

Exchange of Prisoners.

To Horatio Gates, January 14th

Introducing Baron Steuben–Captain Olivier.

Vote of Town of Boston, January 21st

Articles of Confederation.

To John Burgoyne, February 6th

Declining a Conference.

To Daniel Roberdeau, February 9th

The Work of Congress.

To Arthur Lee, March 12th

Complaints of French Volunteers.

To Jonathan Trumbull, March 19th

Defence of Hudson River.

To James Lovell, March 27th

Postal Service–Military Academy–Exchange of Prisoners–Case of John Amory.

To Francis Lightfoot Lee

Illness–Conditions in Boston–Military Affairs.

To Richard Henry Lee, April 20th

Action of France–Attitude of England, iii

To Mrs. Adams, May 5th

Journey from Boston.

To the Earl of Carlisle and others

Address of “An American.”

To Baron Steuben, June 3rd

Action of Congress.

To John Adams, June 21st

The English Commissioners–Arrivals from France–Arthur Lee.

To Mrs. Adams, July 9th

Signing of Articles of Confederation.

To James Warren, July

Cases of Manley and McNeil–Appointment of Naval Officers.

To James Warren, July

Office-holders–The British Commissioners–Arrival of French Squadron.

To Samuel Phillips Savage, August 11th .

Return of Hancock.

To Peter Thacher, August 11th .

The British Commissioners–Activity of Quakers.

To James Warren, September 1st

Cases of Manley and McNeil–Personal Critics–The Rhode Island Expedition.

To James Bowdoin, September 3rd

Conduct of John Temple.

To Hannah Adams, September 8th

Illness of Wife.

To John Bradford, September 8th

Conduct of McNeil.

To James Warren, September 12th

Case and Conduct of Manley–The Rhode Island Expedition.

To Samuel Phillips Savage, September 14th

The Rhode Island Expedition–Activity of Tories.

To —-, September 21st

Appointment of Auctioneers–Attitude of Manley–Public Criticism of French Admiral.

To Mrs. Adams, September 28th

Death of Friends–Family Affairs.

To William Cooper, September 3Oth

Assistance in Exchange of Son.

To Samuel Phillips Savage, October 6th

Extravagance in Boston.

To James Warren, October nth

Conduct of Arthur Lee–Opinion of Silas Deane–Affairs of Du Coudray–Public Criticisms of Deane.

To James Warren, October 14th

Attacks on Arthur Lee–Berkenhout.

To Jonathan Trumbull, October 16th

Death of Son.

To Timothy Matlack, October 16th

Proposed Manifesto of General Clinton.

To James Warren, October 17th

Attitude of Politicians to Tories.

To Mrs. Adams, October 2oth

Personal Enemies in Boston.

To John Adams, October 25th

Military Affairs–Relations with France–The Rhode Island Expedition–Naval Movements.

To Arthur Lee, October 26th

Comments on Correspondence.

To —-, October 26th

Falsehoods of Enemies.

To the Public, October 30th

Manifesto of the Continental Congress.

To Samuel Phillips Savage, November 1st

Share of New England in Securing Independence–Personal Relations.

To James Warren, November 3rd

Work of Congress–Foreign Relations–Proposed Resignation.

Thanksgiving Proclamation, November 3rd

Resolution of Continental Congress.

To Samuel Phillips Savage, November l0th

State of Society and Politics in Boston.

To Jeremiah Powell, December 1st

Use of Appropriation–Re-election to Congress.

To Mrs. Adams, December 13th

Relations with John Temple–Personal Critics–Deane and Lee.

To the Council of Massachusetts, December 15th

Enclosing Declaration of French Minister.

To James Bowdoin, December 19th

Conduct of John Temple.

To John Winthrop, December 21st

Conduct of John Temple.

To Samuel Cooper, December 25th

Conduct of John Temple–Deane and Lee–Proposed Resignation.

To Charles Chauncy, December 25th

Conduct of John Temple–Gates and Heath.


To Samuel Cooper, January 3rd

Deane and Arthur Lee.

To James Warren, January 6th

Silas Deane–William Lee–Arthur Lee.

To Samuel Cooper, January 6th

American Representatives in France.

To Samuel Cooper, January 19th

Negotiations with France–Diplomatic Appointments.

To Jonathan Trumbull, February 6th

Naval Affairs.

To John Winthrop, February 6th

Depreciated Currency.

To Samuel Allyne Otis, February l0th

Recommending Richard Checkley.

To James Warren, February 12th

Confidential Correspondents–Public Manners and Principles.

To the Board of War, February 16th

Action of Governor Clinton on Flour Shipments.

To Samuel Cooper, February 21st

Monopoly of Trade and Land–Course of England.

To Mrs. Adams, March 7th

Proposed Resignation as Secretary–Personal Jealousies–News from France.

To John Adams, March 9th

Personal Reflections.

To Benjamin Austin, March 9th

Opinion of Deane and Arthur Lee.

To Mrs. Adams, March 23rd

Purpose to Resign as Secretary and as Delegate–Attitude of Countrymen.

To James Warren, March 23rd, 24th

Purpose to Resign–Personal Critics–Arthur Lee,

To James Lovell, March 26th

Case of Otis and Henley.

To James Lovell, March 27th

Application of Medical Officers.

To James Lovell, March 30th

John Paul Jones–Retention of Prize Money–The “Aliance.”

To the Council of Massachusetts, April 1st

Want of Bread–Journals of Congress.

To John Pitts, April 27th

Comments on Political Affairs.

To Samuel Cooper, April 29th

Proper Attitude toward England–Canada and Nova Scotia.

To George Washington, May 26th

The Marine Committee–State of the Navy.

To Benjamin Hawes, July l0th

Movement of Troops.

To the Navy Board, July 12th

Movement of Ships.

To Jonathan Trumbull, July 13th

Hostilities in Connecticut.

To Horatio Gates, July 14th

Hostilities in Connecticut.

To the Navy Board, July 14th

Penobscot Expedition.

To Meshech Weare, July 28th

Investigation of Seizure.

To Arthur Lee, August 1st

Enemies of Lee.

To Solomon Lovell, August 6th

Military Affairs.

To the Council of Massachusetts, August l0th

Aid for Penobscot Expedition.

To the Council of Massachusetts, August 11th

Movement of Troops.

To Solomon Lovell, August 14th

Movement of Troops.

To John Frost, August 17th

The Penobscot Expedition.

To—-, August 17th

The Penobscot Expedition.

To Henry Jackson, August 21st

The Penobscot Expedition.

To Horatio Gates, August 22nd

Failure on the Penobscot–Campaign Preparation.–Luzerne.

To George Washington, October 12th

Raising of Troops.

To the Navy Board, October 19th

Lack of Fuel–Protection of Coast.

To Elbridge Gerry and James Lovell, December

Subscription for Children of Joseph Warren.

To Elbridge Gerry, December 2Oth .

Appointment to Convention.

To Elbridge Gerry and James Lovell, December 20th

Education of Children of Joseph Warren.–Subscription for Benefit of Children of Joseph Warren

To the House of Representatives of Massachusetts, December 23rd.

Resolution of Council on Absentees.


To the Governor of Rhode Island, January 5th .

Exclusion of Secret Enemies.

To John Adams, January 13th

Work of the Legislature–Military Affairs–Constitutional Convention–Delegates in Congress.

To John Morin Scott, February 17th

Condition of Public Records.

To James Lovell, March 5th

Political Details.

To the Legislature of Massachusetts, March 9th

Petition for Permission to Purchase Property of Absentees,

To John Adams, March 15th

The Massachusetts Constitution.

To James Lovell, March 25th

The Vermont Controversy–Work of Congress–The Penobscot Expedition–The Eastern Territory–Need of Consulate In France.

To John Adams, May

Work of the Legislature–The New Constitution.

Article Signed “Vindex,” June 12th

Origin of the Contest–Character of the Army–Duty of the People.

To James Bowdoin, June 20th

Defence of Connecticut.

To John Fellows, June 20th

Control of Hudson River–Military Plans.

To Robert Howe, June 20th

Movement of Massachusetts Troops.

To John Fellows, June 21st

Plans for Defence of Hudson River.

To Robert Howe, June 21st

The Defence of Hudson River.

To La Fayette, June

Assistance of France–Military Preparations in Massachusetts –The Coming Election.

To John Adams, July 10th

The Massachusetts Constitution–The French Fleet.

To Hannah Adams, August 17th

Paternal Advice.

To James Bowdoin, August 22nd

French Opinion of Massachusetts Troops–The Vermont Controversy–The New Constitution.

To John Lowell, September 15th

The Vermont Controversy–Condition of the Army.

To Mrs. Adams, September 19th

Sacrifice in Public Service–The Southern Campaign.

To James Warren, October 6th

The Massachusetts Election–Reflections on Congress.

To Mrs. Adams, October 10th

Visit of Arthur Lee to Boston–Election of Hancock–Treason of Arnold.

To Mrs. Adams, October 17th

Opinion of Arthur Lee–Election of Hancock.

To James Warren, October 24th

Public Service and Proper Government.

To Richard Henry Lee, October 31st

The Campaign in Virginia–Opinion of Arthur Lee.

To Samuel Cooper, November 7th

Visit of Arthur Lee to Boston–Legislation for the Army–The Southern Campaign.

To Mrs. Adams, November nth, 13th

Robbery of the Mail–The Massachusetts Election.

To James Warren, November 20th

Activity of Personal Enemies–Local Politics.

To Thomas Wells, November 22nd

Advice on Married Life.

To Mrs. Adams, November 24th

Reflections on Results of Public Service.

To Elbridge Gerry, November 27th.

Proposed Retirement of Adams–Necessity for Public Service of Gerry–Character of Massachusetts Government.

To John Adams, December 17th

Military Activities–Treason of Arnold–Diplomatic Appointments–The Massachusetts Constitution.

To John Adams, December 20th

Conditions in the South–Need of a Navy.

To John Scollay, December 30th

Support of Warren’s Children–The New Government of Massachusetts–Character of the Population.


To Richard Henry Lee, January 15th

Opinion of Arthur Lee–Recurrence to First Principles.

To John Pitts, January 17th


To James Warren, February 1st

Effect of Foreign Influence.

To Mrs. Adams, February 1st

Relations with Dr. Cooper–Relations with Hancock.

To Mrs. Adams, March 15th

Desire to Return Home–Situation of Son.

Article, Unsigned, April 2nd

Character of Government–The Massachusetts Election.

To Caleb Davis, April 3rd.

Admission of Belligerent Subjects–Affairs at Boston.

Article, Unsigned, April 16th

The Massachusetts Election–The Duty of Citizens.

To Samuel Cooper, April 23d

Political Details–Attacks of Rivington.

To Thomas McKean, August 29th

Return of John Laurens–Peace and the Fishery–Executive Appointments.

To Thomas McKean, September 19th

Recommending Major Brown–Need of Strong Navy.

To Horatio Gates, October 11th

Proposed Court of Inquiry–The Southern Campaign.

To William Heath, November 21st

Relations of Canada and Vermont.

To Selectmen of Other Towns, December 14th

Letter of Boston on the Fishery–Instructions to Representatives.

To John Adams, December 18th

Local Politics.

To John Adams, December 19th

Proposed Revision of Statutes–Education–Public Manners –Action of Boston on the Fishery.


To Alexander McDougall, May 13th

Purpose of Patriots.

To John Lowell, May 15th

Legislative Procedure–Election of Representatives.

To John Lowell, June 4th

Controversy with Governor as to Legislative Procedure.

To Arthur Lee, November 21st

Petition of William Burgess.

To Arthur Lee, December 2nd

Affairs in Canada.


To Arthur Lee, February 10th

Case of Landais–The Fishery.

To the Selectmen of Boston, March 10th

Election as Moderator.

To Arthur Lee, April 21st

Political Fictions–Journals of Congress.

To Benjamin Lincoln, May 1st

Case of John Allan–Recommendations.

To Horatio Gates, May 2nd

Case of John Allan–The Saratoga Campaign.

To Elbridge Gerry, September 9th

Committee of Correspondence–Relation of Congress to the People.

To John Adams, November 4th

Need of Public Jealousy–Foreign Influences–Negotiation with Holland.


To John Adams, February 4th

Commending Appleton.

To Elbridge Gerry, February 25th

Work of the Committee of Correspondence–Financial Legislation–Case of Gridley.

To John Adams, April 16th

Action on Treaty–Treatment of Aliens–Need of Commercial Treaty–Danger of Popular Conventions–The Cincinnati.

To John Adams, April 17th

Cases of Noyes and Dashwood.

To Elbridge Gerry, April 19th

The Cincinnati–Gerry’s Proposed Retirement.

To Elbridge Gerry, April 23rd

The Court of Appeals–The Cincinnati–Foreign Influence.

To Noah Webster, April 30th

Commutation of Pay of Officers–Popular Committees and Constitutional Government.

To John Adams, June 20th

Personal Greeting.

To John Adams, December 2nd

Case of Dashwood.

To Richard Henry Lee, December 23rd

Conditions in Congress–Effects of Peace–Foreign Relations –National Policy–Attitude of England.


To Richard Henry Lee, March 24th

The Six Nations–Case of John Allan.

To Richard Henry Lee, April 14th

Introducing Macauley Graham.

To John Adams, July 2nd

Conditions of Trade–Massachusetts Election.

To John Adams, August 16th

Case of Captain Stanhope.

To Richard Henry Lee, December 17th

Case of Captain Landais.


To John Adams, April 13th

William Gordon–Relations with England.

To John Adams, July 21st

Political Liberty and National Faith–The Tories.


To Richard Henry Lee, December 3rd

The National Constitution.


To Richard Henry Lee, April 22nd

Powers of Congress–Commending Leonard Jarvis.

To the Legislature of Massachusetts, May 27th

Accepting Election as Lieutenant-Governor.

To Richard Henry Lee, July 14th

The State Governments–Political Applications.

To Elbridge Gerry, August 22nd

Congressional Control of Lighthouses–Constitutional Amendments.

To Richard Henry Lee, August 24th

Nature of the Constitution–Importance of Amendments.

To Richard Henry Lee, August 29th

Power of Removal–Relations with Washington–The Eastern Boundary.


To the Legislature of Massachusetts, May 28th

Accepting Election as Lieutenant-Governor.

To John Adams, September 2nd

Application of Captain Lyde.

To John Adams, October 4th

Political Reflections.

To John Adams, November 25th

Nature of the Constitution–The American Legislatures–Succession in Office–Effects and Nature of Good Government –Universal Education and Liberty.


To the Legislature of Massachusetts, January 17th .

Death of Governor Hancock–The Federal Constitution–The Massachusetts Constitution–Essential Principles of Government–Public Education.

Proclamation, February 19th

Appointing Day of Thanksgiving.

To the Legislature of Massachusetts, May 31st

General Election–European War–Object of the Constitution.

To the Legislature of Massachusetts, June 4th

Use of Castle Island.

Proclamation, November 3rd

Appointing Day of Thanksgiving.


To the Legislature of Massachusetts, January 16th

Object of Frequent Sessions–Purity of Elections–European Affairs–Fortifications–Pennsylvania Insurrection–Amendment of State Constitution.

To Jeremy Belknap, March 30th

Action of Continental Congress with Reference to Captain Cook.

To the Legislature of Massachusetts, June 3rd.

Re-election as Governor–Duty of Public Officers–Justification of Colonial Settlers–Foreign Relations–Public Education –Amendment of State Constitution–The Judicial System–Public Credit.

To the Public, July 4th

Address at Laying of Corner-stone of State House.

Proclamation, October 14th

Appointing Day of Thanksgiving.


To the Legislature of Massachusetts, January 19th

Agriculture, Commerce, and Manufactures–The National and State Constitutions–Treaty-making Power–The Treaty with England.

To the Legislature of Massachusetts, May 31st

Duty to the Union–Duty of the Legislators.

Proclamation, October 6th

Appointing Day of Thanksgiving.

To the Legislature of Massachusetts, November 17th

Choice of Presidential Electors.

To the Senate of Massachusetts, November 23rd

Vacancies in Electoral College.

To the Legislature of Massachusetts, November 24th

Vacancies in Electoral College.


To the Legislature of Massachusetts, January 27th

Retirement of Washington–General Elections–Public Education–The Militia–Determination to Retire from Public Life.

Proclamation, March 20th

Appointing Day of Thanksgiving.

To John Adams, April 17th

Introducing Mr. Wyllys.


To Thomas Jefferson, April 24th

Congratulations on Election–Political Comments.

To Thomas Jefferson, November 18th

Congratulations on Peace.


To Thomas Paine, November 30th

Defence of Infidelity–Effect of Proposed Age of Reason.



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

BOSTON Jany 1 1778


I had the Pleasure of receiving your Letter dated at York the 23d of Novr last, which mentions your having before written to me by a young Gentn Capt Romane who was to pass through this Place in his Return to France. That Letter has not yet come to Hand. I shall regard all your Recommendations with the utmost Respect.

Our military Affairs in the middle Department are in such a Situation as to afford us too much Reason to be chagrind. We have indeed sufferd no shameful Defeats, but a promising Campaign has however ended ingloriously. To what are we to attribute it? I believe to a miserable Set of General Officers. I mean to make some Exceptions. For the Sake of our Country, my dear Friend, let me ask, Is our Army perpetually to be an unanimated one; because there is not Fortitude enough to remove those bad Men. I remember the Factions in Carthage which prevented her making herself the Mistress of the World. We may avoid Factions and yet rid our Army of idle cowardly or drunken officers. HOW was Victory snatchd out of our Hands at German Town! Was not this owing to the same Cause? And Why was only one General officer dischargd? Was it because there were just Grounds to suspect only one? Is there not Reason to fear that our Commander in Chief may one day suffer in his own Character by Means of these worthless Creatures? May he not suffer under the Reputation of an unfortunate Commander, than which I think he cannot suffer a greater Evil. It is difficult to seperate from the Minds of the People the Idea of unfortunate from that of the Want of some necessary soldierly Quality. At best the unfortunate General has Pity only as the Reward of his Services; and how soon does Pity degenerate into Contempt. Cicero if I mistake not some where tells us, that when a General is fortunate it matters not whether it is ascribd to his being a Favorite of the Immortal Gods, or to certain good Qualities in him which others are incapable of observing. His Soldiers will encounter every Danger under his Conduct. His Enemies will be confounded at his Approach. His Country will revere him. The Reverse is equally just. As therefore we regard the Reputation of the Comdr in Chief of our Armies, which is of the greatest Importance to our Affairs, let us promote this Winter a strict Scrutiny into the Causes of this unfortunate Campaign. Our Affairs are far from wearing a desperate Aspect. Our Successes at the Northward must give us Reputation abroad; and Reputation is a Kind of real Strength. That our Men are brave, Brandy Wine & German-town can witness. Let us then give them officers worthy of them, and Heaven will prosper our righteous Cause. There is indeed one thing which to me appears threatning. It is absolutely necessary that the Commissarial Departmt should be restored to a better State, or the Army will soon suffer. This my dear Sir requires your speedy Return to Congress. Did the Army suffer or was it in Danger of suffering before the Alterations in that Department the last Summer, why then should we not put it upon its old Footing & prevail upon the former Commissary, who is the fittest Man I know, to act again in that office.1 I have been favord with a Letter from Dr Lee since his Return to Paris from Berlin.2 The Powers of Europe I perceive, are too timid, or too intent upon enslaving others, to espouse the Cause of Liberty in America. No Matter, my Friend. We shall not be obligd to them; and they will hereafter be more sensible of our Importance when they find that we have struggled thro our Difficulties without them. We shall do greater Honor to our Selves and our Cause; and those Liberties for which we pay so dear a Price will be more justly & more highly valued by our selves and our Posterity. France, in my Opinion, misses the Sight of her true Interest in delaying to take a decisive Part. She runs a great Risque; for if Britain should be so politick as to recognize our Independence which she sees us determind at all Hazzards to maintain, and should propose to us a Treaty of Alliance offensive & defensive, would not the flattering Expectations of France be cut off? I mention this, not because I expect or wish for it. But should such Recognition & such Proposals be made the next Spring, which may happen, would France have any Reason to fault America for acceeding to it? We are independent. The Nations of Europe may acknowledge it when they dare to do it. We have Fortitude enough to maintain it. This is our Business. The Nations may reap honest Advantages from it. If they have not Wisdom enough to discern in Season, they will regret their own Blindness hereafter. We will dispose our Favors as we please.

The Letter from Congress to the Assembly of this State, inclosing the Articles of Confederation, came to Hand the Day of its Adjournment, which is to a shorter Day than was intended that the weighty Matters recommended might be considerd with all possible Speed. The Assembly will meet on the 7th Instant. It will be difficult for the Members to prevail upon themselves to make a new Law after having been necessitated so late to repeal one framed for the same purpose. A Comt however I am inclind to think will be appointed to meet those of the other States mentiond in the recommendation. The Articles of Confederation seem to be well liked. I suppose you will have the Sense of this Assembly soon.

I am much pleasd with a spirited Act lately made by your Assembly for the Supply of our Troops and the beneficial Effects it has had. I am not in much Pain about Cloathing for this year. A large Quantity has been lately brought here by the Agent of the Clothier General–Part of which has been made & I suppose by this time arrivd at Camp. The Taylors and others are busily employd. Every Method should nevertheless be tryed for further Supplys. A Superabundance will not be amiss. Laws in other States similar to yours will eventually facilitate this Part of our Work.

I understand that our Army is gone or going into Winter Quarters at the Distance of 18 Miles from Philadelphia. Why could not Barracks have been as well erected near enough to have…. the Enemy all the Winter. Our Army was within three or four miles of them the whole Winter when they were in this Town. I hope the Campaign will be opend by us very early the next Spring.

I should have written to you before this time, but on my Arrival here I found the Gen1 Assembly sitting, unluckily for me as it engagd me in publick Business; and I have been obligd to spend a Fortnight in the Country.

Adieu my friend & believe me to be affectionately,


1 Cf., vol. iii., page 317.

2 Wharton, Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence, vol. i., p. 517.

TO ————–.

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

BOSTON Jany 10 1778


The General Assembly of this State having sat the greatest part of the Time since I arrivd here & the Council constantly has prevented my writing so often to my Friends, and when I have wrote, so fully as I have an Inclination to do. The Assembly is now sitting, and have made Choice of Mr Cushing Mr Pain and a Country Gentleman1 whose Name I do not now recollect, to join Committees of other States at New Haven agreable to a late Recommendation of Congress. But having been obligd so lately to repeal an Act of a similar Nature to that which is now proposd, I am doubtful whether they will be prevaild upon to pass a new one. It will however have its due Consideration if the joynt Comtes should propose such a Measure. I expect every Day to have the Articles of Confederation brot forward, and have good Reason to think it will be agreed to, even those parts which it may be wishd had been different, for the Sake of that Union which is so necessary for the Support of the great Cause.

The Resolutions of Congress recommending passing a Law similar to that lately passed in Virginia &c were yesterday read at the Council Board. I had the Oppty of hearing them read once, so that I cannot yet form my Judgment of them. Indeed I think it is easy to see the Necessity of such a Law as that of Virginia, but whether it would be practicable to put into Execution a Law prohibiting the Sale of Goods without Licence requires Consideration for Nothing more betrays the Weakness of Government than to make Laws wch cannot be executed. I am sensible it is nearly of as much Importance to suppress the Monopolizers as to provide for our Army, but the blow must be levelled at them only. If the Popular Indignation can once be raisd to a suitable Pitch as I think it can it will become dangerous for them to withhold their Goods or demand an exorbitant Price for them and the Evil will be cured. I think every Step should be taken for the Downfall of such Wretches, and shall be ready to joyn in any Measure within Doors or without which shall be well adapted to this Effect.

It is the general Observation of those who are in the way of observing that the sinking our State bills for Notes & thereby lessening the Quantity in Circulation & the Taxes we have laid has already reduced the price of Goods.

This was mentioned to me by Mr S A Otis with whom I have just dined.

I have written to Bro Gerry by the Baron De Steuben whom I strongly recommend to the Notice of my worthy Colleagues & others. Mr Gerry will shew you my Letter, which makes it needless for me to add further than that from the recommendatory Letters of Dr Franklin & other papers wch I have seen & the Conversation I have had with the Baron, I really esteem him a modest candid & sensible Gentn. The Dr says he is spoken highly of to him by two of the best Judges of military merit in France, tho he is not him self a Frenchman but a Prussian.

Since I last wrote to you I am favord with yours of 27 Decr inclosing among other papers Copy of a Letter from your Correspondent in Holland. Before you knew the Contents I bolted out your Letter in the presense & hearing of Madam & other good Ladies. I cannot promise you that Mischief is not done. I am endeavoring (and Mr Gerry will say it is just like him) to turn the torrent toward Braintree; for I really think my Namesake is full as suspectable as I am. I thank Mrs Clymer for her good opinion of me, and I can assure her, the Hint you gave me of this in your Letter to me was very timely & is likely to make Matters easy with me.

I might have dated this Letter at the Council table where I am writing in Haste.

My best Regards to all who love our Country in Sincerity. Colo Chase tells me your Son behaves well & that he is very clever.

Your Family is well provided for as I am informd. You will never I am perswaded think your self under an obligation to baulk your publick Sentiments from an Idea of Gratitude to private Friends. Sat Verbum. I may explain my self more fully in another Letter. Adieu my friend. Burn this.

1 Elisha Porter of Hadley.


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

BOSTON Jany 14 1778


Your Letter of the 10th Instant came to my hand on the 12, and I should instantly have returnd an Answer upon an Affair, in the Dispatch of which you must feel yourself so nearly interrested, had an opportunity presented.

Colo Allens Exchange, it is probable, may not so easily be negotiated as that of Colo Webb; But this Gentleman has been much longer in Captivity than the other. And although I have no personal Acquaintance with him, yet I am well assured that he is a brave Soldier. Such a Character, you, Sir, must esteem; and this is also the Character of Colo Webb. I have not been insensible of the Obstruction which may have hitherto prevented the Exchange of Colo Allen, and the true Source of it. If private or partial Motives have prevaild in the Mind of any Gentleman in New York, to the Prejudice of a Man of distinguishd Merit, I can only observe, that it is totally inconsistent with those pure Principles, which you will allow me to say, have, and I trust ever will actuate Americans in the present Contest. You will excuse my saying any more to you on so delicate a Point.

I sincerely wish the Release of every man in Captivity; and shall for my own part be well pleasd with your availing your self of an Exchange with either of the above mentiond Gentlemen, if it may be consistent with the Sentiments of Congress.

My first Concern is for the Honor & Safety of my Country. Having premised this, I can readily subscribe with due Respect,

Yr very hbl Servt,

1 An officer in the English army.


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

BOSTON Jan 14 1778


Yesterday I took the Liberty of writing to you by the Baron De Steuben a Native of Prussia who I doubt not will deliver the Letter into your Hand. He will previously wait on Gen1 Washington to whom he has Letters of warm Recommendation from the Commissioners of America in France. He has also Letters to Mr President Laurens and other Members of Congress from gentlemen of Note in that Country. He offers his Services to America as a Volunteer; wishing to give no Offence by interfering in Command. He appears to me to be a modest, candid & sensible Gentleman; and, I have Reason to think, from the Letters I have seen, he has great military Merit. Of this you will be able to form a decisive Judgment.

There is a certain Canadian Officer, by the Name of Laurens Olivier, a Captain, whose Character and warm Attachment to our Cause while he was an Inhabt of Canada, my Friend Mr Thos Walker a Gentn well known to Mr Gerry, speaks highly of. This Officer will make known certain Difficulties he is under to you. I am told he is a deserving Man; Such a Character I may with Confidence recommend to your patronage. You may rely upon it I will never willingly trouble my self or you with persons of a different sort.

I am &c,


[MS., Boston City Clerk’s Office; the text, with variations, is in Boston Record Commissioners’ Report, vol. xviii., p. 298.]

[January 21, 1778.]

The Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the several States now represented in the Continental Congress, having been laid before this Town, were distinctly and repeatedly read and maturely considerd, Whereupon; Resolvd, as the opinion of this Town, that the said Articles appear to be well adapted to cement the Union of the said States, to confirm their mutual Friendship, establish their Freedom and Independence, and promote their general Welfare: And the Representatives of the Town are hereby instructed, to give their Votes in the General Assembly, that the Delegates of this State may be authorizd to ratify the said Articles of Confederation in order that the same may become conclusive.


[MS., Public Record Office, London; a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

BOSTON Febry 6th, 1778.


I should not have failed yesterday to have returned an Answer to your Letter, which was brought to me the preceding Evening, had it not been for the violence of a Disorder which had seized me near a Week before. That Disorder still continues to afflict me much, and prevents my seeing any one but my physician, or doing any business even of the most trifling Nature.

Under such Circumstances, you will excuse me if I decline to engage with you in Conversation, upon a subject in which you think the general Cause of Humanity and possibly the essential Interests of both our Countries are concerned.

I have the Honor to be


Your most humble Servt

1 Lieutenant General in the English army.


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

Feb 9 1778


I have not been unmindful of the favor you did me in writing to me some time ago. My not having returnd an Answer has been owing, I do assure you, altogether to many Avocations, and at last to a bodily disorder by which I have been confind to my House and great part of the time upon my bed for near a fortnight. I am now about my Room and gladly take the Opportunity to drop from my Pen an Expression of the honest Friendship which I feel for your self and your agreable Connections.

I find by the Letters I receive from Mr Lovell who is kind enough to write to me often, that Congress is reduced to a small Number present. This has not been unusual in the Winter Season. But you have a great Deal of Business and that of the arduous Kind. It would be a strong Inducement to me to leave domestick Enjoymt, that I might take as great a Share of the Burthen with you as my Shoulders would bear. It is no Satisfaction to me, you may rely upon it, to be able to plead the Want of Health sufficient to go through so long a Journey at this rigorous Season. My Brother Gerry can recollect with how much pleasure the few who were at Baltimore passed through the Fatigues of Business the last Winter, when our Affairs wore a more gloomy Aspect than they have ever yet done. We did it with Alacrity, because there was a Spirit of Union which leads to wise & happy Decisions. I hope the same Spirit now prevails and that Measures are taking to collect & support an Army and to introduce (Economy & Discipline among officers of Rank as well as private Soldiers, so as by Gods Blessing to insure us a successful Campaign. Your Resolution respecting Burgoyne I think must have nettled him. I have long with Pain suspected a perfidious Design. This Resolution must have crossd it. It will cause much Speculation in Europe. No Matter. The Powers there seem more inclind to speculate than to espouse the Rights of Man. Let them speculate. Our Business is to secure America against the Arts & the Arms of a treacherous Enemy. The former we have more to apprehend from than the latter.

Please to pay my due Regard to your Sisters & Family in which Mrs A desires to be joynd & be assured that I am

Yr unfeigned friend

1 Cf., Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography.


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

BOSTON March 12th 1778


This Letter will be deliverd to you by Captn Romanet a young French Gentleman Nephew to General Grobouval Commander of the french Artillery. He is a modest well behaved youth, and is one of Monsr du Coudrays Corps many of whom I suppose are returnd to France dissatisfied with the Determination of Congress against ratifying Mr Dean’s Compact. The Necessity of doing this was disagreable to the Members, but it could not have been otherwise, without causing a great Uneasiness in our Army at a very critical Juncture. I hope no ill Consequences will result to our Country and Cause from the Complaints of these Gentlemen. Mr Romanet ingenuously acknowledges to me that Mr Du Coudrays Disappointment appears to him to have been necessary, and possibly his Connections in France may give Weight to his opinion.

I have been favord with your acceptable Letter of the 31 July from Paris. From your not having noticed several Letters which I have written to you, I suspect they have miscarried. I know not that they would have servd any other good Purpose, than to have shown how desirous I was of reviving a Correspondence which heretofore…..


[MS., Massachusetts Archives; a text is in W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. iii., pp. 7, 8,]



I am to acquaint your Excellency in the Name & by order of the Council of this State, that your Letter of the 16th Instant directed to the President, relative to the Defence of Hudsons River has been receivd & read at that Board. The General Assembly is now under a short Adjournment, and the Council are not authorizd in their Executive Capacity & seperate from the House of Repts to order any Part of the Militia of this State beyond its Limits. The Assembly will meet on the first Day of the next Month. Your Excellencys Letter, together with another receivd this Day from Govr Clinton upon the same Subject, will then be laid before that Body; and altho the Government of this State are now under the Necessity of keeping up more than fifteen hundred of the Militia to guard the Troops of Convention & for other extraordinary Service in and about the Town of Boston, yet there can be no Doubt but a due Attention will be given to so interesting & important a Concern as the Defence of Hudsons river.

I have the Honor to be with the most cordial Esteem

Yr Excys most Humble Servt


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

BOSTON March 27 1778


You cannot imagine how much I feel my self obligd to you for writing to me frequently. Your Letters however do not come to me in regular Order. HOW is it that I did not receive those of the 10th & 16th of Feby by the Post till yesterday? I am affraid there is some Deficiency in the Post office Department; but as I would fain hope our Friend Mr Hastings is not in Fault, I will beg you in his Behalf, to move to the Post Master General for an Addition to his Salary, for he assures me he cannot live upon what he now receives.

I am very sorry your Letter of the 10th did not come in Season, for I should have gladly interrested my self for so valueable a Citizen as Mr Leach at the late annual Meeting. I have long wishd that for the Reputation as well as substantial Advantage of this Town a military Academy was instituted. When I was in Philadelphia more than two years ago I mentiond the Importance I conceivd it to be of, in Letters to my Friends here. At least we might set up a publick School for military Mathematicks, and I know of no one better qualified for an Instructor than Mr Leach. I wish he had mentiond it to me. Perhaps he may have had Promises of Attention to him from some other Person upon whom he relies. I will consult with such Men of Influence in the Town as I am acquainted with, and will not be wanting in Endeavors to improve your Hints for the mutual Benefit of the Publick & Mr Leach.

I am pleasd to observe in your Letter of 28 Feby that Mr Burgoyne seems to be alterd in his Ideas of Congress. The Gentleman to whom you request me to communicate the Contents of that Letter, I am not in the least acquainted with, but shall comply with your Request whenever I shall find an opportunity of doing it.

I fear from what you mention in your Letter of the 7th of March that the Expectations of the People with Regard to Ty. & Independence will be baulkd. If they are, the Cause in my opinion will be injurd & the Confidence of the People in those who have the Mannagement of our Affairs civil & military lessend, which I should be very sorry to see. In the same Letter you tell me that Lt Colo Anstruthers Request to seek his own Release on Condition of his getting Colo Allens is granted. I now inclose a Letter which I had mislayed & omitted to send, relating to Lt Colo Campbells who I wish might be exchanged for Friend Ethan.1

I do not wonder that you have been mortified upon the Delay of a certain Affair to which you refer in your Letter of the 10th Instant. I wrote you the Opinion of this Town respecting that Affair above a Month ago. I shall only observe that in my opinion, every one who is intrusted with the Affairs of the Publick does not feel so sensibly for its Reputation as I think you do. I have inclosd the Instructions of the General Assembly to their Delegates in Congress upon the Confederation, and when I shall have the pleasure of seeing you I may perhaps give you the Causes why that important Matter was not determind sooner. I immediately after reading your last mentiond Letter communicated to the Council that part of it which relates to the Propriety & Necessity of making regular Returns of what is done here in Consequence of the Recommendations of Congress; and a Committee of that Board is now looking over the Journals & Papers for that Purpose. In the same Letter you mention your having receivd a Letter from Mr John Amory, with his Request that you wd put a memorial into Congress for him. In what Manner could Congress interpose for him if you should comply with his Request? His Residence in this State was deemd by the Gen1 Assembly to be dangerous to the State. Will Congress order or recommend that He should reside in it notwithstanding? “He was surprizd into an Oath of Allegiance!” He said upon his Examination here that he was not compelled to take the Oath. He did not recollect the Form or Tenor of the Oath he had taken–but desired to live peaceably in his Native town but could not in Conscience take up Arms against the British King. I will desire Mr Appleton to write to you on the Subject.

1 Allen. Cf. page 9.


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

[BOSTON, —-, 1778.]


It was much longer than the usual time before your very acceptable Letter of the 22 Decr came to my hand. I receivd it as a singular Favor and felt the more thankful for it, because I knew that hardly anything could induce you to write a Letter but the urgent Affairs of our Country or the powerful feelings of private Friendship. I should have written you an Answer sooner but the peevish nominal Saint who scrap’d an Acquaintance with me at Baltimore the last Winter, has followd me even to this place. I think he is the most impertinent & troublesome Visitant I ever had. I am so thoroughly disgusted at the Creature that I have taken every Method that could be devisd to prevent my being ever plagud with him again. He seems at length to be about leaving me & he may depend upon it I shall deny all his Visits for the future.

The Spirit of Avarice, I am sorry to be obligd to say it, prevails too much in this Town; but it rages only among the few, because perhaps, the few only are concernd at present in trade. The old substantial Merchants have generally laid aside trade & left it to Strangers or those who from nothing have raisd fortunes by privateering. The Body of this Community suffer proportionably as much as the great continental Publick. It must be confessd that the Charges of Trade are enormous, and it is natural for men when they have at great Risque & Expence imported Commodities which are wanted by every body, if they must receive in payment for them what is valued by no body, to demand as much of it as they please, especially if it is growing daily into less Repute. This you know has been the Case. There is but one effectual Remedy; & that is to lessen the Quantity of circulating paper Money. This is now doing here. Our Assembly have laid on a very heavy Tax, & are determind to repeat it again and again. Besides which they have called in a large Quantity of their bills, for which they have issued Notes payble with Interest. The Effects are already felt & the prices of Goods have been for some time past gradually sinking.

You tell me we have a great many men now inlisted & that you hope Means will be found to collect them. I joyn with you in these hopes, and that we may keep them together when they are collected and make a good Use of them. Howe I understand has fortified himself by a Line of Redoubts from River to River. Has he more than 13 or 14 [sic] Men in America? If not why should we wait till he is reinforced before we make an Enterprize somewhere.

Your Resolution to stop the Embarkation here I fancy has nettled Burgoyne. He has since been soliciting Interviews with A & B & wishes for private Conversations upon a Matter in which “he thinks the General Cause of Humanity and possibly the essential Interests of both our Countries are concernd.”1 He has not prevaild upon A to comply with his Request; for more Reasons than one which I think must be obvious upon a short Review of our History. The Resolutions of Congress will afford Matter of Speculation for the Politicians in Europe. But must they not all acknowledge that Burgoyne himself had made it necessary? After a solemn Declaration made to the very Officer with whom he had enterd into the Convention that it was broken on our Part, Does he, if he believes his own Declaration hold him self bound by it on his part? Would he not, if sufferd to go to Sea, most probably carry a Reinforcement to Gen1 Howe & laugh at us for puting it in his Power?

I have twenty things to say to you, but my ill state of Health prevents my adding more than that I am, with sincere Regards to Mrs Lee in which Mrs A very cordially joyns

Yr affectione

1 Cf. page 12.


[MS., American Philosophical Society.]

BOSTON April 20 1778


I most heartily congratulate you on the happy and important News from Europe which will be conveyd to Congress by Mr Dean the Brother of our late Commissioner who will be so kind as to deliver you this Letter. France has acted with Magnanimity; while Britain continues to discover that Meanness and Poverty of Spirit, which renders her still more than ever contemptible in the Eyes of all sensible People. The Moderation of France is such as becomes a great and powerful Nation. Britain forgetfull of her former Character, sinks into Baseness in the Extreme. The one is generously holding out the Arm of Protection to a People most cruelly oppressd while the other is practicing the Arts of Treachery and Deceit to subjugate and enslave them. This is a Contrast which an ancient Britain would have blushd to have had predicted to him. It is a true Contrast, and we will blush for them.

Commissioners we are again told are coming out to treat with us. This is what we had Reason to expect. Her only Design is to amuse us & thereby to retard our operations, till she can land her utmost Force in America. We see plainly what Part we are to take; to be before hand of her; and by an early Stroke to give her a mortal Wound. If we delay our vigorous Exertions till the Commissioners arrive, the People abroad may, many of them will be amusd with the flattering Prospect of Peace, and will think it strange if we do not consent to a Cessation of Arms till propositions can be made and digested. This carries with it an Air of Plausibility; but from the Moment we are brought into the Snare, we may tremble for the Consequence. As there [are] every where awful Tories enough, to distract the Minds of the People, would it not be wise for the Congress by a Publication of their own to set this important Intelligence in a clear Light before them, and fix in their Minds the first Impressions in favor of Truth? For I do assure you, it begins to be whisperd by the Tories & as soon as they dare to do it they will speak aloud, that this is but a french Finesse and that Britain is the only real Friend of America. Should not the People be informd with the Authority of Congress that Britain persists in claiming a Right to tax them and that the new or intended Act of Parliament, expressly declares her Intention to be only a Suspension of the Exercise of the Right till she shall please again to exercise it? that is till she shall have lulled them into a State of Security. That her Commissioners are not to be vested with full Powers to finish any Treatys, nor even to promise a Ratification of them. This will be left in great Uncertainty, till it shall be considerd in Parliament. They are allowed, as one of our Friends expresses it, to proclaim a Cessation of Hostilities, and revoke their Proclamation, as soon as in Confidence of it our Militia are allowd to go home. They may suspend the Operation of prohibitory Acts of Trade; and take off that Suspension where our Merchants in Consequence of it shall have been indued to send their Ships to Sea. In short they may do every thing that may tend to distract and divide us, but Nothing that can afford us Security. The British Court have Nothing in View but to divide by Means of their Commissioners. Of this they entertain sanguine Expectations; for I am well assured, that they say they have certain Advice, that they have a large Party in Congress, almost a Majority, who are for returning to their Dependency! This cannot be true–Dr Franklin in a Letter of the 2d of March informs me that America at present stands in the highest Light of Esteem thro’ out Europe, and he adds, A Return to Dependence on England would sink her into Eternal Contempt.

Be pleasd to present my due Regards to all Friends, and acquaint my worthy Colleagues that Mr Deans great Haste prevents my writing to them. I intend to set out on my Journy to York Town next Week where I hope for the Pleasure of seeing you. In the mean time be assured that I am

Your affectionate,

I thank you for your

Favor of Mar 1st which

I recd three days ago–


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

PALMER 84 Miles from Boston

May 5th 1778


I wrote to you by my kind Host Mr Greenleafe. Yesterday I left his House and slept the last Night at Colo Henshaws. He and his Lady treated me with great Hospitality & Friendship. This day I dined at Brookfield with Mr Ward a Minister in that Town. He married Miss Coleman Mr Pembertons Niece. I am much obligd to them for their kind Treatment of me. I made them promise to visit you when they go to Boston. This Afternoon I met my Son on the Road. I was sorry I could not have the Pleasure of conversing with him. I parted with him with great Regret. May Heaven bless him! Tell him I shall never think him too old to hearken to the Advice of his Father. Indeed I never had Reason to complain of him on that Account. He has hitherto made me a glad Father. This implys that I esteem him a wise Son. I have been the more sparing of Advice to him because I have thought he did not need it; but in these critical Times when Principles & Manners as well as the Liberties of his Country are in Danger he has need to be on his Guard. My Children cannot imagine how much Comfort I have in believing they are virtuous. I am not willing to admit of a Fear that they will ever deprive me of this Comfort. My warm Affections are due to my Family and Friends. Adieu my dear Betsy.

Your affectionate,


[W. V. Wells,1 Life of Samuel Adams, vol. iii., pp. 18-26; printed in the Massachusetts Spy, July 16, 1778.]

To the Earl of Carlisle, Lord Viscount Howe, Sir William Howe (or, in his absence, Sir Henry Clinton), William Eden, and George Johnstone.

Trusty and well-beloved servants of your sacred master, in whom he is well pleased.

As you are sent to America for the express purpose of treating with anybody and anything, you will pardon an address from one who disdains to flatter those whom he loves. Should you therefore deign to read this address, your chaste ears will not be offended with the language of adulation,–a language you despise.

I have seen your most elegant and most excellent letter “to his Excellency, Henry Laurens, the President, and other members of the Congress.” As that body have thought your propositions unworthy their particular regard, it may be some satisfaction to your curiosity, and tend to appease the offended spirit of negotiation, if one out of the many individuals on this great continent should speak to you the sentiments of America,–sentiments which your own good sense hath doubtless suggested, and which are repeated only to convince you that, notwithstanding the narrow ground of private information on which we stand in this distant region, still a knowledge of our own rights, and attention to our own interests and a sacred respect for the dignity of human nature, have given us to understand the true principles which ought, and which therefore shall, sway our conduct.

You begin with the amiable expressions of humanity, the earnest desire of tranquillity and peace. A better introduction to Americans could not be devised. For the sake of the latter, we once laid our liberties at the feet of your Prince, and even your armies have not eradicated the former from our bosoms.

You tell us you have powers unprecedented in the annals of your history. And England, unhappy England, will remember with deep contrition that these powers have been rendered of no avail by a conduct unprecedented in the annals of mankind. Had your royal master condescended to listen to the prayer of millions, he had not thus have sent you. Had moderation swayed what we were proud to call “mother country” her full-blown dignity would not have broken down under her.

You tell us that all “parties may draw some degree of consolation, and even auspicious hope, from recollection.” We wish this most sincerely for the sake of all parties. America, in the moment of subjugation, would have been consoled by conscious virtue, and her hope was, and is, in the justice of her cause and the justice of the Almighty. These are sources of hope and of consolation which neither time nor chance can alter or take away.

You mention “the mutual benefits and consideration of evils that may naturally contribute to determine our resolutions.” As to the former, you know too well that we could derive no benefit from a union with you, nor will I, by deducing the reasons to evince this, put an insult upon your understandings. As to the latter, it were to be wished you had preserved a line of conduct equal to the delicacy of your feelings. You could not but know that men who sincerely love freedom disdain the consideration of all evils necessary to attain it. Had not your own hearts borne testimony to this truth, you might have learned it from the annals of your own history; for in those annals instances of this kind at least are not unprecedented. But should those instances be insufficient, we pray you to read the unconquered mind of America.

That the acts of Parliament you transmitted were passed with singular unanimity, we pretend not to doubt. You will pardon me, gentlemen, for observing that the reasons of that unanimity are strongly marked in the report of a committee of Congress agreed to on the 22d of April last, and referred to in a late letter from Congress to Lord Viscount Howe and Sir Henry Clinton.

You tell us you are willing “to consent to a cessation of hostilities both by sea and land.” It is difficult for rude Americans to determine whether you are serious in this proposition or whether you mean to jest with their simplicity. Upon a supposition, however, that you have too much magnanimity to divert yourselves on an occasion of so much importance to America, and, perhaps, not very trivial in the eyes of those who sent you, permit me to assure you, on the sacred word of a gentleman, that if you shall transport your troops to England, where before long your Prince will certainly want their assistance, we shall never follow them thither. We are not so romantically fond of fighting, neither have we such regard for the city of London, as to commence a crusade for the possession of that holy land. Thus you may be certain hostilities will cease by land. It would be doing singular injustice to your national character to suppose you are desirous of a like cessation by sea. The course of the war, and the very flourishing state of your commerce, notwithstanding our weak efforts to interrupt it, daily show that you can exclude us from the sea,–the sea, your kingdom!

You offer “to restore free intercourse, to revive mutual affection, and renew the common benefits of naturalization.” Whenever your countrymen shall be taught wisdom by experience, and learn from past misfortunes to pursue their true interests in the future we shall readily admit every intercourse which is necessary for the purposes of commerce and usual between different nations. To revive mutual affection is utterly impossible. We freely forgive you, but it is not in nature that you should forgive us. You have injured us too much. We might, on this occasion, give you some instances of singular barbarity committed, as well by the forces of his Britannic Majesty as by those of his generous and faithful allies, the Senecas, Onondagas, and Tuscaroras. But we will not offend a courtly ear by the recital of those disgusting scenes. Besides this, it might give pain to that humanity which hath, as you observe, prompted your overtures, to dwell upon the splendid victories obtained by a licentious soldiery over unarmed men in defenceless villages, their wanton devastations, their deliberate murders, or to inspect those scenes of carnage painted by the wild excesses of savage rage. These amiable traits of national conduct cannot but revive in our bosoms that partial affection we once felt for everything which bore the name of Englishman. As to the common benefits of naturalization, it is a matter we conceive to be of the most sovereign indifference. A few of our wealthy citizens may hereafter visit England and Rome to see the ruins of those august temples in which the goddess of Liberty was once adored. These will hardly claim naturalization in either of those places as a benefit. On the other hand, such of your subjects as shall be driven by the iron hand of Oppression to seek for refuge among those whom they now persecute will certainly be admitted to the benefits of naturalization. We labor to rear an asylum for mankind, and regret that circumstances will not permit you, gentlemen, to contribute to a design so very agreeable to your several tempers and dispositions.

But further, your Excellencies say, “We will concur to extend every freedom to trade that our respective interests can require.” Unfortunately, there is a little difference in these interests which you might not have found it very easy to reconcile, had the Congress been disposed to risk their heads by listening to terms which I have the honor to assure you are treated with ineffable contempt by every honest Whig in America. The difference I allude to is, that it is your interest to monopolize our commerce, and it is our interest to trade with all the world. There is, indeed, a method of cutting this Gordian knot which, perhaps, no statesman is acute enough to untie. By reserving to the Parliament of Great Britain the right of determining what our respective interests require, they might extend the freedom of trade, or circumscribe it at their pleasure, for what they might call our respective interests. But I trust it would not be for our mutual satisfaction. Your “earnest desire to stop the effusion of blood and the calamities of war” will therefore lead you, on maturer reflection, to reprobate a plan teeming with discord, and which, in the space of twenty years, would produce another wild expedition across the Atlantic, and in a few years more some such commission as that “with which his Majesty hath been pleased to honor you.” We cannot but admire the generosity of soul which prompts you “to agree that no military force shall be kept up in the different States of North America without the consent of the General Congress or particular Assemblies.” The only grateful return we can make for this exemplary condescension is, to assure your Excellencies, and, on behalf of my countrymen, I do most solemnly promise and assure you, that no military force shall be kept up in the different States of North America without the consent of the General Congress and that of the Legislatures of those States. You will, therefore, cause the forces of your royal master to be removed; for I can venture to assure you that the Congress have not consented, and probably will not consent, that they be kept up.

You have also made the unsolicited offer of concurring “in measures calculated to discharge the debts of America, and to raise the credit and value of the paper circulation.” If your Excellencies mean by this to apply for offices in the department of our finance, I am to assure you (which I do with “perfect respect”) that it will be necessary to procure very ample recommendations. For, as the English have not yet pursued measures to discharge their own debt and raise the credit and value of their own paper circulation, but, on the contrary, are in a fair way to increase the one and absolutely destroy the other, you will instantly perceive that financiers from that nation would present themselves with the most awkward grace imaginable.

You propose to us a device to “perpetuate our union.” It might not be amiss previously to establish this union, which may be done by your acceptance of the treaty of peace and commerce tendered to you by Congress. And such treaty I can venture to say would continue as long as your ministers could prevail upon themselves not to violate the faith of nations.

You offer, to use your language, the inaccuracy of which, considering the importance of the subject, is not to be wondered at, or at least may be excused, “in short, to establish the powers of the respective Legislatures in each particular State, to settle its revenue, its civil and military establishment, and to exercise a perfect freedom of legislation and internal government, so that the British States throughout North America, acting with us in peace and war, under one common sovereign, may have the irrevocable enjoyment of every privilege that is short of a total separation of interests, or consistent with that total union of force on which the safety of our common religion and liberty depends.” Let me assure you, gentlemen, that the power of the respective Legislatures in each particular State is most fully established, and on the most solid foundations. It is established on the perfect freedom of legislation and a vigorous administration of internal government. As to the settlement of the revenue and the civil and military establishment, these are the work of the day, for which the several Legislatures are fully competent. I have also the pleasure to congratulate your Excellencies that the country for the settlement of whose government, revenue, administration, and the like, you have exposed yourselves to the fatigues and hazards of a disagreeable voyage and more disagreeable negotiation, hath abundant resources wherewith to defend her liberties now, and pour forth the rich stream of revenue hereafter. As the States of North America mean to possess the irrevocable enjoyment of their privileges, it is absolutely necessary for them to decline all connection with a Parliament who, even in the laws under which you act, reserve in express terms the power of revoking every proposition which you may agree to. We have a due sense of the kind offer you make to grant us a share in your sovereign; but really, gentlemen, we have not the least inclination to accept of it. He may suit you extremely well, but he is not to our taste. You are solicitous to prevent a total separation of interests; and this, after all, seems to be the gist of the business. To make you as easy as possible on this subject, I have to observe, that it may, and probably will, in some instances, be our interest to assist you, and then we certainly shall. Where this is not the case, your Excellencies have doubtless too much good sense as well as good nature to require it. We cannot perceive that our liberty does in the least depend upon any union of force with you; for we find that after you have exercised your force against us for upwards of three years, we are now upon the point of establishing our liberties in direct opposition to it. Neither can we conceive that, after the experiment you have made, any nation in Europe will embark in so unpromising a scheme as the subjugation of America. It is not necessary that everybody should play the Quixote. One is enough to entertain a generation at least. Your Excellencies will, I hope, excuse me when I differ from you as to our having a religion in common with you; the religion of America is the religion of all mankind. Any person may worship in the manner he thinks most agreeable to the Deity; and if he behaves as a good citizen, no one concerns himself as to his faith or adorations, neither have we the least solicitude to exalt any one sect or profession above another.

I am extremely sorry to find in your letter some sentences which reflect upon the character of his most Christian Majesty. It certainly is not kind, or consistent with the principles of philanthropy you profess, to traduce a gentleman’s character, without affording him an opportunity of defending himself; and that, too, a near neighbor, and not long since an intimate brother, who besides hath lately given you the most solid additional proofs of his pacific disposition, and with an unparalleled sincerity which would do honor to other princes, declared to your Court, unasked, the nature and effect of a treaty he had just entered into with these States. Neither is it quite according to the rules of politeness to use such terms in addressing yourselves to Congress, when you well knew that he was their good and faithful ally. It is indeed true, as you justly observe, that he hath at times been at enmity with his Britannic Majesty, by which we suffered some inconveniences; but these flowed rather from our connection with you than any ill-will towards us; at the same time it is a solemn truth, worthy of your serious attention, that you did not commence the present war,–a war in which we have suffered infinitely more than by any former contest, a fierce, a bloody, I am sorry to add, an unprovoked and cruel war,–that you did not commence this, I say, because of any connection between us and our present ally; but, on the contrary, as soon as you perceived that the treaty was in agitation, proposed terms of peace to us in consequence of what you have been pleased to denominate an insidious interposition. HOW, then, does the account stand between us? America, being at peace with the world, was formerly drawn into a war with France in consequence of her union with Great Britain. At present, America being engaged in a war with Great Britain, will probably obtain the most honorable terms of peace in consequence of her friendly connection with France. For the truth of these positions, I appeal, gentlemen, to your own knowledge. I know it is very hard for you to part with what you have accustomed yourselves from your earliest infancy to call your Colonies. I pity your situation, and therefore I excuse the little aberrations from truth which your letter contains. At the same time it is possible that you may have been misinformed. For I will not suppose that your letter was intended to delude the people of these States. Such unmanly, disingenuous artifices have of late been exerted with so little effect, that prudence, if not probity, would prevent a repetition. To undeceive you, therefore, I take the liberty of assuring your Excellencies, from the very best intelligence, that what you call “the present form of the French offers to America,” in other words, the treaties of alliance and commerce between his most Christian Majesty and these States, were not made in consequence of any plans of accommodation concerted in Great Britain, nor with a view to prolong this destructive war. If you consider that these treaties were actually concluded before the draft of the bills under which you act was sent to America, and that much time must necessarily have been consumed in adjusting compacts of such intricacy and importance, and further, if you consider the early notification of this treaty by the Court of France, and the assurance given that America had reserved a right of admitting even you to a similar treaty, you must be convinced of the truth of my assertions. The fact is, that when the British minister perceived that we were treating with the greatest prince in Europe, he applied himself immediately to counteract the effect of these negotiations. And this leads me, with infinite regret, to make some observations which may possibly be by you considered in an offensive point of view.

It seems to me, gentlemen, there is something (excuse the word) disingenuous in your procedure. I put the supposition that Congress had acceded to your propositions, and then I ask two questions:– Had you full power from your commission to make these propositions? Possibly you did not think it worth your while to consider your commission, but we Americans are apt to compare things together and to reason. The second question I ask is, What security could you give that the British Parliament would ratify your compacts? You can give no such security; and therefore we should, after forfeiting our reputation as a people, after you had filched from us our good name, and persuaded us to give to the common enemy of man the precious jewel of our liberties,–after all this, I say, we should have been at the mercy of a Parliament which, to say no more of it, has not treated us with too great tenderness. It is quite needless to add that, even if that Parliament had ratified the conditions you proposed, still poor America was to lie at the mercy of any future Parliament, or to appeal to the sword, which certainly is not the most pleasant business men can be engaged in.

For your use I subjoin the following creed of every good American:–I believe that in every kingdom, state, or empire there must be, from the necessity of the thing, one supreme legislative power, with authority to bind every part in all cases the proper object of human laws. I believe that to be bound by laws to which he does not consent by himself, or by his representative, is the direct definition of a slave. I do therefore believe that a dependence on Great Britain, however the same may be limited or qualified, is utterly inconsistent with every idea of liberty, for the defence of which I have solemnly pledged my life and fortune to my countrymen; and this engagement I will sacredly adhere to so long as I shall live. Amen.

Now, if you will take the poor advice of one who is really a friend to England and Englishmen, and who hath even some Scotch blood in his veins,–away with your fleets and your armies, acknowledge the independence of America; and as ambassadors, and not commissioners, solicit a treaty of peace, amity, commerce, and alliance with the rising States of this Western world. Your nation totters on the brink of a stupendous precipice, and even delay will ruin her.

You have told Congress, “if, after the time that may be necessary to consider this communication and transmit your answer, the horrors and devastations of war should continue, we call God and the world to witness that the evils which must follow are not to be imputed to Great Britain.” I wish you had spared your protestation. Matters of this kind may appear to you in a trivial light, as mere ornamental flowers of rhetoric, but they are serious things, registered in the high chancery of Heaven. Remember the awful abuse of words like those by General Burgoyne, and remember his fate. There is One above us who will take exemplary vengeance for every insult upon His majesty. You know that the cause of America is just. You know that she contends for that freedom to which all men are entitled,–that she contends against oppression, rapine, and more than savage barbarity. The blood of the innocent is upon your hands, and all the waters of the ocean will not wash it away. We again make our solemn appeal to the God of heaven to decide between you and us. And We pray that, in the doubtful scale of battle, we may be successful as we have justice on our side, and that the merciful Saviour of the world may forgive our oppressors.

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