Abigail Adams to John Adams
Braintree Sepbr. 2 1774
I am very impatient to receive a letter from you. You indulged me so much in that Way in your last absence, that I now think I have a right to hear as often from you as you have leisure and opportunity to write. I hear that Mr. Adams1 wrote to his Son and the Speaker2 to his Lady, but perhaps you did not know of the opportunity. Suppose you have before this time received two letters from me, and will write me by the same conveyance. I judg you reachd Phylidelphia last Saturday night. I cannot but felicitate you upon your absence a little while from this Scene of purtubation, anxiety and distress. I own I feel not a little agitated with the accounts I have this day received from Town. Great commotions have arisen in concequence of the discovery of a Tratorous plot of Colonel Brattle’s—his advice to Gage to Break every commisiond officer, and to seize the province and Towns Stock of powder.3 This has so enraged and exasperated the people that there is great apprehension of an immediate rupture. They have been all in flames ever since the new fangled counsellors have taken their oaths. The importance with which they consider the meeting of the Congress, and the result thereof to the community, withholds the arm of vengance already lifted but which would most certainly fall with accumalated wrath upon Brattle were it posible to come at him, but no sooner did he discover that his treachery had taken air, than he fled not only to Boston, but into the camp for Safety. You will by Mr. Tudor no doubt have a much more accurate account than I am able to give you, but one thing I can inform you of which perhaps you may not have heard, viz. Mr. Vinton our Sheriff it seems received one of those twenty Warrants which were issued by Mr. Goldthwait (and Price, which has Cost them such bitter repentance, and Humble acknowledgments, and which has reveald the great Secret of their attachment to the liberties of their country and their veneration and regard, for the good will of their countrymen.4 See their address to H[utchinso]n and G[ag]e). This Warrent which was for Stotingham5 Vinton carried and deliverd to a Constable there, but before he had got 6 mile he was overtaken by 60 men on horseback who surrounded him and told him unless he returnd with them, and demanded back that Warrent and committed it to the flames before their faces, he must take the concequences of a refusal, and he not thinking it best to endure their vengance returnd with them, made his demand of the Warrent and consumed it, upon which they disperced and left him to his own reflections. Since the News of the Quebec bill arrived all the church people here have hung their heads and will not converse upon politicks, tho ever so much provoked by the opposite party. Before that parties run very high, and very hard words, and threats of blows, upon both sides were given out. They have had their Town meeting here which was full as usual, chose their committee for the County meeting, and did Buisness without once regarding or fearing for the concequences.6
I should be glad to know how you found the people as you traveled from town to town. I hear you met with great Hospitality and kindness in Connecticut.
Pray let me know how your Health is, and whether you have not had exceeding hot weather. The drought has been very severe. My poor Cows will certainly prefer a petition to you, setting forth their Greavences and informing you that they have been deprived of their ancient privilages, whereby they are become great Sufferers, and desiring that they may be restored to them, more espicially as their living by reason of the drought is all taken from them, and their property which they hold else where is all decaying. They Humbly pray that you would consider them least hunger should break thro the Stone walls. Our little flock are well, and present their Duty to their Pappa. My Mother is in a very low State occasiond by a return of her old complaints. Nabby has enclosed a letter to you—would be glad I would excuse the writing, because of a soar Thumb, which she has.7 The tenderest regard evermore awaits you from your Most Affectionate
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in an unidentified hand: “To The Honble. John Adams Esqr. att Philadelphia”; docketed in an unidentified hand: “September 2d 1774 AA.” Enclosure missing; see note 7.
1. Samuel Adams.
2. Thomas Cushing.
3. On 27 Aug. Brig. Gen. William Brattle of Cambridge wrote to Gage informing him among other things that military companies in the neighboring towns were under orders “to meet at one Minute’s Warning, equipt with Arms and Ammunition,” and that the selectmen of the towns were withdrawing large stocks of powder from the Provincial arsenal at Quarry Hill in what is now Somerville. Gage at once ordered a detachment of regulars to remove the powder to Castle Island, but with extraordinary carelessness he dropped Brattle’s letter on a street in Boston. It was soon published, Brattle was obliged to flee for his life to the protection of the troops in Boston, and Gage began fortifying Boston Neck against roving bands of militia aroused by these events. See “Letters of John Andrews,” MHS, Procs. description begins Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections and Proceedings. description ends , 1st ser., 8 (1864–1865): 350–355; Rowe, Letters and Diary description begins Letters and Diary of John Rowe, Boston Merchant, 1759–1762, 1764–1779, ed. Anne Rowe Cunningham, Boston, 1903. description ends , p. 283–284; Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates description begins John Langdon Sibley and Clifford K. Shipton, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge and Boston, 1873– description ends , 7:20–22; text of Brattle’s letter printed in Boston Gazette, 5 Sept. 1774.
4. Under the Massachusetts Government Act freeholders were no longer to elect jurors, who were instead to be selected by sheriffs appointed by the governor. Ezekiel Goldthwait and Ezekiel Price, joint clerks of the Suffolk Court of Sessions and both addressers of Hutchinson, were obliged to apologize for attempting to carry this new regulation into effect. Their statements are in Mass. Spy, 1 Sept.; see also MHS, Procs. description begins Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections and Proceedings. description ends , 2d ser., 14 (1900–1901) 51–54.
5. That is Stoughtonham, an early name for what is now Sharon, Mass.
6. The powers of town meetings were greatly curtailed by the Massachusetts Government Act, but the new regulations were generally ignored and evaded. One of the evasions was the convoking of county conventions, a scheme gotten up by the committees of correspondence. At a Braintree town meeting on 22 Aug. it was voted that Braintree be represented in a proposed Suffolk Convention to be held at Dedham on 6 Sept., and that the Braintree representatives be empowered to act on “all such matters & things in said Convention or in a General Provincial Convention as they may judge of public utility in this time of publick & General Distress” (Braintree Town Records description begins Samuel A. Bates, ed., Records of the Town of Braintree, 1640 to 1793, Randolph, Mass., 1886. description ends , p. 450). Steps such as these were the first in the rapid process of overthrowing British authority and assuming the powers of government.