John Adams to Abigail Adams
Phyladelphia May 29. 1775
Our amiable Friend Hancock, who by the Way is our President, is to send his Servant, tomorrow for Cambridge. I am to send a few Lines by him. If his Man should come to you to deliver this Letter, treat him very kindly, because he is a kind, humane, clever Fellow.
My Friend Joseph Bass, very cleverly caught the Small Pox, in two days after we arrived here, by Inoculation and has walked about the streets, every day since, and has got quite over it and quite well. He had about a Dozen Pimples upon the whole. Let his Father and Friends know this.
We are distressed here for Want of Intelligence and Information from you and from Boston, Cambridge &c. &c. &c. We have no regular Advices. I received one kind Letter from you, in one from Coll. Warren.1 An excellent Letter, I had from him. It has done him great Honour, and me much good.
My Duty and Love to all. I have had miserable Health and blind Eyes almost ever since I left you, but, I found Dr. Young here, who after scolding at me, quantum sufficit for not taking his Advice, has pill’d and electuary’d me into pretty good Order.2 My Eyes are better, my Head is better, and so are my Spirits.
Private.3 The Congress will support the Massachusetts. There is a good Spirit here. But We have an amazing Field of Business, before us. When I shall have the Joy of Meeting you and our little ones, I know not.
The military Spirit which runs through the Continent is truly amazing. This City turns out 2000 Men every day. Mr. Dickinson is a Coll.—Mr. Reed a Lt. Coll.—Mr. Mifflin a Major. He ought to have been a Genl. for he has been the animating Soul of the whole.
Coll. Washington appears at Congress in his Uniform and, by his great Experience and Abilities in military Matters, is of much service to Us.
Oh that I was a Soldier!—I will be.—I am reading military Books.—Every Body must and will, and shall be a soldier.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree”; endorsed: “C No 5” (corrected from “No 6”).
1. Warren’s letter was dated at Watertown, 7 May (Adams Papers; Warren-Adams Letters description begins Warren-Adams Letters: Being Chiefly a Correspondence among John Adams, Samuel Adams, and James Warren (Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections, vols. 72–73), Boston, 1917–1925; 2 vols. description ends , 1:46–49), and presumably enclosed AA’s letter of 4 May, above.
2. Thomas Young (1732–1777), self-taught son of an immigrant from northern Ireland, was born in Ulster co., N.Y., and after a short apprenticeship commenced the practice of physic in Sharon, Conn. A poet, orator, newspaper scribbler, and militant deist as well as a physician and surgeon, Young was incurably restless and was to be identified with radical political agitation in no fewer than five colonies or states. Despite this perhaps unique distinction, what is recorded of him is scattered and often untrustworthy, and he has never had the biography he deserves. In 1766 he moved to Boston and was soon closely associated with Samuel Adams and Joseph Warren as an ardent Son of Liberty. He delivered the first oration commemorating the Boston “Massacre,” was appointed in 1772 a member of the Boston Committee of Correspondence, and was a leader in the Tea Party proceedings the following year. In the fall of 1774 he prudently left Boston for Newport, but turned up in Philadelphia the next spring. He was promptly welcomed into the circle of radicals who led the movement for independence and a new and democratic constitution for the state. He helped draft the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776, which JA later often cited as the very model of political vices; and in the spring of 1777 Young published a letter advising the inhabitants of “Vermont”—a name that he evidently coined and that was here first used—to establish an independent government. In Dec. 1776 he had been appointed senior surgeon to the Continental hospital in Philadelphia and applied the heroic therapy which his friend Dr. Benjamin Rush later made famous to the “cure” of fevers. In the line of duty the following June, he caught a virulent fever and died at once, leaving a wife and numerous children nearly destitute. The efforts of his old friend and reputed literary collaborator Ethan Allen to obtain from the Vermont legislature a grant of land to the widow were unsuccessful.
JA furnished a diverting account of Young’s role as a political agitator in a letter to Benjamin Rush, 8 Feb. 1789 (RC unlocated; printed in Biddle, Old Family Letters description begins Old Family Letters: Copied from the Originals for Alexander Biddle, Series A, Philadelphia, 1892. description ends , p. 30–31). See also Boston Record Commissioners, 16th and 18th Reports description begins City of Boston, Record Commissioners, Reports, Boston, 1876–1909; 39 vols. description ends , passim; Loring, Hundred Boston Orators description begins James S. Loring, The Hundred Boston Orators Appointed by the Municipal Authorities and Other Public Bodies, from 1770 to 1852 ..., 4th edn., Boston and Cleveland, 1855. description ends , p. 24–26; Henry H. Edes, “Memoir of Dr. Thomas Young, 1731–1777,” Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns. description begins Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Publications. description ends , 11 (1910):2–54; Benjamin Rush, Letters description begins Letters of Benjamin Rush, ed. L. H. Butterfield, Princeton, 1951; 2 vols. description ends , 1:148–149, and references there.
3. This word appears in the margin of the letter.