From The Intelligencer
N. York Octbr. 16th 1775
I1 have been here, almost ever since I had the Pleasure of seeing you at Fairfield, and have attentively observed the Conduct of these People’s Leaders; and, according to the best of my slender Judgement, think that their Councils are stampt with Folly, Timidity, and Treachery. But to trace the whole Labyrinth of their Inconsistency and Perfidy, would be irksome and endless; therefore I shall only mention such as have occurred lately, leaving the Rest for a Day of more Leisure.
In the first Place, the Committee of Safety, during the Recess of the Congress, pass’d a Resolve to impress all the Arms of those who had not sign’d the Association by the 16th of Septr., the Time of passing the Resolve,2 which was done too, only in Consequence of a Letter, or Letters, from your Body, as it is generally imagined. This was first attempted to be carried into Execution on Long Island, in Queen’s County, by sending out one or two of their own Board, with 4 or 5 Citizens, who at the same Time were restrain’d from exercising any manner of Coercion whatever by private Instruction, unless endanger’d by Violence &c. According they went out on the 23rd Ultimo and were treated in the most contemptuous Manner, even to Insult and Threat; declaring they knew no Congress, neither would they sign any Association, nor pay any Part of the Expense accruing by an Opposition to the King’s Troops &c. On the Contrary, that they were determin’d to support the “King’s Laws” and defend themselves against all other Authority &c. Some of this happen’d within 5 or 6 Miles of the City, and some further. They got a few worthless Arms, from some of the most Timid, who, it was tho’t, had concealed their best.3
After they had been out 2 or 3 Days a Report was bro’t to Town that they were imprison’d, and an Order was made out for the first Battalion of Militia, with some of the Provincials, to go to their Relief. But before this could be carried into Execution, Means were devised, by mustering their whole Force and calling a Committee, to defeat the Measure.
The next Expedient was to appoint a Committee of that Board to wait on them, who return’d as Fruitless as the First. Since the Meeting of the Congress they have endeavour’d to pass a Censure on the whole Proceeding of the Committee of Safety in that Affair and several others.
Some of the Congress have declared that they would not receive the Bills of Credit to be emitted by themselves. Others have said that they would join the King’s Standard if Troops came, in order to save their Estates &c. This was said in Congress without any Censure, as reported by a Member in full Company, within these few Days.
A few Days since some Blankets, Sheets Shirts &c. to the Amount of several thousand Pounds worth, and what was more necessary, a large Chest of Lint5 was found in the Lower Barracks and secur’d. These were all return’d next Day by Order of Congress.
The Post being just on the Point of going obliges me to omit many Things which I intended to mention.
Finally I inclose you a Paper containing an Extract of Mr. Tryon’s Letter to our Mayor, for the Perusal of the Congress.6 I am told this Morning that his Friends had a Meeting on Saturday Night last, to a Considerable Amount, in order to defend him at all Events. I believe there is Truth in it, and shall, as soon as I have put this in the Office make Inquiry. I am also told that he has written a second Letter to the Mayor, desiring to know if [he] cannot be protected against an Order of the Continental Congress &c.7 Both of these last I shall inquire further of, and give you such Intelligence as I receive. This Minute I am inform’d that there is a Vessel at the Hook, in a Short Passage from England, but the Viper Sloop8 detains her, as it is said. Should you want to communicate any Thing to me, direct for the Intelligencer, and cover it to Mr. John Holt, Printer.9 Be assur’d that Mr. Tryon is most assiduously stirring up every Coal that will catch, through the Medium of his mercenary Emissaries &c. If Something be not done very speedily he will give you some Trouble, or I am greatly Mistaken. The Gentleman who told you this Time 12 Month that all would go well here, is now exceedingly alarm’d, and told me Yesterday that we were in a most dangerous Situation. I am, with the greatest Regard, Gentlemen your very Humble Servant,
P.S. Your Candour is begg’d to this hasty Scrawl.10
RC (Adams Papers); directed: “To Messrs. Samuel and John Adams Esqrs.”
1. A comparison of this letter and a second from the Intelligencer of 18 Oct. (below) with letters from Hugh Hughes of 31 March and 29 May 1776 (both below) shows such a similarity in handwriting that it is almost certain that Hughes was the Intelligencer. Hugh Hughes (1727?–1802?) was an unsuccessful businessman who by recurrent financial difficulties was forced also to keep a school. An ardent patriot and member of the New York Sons of Liberty, he was assistant quartermaster general with the rank of colonel for the province of New York from May 1776 till Dec. 1781. He was the brother of John Hughes (1712–1772) of Philadelphia, friend of Benjamin Franklin (New Jersey Archives, 1st ser., 24:646, note; Charles Henry Hart, ed., “Letters from William Franklin to William Strahan,” PMHB description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. description ends , 35:442, note [Oct. 1911]; N.Y. Genealogical and Biographical Record, 47 : 173; Heitman, Register Continental Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, new edn., Washington, 1914. description ends , p. 306).
That this letter is addressed to both Samuel Adams and JA, together with the mention of Fairfield, Conn., suggests that the author met them when they stopped in Fairfield at “Penfields” on their way to the second session of the Second Continental Congress (JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:168).
2. The New York Provincial Congress adjourned on 2 Sept. and reconvened on 4 Oct. During the recess, the Committee of Safety conducted business (Force, Archives description begins [Peter Force, ed.,] American Archives: Consisting of a Collection of Authentick Records, State Papers, Debates, and Letters and Other Notices of Publick Affairs, Washington, 1837–1853; 9 vols. description ends , 4th ser., 3:582, 1267). For the committee’s resolve, see same, 3:898.
3. Maj. William Williams describes conditions on Long Island and the resistance of the people to efforts to disarm them. In substance, the Intelligencer’s account is almost identical (same description begins [Peter Force, ed.,] American Archives: Consisting of a Collection of Authentick Records, State Papers, Debates, and Letters and Other Notices of Publick Affairs, Washington, 1837–1853; 9 vols. description ends , 3:912).
4. Probably an abbreviation for “subsequent,” indicating a break in the writing of the letter of perhaps even a day or two.
6. Gov. William Tryon’s letter of 13 Oct. to New York Mayor Whitehead Hicks threatened New York with bombardment from warships in the harbor if he was not protected against seizure ordered by the Continental Congress. A reply came from the City Committee to Hicks and from Hicks to Tryon on 13 and 14 Oct., assuring the governor of his safety and asserting they knew of no such order from the congress to arrest him (Force, Archives description begins [Peter Force, ed.,] American Archives: Consisting of a Collection of Authentick Records, State Papers, Debates, and Letters and Other Notices of Publick Affairs, Washington, 1837–1853; 9 vols. description ends , 4th ser., 3:1052–1053). Apparently Tryon was moved by a report that the Continental Congress had entertained a motion for his arrest on 5 Oct. Although the Journal makes no mention of the motion, it was offered and failed to carry (JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:195).
7. Tryon’s letter of 14 Oct. to Hicks expressed his dissatisfaction with the lack of positive assurances in the replies to his first letter. The mayor and City Committee responded yet again, but Tryon, still unsatisfied, took refuge on the Halifax Packet in the harbor (Force, Archives description begins [Peter Force, ed.,] American Archives: Consisting of a Collection of Authentick Records, State Papers, Debates, and Letters and Other Notices of Publick Affairs, Washington, 1837–1853; 9 vols. description ends , 4th ser., 3:1053–1054). On 19 Oct. the Continental Congress asked the New York Provincial Congress to forward a copy of any order from them or the city in consequence of Tryon’s letter and to send an attested copy of the governor’s letter (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 3:300).
8. The British sloop of war Viper had arrived at Boston from England in September but was ordered to proceed to New York. It was commanded by Capt. Samuel Greaves (Naval Docs. Amer. Rev. description begins William Bell Clark, William James Morgan (from vol. 5), and others, eds., Naval Documents of the American Revolution, Washington, 1964- description ends , 2:38, 611).
9. John Holt (1721–1784), publisher of the New York Journal, a whig paper (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; 20 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ).
10. Actually the MS is very clearly written. Although some phrases are interlined, a few words crossed out, and some sentences in the margin, the writer shows unusual care with word choice and placement of modifiers, as well as with punctuation and consistency of spelling.