To James Warren
Octr. 18. 1775
The Letter of Dr—— is the oddest Thing imaginable. There are so many Lies in it, calculated to give the Enemy an high Idea of our Power and Importance, as well as so many Truths tending to do us good that one knows not how to think him treacherous: Yet there are several Strokes, which cannot be accounted for at least by me, without the Supposition of Iniquity. In Short I endeavour to Suspend my Judgment. Don’t let us abandon him for a Traitor without certain Evidence.
But there is not So much Deliberation in many others, or so much Compassion.
The Congress declined entering into any Discussion of the Evidence, or any Determination concerning his Guilt, or the Nature of his offence. But in general they had a full Conviction that it was so gross an Imprudence at least, and was So Suspicious, that it became them to dismiss him from their Service, which they did instantly.1
Yesterday they chose a Successor, Dr. Morgan an eminent Surgeon of this City.2 We, As usual had our Men to propose, Dr. Hall Jackson and Dr. Forster . But Dr. Forsters Sufferings and services— and Dr. Jackson’s great Fame, Experience and Merits were pleaded in vain.3
There is a Fatality attends our Province. It Seems destined to fall into Contempt. It was destined that We should make Mistakes I think, in our Appointment of Generals, Delegates, Surgeons and every Thing else except Paymaster and Judge Advocate.4 I hope they will not turn Cowards, Traytors, nor Lubbers, if they do I shall renounce all.
Dr. Morgan will be with you soon. He is Professor of Medicine in the Colledge here, and reads Lectures in the Winter. He is a Brother[-in-law] of Mr. Duche and of our Mr. Stillman. I may write you more particularly about him another Time.
Let me close now with a Matter of Some Importance. Congress have appointed Deane, Wythe, and your servant a Committee to collect a just Account of the Hostilities committed by the ministerial Troops and Navy, in America, Since last March; with proper Evidence of the Truth of the Facts related, the Number and Value of the Buildings destroyed by them, also the Number and Value of the Vessells inward and outward bound, which have been Seized by them, Since that Period, also the Stock taken by them from different Parts of the Continent; We shall write to the Assemblies of New England and Virginia, at least, but we shall likewise write to many Individuals requesting their Assistance and to you among others. I wish you would think a little and consult with others concerning this Business, for it nearly concerns our Province to have it well done.5
RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); addressed: “To the Hon. James Warren Esqr Speaker of the House Watertown favoured by Captn. Mordecai Gist”; docketed: “Mr J A Lettr Octr. 1775”; above the address, probably postage: “d ster 2.” It may be that Gist carried the letter as far as Dorchester and posted it from there for 2d. For biographical details on Gist, see 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 .
2. Dr. John Morgan (1735–1789), founder of the University of Pennsylvania medical school, who despite his eminence was removed from the post in the Continental Army in Jan. 1777. His wife, Mary, was a sister-in-law of Rev. Jacob Duché (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 ). His sister was married to Rev. Samuel Stillman of Boston (Adams Family Correspondence description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1963– . description ends , 1:314–316, notes 2–4). See also JA to James Warren, 25 Oct. (below).
3. Dr. Hall Jackson (1739–1797) was a noted and innovative surgeon from Portsmouth, N.H., who, like Morgan, had studied in England. At the outbreak of the war, he joined the army, was at the capture of Ticonderoga, and ultimately became the chief surgeon for the New Hampshire troops in the Continental Army (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 ).
Dr. Isaac Foster (1740–1781) graduated from Harvard in 1758 and soon after the outbreak of war became deputy director in charge of the Eastern Medical Department of the Continental Army. His “sufferings” resulted from the loss of all his property in the burning of Charlestown (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 , 14:262–268).
4. JA’s friends James Warren and William Tudor.
5. See JA to James Warren, 12 Oct., note 2 (above). On 19 Oct. JA wrote to William Cooper, then speaker pro tem of the House of Representatives, and to Joseph Palmer telling them also about the committee on depredations and requesting their assistance. He also asked each to send him a copy of the authorized account of the Battle of Charlestown, that is, Bunker Hill (25 July, above), which he had forgotten to take to Philadelphia, and which, he told Palmer, he wanted “very much” (to Cooper, MHi:Misc. Bound Coll.; to Palmer, M-Ar:194, p. 150–150a). Form letters on British depredations were sent out on 24 Oct. to James Warren, Elbridge Gerry, Samuel Cooper, and others.