Adams Papers

From John Adams to Richard Lee, 4 June 1776

To Richard Lee

Philadelphia June 4. 1776


Your Favour of 18 May, inclosing the momentous Resolution of your wise and patriotic Convention, together with the American Crisis1 came duely to Hand, and yesterday, I had the Pleasure of receiving the Proceedings of the House of Burgesses. I thank you, sir for both these esteemed Favours.

Is it not a little remarkable that this Congress and your Convention should come to Resolutions so nearly Similar, on the Same day, and that even the Convention of Maryland should, in that critical Moment, have proceeded so far as to abolish the Oaths of Allegiance, notwithstanding that Some of their other Resolves are a little excentric?2

Your Resolution is consistent and decisive, it is grounded on true Principles which are fairly and clearly Stated, and in my humble opinion the Proviso which reserves to your selves the Institution of your own Government is fit and right, this being a Matter of which the Colonies are the best Judges, and a Priviledge which each Colony ought to reserve to it self. Yet after all I believe there will be much more Uniformity, in the Governments which all of them will adopt than could have been expected a few Months ago.

The Joy and exultation which was expressed upon that great Occasion did Honour to their good sense and public Virtue. It was an important Event at a critical Time, in which the Interest and Happiness, of themselves and their Posterity, was much concerned.

Hopkins’s Fleet, has been very unfortunate: a dreadful sickness has raged among his Men, and disabled him from putting more than two of his Vessells to sea.3 To what Place they are gone I know not. Perhaps to cruise for Transports. I am, sir, with great respect, your most humble servant.

LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent.”

1Probably a reference to the preamble to the resolutions, for it set forth the extent of the American crisis in vivid detail.

2Since some men had refused appointment to office because they did not want to take oaths of allegiance while the dispute with Great Britain continued, the Maryland Convention on 15 May decreed that a simple oath of office would suffice (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., 5:1584–1585). On Maryland’s eccentricity, see JA to James Warren, 20 May, note 8 (above).

3See Esek Hopkins to Stephen Hopkins, 8 June (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 , 5:425).

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