Adams Papers

From John Adams to James Warren, 16 June 1776

To James Warren

Philadelphia June 16. 1776

Dear sir

Your Favours of June 2d and 5th. are now before me. The Address to the Convention of Virginia, makes but a Small Fortune in the World. Coll. Henry, in a Letter to me,1 expresses an infinite Contempt of it, and assures me, that the Constitution of Virginia, will be more like the Thoughts on Government. I believe, however, they will make the Election of their Council, Septennial. Those of Representatives and Governor annual. But I am amazed to find an Inclination So prevalent throughout all the southern and middle Colonies to adopt Plans, So nearly resembling, that in the Thoughts on Government. I assure you, untill the Experiment was made, I had no adequate Conception of it. But the Pride of the haughty, must, I see come down, a little in the South.2

You Suppose “it would not do, to have the two Regiments you are now raising converted into continental Battallions.” But why? Would the Officers, or Men have any Objection? If they would not, Congress would have none. Indeed this was what I expected, and intended when the Measure was in Agitation. Indeed I thought, that as our Battallions with their Arms, were carried to N. York and Canada in the Service of the united Colonies, the Town of Boston, and the Province ought to be guarded against Danger by the united Colonies.

You have been, Since call’d upon for Six Thousand Militia for Canada and New York.3 How you will get the Men, I know not. The Small Pox, I Suppose will be a great Discouragement,4 But We must maintain our Ground in Canada. The Regulars, if they get full Possession of that Province, and the Navigation of St. Lawrence River above Dechambeault, at least above the Mouth of the Sorrell,5 will have nothing to interrupt their Communication, with Niagara, Detroit, Michilimachinac, they will have the Navigation of the five great Lakes quite as far as the Mississipi River, they will have a free Communication with all the numerous Tribes of Indians, extending along the Frontiers of all the Colonies, and by their Trinketts and Bribes will induce them to take up the Hatchett, and Spread Blood and Fire among the Inhabitants by which Means, all the Frontier Inhabitants will be driven in upon the middle settlements, at a Time when the Inhabitants of the Seaportts and Coasts, will be driven back by the British Navy. Is this Picture too high colored? Perhaps it is. But surely We must maintain our Power, in Canada.

You may depend upon my rendering Mr. Winthrop, all the service in my Power.

I believe it will not be long, before all Property, belonging to British Subjects, Whether in Europe, the W. Indies, or elsewhere will be made liable to Capture.6 A few Weeks may possibly produce great Things. I am &c.

RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “Mr J A. Letter June 16. 1776.”

1Patrick Henry to JA, 20 May (above).

2JA had thought his pamphlet might be too popular for colonies south of New England.

3This figure is incorrect. On 1 June the congress resolved to request Massachusetts to supply 3,000 of its militia and on 3 June another 2,000 as reinforcements for the armies in Canada and New York, respectively (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 4:410, 412).

4American forces in Canada numbered 7,000 in mid-May, but within two weeks 1,800 were disabled by smallpox (Gustave Lanctot, Canada and the American Revolution, 1774-1783, Cambridge, 1967, p. 143).

5Deschambault is located 45 miles southwest of Quebec. The Sorel River, now the Richelieu, flows into the St. Lawrence River approximately 120 miles southwest of Quebec. On 25 May the congress resolved that Deschambault and the mouth of the Sorel be fortified, “to prevent the enemy’s passing to the upper country” (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 4:395–396).

6See James Warren to JA, 5 June, note 4 (above).

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