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Results 183101-183150 of 183,496 sorted by date (ascending)
183101Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
On 22 February 1770, a man named Ebenezer Richardson fatally shot an eleven-year-old German boy. The circumstances of the shooting and the conditions of Richardson’s subsequent trial for murder so emphasize the peculiarly disturbed status of the law in Boston at the time that documents pertaining to the case are included in this collection, even though Adams does not appear to have been...
183102Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
Friction between the Boston garrison troops and the populace produced considerable heat even before the so-called Massacre of 5 March 1770. The present case grew out of one of the more notable episodes, a scuffle in the Boston market on 13 July 1769 between Private John Riley of the Fourteenth Regiment and Jonathan Winship, a Cambridge victualer. Mystery surrounds the precise origin of die...
183103Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
At the May 1769 Suffolk Sessions, Moyse and Reader were the only men tried among six soldiers who had been presented for breaking and entering, on 16 March 1769, the shop of John Carnes of Boston and stealing 40 shillings of silver and copper coin, 22 pairs of men’s shoes (value 6s. each), 30 yards of ribbon (value 20s.), 20 watch seals (value 16s.), 25 yards of holland (value £6), unspecified...
183104Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
“Last Thursday Afternoon [28 January 1773] died at the North End, after a few Days Illness, Mrs. Christian Bell, Wife of James Bell, of this Town, Cordwainer, who is a Native of Scotland; it being notorious to Numbers of People that this Woman had for several Years past very undeservedly suffered frequent & cruel Abuses from her said Husband; a suspicion immediately arose after her Death, that...
183105Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
The riot of 5 March 1770, to which Samuel Adams and history have affixed the inaccurate title of “the Boston Massacre,” climaxed a season of partisanship, violence, and general testing of the legal process, many incidents of which found their way into John Adams’ legal practice and papers. It is not necessary to attempt to unravel the cloak of legend which covered the occurrence in King Street...
183106Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
In 1763, John Adams made his first verifiable entry into print with the publication of his “Humphrey Ploughjogger” letter in the Boston Evening-Post on 14 March ( No. I , below). He was to use the pseudonym several more times—twice that summer, once in 1765, and twice in 1767. His authorship of the 1763 Ploughjogger pieces is attested to in his own words, written long after the fact and...
183107Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
“A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law,” published unsigned and untitled in the Boston Gazette , 12 , 19 August, 30 September, 21 October 1765, was at once John Adams’ first effort to determine the significance of New England in American history and his initial contribution to the literature of the American Revolution. Seen from the first perspective, this work belonged to a genre...
183108Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
Although “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law” was John Adams’ first contribution to the literature of the American Revolution, the Braintree Instructions about the Stamp Act were the first defense of American rights publicly recognized as having come from his pen. These Instructions, drafted in the first instance by Adams, then approved with modifications by a Braintree town...
183109Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
In January 1766 John Adams, signing himself Clarendon, published three letters in the Boston Gazette in reply to William Pym, who had published four letters in the London Public Ledger , 13, 19, 26, 30 August 1765. Only the second of Pym’s letters was reprinted by a Boston newspaper, the Boston Evening-Post , 25 November. Adams’ was not the earliest reply, for Hampden had taken up the...
183110Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
In the winter of 1766–67, Jonathan Sewall, writing as Philanthrop, took it upon himself to defend Governor Francis Bernard against an unremitting series of attacks being made upon him in Boston newspapers, chiefly in the Gazette , by a number of pseudonymous writers. It is possible that Sewall wrote in hope of preferment, for soon after he had finished his series of letters, Governor Bernard...
183111Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
In the first week of June 1770, Adams accepted a seat in the Massachusetts House, a step which at the time he considered “a devotion of my family to ruin and myself to death” ( JA, Diary and Autobiography Diary and Autobiography of John Adams , ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. , 3:294 ). The doubtful honor devolved upon him when James Bowdoin, chosen in May as a...
183112Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
The issue addressed by John Adams and William Brattle in this exchange in the pages of the Boston Gazette was a narrow one: the degree to which English judges had historically been dependent upon the Crown and its ministers. But this question arose as part of a broader debate in contemporary Massachusetts politics: the provision for Bay Colony judges in the royal civil list. The General Court...
183113Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
While John Adams was concluding his long series of replies to William Brattle on the independence of the judges, he was engaged with others in a more direct effort to assert in the winter of 1773 the rights of the province. He played a vital part in framing the response of the House of Representatives to two messages sent down to the General Court by Gov. Thomas Hutchinson, and his efforts...
183114Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
A year after his newspaper debate with William Brattle and his contributions to the exchanges of the House of Representatives with Governor Hutchinson over constitutional issues (see 11 Jan. – 22 Feb. 1773 and 26 Jan. – 2 March 1773 , above), John Adams took part in the closing chapter of the dispute over crown salaries for superior court judges. This last episode, an attempt to impeach Chief...
183115Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
Perhaps none of John Adams’ services to Massachusetts was so demanding and time-consuming as the report on the boundaries of the province that he prepared for the General Court in 1774—and perhaps none of his public papers has offered so many challenges to students of his career. In 1961, the editors of The Adams Papers had to describe this triumph of legal and historical scholarship as an...
183116Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
In the spring of 1774, when Adams was kept busy helping to draft the impeachment articles against Peter Oliver and reviewing the historical basis for Massachusetts land claims against New York, the Town of Boston found uses for him as well, particularly as passions mounted over the Port Act and, later, the Massachusetts Government and Administration of Justice Acts. The precise contribution...
183117Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
John Adams approached his participation in the Continental Congress with trepidation. As he explained to correspondents, he did not feel that he had the knowledge of other colonies and their trade or of the British Empire as a whole to help determine wisely what course of action should be taken. He had never traveled outside New England and knew few of the other delegates even by reputation....
183118Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
On 26 October 1774 the Continental Congress adjourned, and its members returned home. John Adams left Philadelphia on the 28th, arriving in Braintree probably on 9 November ( Diary and Autobiography Diary and Autobiography of John Adams , ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. , 2:157–160 ). In his passage through Massachusetts, he was informed of the actions of the...
183119Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
The Continental Association and the Bill of Rights of the First Continental Congress turned American against American as never before. Extreme whigs professed that their only goal was to win increased auton­ omy for the colonies within the British Empire—a return to the status quo before George Grenville—but they were not always believed by the moderates. Among the latter, some suspected that...
183120Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
While John Adams was writing his Novanglus letters, the town of Braintree met, on 6 March 1775, for its annual meeting to elect town officials and to dispose of other business enumerated in the five-point warrant ( Braintree Town Records Samuel A. Bates, ed., Records of the Town of Braintree, 1640 to 1793, Randolph, Mass., 1886. , p. 454–455). Strictly speaking, some of the other business was...
The first session of the Second Continental Congress began on 10 May 1775 and ended officially on 1 August. What went on at the congress, apart from the actions recorded in the printed journal, remains a matter for some conjecture. For the First Congress, one of the best sources is Adams’ Diary, but from April to September 1775 the burden of business apparently kept Adams from getting down his...
183122Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
After the official adjournment of the Second Continental Congress on 1 August, another meeting was held on the morning of the next day. Adams may not have left Philadelphia, then, until 3 August ( JCC Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress , 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. , 2:239; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters...
183123Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
In the fall of 1775 Adams worked in the congress to the point of exhaustion; by December he asked permission to leave to restore his energies. He served on thirteen committees, and judging from the fragmentary evidence that has been found, he gave full measure. He was not exaggerating when he told Mercy Warren he was “engaged in constant Business. . . . Every Body is engaged all Day in...
183124Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
Adams returned to Braintree from Philadelphia on 21 December 1775 and departed from Watertown for the Continental Congress five weeks later on 25 January 1776 ( JA, Diary and Autobiography Diary and Autobiography of John Adams , ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. , 2: 226 , 227 ). Relatively little is known about his activities and thinking in this period, for he wrote...
183125Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
Returning home to Braintree in December 1775, exhausted by his labors in the congress, John Adams “vacationed” by serving on the Massachusetts Council until 24 January 1776. He arrived back in Philadelphia on 8 February and the next day plunged into work during the busiest and most significant period the congress had yet known. In old age Adams recalled, probably without much exaggeration,...
183126Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
One of the most influential of Adams’ Revolutionary writings was the pamphlet Thoughts on Government, Applicable to the Present State of the American Colonies. In a Letter from a Gentleman to His Friend , Philadelphia, 1776 ( T. R. Adams, American Independence Thomas R. Adams, American Independence: The Growth of an Idea. A Bibliographical Study of the American Political Pamphlets Printed...
183127Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
On 12 June 1776, almost five months after a committee had been named to consider the establishment of a war office, the Continental Congress resolved to create “a Board of War and Ordnance” and on the following day appointed John Adams, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Harrison, James Wilson, and Edward Rutledge as its first members ( JCC Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the...
183128Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
The Plan of Treaties of 1776 had its origin in a resolution of the Continental Congress on 11 June. Coming on the day following the resolution to appoint a committee to prepare a declaration of independence, it stated that a committee should be named “to prepare a plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign powers.” The next day John Dickinson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Benjamin Harrison,...
183129Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
No member of the congress played a greater role in 1775 and 1776 in bringing about a separation of the American colonies from Great Britain than John Adams, even if we make allowances for his tendency in old age to push back into time the moment when he became unequivocally committed to independence. His influence was exerted right up through the adoption of the formal resolution itself, but...
183130Enclosure: Draft of an Article (Adams Papers)
At this Time of general Danger, when every one is anxiously considering by what Means our Liberties may be preserved, I hope to be at least forgiven, if I attempt to suggest a Hint which, perhaps, by wiser Heads, may be improved to publick Advantage. The Calling out our Militia in such Numbers for the Defence of our Country is attended with this Difficulty among others, that the Slaves left at...
JA increasingly felt the weight of committee work during the six weeks that remained before he could take a much-needed rest. He un­ burdened himself about his need for relief in almost petulant tones to James Warren in more than one letter; yet for this period there is no significant documentary evidence of JA ’s contribution to committee reports. The editors are reduced simply to listing...
In his final months of service in the congress, JA served on 26 committees, acting as chairman for 8 of them, and for most of the period he continued to act as president of the Board of War and as a member of the Committee on Appeals. From all this committee work, only two reports in JA ’s hand have been found; they are printed below in their appropriate chronological order. Here, as with...
183133Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
The Commissioners’ letter or memorial to Vergennes of early January 1779 is highly significant. Despite its long dissertation on the evils of the Carlisle Commission’s manifesto of 3 October 1778 and its appeal for a French declaration to counter the manifesto’s effects, the principal object of the letter was the dispatch of naval reinforcements to America. John Adams later wrote to Elbridge...
183134Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
Of the eleven states that adopted constitutions during the Revolutionary period, Massachusetts, ratifying its document in 1780, was the last. (Connecticut and Rhode Island, both with corporate charters that granted broad autonomous powers, did not revise their organic law until the nineteenth century.) The General Court had drafted a constitution which it presented to the towns in 1778, but...
183135Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
John Adams’ letter of 19 April 1780 to the president of Congress (No. I, below), constitutes his redaction of Thomas Pownall’s pamphlet entitled A Memorial, Most Humbly Addressed to the Sovereigns of Europe, on the Present State of Affairs, Between the Old and New World , London, 1780. In July, Adams used his Letterbook copy to produce a manuscript ( No. II , below) that, considerably revised...
183136Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
The dispute between John Adams and the Comte de Vergennes over Congress’ revaluation of its currency provides a revealing glimpse of the dynamics of the Franco-American Alliance. It makes clear the inherent conflict between Adams’ view of the United States as an equal partner with France and Vergennes’ confident assumption that France would dominate the relationship. But why did a dispute over...
183137Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
The eight letters exchanged by John Adams and the Comte de Vergennes between 13 and 29 July provide a resounding climax to Adams’ diplomatic efforts at Paris in 1780. Together they constitute one of the most controversial episodes in John Adams’ diplomatic career and reveal much about his views of both the Franco-American alliance and negotiations with Great Britain. The controversy played out...
183138Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
On 22 July, John Adams sent Edmund Jenings the final portion of his reply to Joseph Galloway’s Cool Thoughts (London, 1780 [i.e. 1779]). Specifically, his reply was to the three sections of that pamphlet setting down Galloway’s views “On the Consequences to Great Britain of American Independence”; “On the Expence of Great Britain in the Settlement and Defence of the American Colonies”; and “On...
183139Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
On 28 August 1780, John Adams dined with “A Lawyer, Mr. Calcoon” ( JA, Diary and Autobiography Diary and Autobiography of John Adams , ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. , 2:446–447 ). This was a significant event in the chronicle of John Adams’ diplomatic mission to the Netherlands, for “Mr. Calcoon” was Hendrik Calkoen, whom Adams described many years later as “the...
183140Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
Congress adopted three documents 15 June that represented a major victory for French diplomacy and demonstrated the Chevalier de La Luzerne’s domination of Congress. In 1779 it had taken Congress several months to devise its peace ultimata and appoint a minister plenipotentiary to carry them out. In 1781 a congressional committee met with La Luzerne on 28 May and within eighteen days Congress...
183141Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
Disturbed by errors in the Abbé Raynal’s Révolution de l’Amérique , London, 1781, and encouraged by the abbé himself, John Adams set about composing a point by point rebuttal of Raynal’s work (to Raynal, 5 Jan. ; from Raynal, 18 Jan. , both above). Adams clearly intended to publish the following series of letters in Le politique hollandais . The fourth installment ( No. IV , below), however,...
183142Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
On 14 May 1782, two days after John Adams moved into the new American legation, John Thaxter inventoried the household furnishings. On 16 Oct., the day before Adams left The Hague for Paris and the peace negotiations, Thaxter likely reviewed his inventory, focusing on the glass- and dinnerware, to determine what had been added since 14 May or was missing or broken (see No. I, note 1 , below)....
183143Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
On 19 April the States General recognized the United States as independent and John Adams as its minister at The Hague. Four days later, to cement the relationship between the United States and a nation he hoped and expected would become an important trading partner, Adams presented a draft treaty of amity and commerce to their High Mightinesses. By 26 April the draft was translated into...
183144Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
Two separate documents are presented here. The first is derived from the printed Dutch translation of John Adams’ English draft of a treaty of amity and commerce, accompanied by “Remarques en nadere Propositie” (Remarks and Further Propositions), that was officially presented to Adams on 22 August. The Dutch translation of the draft appears in the left column. In the right column are the...
John Adams wrote two point-by-point responses to the Dutch proposals for changes to his draft treaty of amity and commerce. The first appears in the left column below and probably was done sometime between 21 May and mid-June. On 21 May the States General printed a document for the consideration of the provinces and other interested parties containing a Dutch translation of Adams’ draft in the...
183146Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
John Adams had long contemplated the manner in which the history of the American Revolution, and his role in it, should be presented to his own and succeeding generations. Adams’ care in preserving his papers and keeping Letterbooks attests to his concern that an accurate record be preserved for future historians. Since his return to Europe in late 1779, Adams frequently acted at least as a...
The drafting and dispatch of the commissioners’ 18 July letter to Robert R. Livingston has a curious history. What transpired and the consequences thereof reveal much about the relations between the commissioners, particularly John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. On 2 July, Capt. Joshua Barney delivered to Passy letters from Robert R. Livingston, most notably those of 25 March and 21 April (to...
183148Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
On 9 April 1784 John Adams drafted two letters to Samuel Osgood. They were replies to Osgood’s of 7 December 1783 and 14 January 1784 (vol. 15:398–414 , 452–455 ). Neither version was sent. Adams tried again on 30 June , below, but again did not send the letter. It was only on 13 December, after Adams had “burnt five or Six Answers,” that he finally replied to Osgood’s “excellent Letters.”...
183149Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
The draft Prussian-American commercial treaty that the Baron von Thulemeier submitted to John Adams with his letter of 9 April was the product of their meeting on 19 February, which Adams describes in his letter of the following day to Benjamin Franklin and John Jay , both above. Based on the Swedish-American treaty of 3 April 1783, the draft is interesting as the first effort by the two...
183150Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
The Prussian-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce was concluded on 10 September 1785. But negotiations began on 10 November 1784 when the American commissioners submitted a draft treaty to the Baron von Thulemeier, Prussian minister at The Hague, and were, for all intents and purposes, completed on 14 March 1785 when the commissioners sent their response to Prussian proposals for alterations...