Adams Papers

John Adams to Charles Adams, 24 December 1794

John Adams to Charles Adams

Philadelphia Decr 24. 1794

Dear Charley

Our Patriots are so anxious lest Aristocracy should take root, that I wonder they do not eradicate all the seeds of it. instead of Addressing Mr Speaker, they should address Freddy Mulenbourg— instead of talking of the Gentleman from Virginia they should quote Billy Giles &c &c &c

The Purity of this Symplicity has always appeared among Insurgents. In Chaises and Bradfords Patriotick Efforts I dare say that Gaffer and Gammar, Mr and Mrs were laid aside.1

There is an historical Poem or Chronicle of the Insurrection in the Reign of Richard the Second, written by Sir John Gower, in which this delicious Naivete, this beautiful Simplicity is perfectly preserved. The Title of the Poem is Vox clamantis.

The following Catalogue of the Leaders of the Insurgents is inimitable, but it ought as far as possible to be imitated, by our modern Insurgents.

Watte vocat, cui Thome venit, neque Symme retardat,

Bitteque, Gibbe, Simul Hykke, venire jubent.

Colle furit, quem Gibbe juvat nocumenta parantes,

Cum quibus ad damnum Wille coire vovit.

Grippe rapit, dum Daive Strepit, comes est quibus Hobbe

Lorkin, et in medio non minor esse putat.

Hudde ferit quos Judde terit, dum Tibbe juvatur

Jakke domos que viros vellit, et ense necat &c &c.2

When this or something like it, Shall be adopted as a Model for the Debates of our Legislators, We may hope that We shall be out of Danger of Titles and Aristocracy.

This must be quite a Secret between you and me: but I will laugh a little with my Children at least, at the Follies of the Times.


RC (MHi:Seymour Coll.).

1That is, Daniel Shays of Shays’ Rebellion in Massachusetts in 1786, and David Bradford of the recent Whiskey Rebellion. Bradford (b. ca. 1760), a lawyer and deputy attorney general for Washington County, Penn., became one of the leaders of the rebellion. In Oct. 1794 George Washington’s troops were ordered to arrest Bradford, but he escaped into the wilderness and eventually made his way to Louisiana, where he lived out the remainder of his life (Slaughter, Whiskey Rebellion, description begins Thomas P. Slaughter, The Whiskey Rebellion: Frontier Epilogue to the American Revolution, New York, 1986. description ends p. 183–185, 216, 267).

2Wat calls, Tom comes to him, and Sim does not loiter behind. Bet and Gib order Hick to come at once. Col rages, whom Geff helps to do damage. Will swears to join with them for mischief. Grigg grabs, while Daw roars and Hobb is their partner, and Lorkin intends no less to be in the thick of things. Hudd strikes while Tebb threatens those whom Judd tramples on. Jack tears down houses and kills men with his sword (John Gower, Vox Clamantis [The Voice of One Crying], ch. 11, in The Major Latin Works of John Gower, transl. Eric W. Stockton, Seattle, 1962, p. 67).

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