Adams Papers

To John Adams from Nathan Rice, 10 December 1777

From Nathan Rice

Albany Decr. 10th: 1777

My dear Sir

Permit me to congratulate you on your return to your family and frends, of which I am advertised by the weekly Gazette.1

It must afford not less satisfaction to the state in general to have your presence and council at this critical period, on the transactions of which depend its future happiness and tranquility—than it does to your family and private connections, to imbrace after a tedious absence, the tender companion kind parent, and generous Friend.

When I hold up to view the welfare, and prosperity of the continent in general, to those of a single state or family—I’m at a loss whether most to rejoice at your return to Massachusetts or regret your absence from Congress.

It will ever remain a singular mark of honor to you, and a convincing proof of your Patriotism and attachment to the liberty and happiness of Mankind that no sinister views or private concerns, could call your attention from Congress untill you had not only effected the union of the Colonies, but formed a plan2 which will both confirm that union and render it indissoluble—that being now sent forth for the acceptance of the states. God grant it may meet their speedy and hearty approbation.

The public (of whose gratitude however I do not entertain the most exalted idea) must ever acknowledge the great services you have rendered them; and however you may not think convenient to contribute further to their happiness in that exalted station you have ever held since the commencment of the dispute, yet the same virtuous principle and generous sentiments, which have heitherto stimulated you to further the cause of mankind in general will still induce you to serve that state with which you are particularly connected, and which now in an important manner calls for the exertion of your abilities.

A Constitution is now forming3—a supreme Majistrate is to be appointed—a post of the greatest honor and importance to be confered on an individual. The popular manner in which this is to be done is perhaps the best which at this crisis could have been adopted: Caprices and trifleing accidents too often actuate and govern the populace. Alarmed at this truth, I felt the most sencible pleasure on the news of your arrival in Boston persuaded that your prudence and advice would prevent the many dangerous extravagancies of so popular a measure. Happy must it be for the good people of Massachusetts should they make chose of  4the gentleman to whom they are so greatly indebted, and who without pomp or pageantry, superiour to the wiles of a courtier or the applause of individuals would study to promote the happiniss and gain the approbation of his countrymen by a steady adhearance to the principles of vir[tue and] justice.

I hope it may not be [long] before I shall have the pleasure personally to pay you my respects, as the wound in my General’s leg is in such a state as to promise his return home in the latter end of January when I shall attend him.5 He desires his particular regards to you. To his permit me to add my own to Mrs. Adams and the family with my warmest wishes for their prosperity and happiness. I am Sir with the utmost regard and esteem your most obt. Servt.


RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honble John Adams Esqr. at his seat in Braintree”; docketed: “Mr Rice”; in JA’s late hand: “Rice 10 Decr. 1777.” MS has two small holes.

1On 1 Dec. the Boston Gazette noted the arrival from the congress of Samuel Adams and JA.

2The final version of the Articles of Confederation was not adopted until 15 Nov., several days after JA left the congress, but JA did make a contribution to the extended debates shaping the Articles (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 9:907; Introduction, above).

3The General Court, acting as a constitutional convention, had named a committee to write a draft of a constitution, which submitted its report on 11 Dec. Accepted by the convention in early 1778, this constitution was rejected by the people voting in their towns (Taylor, ed., Massachusetts, Colony to Commonwealth description begins Robert J. Taylor, ed., Massachusetts, Colony to Commonwealth: Documents on the Formation of Its Constitution, 1775–1780, Chapel Hill, 1961. description ends , p. 48–49).

4Left blank in the MS.

5Rice, former law clerk to JA, was aide de camp to Benjamin Lincoln, who was wounded in the preliminary skirmishes before Saratoga (Heitman, Register Continental Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, new edn., Washington, 1914. description ends , p. 465; Ward, War of the Revolution description begins Christopher Ward, The War of the Revolution, New York, 1952; 2 vols. description ends , 2:532).

Index Entries