Adams Papers
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To John Adams from James Warren, 19 December 1780

From James Warren

Plymo: Decr. 19th: 1780

My dear Sir

Having wrote you so often and so fully1 I presume you would readily Excuse me if I omitted this Opportunity more especially as I am at a distance from the Capital, and have no certain News to hand you, but that Admiral de Ternay died a few days ago of a fever after a few days Illness, which perhaps may have been Occasioned by Chagrin and disappointment.2 It is also reported here that Cornwallis with 4000 Men have been surrounded by our Troops in Carolina and taken Prisoners.3 If this should prove true, it will be a great Stroke, and damp the Joy in England on the Acquisition of Charlestown.

Our New Goverment has been Ushered in with Great Splendor. Balls, Assemblies, Entertainments and Feasts equal to any thing you can tell of in Europe. The silly feelings of Compassion for the distresses of the Country, and the wants and sufferings of the Army have little to do in the Capital. The whirl of pleasure and Amusement has taken into its Vortex the Deacons and the other good People who seldom used to be seen in public but at their Devotions. Whether you will find good Deacon I——rs and good Mr. Scol——y in the dancing or drawing room at a Game of Whist or leading down a Country Dance is uncertain, but if the present G——r is in office on your return you may possibly find them in one or the other.4

We are Trying to get an Army for the war or 3 years.5 I hope to succeed. I shall write you more by the next Conveyance.6 Permit me to trouble you with the Inclosed Letter, and to Ask you to tell me how my Son does, and if his Conduct meets your Approbation. Accept Mrs. Warren’s regards, & believe me to be Your Sincere Friend & Humbl. Servt.

J Warren

RC (Adams Papers).

1Warren’s last letter was of 22 Nov. (above).

2Ternay had died on 15 Dec. at Newport (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence description begins Jonathan R. Dull, The French Navy and American Independence: A Study of Arms and Diplomacy, 1774–1787, Princeton, 1975. description ends , p. 222). Warren’s comment regarding his death probably refers to the fact that since its arrival at Newport in July, Ternay’s fleet had undertaken no offensive action.

3Warren’s source for this erroneous report is unknown.

4Warren here continues his criticism of John Hancock’s gubernatorial administration and the events surrounding its inauguration. “Deacon I—rs” remains unidentified; “Mr. Scol—y” is presumably John Scollay, Boston merchant and selectman.

5Warren hoped that Massachusetts would fulfill the General Court’s resolve of 2 Dec. to raise 4,240 men to supply the Commonwealth’s quota for the Continental Army, each soldier to serve for three years or the duration of the war (Mass., Acts and Laws description begins Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1780–1805, Boston, 1890–1898; 13 vols. description ends , 1:190–201).

6James Warren apparently did not write again until 4–19 June 1781 (Adams Papers); see JA’s letter to Warren of 9 Dec., note 5 (above).

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