John Adams to Abigail Adams
March 17. 1776
My dearest Friend
Our worthy Friend Frank Dana arrived here last Evening from N. York, to which Place he came lately from England in the Packet.1 In Company with him, is a Gentleman by the Name of Wrixon, who has been a Field Officer in the British Army, served all the last War in Germany, and has seen service in every Part of Europe. He left the Army some time ago, and studied Law in the Temple, in which Science he made a great Proficiency. He wrote lately a Pamphlet under the Title of the Rights of Britons, which he has brought over with him. He is a Friend of Liberty and thinks justly of the American Question. He has great Abilities as well as Experience in the military Science, and is an able Engineer. I hope We shall employ him.2
The Baron De Woedke, We have made a Brigadier General, and ordered him to Canada. The Testimonials in his favour I shall inclose to you.3
Mr. Danas Account, with which Mr. Wrixons agrees, ought to extinguish in every Mind all Hopes of Reconciliation with G. Britain. This delusive Hope has done us great Injuries, and if ever We are ruined, will be the Cause of our Fall. A Hankuring after the Leeks of Egypt, makes us forget the Cruelty of her Task Masters.
I shall suffer many severe Pains, on your Account for some Days. By a Vessell from Salem a Cannonade was heard from Dark till one O Clock, last night was a Week ago. Your Vicinity to such scenes of Carnage and Desolation, as I fear are now to be seen in Boston and its Environs, will throw you into much Distress, but I believe in my Conscience I feel more here than you do. The sound of Cannon, was not so terrible when I was at Braintree as it is here, tho I hear it at four hundred Miles Distance.
You cant imagine what a Mortification I sustain in not having received a single Line, from you since We parted. I suspect some Villany, in Conveyance.
By the Relation of Mr. Dana, Mr. Wrixon and Mr. Temple,4 Mr. Hutchinson, Mr. Sewall, and their Associates are in great Disgrace in England. Persons are ashamed to be seen to speak to them. They look dejected and sunk.
I shall inclose an Extract of a Letter from Monsr. Dubourg in Paris and a Testimonial in favour of our Prussian General. Adieu.
RC (Adams Papers). Enclosures not found.
1. Francis Dana (1743–1811), Harvard 1762, a lawyer of Cambridge, Mass., and a political moderate, had gone to England early in 1775 with notions of finding some mode of reconciliation between the ministry and Massachusetts. His observations evidently convinced him that separation was the only course. On returning home he was at once elected to the Council; in 1777 and again in 1784 he was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress. Dana accompanied JA on his second or “Peace” mission to Europe in 1779 as secretary of legation, and during 1781–1783 served as the first (but never accredited) American minister to the Russian Court at St. Petersburg, young JQA going with him as French interpreter. He was appointed an associate justice of the Supreme Judicial Court in 1785; from 1791 until his resignation in 1806 he presided as chief justice. See DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; 20 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ; Cresson, Francis Dana description begins William P. Cresson, Francis Dana: A Puritan Diplomat at the Court of Catherine the Great, New York, 1930. description ends (a rather unreliable work); and JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , passim. For many years Dana was one of JA’s most trusted correspondents; he was friendly as well with other members of the family; and he will often appear in the story of their lives as told in their correspondence. The middle name of the first Charles Francis Adams, who was born the year after Dana retired from the Massachusetts bench, signalized JQA’s respect and friendship for Dana.
2. Elias Wrixon was appointed to a colonelcy but declined it. See JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 4:219–220, 242, 275, 316; also JA’s Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:382. His “Pamphlet” has not been further identified.
3. Frederic William, Baron de Woedtke, a Prussian soldier of fortune, was appointed a brigadier general, was sent to the northern army, turned out to be a drunkard, and died in the summer of 1776 at Ticonderoga (Benjamin Rush, Letters description begins Letters of Benjamin Rush, ed. L. H. Butterfield, Princeton, 1951; 2 vols. description ends , 1:112; see the references there).