Adams Papers

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 4 August 1777

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Philadelphia August 4. 1777

My dearest Friend

Your kind Favour of July 23, came by the Post, this Morning. It revives me, to hear of your Health, and Welfare, altho I shall be, and am disappointed of a Blessing, which I hoped to enjoy. But this is the Result of Wisdom superiour to ours and must be submitted to with chearfull Resignation.

The Loss of Ti. has occasioned as loud Complaints and as keen Resentment in Philadelphia as in Boston. And Congress have determined that an Inquiry shall be made, and have ordered the Major Generals Schuyler and St. Clair, to Head Quarters and ordered M.G. Gates to relieve M.G. Schuyler.1 Lincoln and Arnold are there. These three I believe will restore our Affairs in that Department.

We have Letters from France, Spain and the West Indies, which shew that our Ground in Europe is firm, and that a War is brewing.

We have all the English Papers, till the latter End of May, which shew that Britain is in a wretched Condition indeed—their East India Affairs in Distraction, their Affrican Trade ruined and their West Indian Concerns in the Utmost Distress. Almost all their West India Planters have left in the Kingdom in Despair.2

Their Scavengers of the Streets of Germany have been able to rake together, but a little Filth.

Where How is going No Astroleger can determine. He has left the Capes of Delaware and where he is gone no one can tell.—We expect to hear from him at the North River, or at Rhode Island, but cant tell when.

I, for my Part am very homesick, but I will not leave the Field untill the Campaign is ended—unless I should fall sick. This horrid Hot Weather melts my Marrow within my Bones, and makes me faint away almost. I have no other Way to keep alive, but by Abstinence from Eating and drinking. I should not live a Month if I did not starve myself. When I come home I shall be an Epicure.

Tell Tom, I would give a Guinea to have him climb upon my shoulder, and another to chase him into his Jail.—My Love to all the rest. I will write them as soon as I can. I wrote Mr. Thaxter inclosing Letters to the Court and Bar. Has he received them?3

RC (Adams Papers).

1These important measures, in which JA was very much concerned, were the nub of the “Business [which] thickens, and presses” alluded to in the preceding letter. On 30 July and 1 Aug. respectively, Congress had ordered St. Clair and Schuyler back to Washington’s headquarters, and on the latter day JA and four others were appointed a committee “to digest and report the mode of conducting the enquiry [voted 29 July] into the reasons of the evacuation of Ticonderoga and Fort Independence, and into the conduct of the officers who were in the northern department at the time of the evacuation” (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 8:585, 590, 596). The subject was a difficult one, Congress was sharply divided on it, and much of Congress’ as well as JA’s time in the following weeks was given to it. The only visible progress made was a vote on 27 Aug. to conduct a much more elaborate inquiry, and on the 28th Henry Laurens, R. H. Lee, and JA were named the members of a committee to do so. See same, p. 653, 659, 668–669, 681–687, 688. The investigation and its sequels lasted until long after JA had left Congress; see Burnett’s valuable notes in Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress, Washington, 1921–1936; 8 vols. description ends , 2:458, 469.

On 2 Aug. JA had also been appointed, with four others, “to take into consideration the state of the northern department,” to “confer with General Washington,” and to “report as soon as possible.” Losing no time, this committee next day recommended, and Congress resolved, that Washington be requested to appoint Schuyler’s successor. But Washington declined, and on the 4th Congress elected Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates to command the northern army. See JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 8:599, 600, 603–604; also JA to AA, 7 Aug., below.

2Thus in MS. Probably JA meant: “have left the Kingdom in Despair.”

3These letters were received and they accomplished their purpose, but they have not been found; see Thaxter to JA, 4 June, above, and note 3 there.

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