John Adams to Abigail Adams
York Town Octr. 25. 1777
My best Friend
This Town is a small one, not larger than Plymouth.—There are in it, two German Churches, the one Lutheran, the other Calvinistical. The Congregations are pretty numerous, and their Attendance upon public Worship is decent. It is remarkable that the Germans, wherever they are found, are carefull to maintain the public Worship, which is more than can be said of the other Denominations of Christians, this Way. There is one Church here erected by the joint Contributions of Episcopalians and Presbyterians, but the Minister, who is a Missionary, is confined for Toryism, so that they have had for a long Time no publick Worship. . . .1 Congress have appointed two Chaplains, Mr. White and Mr. Duffield, the former of whom an Episcopalian is arrived and opens Congress with Prayers every Day.2 The latter is expected every Hour. Mr. Duche I am sorry to inform you has turned out an Apostate and a Traytor. Poor Man! I pitty his Weakness, and detest his Wickedness.3
As to News, We are yet in a painfull Suspense about Affairs at the Northward, but from Philadelphia, We have Accounts that are very pleasing. Commodore Hazelwood, with his Gallies, and Lt. Coll. Smith in the Garrison of Fort Mifflin, have behaved in a manner the most gallant and glorious. They have defended the River, and the Fort with a Firmness and Perseverance, which does Honour to human Nature.4
If the News from the Northward is true, Mr. Howe will scarcely venture upon Winter Quarters in Philadelphia.
We are waiting, for News, from Rhode Island.
I am wearied with the Life I lead, and long for the Joys of my Family. God grant I may enjoy it, in Peace. Peace is my dear Delight. War has no Charms for me.—If I live much longer in Banishment I shall scarcely know my own Children.
Tell my little ones, that if they will be very good, Pappa will come home.
RC (Adams Papers).
1. Suspension points in MS.
2. Rev. (later Bishop) William White and Rev. George Duffield had been appointed chaplains to Congress on 1 Oct. (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 8:756).
3. On Rev. Jacob Duché, Congress’ first chaplain in 1774, see JA to AA, 16 Sept. 1774, above, and note 3 there. His eventually notorious letter to Washington, dated at Philadelphia, 8 Oct., urging him to negotiate for peace at once and asking him “Are the Dregs of a Congress, then, still to influence a mind like yours?” was forwarded by Washington to Congress in a letter of 16 Oct. (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick description begins The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745–1799, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, Washington, 1931–1944; 39 vols. description ends , 9:382–383). The original is in PCC, No. 152, V; a copy in John Thaxter’s hand was enclosed in Thaxter to AA, 20 Jan. 1778, printed below, and is in Adams Papers. Duché’s letter was read in Congress on the 20th, and although it provoked private cries of outrage, the members thought it best treated with official silence (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 9:822; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress, Washington, 1921–1936; 8 vols. description ends , 2:523, note, 526–527, 538). All the relevant correspondence was gathered and published, with useful commentary, by Worthington C. Ford in The Washington-Duché Letters, Brooklyn, 1890.
4. In mid-October Commodore John Hazelwood of the Pennsylvania navy and Lt. Col. Samuel Smith of Maryland, commanding at Fort Mifflin on the Delaware, repulsed British attacks designed to open supply lines to Philadelphia. On 4 Nov. these two officers were voted swords by Congress (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 9:862).