Adams Papers

From John Adams to James Warren, 22 December 1773

To James Warren

Boston Der. 22. 1773

Dr Sir

Yesterday, the Governor called a Council at Cambridge. Eight Members met at Brattles. This no doubt was concerted last Saturday, at Neponsit Hill, where Brattle and Russell dined, by Way of Caucass I Suppose.

Sewall dined with their Honours Yesterday. But Behold what a falling off, was there. The Governor, who last Fryday, was fully persuaded, and told the Council, that some late Proceedings were high Treason, and promised them the Attendance of the Attorny General to prove it to them out of Law Books; now, Such is his Alacrity in Sinking, was rather of Opinion they were Burglary. I Suppose he meant what we call New England Burglary—that is breaking open a shop or ship &c which is punished with Branding, &c.

But The Council, thought it would look rather awkward, to issue a Proclamation against the whole Comunity, and therefore contented them Selves with ordering Mr Attorney to prosecute such as he should knew or be informed of.

They have advised a Prorogation of Gen. Ct. for a fortnight.1

It is whispered that the Sachem has it in Contemplation to go home Soon,2 and perhaps the Prorogation is to give him time to get away. Few think he will meet the House again.

The Spirit of Liberty is very high in the Country and universal. Worcester is aroused. Last Week, a Monument to Liberty was erected there in the Heart of the Town within a few Yards of Coll Chandlers Door.3 A Gentn. of as good Sense and Character as any in that County told me this day, that nothing, which has been ever done is more universally approved, applauded and admired than these last Efforts. He Says, that whole Towns in the County were on Tiptoe to come down.

Make my Compliments to Mrs Warren and tell her that I want a poetical Genius.—to describe a late Frolic among the Sea Nymphs and Goddesses. There being a scarcity of Nectar and Ambrosia, among the Celestials of the sea, Neptune has determined to substitute Hyson and Congo, and for some of the inferiour Divinities Bohea. Amphitrite, one of his Wives, vizt the Land, and Salacia, another of his Wives the Sea went to pulling Caps upon the occasion, but Salacia prevailed.

The syrens should be introduced somehow. I cant tell how and Proteus, a son of Neptune, who could some times flow like Water, and sometimes burn like Fire bark like a Dog howl like Wolf, whine like an Ape, Cry like a Crokadile, or roar like a Lyon. But for want of this Same Poetical Genius I can do nothing. I wish to See a late glorious Event, celebrated, by a certain poetical Pen, which has no equal that I know of in this Country.4

We are anxious for the Safety of the Cargo at Province Town.5 Are there no Vineyard, Mashpee, Metapoiset Indians, do you think who will take the Care of it, and protect it from Violence. I mean from the Hands of Tyrants and oppressors who want to do Violence with it, to the Laws and Constitution, to the present Age and to Posterity.

I hope you have had an happy aniversary Festival.6 May a double Portion of the Genius and Spirit of our forefathers rest upon us and our Posterity.

I am yr friend,

John Adams

RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); addressed: “To the Honble. James Warren Esqr. Plymouth”; endorsed.

1In the weeks before the Boston Tea Party, Gov. Thomas Hutchinson had found the Council to be of little aid. When Boston’s committee of correspondence called a meeting for 29 Nov., Hutchinson “went early to town and met the Council who declined advising to any measure respecting this unlawful assembly” (Hutchinson to Earl of Dartmouth, 2 Dec. 1773, Docs. of Amer. Rev. description begins K. G. Davies, ed., Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783, Shannon and Dublin, 1972– . description ends , 6:249). As threats against the tea consignees increased, he ignored the Council because, he explained to Dartmouth, “to cause them to be convened and to obtain no other advice than they gave before would tend to strengthen and confirm the people in their extravagances” (letter of 15 Dec., same, p. 252).

Only after the Tea Party did the Governor again try to rally the Council. On the morning of 17 Dec., he “sent expresses . . . before sunrise to summon a Council to meet me at Boston,” but the “indisposition of three of them” made a quorum impossible (Hutchinson to Dartmouth, 17 Dec., same, p. 256). Hutchinson then called for a meeting the next day at his country home in Milton. That Saturday, 18 Dec., only three councilors, William Brattle, James Russell, and James Humphreys, joined him at his retreat at Neponset Hill, and the Governor was forced to call still another meeting for Tuesday, 21 Dec., at Brattle’s home in Cambridge. Eight members attended and, after “long debate,” advised Atty. Gen. Jonathan Sewall “to make diligent inquiry into the offence aforesaid, in order to discover the offenders, and that he lay his discoveries before the Grand Jury” of Suffolk co. for prosecution (M-Ar: Executive Council Records, 16:748–749).

2A reference to Hutchinson’s expected resignation, about which JA had heard from Catharine Macaulay (Aug. 1773, above).

3For a sketch of Col. John Chandler (1721–1800), of Worcester, and his family, see JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 1:2.

4For Mrs. Warren’s response to this suggestion, see her letters to AA, 19 Jan. and 27 Feb. 1774, Adams Family Correspondence description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1963– . description ends , 1:93, 100–103.

5JA is expressing concern here for the custody of the tea chests in the brig William, which ran aground at Provincetown on 10 Dec. He hoped that neighborhood “Indians” would keep the cargo from the hands of the consignees, but the patriots were outwitted by Jonathan Clarke, who saved the tea and brought it safely by water to Castle William (Benjamin W. Labaree, The Boston Tea Party, N.Y., 1964, p. 150).

6Celebration of the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth on 11 Dec. 1620, o.s., inaccurately converted to 22 Dec., N.S., when celebration of the anniversary began at Plymouth in 1769. Only ten days should have been added (William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation, 1620–1647, Boston, 1912, 1:176–177, note 2).

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