Adams Papers

From John Adams to Joseph Palmer, 20 June 1775

To Joseph Palmer

Phyladelphia June 20th. 1775

Dr Sir

We send you for your Comfort the Generals Washington and Lee with Commissions for Ward and Putnam: together with a Vote to Support about twenty thousand Men, for the present, fifteen Thousands in Mass. and 5000 in New York.

We have voted to issue Bills of Credit to the amount of two Million Dollars, and must, I suppose, vote to issue a great deal more.1

I hope a good account will be given of Gage, Haldiman,2 Burgoine, Clinton and How, before Winter. Such a Wretch as How, with a Statue in Honour of his family in Westminster Abbey, erected by the Massachusetts to come over with a Design to cutt the Throats of the Mass. People, is too much.3 I most Sincerely and cooly, and devoutly wish that a lucky Ball, or Bayonet may make a Signal Example of him, for a Warning to Such, unprincipled, unsentimental Miscreants for the future.

I think We shall have an ample Variety of able experienced officers, in our Army. Such as may form Soldiers and officers, enough to keep up a Succession for the Defence of America for ages. Our Camp will be an illustrious School of military Virtue and will be resorted to and frequented by Gentlemen in great Numbers, from the other Colonies as such—great Things, are in the Womb of Providence—great Prosperity or adversity, perhaps both: the latter first perhaps.

My Love and Compliments and Duty where due, especially to your Family, Mr. Cranch’s and my own. I am your Friend.

John Adams

RC (PHC: Charles Roberts Autograph Coll.); addressed: “To Joseph Palmer Esqr of Braintree at the Provincial Congress Watertown favoured by General Washington”; docketed: “Honble John Adams Esqr 1775.”

1See JA to Elbridge Gerry, 18 June, note 2 (above).

2Gen. Frederic Haldimand (1718–1791), of Swiss origin and second in command to Gage, was recalled and left Boston the day before the Battle of Bunker Hill. Dartmouth feared having a foreigner take over in the event Gage was disabled (DNB description begins Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., The Dictionary of National Biography, New York and London, 1885–1900; 63 vols. plus supplements. description ends ; French, First Year description begins Allen French, The First Year of the American Revolution, Boston, 1934. description ends , p. 207–208).

3JA is referring to George Augustus Viscount Howe (1724–1758), the older brother of William and Richard Howe, who distinguished himself during the French and Indian War, and whose death in an ill-fated expedition against Fort Ticonderoga in 1758 so affected the people of Massachusetts that in 1759 the General Court appropriated £250 for a memorial in Westminster Abbey. This affection for Viscount Howe and William Howe’s statement in 1774 that he would not accept a command in America left Americans ill-prepared for William’s arrival to serve under Gage. JA and others in Massachusetts felt betrayed (James Austin Holden, New Historical Light on the Real Burial Place of George Augustus Lord Viscount Howe, repr. from Trans, of the N.Y. State Historical Assoc., 10 [1911]: 9–13, 67–69; Ira D. Gruber, The Howe Brothers and the American Revolution, N.Y., 1972, p. 51–52, 58).

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