To John Winthrop
Philadelphia Octr. 2. 1775
I do myself the Honour of writing you, a very few Lines, just for the Sake of introducing to you, the Gentlemen who compose a Committee of this Congress, who are to consult with your Honorable Board,1 about a Plan for continuing the Army.
I conjecture that the Reduction of the Pay of the private Soldiers, and the Introduction of Some Gentlemen from other Colonies, into the Service as officers will be principal objects.
The Pay of the Privates is generally, if not universally thought to be too high, especially in Winter:2 but whether a Reduction of it would not give Such a Disgust as to endanger the Service, I dont know. If The War Should continue, and their Pay is not reduced this Fall this Congress, will certainly reduce it next Spring, and in a Way that will perhaps be dangerous, at least attended with many Inconveniences. This Way will be by each Colony furnishing its Quota of Men as well as Money.
The other Thing that is wished by many, is not so reasonable. It is altogether Absurd to Suppose, that the Council of Massachusetts, should appoint Gentlemen from the southern Colonies, when Connecticutt, Rhode Island and N. Hampshire do not. But it is idle to expect it of either.
The Council, if they are Men of Honour cannot appoint Gentlemen whom they dont know, to command Regiments or Companies in their service. Nor can they pay a Regard to any Recommendation of Strangers, to the Exclusion of Persons whom they know. Besides it is certain that the Massachusetts has Numbers of Gentlemen, who have no Command in the Army at all, and who would now be glad to get in, who are better qualified, with Knowledge both of Theory and Practice than any who can be had upon the Continent. They have been more in War, and longer in the study of it. Besides can it be Supposed that the private Men will be easy to be commanded by Strangers to the Exclusion of Gentlemen, whom they know being their Neighbours. It is moreover a Reflection, and would be a Disgrace upon that Province to send abroad for Commanders of their own Men. It would Suppose that it had not Men fit for officers than which nothing can be further from the Truth.3
But I must desist: We have heard nothing from the Committee appointed to write to Us, as yet, nor from that about Lead and salt.4
I pray you sir that We may have, the Accounts and Vouchers sent Us, that our poor suffering Province, may obtain a Reimbursement. I am, with great Respect &c.
RC (MHi:JA-John Winthrop Corr.); addressed: “The Hon. John Winthrop Esqr. L.L.D. Cambridge favoured by Mr. Lynch”; docketed: “Mr. Adams 2 Oct. 1775.”
1. Winthrop was a member of the Council at this time.
3. JA is putting himself in opposition to Washington’s position that the army be truly continental and that competent officers be assigned regardless of their home colonies. Washington particularly wanted to find places for qualified officers from outside New England (French, First Year description begins Allen French, The First Year of the American Revolution, Boston, 1934. description ends , p. 506).
4. The committee named to correspond with the delegates in the congress was composed of William Sever, Jedediah Foster, and Joseph Palmer from the Council, joined by Richard Devens, George Partridge, Isaac Lothrop, and Elbridge Gerry from the House. The committee on lead and salt included Benjamin Greenleaf, Eldad Taylor, and Joseph Palmer of the Council, and Col. Nathaniel Freeman, Capt. Jonathan Greenleaf, Dr. William Whiting, and William Story of the House (Records of the States, Microfilm, Mass. A.1a, Reel No. 12, Unit 1, p. 153–154, 121–122).