Adams Papers

To John Adams from Joseph Palmer, 31 October 1775

From Joseph Palmer

Watertown, October 31st. 1775

Dear Sir

Herewith you have a Copy of the Account of the Battle of Charlestown;1 the other matters will be attended to as soon as possible; That there has been an unreasonable delay, is not owing to J. P.; he is employ’d in signing &c. the Bills of Credit, which takes up, as he thinks, too much of his time.

There has been a Sample of Lead-Oar, which has been assayed, and turns out 50 per cent Lead: I am endeavouring to obtain a Committee of Court, to go upon the Spot, and to have it assayed there in their presence, they to report the prospect of Quantity and Quality, Situation for working &c., &c.2 I also send a considerable number of Samples of Oars, which I received from Mr. E. Quincy of Sto[ughtonha]m:3 with directions to forward them to Mr. Hancock, to whom I shall therefore send them: That there are plenty of good Lead-Mines and others in this Colony, I am fully satisfied; and if the Colony, or Continent, wou’d give Such a price for the Lead and other Mettle, which shou’d involve in it a Sufficient bounty, above the common rates, and for a Sufficient length of time to encourage adventurers, I think it wou’d answer all reasonable expectations: In that case, I wou’d again write to England by the first opportunity, and hope we might Succeed so far, as to obtain both Miners and Smelters from thence, provided the Controversy between G.B. and the Cs., does not prevent it. This leads me to Say, what I have not mention’d to you before, That had not this controversy prevented, we Shou’d have had many Families from Derbyshire Sent over hither, of both Branches,4 last Spring; they were all engaged, and prepared to come, but were prevented by this unnatural Quarrel: This is a fact you may depend upon.

Since the above, a Committee is appointed to make farther enquiry into the Lead-Oar first mention’d; of this Committee I am one, and intend to go to the Spot next Week, if possible: The result you will be acquainted with in proper time.

Mr. Revere carries from hence a Budget of Letters &c., taken in a Vessel from Ireland, little Capt. Robins of Bulls Wharf, Master;5 I hope your Congress will think there are very important matters contained in it—a Proclamation by the King, in which we are all called Rebels—Letters mentioning a Declaration of War against us—Many Troops, 5 Regiments &c. this fall (some of these we Suppose are arrived)—Russians, Prussians, Hessians, Hanoverians, &c. in abundance next Spring! How long is this Continent to hope for a reconciliation with G B? When will be the proper time to open our Ports to one or more other Nations? How long are we to be embarrassed and plagued with our vile Monarchical Charters? And when will the Congress give leave to all the United Colonies to take any form of Government they may respectively best like, not inconsistant with the General Union, of which the Congress to judge?

Our prospect for Salt-petre rises very fast, and I think we Shall do very well with it;6 But apprehend we Shall need further supplys, large supplys, of Powder before we shall have enough of own Manufacture.

J. Adams, W. Cushing, W. Read, R. T. Paine, and N. P. Sargeant, J[ustices] of the S[uperior] C[ourt]. J.A. must not refuse us, it wou’d hurt us greatly.

I hope to write you again after my return from the Lead-Mine. Pray exert your Selves now to break off the Fetters of T——ny for the Colonies. I wish your whole Congress cou’d See our distress; ’twill distract us, if not liberated. Many of our Friends in Boston are likely to come out as ’tis said; I think that the expected hunger, will give them liberty. A large Canal cut across, by the Haymarket, from Sea to Sea, and a large Breastwork. Adieu, May God bless and direct you all. So Pray your

J. Palmer

RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Palmer. Octr 31. 1775.”

1See the Committee of Safety’s account, 25 July (above).

2No record of such a special committee has been found. The matter may have been referred to the existing committee on lead and salt, of which Palmer was a member (see JA to John Winthrop, 2 Oct., note 4, above).

3Probably Edmund Quincy (1726–1782). Stoughtonham is now Sharon, Mass.

4Palmer and Cranch branches? Palmer had married the sister of Richard Cranch, bosom friend of JA. The Cranches and Palmers had emigrated from towns in Devon (JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 1:140, note 1; 3:209). Or it may be that Palmer was referring to family connections in Derbyshire.

5The letters, written from Cork, Ireland, to British officers in Boston, were taken from the schooner Two Sisters, under Capt. Robbins, which was captured and brought into Beverly on 7 Nov. The General Court, after examining the seized papers and showing copies to Washington, dispatched them to the congress in care of Paul Revere. They were read before the congress on 20 Nov. The documents, which were extracted in the Boston Gazette on 13 Nov. and in the Pennsylvania Gazette on 22 and 29 Nov., as well as in other papers throughout the colonies, reflected both sympathy and hostility to the American cause but, in their overall effect, indicated that Britain would follow a hard line and supported JA’s contention that attempts at reconciliation were useless. The King’s proclamation for “suppressing rebellion and sedition” of 23 Aug. 1775, was unequivocal in its stand (James Otis to John Hancock, 11 Nov., PCC, No. 65, I; JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 3:360; 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 , 4:82; also extracts from the letters in Force, Archives description begins [Peter Force, ed.,] American Archives: Consisting of a Collection of Authentick Records, State Papers, Debates, and Letters and Other Notices of Publick Affairs, Washington, 1837–1853; 9 vols. description ends , 4th ser., 3:167–169).

6Probably a reference to the action of the General Court on 31 Oct. and 1 Nov. in appointing a four-man committee to find a reliable method of manufacturing saltpeter by 15 Dec. (Mass., House Jour. description begins Journals of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts [1715- ], Boston, reprinted by the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1919- . (For the years for which reprints are not yet available, the original printings are cited, by year and session.) description ends , 1775–1776, 2d sess., p. 215, 218–219).

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