Adams Papers

To John Adams from James Bowdoin, 11 January 1781

From James Bowdoin

Boston Jany. 11. 1781

My dear Sir

Your Letter of March last I have but lately received. It was Sent by the Post, I suppose from Newport. When the Gentleman you recom­mend in it, Monsr. Petry, comes here, it will give me pleasure to make Boston agreable to him.1

I wish we could have had more of your assistance in compleating the plan of government. Some of the alterations made in it after you left us, were by no means for the better. The whole of it, as laid before the Several Towns, was pretty generally adopted: excepting two or three Articles, particularly the one, which related to religion. However they all had the required proportion of voters.2 The era of the new government commenced accidentally, on the anniversary of the death of his late majesty George II: which some good people think a happy omen, indicating a perpetual end to regal government in these States.3

Be so good as to accept one of the enclosed pamphlets; and to deliver the other to Mr. Dana, with my Compliments.4

I have the honour to be with every expression of regard Dear Sir Yr most obedt. hble serv.

James Bowdoin

RC (Adams Papers).

1JA’s letter of 18 March 1780 (LbC, Adams Papers) is not printed. For its content, see JA’s nearly identical letter of the same date to James Warren, and note 1 (vol. 9:63–64).

2Bowdoin refers specifically to Art. III of the Declaration of Rights in the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, which mandated state support for religion. That provision was not JA’s work, but rather that of the committee on whose behalf he had drafted the document. The controversial nature of the article led to its being rewritten by the full convention, but even then it remained unpopular. Indeed, although the entire constitution was declared ratified, Art. III did not receive the two-thirds vote necessary for ratification (vol. 8:238, 262–263).

3Election day occurred on 25 Oct. 1780, the 20th anniversary of George II’s death.

4This was probably A Philosophical Discourse, Addressed to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . . ., Boston, 1780, which Bowdoin delivered on 8 Nov. at his installation as the first president of the Academy and which he apparently sent to Benjamin Franklin in a letter of this same date (Franklin, Papers description begins The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Leonard W. Labaree, William B. Willcox (from vol. 15), Claude A. Lopez (vol. 27), Barbara B. Oberg (from vol. 28), Ellen R. Cohn (from vol. 36), and others, New Haven, 1959– . description ends , 34:264–265).

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