Adams Papers

Stephen Badger to John Adams, 30 Nov. 1786

Natick 30th Novr: 1786—


Although I have not been wholly unknown to you and it is possible that upon recollection you may have some remembrance of me, and notwithstanding your known friendship for the clergy of your native country and your disposition to afford any assistance in your power to those who may stand in need of it yet considering your public character, the high office you sustain and the magnitude and importance of those national objects which call for and in a great measure engross your attention, I should not have presumed to address your excellency in this manner on some comparatively little matters relating to myself & to my decent & comfortable subsistence during the remaining part of my journey through life, if it had not been proposed to me by Mr. Storer who is my worthy friend as well as yours and who by being treasurer of Harvard University and [one] of the commissioners of the New England company in London for the propagation of the gospel in N. England & parts adjacent in America & who I know has corresponded with you since your residence in Europe—I shall therefore without any further introduction and as briefly as possible give you a representation of my case & circumstances which occasion my giving you the trouble of this letter and also let you know what are my wishes in consequence of it & what assistance I have to request of you Sir, so far as it may be in your power to help me—In 1753 I gave up certain prospects which it was well known were far from being unfavorable and upon the votes of the commissioners in Boston and upon the Faith of their constituents who are the governor & company in London for the propagation of the gospel &c, consented to settle in this place as a christian minister, said commissioners being authorized by the express terms of their commission “on the behalf of the said company & their Successors to treat contract & agree with such ministers &c for such salaries wages allowances & recompences made given & paid or to be from time to time made given & paid to them & every of them for their labour pains & industry taken or to be taken by them & every of them in the duties & employments aforesaid &c & to content pay & satisfy all such contracts bargains & agreements & all salaries wages & allowances to such ministers &c as they shall so contract & agree with &c out of such mony &c as shall from time to time be sent consigned remitted or made over <to> unto the said commissrs. or any three of them out of England or any other the dominion of our now gracious sovereign King George the second his heirs & successors by the said company & their their successors unto New England aforesaid or any the parts adjacent in America aforesaid & also to do perform & execute all & every other act & acts matter & things whatsoever which shall or may any way tend or conduce to the promoting of the gospel of Christ unto and among said heathen natives” &c—In consequence of such delegated powers said commissrs. entred into a contract with me to pay me £25. Sterlg Pr Ann. upon my Settling & during my continuance in the ministry in this place, which Sum I regularly recd. as it became due before the American war and after its commencement, though less regularly until 1780, since which nothing has been transmitted to me, and we have lately had intelligence that in the month of June last the company by a large majority of Votes Resolved to transfer their correspondence to New Brunswick which some of the missionaries are informed of by Letter from the company’s secretary William Lane Esqr and that the grants that have been made to them since May 1779 (at which time there was a Resolve passed by the company “that they would pay no more draughts until peace order & good government were restored” which resolve they are told “had been confirmed by several subsequent courts)" were made from motives of bounty & compassion & that they did consider themselves as any longer bound in point of debt to any of their missionaries, but that nevertheless since that time from the same motives, of bounty & compassion they ordered one of them several sums and that at their last genl. court from the same motives ordered him (whose letter from Mr. Lane this is extracted from) a certain sum which he is told he is to consider as a final dissmission & after which he is never to expect any thing more from them”—As it appears by a letter from the honble. Richard Jackson Esqr to Isaac Smith Esqr dated 24th June last & lately recd. “that the question relating to the removal of their board of Commissrs. had for a long time been agitated in the company,” & as every arrival for several years past led me to apprehend & even to conclude that the company were at the eve of decision relating thereto, I did not make any kind of application on my own account, supposing it would be too late to have any effect, & supposing that the missionaries would be equally considered according to their respective stipends when the company should come to determination, but to my great mortification, I am totally disappointed, there being no account of any orders to the company, treasurer A. Champion Esqr. to pay any Sum to me although it could not but have been known that I had a place in the list of their missionaries and stand in as much need of being considered as any of them if not in more as I have continued in the service to the present time, not having conceived myself at liberty to quit it, in full expectation that my annual stipend would be transmitted to me in some way or other, & therefore have waited with patience & in silence for it. But I am now sensible that it was highly proper that I should have held up myself to their Veiw & remembrance and that I should have continued to do so either by letter or petition or both—and this is what I have now undertaken & have wrote to the governor Richard Jackson Esqr to Alexander Champion, Joseph Pace & Matthew Towgood Esqrs who are members of said Society with some of whom or with any other members that you shall have knowledge of, I shall be greatly obliged if you will confer on the subject of this letter—I have also addressed a petition representing to the company my regular introduction to [the] ministerial office to qualify myself for which more than one third part of the common period of human life had been taken up—my being actually employed in the service of the company by their commissioners as missionary to the indians here the greatest & best part of my life—my advanced age, being more than three score years old—the ill state of my health occasioned by the gravel the paroxisms of which have been greatly distressing to me—a great deal of sickness in my family—the destruction of my patrimony by the burning of Charlestown (my native place) by the brittish troops in 1775, which with unpaid rents & other debts to the amount of several hundred pounds are all irrecoverably lost—the impracticability of plucking myself up by the roots & transplanting myself elswhere at my time of life together with the failure of all my usual means of subsistence & praying for the extension of their bounty & compassion (to adopt their own language for the present & to answer the intention of my petition) & concluding with expressing my hopes that they would not turn me over to the cold charity of the world after having spent so large a part <of my life> & that [the] best of my life in their service &c—After my letters & petition were put into the post office, a gentleman lately from England gave intimations to several gentlemen in Boston that my character laboured with some of the members of the Society upon a report that I had instigated & encouraged the indians under my care to engage in the american military Service in opposing the measures <of> that were then taking by the brittish government against the now american States—to remove wh. calumny I have procured & sent a testimonial signed by the president & profssors of Harvard University & by Isaac Smith Ebenezer Storer, Thomas Russell & Moses Gill Esqrs all of whom are well known to you, [& ] which I doubt not will remove any unfavourable impressions with respect to that particular part of my conduct—to which testimonial Mr William Burgess who is a member of the Society & was in Boston a few weeks ago kindly offered to add & did actually add a certificate in my favour—The Governor of the company in a private letter to Isaac Smith Esqr, after mentioning their resolve in June last to transfer their correspondence, informs him that “this measure had been founded on the opinion of two iminent lawyers who [thought] that though natives of the United american States, born before the treaty of peace are individually capable of inheriting or purchasing & enjoying Lands within the Kingdom of Great Brittain, yet the rents of a real estate are not applicable to public purposes to foreign States—That his opinion as a lawyer differed from that of those Gentlemen though not altogether without doubt on a subject that was quite new; but that he was as well as Mr. Brand Hollis Mr. Towgood and two or three more strongly averse to the making any change until the decision of a proper court of Justice had determined the question—But that though the opinion of the two gentlemen consulted was not positive the question was carried against them by a large majority—that he had used his utmost endeavours in favour of the missionaries & had obtained such orders for payment as they had been able & which he hoped would remove their distresses:—But unhappily for me, I cannot find out that any grants have been made to me—I have therefore to request your Intercession influence & good [offices] in my behalf if you [can] possibly spare your time & mind from application to public & more important matters, and if considering your public character there will not be an impropriety in it—Query Are the indians Subjects of the united <States> american States? Are they not rather to be considered merely as natives & inhabitants of the american continent [not] subject to the jurisdiction of the descendants of any Europeans? And though I have recd. a consideration from the company by their Commissr., yet was it not ultimately for the benefit of the indian natives, & not on my own Acct. as I have been paid only for my Services performed to them—upon a review of what I have wrote I am ashamed of the length of it—it greatly exceeds what I expected—hope it will obtain an easy pardon from you, & that it will give you a clear View of what is of no small importance to me in my advanced age & infirm State of health and that you will give me leave to assure myself of being indebted to you for your attention & efforts in my behalf which as soon as known shall be gratefully acknowledged by / Yr Excellency’s most obedt. & / most humble Servt.

Stepn: Badger

RC (MHi: Adams Papers).

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