February 13, 1776

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The Congress adopts a resolution allowing the individual provinces to import naval stores from North Carolina and elects Patrick Henry Colonel of the Virginia battalion.

John Adams, watching Henry and John Dickinson marching in uniform with their men, writes to Abigail in a somewhat melancholic vein, “I suppose, if I could have made Interest enough to have been chosen more than a Lt., I should march too upon some such Emergency, and possibly a Contingency may happen, when it will be proper for me to do it still, in Rank and File. I will not fail to march if it should.  In the Beginning of a War, in Colonies like this and Virginia, where the martial Spirit is but just awakened and the People are unaccustomed to Arms, it may be proper and necessary for such popular Orators as Henry and Dickenson to assume a military Character. But I really think them both, better Statesmen than Soldiers, tho I cannot say they are not very good in the latter Character. Henrys Principles, and Systems, are much more conformable to mine than the others however.  I feel, upon some of these Occasions, a flow of Spirits, and an Effort of Imagination, very like an Ambition to be engaged in the more active, gay, and dangerous Scenes. (Dangerous I say but recall that Word, for there is no Course more dangerous than that which I am in.) I have felt such Passions all my Lifetime, particularly in the year 1757, when I longed more ardently to be a Soldier than I ever did to be a Lawyer. But I am too old, and too much worn, with Fatigues of Study in my youth, and there is too little need in my Province of such assistance, for me to assume an Uniform.”

To John Trumball, Adams writes of the concerns many feel that the Americans, as a Republic, will never be able to fight as effectively as a monarchy.  “Politicks are a Labyrinth, without a Clue—to write you on that subject would be endless. N. York I think is now in critical state, but I hope We shall Save it. Mr. Dickinson is to march at the Head of a Battallion of Philadelphian associators to the Assistance of, Gen. Lee and Lord Sterling.2 He has this afternoon been harranguing the Battallions in the State House Yard with the Ardor and Pathos of a Greecian Commander, as it is reported.  By Intelligence hourly arriving from abroad We are more and more confirmed, that a Kind of Confederation will be formed among the Crowned Skulls, and numbskulls of Europe, against Human Nature.  Prussia, defended itself last War, against France, Spain, Germany and Russia, not with standing its Vicinity to those Empires and Kingdoms. America, will have a Combination not less Formidable to resist perhaps, but We are Three Thousand Miles off. If these Colonies are not as Powerfull as Prussia what is the Reason?  It will be said Prussia is an absolute Monarchy, America, a Chaos at present and it can be at best, but a Republic.  To this I answer, So much the better. For, that a Monarchy absolute or limited is better for War than a Republic I absolutely deny. On the Contrary look through the whole World and universal History and you will find that Republics have been invariably the most warlike Governments, and you will find no Instance of a Republic conquered by a Monarchy, by Arms, nor any other Way but by Corruption and Division. If therefore the Colonies can be Secured against Corruption and Division I think with the Blessing of Heaven, they may hope to defend themselves. In all Events they will try the Experiment. Pray write me your Connecticut Politicks. You, mix the Caution and Jealousy of Athens with the Valour of Sparta. But dont let your People forget or neglect to cultivate Harmony and preserve the Union.”

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