April 7, 1776


Major General John Thomas, who the congress had appointed to the Canadian Command, writes to George Washington  (Original spellings retained):  “I arrived at albany in five Day after I Left the Camp at Roxbury at which place I have bin Detained to this Time by Reason of the Lakes being Impassable the Troops here & at Lake George are about Eleven Hundred & I hear Sum few are at Ticonderoga & Crown Point Prevented going forwerd as the Lakes are partly Brook up what number are in Canada I Cant assertain but am Sensible from the best Inteligence will be much Short of the Number Expected as I find the Regiments are very Incompleat General Schuyler Thinks They will be much short of Five Thousand & Should the Ministerial Troops There be Reinforsed & Quebeck Remain in Their Hands so Small a Number must be Thought to be Inadiquate for the Defence of that Quarteer your Exclency will Judge whether a Reinforsement will not be Nesesary.  The Last from Canada was about the 25th of march at which Time Things There Remained In Statu quo Doct. Francklin & others of the Committe of Congress arrived here this morning as the wather this Day or Two is moderate I am in hopes the Lake may be Passed in a few Days I Determin to Set of for the Lake Tomorrow.”

Abigail Adams writes to John.  “I take my pen and write just as I can get time, my Letters will be a strange Mixture. I really am cumberd about many things and scarcly know which way to turn myself. I miss my partner, and find myself uneaquil to the cares which fall upon me; I find it necessary to be the directress of our Husbandery and farming. Hands are so scarce, that I have not been able to procure one, and add to this that Isaac has been sick with a fever this fortnight, not able to strick a Stroke and a Multiplicity of farming Business pouring in upon Us.  In this Dilemma I have taken Belcher into pay, and must secure him for the Season, as I know not what better course to stear. I hope in time to have the Reputation of being as good a Farmeress as my partner has of being a good Statesmen.—To ask you any thing about your return would I suppose be asking a Question you cannot answer.  Retirement, Rural quiet, Domestick pleasure, all all must give place to the weighty cares of State. It would be meanly poor in Solitude to hide an honest Zeal unwarp’d by party Rage—

‘Though certain pains attend the cares of State

A Good Man owes his Country to be Great

Should act abroad the high distinguish’d part

And shew at least the purpose of his Heart.’

I hope your Prussian General will answer the high Character which is given of him. But we who have been bread in a land of Liberty scarcly know how to give credit to so unjust and arbitary a Mandate of a Despot—to cast of a faithfull Servant only for being the unhappy bearer of ill news degrades the Man and dishonours the prince.  The Congress by imploying him have shewn a Liberality of Senti­ment not confined to colonies or continents, but to use the words of common Sense, have carried their Friendship on a Larger Scale, by claiming Brotherhood with every European christian, and may justly triumph in the Generosity of the Sentiment.  Yesterday was taken and carried into Cohasset by 3 whale Boats who went from the Shore on purpose a Snow from the Grenades, laiden with 354 puncheons of W.I. Rum, 43 Barrels of Sugar, 12,500 weight coffe, a valuable prize. A Number of eastern Sloops have brought Wood into Town since the Fleet saild. We have a Rumour of Admiral Hopkings being engaged with a Number of Ships and tenders off Road island—are anxious to know the event. Be so good as to send me a List of the vessels which sail with Hopkings, their Names, Weight of Mettal and Number of Men—all the News you know &c. I hear our jurors refuse to serve because the writs are issued in the Kings Name. Surely they are for independance.  Write me how you do this winter. I want to say many things I must omit, it is not fit to wake the Soul by tender strokes of art, or to Ruminate upon happiness we might enjoy, least absence become intolerable. Adieu Yours.

I wish you would burn all my Letters.”

John, who would sometimes mockingly complain to Abigail that future historians would all say that her letters were superior to his, thankfully did not follow her suggestion of burning her letters.

Join us for the best historical walking tours in Philadelphia at Bow Tie Tours.  To learn more about the private lives and marriages of the Founders, take our night tour, Sex and the First City, which has been enthusiastically reviewed by the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Metro.



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