September 23, 1776

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Congress orders the German Battalion raised in Maryland and Pennsylvania to join Washington immediately.

Arthur Lee observes that a military defeat in New York would be fatal to the British but not for America.  He is not disturbed by the hatred and suspicion directed against him by the followers of the Ministry, since he believes in the expression that “enmity of bad men is the most desirable testimony of virtuous merit.”

Abigail writes to John Adams to tell her of her unease about both the war, and the reticence of his recent letters (the original spellings are retained).  There are perticuliar times when I feel such an uneasiness, such a restlessness, as neither company, Books, family Cares or any other thing will remove, my Pen is my only pleasure, and writing to you the composure of my mind.  I feel that agitation this Evening, a degree of Melancholy has seazd my mind, owing to the anxiety I feel for the fate of our Arms at New York, and the apprehensions I have for your Health and Safety.

We Have so many rumours and reports that tis imposible to know what to Credit. We are this Evening assurd that there has been a field Battle between a detachment of our Army commanded by General Miflin and a Detachment of British Troops in which the Latter were defeated. An other report says that we have been obliged to Evacuate the city and leave our cannon, Baggage &c. &c. This we cannot credit, we will not Believe it.

Tis a most critical day with us. Heaven Crown our arms with Success.

Did you ever expect that we should hold Long Island? And if that could not be held, the city of New York must lie at their mercy. If they command New York can they cut of the communication between the Colonies?

Tho I sufferd much last winter yet I had rather be in a situation where I can collect the Truth, than at a distance where I am distressd by a thousand vague reports—

War is our Buisness, but to whom is Give’n

To die, or triumph, that determine Heav’n!

 I write you an abundance, do you read it all? Your last Letters have been very short. Have you buried, stifled or exausted all the—I wont ask the question you must find out my meaning if you can.  I cannot help smileing at your caution in never subscribeing a Letter, yet frank it upon the outside where you are obliged to write your name.  I hope I have a Letter by Saturdays Post. You say you are sometimes dissapointed, you can tell then How I feel. I endeavour to write once a week.”

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September 10, 1776

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After seven weeks the Pennsylvania Convention completed a draft of a constitution and printed it for review.  Christopher Marshall wrote, “Was published the proposed plan or frame of government for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, (printed for consideration), in twelve small pages folio, containing forty-nine sections.”

John Adams writes to his wife Abigail:  “At the same Time that I am in a State of suspence, Uncertainty and Anxiety about my best, dearest, worthyest, wisest Friend, in this World, and all my Children, I am in a State of equal Suspence, Uncertainty, and Anxiety about our Army at N. York and Ticonderoga, and consequently about our Country and Posterity. The Lives of Thousands, and the Liberties of Millions are as much in Suspence, as the Health of my family. But I submit to the Governance of infinite Wisdom.  Had my Advice been followed, in Season, We should now have been in Safety, Liberty and Peace, or at least We should have had a clear and indisputable Superiority of Power. But my Advice was not regarded. It never was, and never will be, in this World. Had N.Y., N.J. and Pensilvania, only been in compleat Possession of the Powers of Government only 3 Months sooner, We should have had an Army, at N.Y. and Amboy, able to cope with double the Number of our Enemies. But now We trust to Chance: to the Chapter of Accidents: a long Chapter it is, as long as the 119 Psalm: and well it is for us that it is so. If We trusted to Providence, I should be easy, but We do not.  I have now come to a Resolution, upon another Subject, which has kept me in suspence for some Time.—I must request of you, to interceed with your Father to procure for me, two Horses, and send them to Philadelphia, with a servant, as soon as possible. I shall wait for their Arrival, let it be sooner or later. The sooner they come, the more agreable to my Wishes, and the better for my Health. I can live no longer, without Riding. If Bass is in the land of the living, and3 is willing to take one more Ride with his old Friend, let him come, if he declines, send somebody else. I shall wait for Horses. If the Congress should adjourn, I shall attend the Board of War, untill they come. The General Court, I think might do something. Whether they have ever thought of granting me, a farthing, for my Time, I know not. Mr. A. had an Horse and a fine Chaise, furnished him, by the Committee of Supplies. Perhaps they might furnish me with a Pair of Horses too.—Pray mention this to Coll. Warren or Coll. Palmer.—If nothing can be done by them, if I have Credit enough left, to hire two Horses and a servant, let it be employed. The Loss of my fine Mare, has disconcerted me. The General Court will send some Gentleman here to take my Place. But if my Horses come I shall not wait for that.”

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August 27, 1776

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On Long Island, General Sir Guy Clinton’s troops begin to roll up the unprotected left flank, and General John Sullivan is pinned down by frontal attacks until he is forced to surrender.  On the right General James Grant was surrounded on three sides and ordered his soldiers to retreat to Brooklyn Heights.  The British Victory is rapid and complete.

In Brooklyn, and American force under General George Washington, with approximately 1700 men faced General Charles Cornwallis with an estimated 10,000 men.  The Americans were forced to evacuate.  Marylanders under Colonel Mordecai Gist distinguished themselves.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our American History Vacation Packages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 11, 1776

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General orders prohibit furloughs or discharge of officers and soldiers without the knowledge and consent of General George Washington.

In Boston, Massachusetts, the Declaration is read in all the local churches.

In Little River, South Carolina, Major Andrew Pickens, with a detachment of 25 men was attacked by a group of 135 Cherokee Indians while on a reconnaissance mission.  The American troops killed several Indians who then broke off the fight and withdrew.  The battle was also known as the “Ring Fight”

John Adams writes to James Warren:  “I Informed you in my last that we were Calling in every 25th. Man of the Train Band, and Alarm List to supply the places of your Battalions called away and already Marched. These Men are coming into the place of Rendesvous Dochester Heigths, but you have Appointed no General Officer to Command them, and unless General Ward can be prevailed on to Continue, I know not how they can be furnished with pay subsistence Barrack Utensils, or Ordinance Stores. Would it not be well to Appoint A Major General to Command in the Eastern department only. I am not Aware of any disadvantages in such An Appointment. I hope before this the Confederation, and matter of foreign Alliances are determined, As I suppose matters will go more glibly after the decleration of Independance, which by the way was read this Afternoon by Doctor Cooper, and Attended to by the Auditory with great Solemnity, and satisfaction.  Matters of great Importance must after all remain to be settled, Among which I Conceive Coin and Commerce are not to be reckoned Among the smallest. These are indeed such Intricate subjects that I dont pretend to Comprehend them in their full Extent. Your Currency still retains its Credit, but how long that will last if you Continue large Emissions is difficult for me to Guess. Commerce is A Subject of Amazeing Extent. While such Matters are on the Carpet how can we spare you.  I suppose Mrs. Adams will Inform you by this Post that She and the Children are well tho’ Charles has not yet had the Small Pox, which is the Case with many others After being Inoculated 2. 3. and even 6 or 7 Times. The Physicians cant Account for this. Several Persons that supposed they had it lightly last winter, and some before, now have it in the Natural way. Mrs. Warren and myself have been fortunate enough to have it very Cleverly and propose going home this week. She Joins me in the sincerest regards, for you and Mr. Adams, and wishes for your Health and Happiness. I am &c.  If the News you have from France be true the Ball must wind up soon.  God Grant a Confirmation. I long to be A Farmer again.

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August 3, 1776

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In view of the serious threat to New York and its own shores, the State Convention in New Brunswick, New Jersey, resolves to fine all able-bodied men who refuse to bear arms.

General Horatio Gates feels reassured that the energetic Benedict Arnold would be responsible for building and commanding the fleet in order to oppose the inevitable invasion from Canada.

Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Tupper commanding 5 small boats attacked 5 British ships that passed up the Hudson River from Staten Island and anchored at the Tappan Sea.  The attack failed.  HMS Phoenix and HMS Rose were involved.

John Adams writes to his wife, Abigail (original spelling retained):  Went this Morning to the Baptist Meeting, in Hopes of hearing Mr. Stillman, but was dissappointed. He was there, but another Gentleman preached. His Action was violent to a degree bordering on fury. His Gestures, unnatural, and distorted. Not the least Idea of Grace in his Motions, or Elegance in his Style. His Voice was vociferous and boisterous, and his Composition almost wholly destitute of Ingenuity. I wonder extreamly at the Fondness of our People for schollars educated at the Southward and for southern Preachers. There is no one Thing, in which We excell them more, than in our University, our schollars, and Preachers. Particular Gentlemen here, who have improved upon their Education by Travel, shine. But in general, old Massachusetts outshines her younger sisters, still. In several Particulars, they have more Wit, than We. They have Societies; the philosophical Society particularly, which excites a scientific Emulation, and propagates their Fame. If ever I get through this Scene of Politicks and War, I will spend the Remainder of my days, in endeavouring to instruct my Countrymen in the Art of making the most of their Abilities and Virtues, an Art, which they have hitherto, too much neglected. A philosophical society shall be established at Boston, if I have Wit and Address enough to accomplish it, sometime or other.—Pray set Brother Cranch’s Philosophical Head to plodding upon this Project. Many of his Lucubrations would have been published and preserved, for the Benefit of Mankind, and for his Honour, if such a Clubb had existed.  My Countrymen want Art and Address. They want Knowledge of the World. They want the exteriour and superficial Accomplishments of Gentlemen, upon which the World has foolishly set so high a Value. In solid Abilities and real Virtues, they vastly excell in general, any People upon this Continent. Our N. England People are Aukward and bashfull; yet they are pert, ostentatious and vain, a Mixture which excites Ridicule and gives Disgust. They have not the faculty of shewing themselves to the best Advantage, nor the Art of concealing this faculty. An Art and Faculty which some People possess in the highest degree. Our Deficiencies in these Respects, are owing wholly to the little Intercourse We have had with strangers, and to our Inexperience in the World. These Imperfections must be remedied, for New England must produce the Heroes, the statesmen, the Philosophers, or America will make no great Figure for some Time.

Our Army is rather sickly at N. York, and We live in daily Expectation of hearing of some great Event. May God almighty grant it may be prosperous for America.—Hope is an Anchor and a Cordial. Disappointment however will not disconcert me.  If you will come to Philadelphia in September, I will stay, as long as you please. I should be as proud and happy as a Bridegroom.”

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August 2, 1776

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Members of congress signed the engrossed copy of the Declaration of Independence.

Samuel Cooper writes to John Adams:  “The Small Pox is an Enemy more terrible in my Imagination, than all others. This Distemper will be the ruin, of every Army from New England if great Care is not taken. I am really Sorry that the Town of Boston attempted to clear itself of the Infection.2 I cannot but wish, that an innoculating Hospital, was set up in every Town in New England. But if this is not done, I am Sure that Some Hospitals, ought to be erected in Some convenient Places.  Between you and me, I begin to think it Time for our Colony to think a little more highly of itself.—The military operations have been at least as well conducted, under our own Officers, when left to themselves, as any others. You and several others of my best Friends have been pressing for a Stranger to command in Boston, and from two political Motives, I have been pressing for it too. The one was this, the People, and the Soldiery, at Boston, would not be so likely to respect, a General from among themselves, as a Stranger, the other was that the People of the Southern and middle Colonies, would have more Confidence in one of their own Officers, than in one from New England. And in Case of any Thing Unlucky I had rather hear them groan for one of their own, than scold or curse at a New England man.  The Reverse of Fortune in Canada, and the Arrival of the Hallifax Fleet, at Sandy Hook have now, removed all Expectation of having such an Officer Sent to Boston as We wished and therefore I wish that some Massachusetts Man, could command at Boston.”

In Congress, a proposal for term limits is drafted which will ultimately be passed:  “To prevent every danger which might arise to American freedom by continuing too long in office the members of the Continental Congress, to preserve to that body the confidence of their friends, and to disarm the malignant imputations of their enemies It is earnestly recommended to the several Provincial Assemblies or Conventions of the United colonies that in their future elections of delegates to the Continental Congress one half at least of the persons chosen be such as were not of the delegation next proceeding, and the residue be of such as shall not have served in that office longer than two years. And that their deputies be chosen for one year, with powers to adjourn themselves from time to time and from place to place as occasions may require, and also to fix the time and place at which their Successors shall meet.”

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July 29, 1776

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On the frontier of North Carolina, to discourage a reported Indian alliance with the British, troops from Virginia, North and South Carolina invade Cherokee territory and begin a campaign, which will ultimately destroy 32 towns and villages.

John Adams writes to Abigail, first asking her about her small pox vaccination, but then moving on to discuss a “knotty problem” that will, indeed, engage those who meet at the Constitutional Convention over ten years later:  “How are you all this Morning? Sick, weak, faint, in Pain; or pretty well recovered? By this Time, you are well acquainted with the Small Pox. Pray how do you like it?  We have no News. It is very hard that half a dozen or half a Score Armies cant supply Us, with News. We have a Famine, a perfect Dearth of this necessary Article.  I am at this present Writing perplexed and plagued with two knotty Problems in Politicks. You love to pick a political Bone, so I will even throw it to you.  If a Confederation should take Place, one great Question is how We shall vote. Whether each Colony shall count one? or whether each shall have a Weight in Proportion to its Numbers, or Wealth, or Exports and Imports, or a compound Ratio of all?  Another is whether Congress shall have Authority to limit the Dimensions of each Colony, to prevent those which claim, by Charter, or Proclamation, or Commission to the South Sea, from growing too great and powerfull, so as to be dangerous to the rest.  Shall I write you a Sheet upon each of these Questions. When you are well enough to read, and I can find Leisure enough to write, perhaps I may.”

Meanwhile, Adams receives a letter from Abigail:  “I write you now, thanks be to Heaven, free from paine, in Good Spirits, but weak and feeble. All my Sufferings produced but one Eruption. I think I can have no reason to be doubtfull with regard to myself as the Symptoms run so high and my Arm opperated in the best manner. The small pox acts very odly this Season, there are Seven out of our Number that have not yet had it, 3 out of our 4 children have been twice innoculated, two of them Charles and Tommy have not had one Symptom. I have indulged them in rather freer living than before and hope they will not long remain doubtfull. Mrs. Cranch and Cotton Tufts have been in Town almost 3 weeks and have had the innoculation repeated 4 times and can not make it take. So has Mrs. Lincoln. Lucy Cranch and Billy are in the same State. Becky Peck who has lived in the same Manner with us, has it to such a degree as to be blind with one Eye, swell’d prodigiously, I believe she has ten Thousand. She is really an object to look at; tho she is not Dr. Bulfinches patient. Johnny has it exa[c]tly as one would wish, enough to be well satisfied and yet not be troublesome. We are ordered all the Air we can get, and when we cannot walk we must ride, and if we can neither walk nor ride, we must be led. We sleep with windows open all Night, and Lay upon the Carpet or Straw Beds, Mattrass or any thing hard, abstain from Spirit, Salt and fats, fruit we Eat, all we can get, and those who like vegetables unseasond may Eat them, but that is not I.—This doubtfull Buisness is very dissagreable as it will detain us much longer, but there are several instances now of persons who thought they had had it, and were recoverd, and lived away freely, and now are plentifully dealt by. Mr. Joseph Edwards wife for one, and queer work she makes of it you may be sure. The Doctors say they cannot account for it, unless the free presperation throws it of[f]. Every physician has a number of patients in this doubtfull State. Where it does take and the patient lives any thing free, they have a Doze of it. Cool weather is much fitter for the small pox. I have not got rid of any terrors of the small pox but that of not being liable to it again, which you will say is a very great one; but what I mean is that I should dread it more now than before I saw it, were I liable to it. If we consider the great numbers who have it now, computed at seven thousand, 3 thousand of which are from the Country, tis very favorable, tho not so certain as it was last winter with many patients. Mr. Shaw who was innoculated at the same time when I and 3 of my children were out of the same Box, and has lived lower by his account than we have, has a full portion of it for all of us. There is no accounting for it. We did not take so much phisick as many others neither. If this last does not take I shall certainly try them with some wine.  Dr. Sawyer of Newbury Port lost a child 9 years old last week with the Distemper, and Coll. Robinson of Dorchester lies extreem bad with a mortification in his kidneys. Some such instances we must expect among such a variety of persons and constitutions.  I rejoice Exceedingly at the Success which General Lee has met with. I believe the Men will come along in a short time. They are raising, but the Massachusets has been draind for Sea Service as well as land. The Men were procured in this Town last week; we have taken a vessel from Halifax bound to New York, which we should call a prize but that it containd about 14 Tories among whom is that infamous Wretch of a Ben Davis the Ginger Bread Robber. How many little ones can say I was an Hungry and you gave me no Bread, but inhumanely took what little I had from me.2 I wish the Sea or any other Element had them rather than we should be tormented with them. Friends and connextions are very bad things in such times as these. Interest will be made, and impartial Justice obstructed, we catch flies and let the wasps go.—Hark a General Huzza of the populace, these wretches are just committed to jail.  The Continential Troops are near all gone from this Town, all I believe who are in a Marching State. The small pox has been General amongst them and exceeding favourable.  I have requested of Judge Cushing to write you an account of his circut and he has promised to do it. Both he and his Lady are under innoculation. When I came into Town I was in great hopes that if we did well we should be able to return in about 3 weeks, and we should have been able to have effected it, if it had opperated as formerly. Now I fear it will be 5 weeks before we shall all get through but I must not complain. When I cast my eye upon Becky whose Symptoms were not half so high as mine or some of the rest of us, and see what an object she is I am silenced, and adore the Goodness of God towards us.  Her Dr. says she is not dangerous. Col. Warren has sufferd as much pain as I did, but has more to shew for it, he is very cleverly spatterd. Mrs. Warren is now strugling with it, to one of her constitution it opperates in faintings and langour. It did so upon Betsy Cranch, yet when it found it[s] way through, it opperated kindly.—I believe you will be tired of hearing of small pox, but you bid me write every post and suppose you are anxious to hear how we have it. The next post I hope to tell you that they all have it, who now remain uncertain.”

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