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Letter from John Adams to James Warren


Philadelphia, July 24, 1775.

SIR: In confidence I am determined to write freely to you this time. A certain great fortune and piddling genius, whose fame has been trumpeted so loudly, has given a silly cast to our whole doings. We are between hawk and buzzard. We ought to have had in our hands a month ago the whole legislative, executive, and judicial power of the whole Continent, and have completely modelled a Constitution; to have raised a naval power; opened all our ports wide; to have arrested every friend to Government on the Continent, and held them as hostages for the poor victims in Boston; and then opened the door as wide as possible for peace and reconciliation. After this they might have petitioned, and negotiated, and addressed, &c˙, if they would. Is all this extravagant? Is it wild? Is it not the soundest policy?

One piece of news: Seven thousand weight of powder arrived here last night. We shall send along some as soon as we can; but you must be patient and frugal.

We are lost in the extensiveness of our field of business. We have a Continental Treasury to establish; a Paymaster


to choose; and a Committee of Correspondence, or Safety, or Accounts, or something, I know not what, that has confounded us all day.

Shall I hail you Speaker of the House, or Counsellor, or what? What kind of an election had you? What sort of magistrates do you intend to make? Will your new legislative and executive, feel bold or irresolute? Will your judicial hang and whip, and fine and imprison, without scruple? I want to see our distressful country once more; yet I dread the sight of devastation.

You observe in your letter the oddity of a great man. He is a queer creature; but you must love his dogs if you love him, and forgive a thousand whims, for the sake of the soldier and the scholar. Yours.

To the Honourable James Warren, esq˙, Watertown, favoured by Mr˙ Hichborne.

NOTE. — This letter was anonymous, but wrote in the same hand with that addressed to Abigail Adams.



* We can assure the publick that these letters are not copied from the originals. — Mass. Spy.