Regarding the Gaspee Affair
I wonder how your Colony sleeps so soundly in a whole skin, when her sisters are so worried and tormented!
I am with much respect your old friend & humble servant
+The fools call it the Independency of the Govr, Judges, etc
letter from John Adams was rediscovered in January 2013
when it came up at auction in Rhode Island. The
letter had not been previously cataloged by the
Massachusetts Historical Society where folks edit the Adams
Family Papers. Since
the date and location of Boston are detached from the
is some question as to whether this is merely the last
page of a larger letter.
We are not
entirely sure who the letter is addressed to, but in
searching the Works of John Adams it appears
he did carry on correspondence with an Andrew Eliot
from Connecticut. This is of importance since
here Adams appears to be carrying on an early,
informal inter-colonial correspondence seeking out the
opinions of those from other colonies. Indeed,
he writes in his Diary2
(p. 5) that this was his intent during December 1772:
The high Commission Court, the Star Chamber Court, the Court of Inquisition, for the Tryal of the Burners of the Gaspee, at Rhode Island, are the present Topick of Conversation. The Governor of that Colony, has communicated to the assembly a Letter from the Earl of Dartmouth. The Colony are in great Distress, and have applied to their Neighbours for Advice, how to evade or to sustain the Shock.
John Adams, like his cousin Sam Adams, was ahead of his time in realizing the importance of having the colonies build a unified front against British oppression. This letter was written a full three months prior to the formal proposal made by the Virginia House of Burgesses to reestablish the Committees of Correspondence.
the development of these Committees of Correspondence
were driven by two items. First was the threat
to colonial independence posed by the British plan to
pay the salaries of colonial judges and
governors directly, thus making these officials more
owing to the British than to the Colonists. The
second item was the threat to a local trial of peers
posed by the attempt to ship to Britain any persons
accused of participating in the burning of the Gaspee.
Both of these issues greatly alarmed John Adams and
other American colonial leaders of the day, and were
viewed as a direct assaults on the judicial liberties
of Americans as British subjects. And
moreover, the fleeting references by John
Adams to these two topics indicate that
he knew the reader of this letter would also be
well-familiar with these controversies. But John
Adams was clearly pissed about the Gaspee Affair as
he revealed in his Diary2
This Evening at Mr. Cranch's, I found that my constitutional or habitual Infirmities have not entirely forsaken me. Mr. Collins an English Gentleman was there, and in Conversation about the high Commissioned Court, for enquiring after the Burners of the Gaspee at Providence, I found the old Warmth, Heat, Violence, Acrimony, Bitterness, Sharpness of my Temper, and Expression, was not departed. I said there was no more justice left in Britain than there was in Hell -- That I wished for War, and that the whole Bourbon Family was upon the Back of Great Britain -- avowed a thoughrough Dissaffection to that Country -- wished that any Thing might happen to them, and that as the Clergy prayed of our Enemies in Time of War, that they might be brought to reason or to ruin.
1. According to Dictionary.com < http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/lurry?s=t > Lur"ry is an obsolete noun referring to a confused heap; a throng, as of persons....
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