July 3

We have made arrangements so that we are quite comfortable in spite of the intense heat; has been very quiet in camp all day. All are anticipating a good time to-morrow if General Grant don't conclude to have us fight, and I don't think he will, for I don't believe he considers it of any use to attack the enemy, so long as he can oblige it to come out and fight him. Lieutenant G. E. Davis came to-day. Lieutenant H. W. Kingsley called to-night.

July Third

General Lee ordered Longstreet to attack at daybreak on the morning of the third day.... He did not attack until two or three o'clock in the afternoon, the artillery opening at one.... Nothing that occurred at Gettysburg, nor anything that has been written since of that battle, has lessened the conviction that, had Lee's orders been promptly and cordially executed, Meade's centre on the third day would have been penetrated and the Union Army overwhelmingly defeated.

General John B. Gordon


Third day at Gettysburg, 1863

Joel Chandler Harris dies, 1908



July 3

July 3, 1856.--The German admires form, but he has no genius for it. He is the opposite of the Greek; he has critical instinct, aspiration, and desire, but no serene command of beauty. The south, more artistic, more self-satisfied, more capable of execution, rests idly in the sense of its own power to achieve. On one side you have ideas, on the other side, talent. The realm of Germany is beyond the clouds; that of the southern peoples is on this earth. The Germanic race thinks and feels; the southerners feel and express; the Anglo-Saxons will and do. To know, to feel, to act, there you have the trio of Germany, Italy, England. France formulates, speaks, decides, and laughs. Thought, talent, will, speech; or, in other words science, art, action, proselytism. So the parts of the quartet are assigned.

July 3, 1863

Friday. It was only a scare. The troops came back before midnight. A guerrilla squad attacked a wagon train and were fought off by the guards. But it gave us something new to think and to talk about at any rate. If General Banks hoists the stars and stripes in Port Hudson to-morrow, he will probably begin getting ready to-day. No doubt for some of us it will be our last celebration. Who will be taken and who will be left none of us know, and what a blessed thing it is we don't! Now we can each think it will be the other fellow. We have never had any great love for our head surgeon, Dr. Cole, and to-night we hate him more than ever. Yesterday Corporal Blunt of Company K went to him for an excuse from duty, as he was sick. He told him he was able for duty and he went back into the rifle pit and died. How we wish it had been the doctor instead. Just at night a pair of oxen were discovered in the bushes near by and Smith Darling and I were sent out to capture them. We got near enough for a shot without being discovered, and each got his ox at the first shot. The mules came and dragged them out where they are handy and to-morrow we expect a beef stew. The officers will have beefsteak, of course, but we are not particular about the part so long as we get some. Three of the Zouaves, who were captured during the fight on May 27, made their escape and came in to-night. They had got into the river and swam down, coming in as naked as they were born, and almost starved.

July 3

July 3, 1874.--Rebellion against common sense is a piece of childishness of which I am quite capable. But it does not last long. I am soon brought back to the advantages and obligations of my situation; I return to a calmer self-consciousness. It is disagreeable to me, no doubt, to realize all that is hopelessly lost to me, all that is now and will be forever denied to me; but I reckon up my privileges as well as my losses--I lay stress on what I have, and not only on what I want. And so I escape from that terrible dilemma of "all or nothing," which for me always ends in the adoption of the second alternative. It seems to me at such times that a man may without shame content himself with being some thing and some one--

"Ni si haut, ni si bas...."

These brusque lapses into the formless, indeterminate state, are the price of my critical faculty. All my former habits become suddenly fluid; it seems to me that I am beginning life over again, and that all my acquired capital has disappeared at a stroke. I am forever new-born; I am a mind which has never taken to itself a body, a country, an avocation, a sex, a species. Am I even quite sure of being a man, a European, an inhabitant of this earth? It seems to me so easy to be something else, that to be what I am appears to me a mere piece of arbitrary choice. I cannot possibly take an accidental structure of which the value is purely relative, seriously. When once a man has touched the absolute, all that might be other than what it is seems to him indifferent. All these ants pursuing their private ends excite his mirth. He looks down from the moon upon his hovel; he beholds the earth from the heights of the sun; he considers his life from the point of view of the Hindoo pondering the days of Brahma; he sees the finite from the distance of the infinite, and thenceforward the insignificance of all those things which men hold to be important makes effort ridiculous, passion burlesque, and prejudice absurd.

114. John Adams

3 July, 1776.

Your favor of 17 June, dated at Plymouth, was handed me by yesterday's post. I was much pleased to find that you had taken a journey to Plymouth, to see your friends, in the long absence of one whom you may wish to see. The excursion will be an amusement, and will serve your health. How happy would it have made me to have taken this journey with you!

I was informed, a day or two before the receipt of your letter, that you was gone to Plymouth, by Mrs. Polly Palmer, who was obliging enough, in your absence, to send me the particulars of the expedition to the lower harbor against the men-of-war. Her narration is executed with a precision and perspicuity, which would have become the pen of an accomplished historian.

I am very glad you had so good an opportunity of seeing one of our little American men-of-war. Many ideas new to you must have presented themselves in such a scene; and you will, in future, better understand the relations of sea engagements.

I rejoice extremely at Dr. Bulfinch's petition to open a hospital. But I hope the business will be done upon a larger scale. I hope that one hospital will be licensed in every county, if not in every town. I am happy to find you resolved to be with the children in the first class. Mr. Whitney and Mrs. Katy Quincy are cleverly through inoculation in this city.

The information you give me of our friend's refusing his appointment has given me much pain, grief, and anxiety. I believe I shall be obliged to follow his example. I have not fortune enough to support my family, and, what is of more importance, to support the dignity of that exalted station. It is too high and lifted up for me, who delight in nothing so much as retreat, solitude, silence, and obscurity. In private life, no one has a right to censure me for following my own inclinations in retirement, simplicity, and frugality. In public life, every man has a right to remark as he pleases. At least he thinks so.

Yesterday, the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America, and a greater, perhaps, never was nor will be decided among men. A Resolution was passed without one dissenting Colony "that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, and as such they have, and of right ought to have, full power to make war, conclude peace, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which other States may rightfully do." You will see, in a few days, a Declaration setting forth the causes which have impelled us to this mighty revolution, and the reasons which will justify it in the sight of God and man. A plan of confederation will be taken up in a few days.

When I look back to the year 1761, and recollect the argument concerning writs of assistance in the superior court, which I have hitherto considered as the commencement of this controversy between Great Britain and America, and run through the whole period from that time to this, and recollect the series of political events, the chain of causes and effects, I am surprised at the suddenness as well as greatness of this revolution. Britain has been filled with folly, and America with wisdom; at least, this is my judgment. Time must determine. It is the will of Heaven that the two countries should be sundered forever. It may be the will of Heaven that America shall suffer calamities still more wasting, and distresses yet more dreadful. If this is to be the case, it will have this good effect at least. It will inspire us with many virtues which we have not, and correct many errors, follies, and vices which threaten to disturb, dishonor, and destroy us. The furnace of affliction produces refinement in states as well as individuals. And the new Governments we are assuming in every part will require a purification from our vices, and an augmentation of our virtues, or they will be noblessings. The people will have unbounded power, and the people are extremely addicted to corruption and venality, as well as the great. But I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe.

6. John Adams

Littlefield's, at Wells, 3 July, 1774.

Mr. Winthrop, Mr. Quincy, and I came this morning from York before breakfast, fifteen miles, in order to hear my learned friend Hemmenway. Mr. Quincy brought me a letter from Williams, in which he lets me know that you and the family were well. This is very refreshing news.

Patten's, at Arundel, 4 July.

We went to meeting at Wells and had the pleasure of hearing my friend upon "Be not partakers in other men's sins. Keep yourselves pure." Mr. Hemmenway came and kindly invited us to dine, but we had engaged a dinner at Littlefield's, so we returned there, dined, and took our horses to meeting in the afternoon and heard the minister again upon "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." There is a great pleasure in hearing sermons so serious, so clear, so sensible and instructive as these.[21]

We went to Mr. Hemmenway's, and as it rained a little he put out our horses, and we took a bed with him, i. e. Mr. Winthrop and I.

You know I never get or save anything by cozening or classmating. So I gave pistareens enough among the children and servants to have paid twice for my entertainment.

Josiah Quincy, always impetuous and vehement, would not stop, but drove forward; I suppose, that he might get upon the fishing ground before his brother Sam and me. I find that the divines and lawyers this way are all Tories. Brother Hemmenway is as impartial as any I have seen or heard of. James Sullivan seems half inclined to be a Whig.

Mr. Winthrop has been just making some observations which I think worth sending to you. Upon reading an observation in the Farmer's fourth letter,[22] that some of our (the Massachusetts) resolves and publications had better have been suppressed, Mr. Winthrop said that many things in our newspapers ought to have been suppressed, for example, whenever there was the least popular commotion or disturbance, it was instantly put in all the newspapers in this province. But in all the other provinces they took care to conceal and suppress every such thing.

Another thing, he says we ought to avoid all paragraphs in our papers about our own manufactures, especially all vaporing puffing advertisements about them, because such paragraphs only tend to provoke the ministers, merchants, and manufacturers in England to confine and restrain or prohibit our manufactures. But our presses in Boston, Salem, and Newburyport are under no regulation, nor any judicious, prudent care. Therefore it seems impracticable to keep out such imprudences. The printers are hot, indiscreet men, and they are under the influence of others as hot, rash, and injudicious as themselves, very often.

For my own part, it has long been my resolution to avoid being concerned in counseling, or aiding, or abetting tumult or disorder; to avoid all exceptionable scribbling in the newspaper of every kind; to avoid all passion and personal altercation or reflections. I have found it difficult to keep these resolutions exactly; all but the last, however, I have religiously and punctiliously observed these six years.

5 July, Tuesday Morning.

Arrived last evening at Falmouth, and procured a new place to lodge at, Mrs. Euston's. Quincy and I have taken a bed together. My brother Neg Freeman came to pay his respects to me and to invite me to a bed in his house; but I was fixed before, and therefore thanked him and excused myself. It is a very neat house where we sleep. The desk and table shine like mirrors. The floors are clean and white and nicely sanded, etc.

But when shall I get home? This tedious journey will produce me very little profit. I never saw Falmouth before with such lean expectations and empty pockets. I am much concerned for my family. These Acts of Parliament and ministerial manœuvres will injure me both in my property and business as much as any person whatever in proportion.


[21]Thirty-six years afterwards Mr. Adams wrote of the same person, "My affection for him, which began when we first entered college, has continued and increased till it has become veneration."

[22]The letters of John Dickinson, printed under that name.

115. John Adams

Philadelphia, 3 July, 1776.

Had a Declaration of Independency been made seven months ago, it would have been attended with many great and glorious effects. We might, before this hour, have formed alliances with foreign states. We should have mastered Quebec, and been in possession of Canada. You will perhaps wonder how such a declaration would have influenced our affairs in Canada, but if I could write with freedom, I could easily convince you that it would, and explain to you the manner how. Many gentlemen in high stations, and of great influence, have been duped by the ministerial bubble of Commissioners to treat. And in real, sincere expectation of this event, which they so fondly wished, they have been slow and languid in promoting measures for the reduction of that province. Others there are in the Colonies who really wished that our enterprise in Canada would be defeated, that the Colonies might be brought into danger and distress between two fires, and be thus induced to submit. Others really wished to defeat the expedition to Canada, lest the conquest of it should elevate the minds of the people too much to hearken to those terms of reconciliation which, they believed, would be offered us. These jarring views, wishes, and designs occasioned an opposition to many salutary measures which were proposed for the support of that expedition, and caused obstructions, embarrassments, and studied delays, which have finally lost us the province.

All these causes, however, in conjunction would not have disappointed us, if it had not been for a misfortune which could not be foreseen, and perhaps could not have been prevented; I mean the prevalence of the small-pox among our troops. This fatal pestilence completed our destruction. It is a frown of Providence upon us, which we ought to lay to heart.

But, on the other hand, the delay of this Declaration to this time has many great advantages attending it. The hopes of reconciliation which were fondly entertained by multitudes of honest and well-meaning, though weak and mistaken people, have been gradually, and at last totally extinguished. Time has been given for the whole people maturely to consider the great question of independence, and to ripen their judgment, dissipate their fears, and allure their hopes, by discussing it in newspapers and pamphlets, by debating it in assemblies, conventions, committees of safety and inspection, in town and county meetings, as well as in private conversations, so that the whole people, in every colony of the thirteen, have now adopted it as their own act. This will cement the union, and avoid those heats, and perhaps convulsions, which might have been occasioned by such a Declaration six months ago.

But the day is past. The second [146] day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.

You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration and support and defend these States. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means. And that posterity will triumph in that day's transaction, even although we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not.


[146]The practice has been to celebrate the 4th of July, the day upon which the form of the Declaration of Independence was agreed to, rather than the 2d, the day upon which the resolution making that declaration was determined upon by the Congress. A friend of Mr. Adams, who had during his lifetime an opportunity to read the two letters dated on the 3d, was so much struck with them, that he procured the liberty to publish them. But thinking, probably, that a slight alteration would better fit them for the taste of the day, and gain for them a higher character for prophecy, than if printed as they were, he obtained leave to put together only the most remarkable paragraphs, and make one letter out of the two. He then changed the date from the 3d to the 5th, and the word second to fourth, and published it, the public being made aware of these alterations. In this form, and as connected with the anniversary of our National Independence, these letters have ever since enjoyed great popularity. The editor at first entertained some doubt of the expediency of making a variation by printing them in their original shape. But upon considering the matter maturely, his determination to adhere, in all cases, to the text prevailed. If any injury to the reputation of Mr. Adams for prophecy should ensue, it will be more in form than in substance, and will not be, perhaps, without compensation in the restoration of the unpublished portion. This friend was a nephew, William S. Shaw. But the letters had been correctly and fully printed before. See Niles's Principles and Acts of the Revolution, p. 330.