July 7

I was told last night that we should reach Fortress Monroe at daylight, and I was up to see it, but we passed it about midnight. We are evidently greatly needed to head off a raid in Maryland. I saw the sun rise on the water this morning. It has been quite warm all day although on the water with the boat making good time. We arrived at Baltimore at 4 o'clock p. m. but have not been allowed to leave the boat yet.

July Seventh

Do orioles from verdant Chesapeake,
And crested cardinal,
With linnets from the Severn, come to seek,
Obedient to thy call,
If they can give thee one new music-thought,
Who ev'ry note from ev'ry land hast caught?
E. G. Lee
(The Mocking Bird )

 

 

July 7, 1863

Tuesday. Hip, hip, hurrah! Vicksburg has surrendered. The news has just reached us, although the place surrendered on Saturday at 10 o'clock. The gunboats got the news some way. The first thing was three cheers from the men, and then three broadside salutes. Next, we have shouted ourselves hoarse, and the news is passing along up the line to the extreme right. The Rebs sent out a flag, to know what ailed us, and were told the joyful news. Someway they didn't seem as glad as we are.

Afternoon. Our regiment and the Sixth Michigan have got marching orders. I wonder what is up now.

Later. The Rebs have again threatened Springfield Landing and the 128th New York, the Sixth Michigan, and the Gray Horse Battery have gone off on the double quick. We hear that 27,000 men and over 200 guns were surrendered at Vicksburg. There is no doubt about it now. Details are coming in all the time, and a whole lot of powder has been burned celebrating. The Rebs on our front seem as glad as we, for they know Port Hudson must surrender or be smashed between the forces of Banks and Grant. The detail sent out towards Springfield Landing has come in and reports the trouble all got along with. They didn't fire a gun. We are happy to-night, about as happy as if Port Hudson was ours. In fact it is ours, for they must give up now or catch it from front and rear at the same time.

116. John Adams

Philadelphia, 7 July, 1776.

I have this moment folded up a magazine and an Evening Post, and sent them off by an express who could not wait for me to write a single line. It always goes to my heart to send off a packet of pamphlets and newspapers without a letter, but it sometimes unavoidably happens, and I suppose you had rather receive a pamphlet or newspaper than nothing.

The design of our enemy now seems to be a powerful invasion of New York and New Jersey. The Halifax fleet and army is arrived, and another fleet and army under Lord Howe is expected to join them. We are making great preparations to meet them by marching the militia of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey down to the scene of action, and have made large requisitions upon New England. I hope, for the honor of New England and the salvation of America, our people will not be backward in marching to New York. We must maintain and defend that important post, at all events. If the enemy get possession there, it will cost New England very dear. There is no danger of the small-pox at New York. It is carefully kept out of the city and the army. I hope that your brother and mine too will go into the service of their country at this critical period of its distress.

Our army at Crown Point is an object of wretchedness enough to fill a humane mind with horror; disgraced, defeated, discontented, dispirited, diseased, naked, undisciplined, eaten up with vermin, no clothes, beds, blankets, no medicines, no victuals but salt pork and flour. A chaplain from that army preached a sermon here the other day from "Cursed is he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully." I knew, better than he did, who the persons were who deserved these curses. But I could not help myself, nor my poor country, any more than he. I hope that measures will be taken to cleanse the army at Crown Point from the small-pox, and that other measures will be taken in New England, by tolerating and encouraging inoculation, to render that distemper less terrible.

I am solicitous to hear what figure our new Superior Court made in their eastern circuit; what business they did; whether the grand juries and petit juries were sworn; whether they tried any criminals, or any civil actions; how the people were affected at the appearance of Courts again; how the judges were treated; whether with respect or cold neglect, etc. Every colony upon the continent will soon be in the same situation. They are erecting governments as fast as children build cob-houses; but, I conjecture, they will hardly throw them down again so soon.

The practice we have hitherto been in, of ditching round about our enemies, will not always do. We must learn to use other weapons than the pick and the spade. Our armies must be disciplined, and learn to fight. I have the satisfaction to reflect that our Massachusetts people, when they have been left to themselves, have been constantly fighting and skirmishing, and always with success. I wish the same valor, prudence, and spirit had been discovered everywhere.

117. John Adams

Philadelphia, 7 July, 1776.

It is worth the while of a person, obliged to write as much as I do, to consider the varieties of style. The epistolary is essentially different from the oratorical and the historical style. Oratory abounds with figures. History is simple, but grave, majestic, and formal. Letters, like conversation, should be free, easy, and familiar. Simplicity and familiarity are the characteristics of this kind of writing. Affectation is as disagreeable in a letter as in conversation, and therefore studied language, premeditated method, and sublime sentiments are not expected in a letter. Notwithstanding which, the sublime, as well as the beautiful and the novel, may naturally enough appear in familiar letters among friends. Among the ancients there are two illustrious examples of the epistolary style, Cicero and Pliny, whose letters present you with models of fine writing, which have borne the criticism of almost two thousand years. In these you see the sublime, the beautiful, the novel, and the pathetic, conveyed in as much simplicity, ease, freedom, and familiarity as language is capable of.

Let me request you to turn over the leaves of "The Preceptor" to a letter of Pliny the Younger, in which he has transmitted to these days the history of his uncle's philosophical curiosity, his heroic courage, and his melancholy catastrophe. Read it, and say whether it is possible to write a narrative of facts in a better manner. It is copious and particular in selecting the circumstances most natural, remarkable, and affecting. There is not an incident omitted which ought to have been remembered, nor one inserted that is not worth remembrance. It gives you an idea of the scene, as distinct and perfect as if a painter had drawn it to the life before your eyes. It interests your passions as much as if you had been an eye-witness of the whole transaction. Yet there are no figures or art used. All is as simple, natural, easy, and familiar as if the story had been told in conversation, without a moment's premeditation.

Pope and Swift have given the world a collection of their letters; but I think in general they fall short, in the epistolary way, of their own eminence in poetry and other branches of literature. Very few of their letters have ever engaged much of my attention. Gay's letter concerning the pair of lovers killed by lightning is worth more than the whole collection, in point of simplicity and elegance of composition, and as a genuine model of the epistolary style. There is a book, which I wish you owned,—I mean Rollin's "Belles Lettres,"—in which the variations of style are explained.

Early youth is the time to learn the arts and sciences, and especially to correct the ear and the imagination, by forming a style. I wish you would think of forming the taste and judgment of your children now, before any unchaste sounds have fastened on their ears, and before any affectation or vanity is settled on their minds, upon the pure principles of nature. Music is a great advantage; for style depends, in part, upon a delicate ear. The faculty of writing is attainable by art, practice, and habit only. The sooner, therefore, the practice begins, the more likely it will be to succeed. Have no mercy upon an affected phrase, any more than an affected air, gait, dress, or manners.

Your children have capacities equal to anything. There is a vigor in the understanding and a spirit and fire in the temper of every one of them, which is capable of ascending the heights of art, science, trade, war, or politics. They should be set to compose descriptions of scenes and objects, and narrations of facts and events. Declamations upon topics and other exercises of various sorts should be prescribed to them. Set a child to form a description of a battle, a storm, a siege, a cloud, a mountain, a lake, a city, a harbor, a country seat, a meadow, a forest, or almost anything that may occur to your thoughts. Set him to compose a narration of all the little incidents and events of a day, a journey, a ride, or a walk. In this way a taste will be formed, and a facility of writing acquired.

For myself, as I never had a regular tutor, I never studied anything methodically, and consequently never was completely accomplished in anything. But, as I am conscious of my own deficiency in these respects, I should be the less pardonable if I neglected the education of my children. In grammar, rhetoric, logic, my education was imperfect, because immethodical. Yet I have perhaps read more upon these arts, and considered them in a more extensive view, than some others.

50. John Adams

Philadelphia, 7 July, 1775.

I have received your very agreeable favors of June 22 and 25. They contain more particulars than any letters I had before received from anybody.

It is not at all surprising to me, that the wanton, cruel, and infamous conflagration of Charlestown, the place of your father's nativity, should afflict him. Let him know that I sincerely condole with him on that melancholy event. It is a method of conducting war long since become disreputable among civilized nations. But every year brings us fresh evidence that we have nothing to hope for from our loving mother country, but cruelties more abominable than those which are practiced by the savage Indians.

The account you give me of the numbers slain on the side of our enemies is afflicting to humanity, although it is a glorious proof of the bravery of our worthy countrymen. Considering all the disadvantages under which they fought, they really exhibited prodigies of valor. Your description of the distresses of the worthy inhabitants of Boston and the other seaport towns is enough to melt a heart of stone. Our consolation must be this, my dear, that cities may be rebuilt, and a people reduced to poverty may acquire fresh property. But a constitution of government, once changed from freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever. When the people once surrender their share in the legislature, and their right of defending the limitations upon the Government, and of resisting every encroachment upon them, they can never regain it.

The loss of Mr. Mather's library, which was a collection of books and manuscripts made by himself, his father, his grandfather, and great-grandfather, and was really very curious and valuable, is irreparable. The family picture you draw is charming indeed. My dear Abby, Johnny, Charley, and Tommy, I long to see you, and to share with your mamma the pleasures of your conversation. I feel myself much obliged to Mr. Bowdoin, Mr. Wibird, and the two families you mention, for their civilities to you. My compliments to them. Does Mr. Wibird preach against oppression and the other cardinal vices of the times? Tell him the clergy here of every denomination, not excepting the Episcopalian, thunder and lighten every Sabbath. They pray for Boston and the Massachusetts. They thank God most explicitly and fervently for our remarkable successes. They pray for the American army. They seem to feel as if they were among you.

You ask if every member feels for us? Every member says he does, and most of them really do. But most of them feel more for themselves. In every society of men, in every club I ever yet saw, you find some who are timid, their fears hurry them away upon every alarm; some who are selfish and avaricious, on whose callous hearts nothing but interest and money can make impression.There are some persons in New York and Philadelphia to whom a ship is dearer than a city, and a few barrels of flour than a thousand lives—other men's lives, I mean.

You ask, Can they realize what we suffer? I answer, No. They can't. They don't. And, to excuse them as well as I can, I must confess, I should not be able to do it myself, if I was not more acquainted with it by experience than they are.

I am grieved for Dr. Tufts's [85] ill-health, but rejoiced exceedingly at his virtuous exertions in the cause of his country. I am happy to hear that my brothers were at Grape Island, and behaved well. My love to them, and duty to my mother.

It gives me more pleasure than I can express, to learn that you sustain with so much fortitude the shocks and terrors of the times. You are really brave, my dear. You are a heroine, and you have reason to be. For the worst that can happen can do you no harm. A soul as pure, as benevolent, as virtuous and pious as yours, has nothing to fear, but everything to hope and expect from the last of human evils. I am glad you have secured an asylum, though I hope you will not have occasion for it.

There is an amiable, ingenious hussy, named Betsey Smith, for whom I have a very great regard. Be pleased to make my love acceptable to her, and let her know that her elegant pen cannot be more usefully employed than in writing letters to her brother at Philadelphia, though it may be more agreeably, in writing to young gentlemen.

The other day, after I had received a letter of yours, with one or two others, Mr. William Barrell desired to read them. I put them into his hand, and the next morning had them returned in a large bundle packed up with two great heaps of pins, with a very polite card requesting Portia's acceptance of them. I shall bring them with me when I return. But when that will be is uncertain. I hope not more than a month hence.

I have really had a very disagreeable time of it. My health, and especially my eyes, have been so very bad that I have not been so fit for business as I ought; and if I had been in perfect health, I should have had, in the present condition of my country and my friends, no taste for pleasure. But Dr. Young has made a kind of cure of my health, and Dr. Church of my eyes.

I have received two kind letters from your uncle Smith. Do thank him for them. I shall forever love him for them. I love everybody that writes to me.

I am forever yours.

Footnotes:

[85]Dr. Tufts lived at Weymouth.

10. John Adams

Falmouth, 7 July, 1774.

Have you seen a list of the addressers of the late Governor?[27] There is one abroad, with the character, profession, or occupation of each person against his name. I have never seen it, but Judge Brown says against the name of Andrew Faneuil Phillips is "Nothing." And that Andrew, when he first heard of it, said, "Better be nothing with one side than everything with the other."

This was witty and smart, whether Andrew said it or what is more likely, it was made for him. A notion prevails among all parties that it is politest and genteelest to be on the side of administration; that the better sort, the wiser few, are on one side, and that the multitude, the vulgar, the herd, the rabble, the mob only, are on the other. So difficult is it for the frail, feeble mind of man to shake itself loose from all prejudice and habits. However, Andrew or his prompter is perfectly right in his judgment, and will finally be proved to be, so that the lowest on the Tory scale will make it more for his interest than the highest on the Whiggish. And as long as a man adheres immovably to his own interest and has understanding or luck enough to secure and promote it, he will have the character of a man of sense, and will be respected by a selfish world. I know of no better reason for it than this, that most men are conscious that they aim at their own interest only, and that if they fail it is owing to short sight or ill luck, and therefore they can't blame, but secretly applaud, admire, and sometimes envy those whose capacities have proved greater and fortunes more prosperous.

I am engaged in a famous cause,—the cause of King, of Scarborough, versus  a mob that broke into his house and rifled his papers and terrified him, his wife, children and servants in the night. The terror and distress, the distraction and horror of his family cannot be described by words or painted upon canvas. It is enough to move a statue, to melt a heart of stone, to read the story. A mind susceptible of the feelings of humanity, a heart which can be touched with sensibility for human misery and wretchedness, must reluct, must burn with resentment and indignation at such outrageous injuries. These private mobs I do and will detest.[28] If popular commotions can be justified in opposition to attacks upon the Constitution, it can be only when fundamentals are invaded, nor then unless for absolute necessity, and with great caution. But these tarrings and featherings, this breaking open houses by rude and insolent rabble in resentment for private wrongs, or in pursuance of private prejudices and passions, must be discountenanced. It cannot be even excused upon any principle which can be entertained by a good citizen, a worthy member of society.

Dined with Mr. Collector Francis Waldo,[29] Esquire, in company with Mr. Winthrop, the two Quincys, and the two Sullivans, all very social and cheerful—full of politics. S. Quincy's tongue ran as fast as anybody's. He was clear in it, that the House of Commons had no right to take money out of our pockets more than any foreign state; repeated large paragraphs from a publication of Mr. Burke's in 1766, and large paragraphs from Junius Americanus, etc. This is to talk and to shine before persons who have no capacity of judging, and who do not know that he is ignorant of every rope in the ship.[30]

I shan't be able to get away till next week. I am concerned only in two or three cases, and none of them are come on yet. Such an Eastern circuit I never made. I shall bring home as much as I brought from home, I hope, and not much more, I fear. I go mourning in my heart all the day long, though I say nothing. I am melancholy for the public and anxious for my family. As for myself, a frock and trousers, a hoe and a spade would do for my remaining days.

For God's sake make your children hardyactive, and industrious ; for strength, activity and industry will be their only resource and dependence.

Footnotes:

[27]There were addresses presented to the new Governor, Gage, on his arrival, which was noticed with much pomp. He landed at the end of Long Wharf, and was escorted by the Council and Magistracy, the troops, and the Cadets, to the State House, where a public dinner was given to him.

But the addresses referred to here were made to the out-going Governor, Hutchinson, who was about to embark on that expedition to the mother country intended only as a visit, but which proved a final exile. One hundred and twenty-three of the merchants and traders, twenty-four members of the bar, and all of the Episcopal ministers and wardens in Boston signed these papers. These lists embraced a considerable part of the gentlemen of property and standing, who give the tone to society, even when they fail to affect popular opinion.

[28]Richard King was a successful merchant at Scarborough, with leaning towards the Government, to whom many people had become indebted beyond their ability to pay. Taking advantage of the disorders occasioned by the passage of the Stamp Act, a party, disguised as Indians, on the night of the 16th of March, 1766, broke into his store and his dwelling-house also, and destroyed all his books and papers containing evidence of debts. Not content with this, they laid waste his property and threatened his life if he should venture to seek any legal mode of redress. Many of the perpetrators were, however, detected and brought to justice. This suit seems to have been one of the consequences.

The popular bitterness thus engendered had not, however, subsided, at the date of this letter, and a slight incident occurred which soon caused it once more to break out. A vessel of Mr. King's was found to have delivered a load of lumber in Boston by special license, after the port had been closed, and the materials had been purchased for the use of the troops. On this occasion forty men from the neighboring town of Gorham came over and compelled Mr. King in fear of his life to make a disavowal of his opinions.

These repeated shocks seem to have been too much for Mr. King's constitution. He became distempered in mind, and died in the following March.

[29]Mr. Waldo had ceased to be Collector at the date of this letter. But he adhered to the royal cause, and as a consequence became an exile the next year. His estate was confiscated, and he died in London in 1782.

[30]This judgment appears from subsequent events to have been well founded. For Mr. Quincy when put to the test showed no confidence in the correctness of his reasoning. He took office under the crown, and in less than two years after the date of this letter left the country as an exile. He died in the island of Antigua in 1789.