June 2

June 2, 1863

Tuesday. Another day of doing nothing. A man got up this morning and found a big king snake had crawled up close to his back for warmth, and was fast asleep yet when the man got up. Once this would have made a commotion in camp, but little was thought of it, and Mr. Snake was scared off into the bushes to look up and breakfast on some other snake.

Oh, dear, another shocking battle on hand! But we can lick them! I dread it, though! We laid on our arms in line of battle last night; heavy skirmishing continued in our front all night; built rifle pits this morning; men very tired; ordered to assault this evening at 4 o'clock, but it rained and the order was countermanded until morning thus prolonging the agony; drew rations for the Company to-night; am getting very tired of this campaign and shall be glad when it's over, but I suppose it will last a month longer. The enemy is doing its utmost to gain a victory, but God grant that we may be the victors if it is His will.

June Second

In regard to African Slavery, which has played so important a part in our political history, Randolph was an Emancipationist, as distinguished from an Abolitionist. This distinction was a very broad one; as broad as that between Algernon Sidney and Jack Cade; or between Charlemagne and Peter the Hermit—in fact, it was the difference between Reason and Fanaticism. On this subject Randolph and Clay concurred; both were Emancipationists, and both denounced the Abolitionists; as did also Webster, and all the best, wisest, and purest men of that day.

Judge Daniel Bedinger Lucas


John Randolph born, 1773



June 2, 1864

Thursday. Was on detail at the fort. Officers of the engineer corps have the work in charge. They have stakes stuck everywhere with marks on them that they may understand, but surely none of us can. A plan on paper shows it to be in the form of a star, with a wide and deep ditch running round it. The dirt from this ditch is being carefully piled up inside in a bank just like the ditch, so that every foot the ditch goes down, the bank rises another foot. There is no lack of men or teams. A detail is made every day of as many men as can work to advantage. On my section a curious snake or animal was dug out. He came out from a hole that was cut across as the ditch went down. It looked most like an eel at first, but a closer examination showed four short legs, not over an inch long, and armed with toes for digging. The men called it a Congo snake and seemed to have a superstitious dread of it, for they left the ditch as soon as it appeared and would not go back until I had killed it and thrown it out of their sight. A shower broke off the work in the afternoon and flooded the diggings.

109. John Adams

2 June, 1776.

Yesterday I dined with Captain Richards, the gentleman who made me the present of the brass pistols. We had cherries, strawberries, and green peas in plenty. The fruits are three weeks earlier here than with you. Indeed, they are a fortnight earlier on the east than on the west side of Delaware River. We have had green peas this week past, but they were brought over the river, from New Jersey, to this market. There are none grown in the city or on the west side of the river yet. The reason is, the soil of New Jersey is a warm sand; that of Pennsylvania a cold clay. So much for peas and berries.

Now for something of more importance. In all the correspondence I have maintained, during a course of twenty years, at least, that I have been a writer of letters, I never kept a single copy. This negligence and inaccuracy has been a great misfortune to me on many occasions. I have now purchased a folio book, in the first page of which, excepting one blank leaf, I am writing this letter, and intend to write all my letters to you in it, from this time forward. This will be an advantage to me in several respects. In the first place, I shall write more deliberately. In the second place, I shall be able, at all times, to review what I have written. Third, I shall know how often I write. Fourth, I shall discover by this means whether any of my letters to you miscarry. If it were possible for me to find a conveyance, I would send you such another blank book as a present, that you might begin the practice at the same time, for I really think that your letters are much better worth preserving than mine. Your daughter and sons will very soon write so good hands that they will copy the letters for you from your book, which will improve them, at the same time that it relieves you.

38. John Adams

Philadelphia, 2 June, 1775.

I had yesterday the pleasure of two letters from you, by Dr. Church. We had been so long without any intelligence from our country, that the sight of the Dr. gave us great joy. I have received no letters from England, until the Doctor brought me one from Mr. Dilly.[76]

Mr. Henly goes, to-morrow, to the camp at Cambridge. I am not so ill as I was when I left you, though not well.

Our debates and deliberations are tedious; from nine to four, five, and once near six—our determinations very slow—I hope sure. The Congress will support us, but in their own way. Not precisely in that way which I could wish, but in a better way than we could well expect, considering what a heterogeneous body it is.

The prospect of crops in all the Southern colonies never was exceeded. What will become of the immense quantities of provisions, when the non-exportation takes place, I can't conceive. Surely we shall not starve.

Poor Bostonians! My heart bleeds for them day and night. God preserve and bless them!

Was you frightened when the sheep-stealers got a drubbing at Grape Island? Father Smith prayed for our scow crew, I doubt not; but how did my dear friend Dr. Tufts sustain the shock? My duty and love to them and all others who justly claim them.

Dr. Warren writes me about my brother. My love to both my brothers, my duty to my mother and your uncle Quincy. Tell him I hope our company continue their exercises. He would burst to see whole companies of armed Quakers in this city, in uniforms, going through the manual and manœuvres like regular troops.


[76]Edward Dilly, the publisher in London, who seems to have sympathized with the patriotic party here, and with whom Mr. Adams carried on a correspondence.

186. John Adams

Philadelphia, Monday, 2 June, 1777.

Artillery Election! I wish I was at it or near it. Yours of the 18th reached me this morning. The cause that letters are so long in travelling is that there is but one post in a week, who goes from hence to Peekskill, although there are two that go from thence to Boston. Riding every day has made me better than I was, although I am not yet quite well. I am determined to continue this practice, which is very necessary for me.

I rejoice to find that the town have had the wisdom to send but one Representative. The House last year was too numerous and unwieldy. The expense was too great. I suppose you will have a Constitution formed this year. Who will be the Moses, the Lycurgus, the Solon? or have you a score or two of such? Whoever they may be, and whatever form may be adopted, I am persuaded there is among the mass of our people a fund of wisdom, integrity, and humanity which will preserve their happiness in a tolerable measure.

If the enemy comes to Boston again, fly with your little ones, all of them, to Philadelphia. But they will scarcely get to Boston this campaign. I admire your sentiments concerning revenge. Revenge in ancient days (you will see it through the whole Roman history) was esteemed a generous and an heroic passion. Nothing was too good for a friend, or too bad for an enemy. Hatred and malice without limits against an enemy were indulged, were justified, and no cruelty was thought unwarrantable. Our Saviour taught the immorality of revenge, and the moral duty of forgiving injuries, and even the duty of loving enemies. Nothing can show the amiable, the moral, the divine excellency of these Christian doctrines in a stronger point of light than the characters and conduct of Marius and Sylla, Cæsar, Pompey, Antony, and Augustus, among innumerable others. Retaliation we must practice in some instances, in order to make our barbarous foes respect, in some degree, the rights of humanity. But this will never be done without the most palpable necessity. The apprehension of retaliation alone will restrain them from cruelties which would disgrace savages. To omit it then would be cruelty to ourselves, our officers and men.

We are amused here with reports of troops removing from Rhode Island, New York, Staten Island, etc.; wagons, boats, bridges, etc., prepared; two old Indiamen cut down into floating batteries, mounting thirty-two guns, sent round into Delaware river, etc., etc.; but I heed it no more than the whistling of the zephyrs. In short, I had rather they should come to Philadelphia than not. It would purify this city of its dross. Either the furnace of affliction would refine it of its impurities, or it would be purged yet so as by fire. This town has been a dead weight upon us. It would be a dead weight upon the enemy. The mules here would plague them more than all their money.