John Adams letter to Abigail Adams, 11 February 1776


Philadelphia, 11 February, 1776.


HERE I am again. Arrived last Thursday, in good health, although I had a cold journey. The weather, a great part of the way, was very severe, which pre vented our making very quick progress. My companion was agreeable and made the journey much less tedious than it would have been.

I can form no judgment of the state of public opinions and principles here, as yet, nor any conjectures of what an hour may bring forth.

Have been to meeting, and heard Mr. Duffield from Jeremiah ii. 17. " Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, when he led thee by the way ? " He prayed very earnestly for Boston and New York, supposing the latter to be in danger of destruction. I, however, am not convinced that Vandcput will fire upon that town. It has too much Tory property to be destroyed by Tories. I hope it will be fortified and saved. If not, the question may be asked, " hast thou not procured this? "

To-morrow Doctor Smith is to deliver an oration in honor of the brave Montgomery. I will send it, as soon as it is out, to you. There is a deep anxiety, a kind of thoughtful melancholy, and in some, a lowness of spirits approaching to despondency, prevailing through the southern colonies, at present, very similar to what I have often observed in Boston, particularly on the first news of the port bill, and last year about . this time, or a little later, when the bad news arrived which dashed their fond hopes, with which they had deluded themselves through the winter. In this or a similar condition we shall remain, I think, until late in the spring, when some critical event will take place, perhaps sooner. But the arbiter of events, the sovereign of the world only knows, which way the torrent will be turned. Judging by experience, by probabilities and by all appearances, I conclude, it will roll on to dominion and glory, though the circumstances and consequences may be bloody.

In such great changes and commotions, individuals are but atoms. It is scarcely worth while to consider what the consequences will be to us. What will be the effects upon present and future millions, and millions of millions, is a question very interesting to benevolence, natural and Christian. God grant they may, and I firmly believe they will, be happy.

John Adams

Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife. Edited by His Grandson, Charles Francis Adams, Volume I, 1841