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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 de served 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, &c. Every colony upon the continent will soon he 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 them selves, have been constantly fighting and skirmishing, and always with success. I wish the same valor, prudence and spirit had been discovered everywhere.
- John Adams
- Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife. Edited by His Grandson, Charles Francis Adams, Volume I, 1841