John Adams letter to Abigail Adams, 14 August 1776

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Philadelphia, 14 August, 1776.

THIS is the anniversary of a memorable day in the history of America. A day when the principle of American resistance and independence was first asserted and carried into action. The stamp office fell before the rising spirit of our countrymen. It is not impossible that the two grateful brothers may make their grand attack this very day. If they should, it is possible it may be more glorious for this country, than ever: it is certain, it will become more memorable. Your favors of August 1st and 5th came by yesterday's post. I congratulate you all upon your agreeable prospects. Even my pathetic little hero Charles, I hope, will have the distemper finely. It is very odd that the Doctor cannot put infection enough into his veins ; nay, it is unaccountable to me, that he has not taken it the natural way, before now. I am under little apprehension, prepared as he is, if he should. I am concerned about you, much more. So many persons about you sick, the children troublesome, your mind perplexed, yourself weak and relaxed. The situation must be disagreeable. The country air and exercise, however, will refresh you.

I am put upon a committee, to prepare a device for a golden medal, to commemorate the surrender of Boston to the American arms, and upon another, to prepare devices for a great seal, for the confederated States. There is a gentleman here of French extraction, whose name is Du Simitiere, a painter by profession, whose designs are very ingenious, and his drawings well executed. lie has been applied to for his advice. I waited on him yesterday, and saw his sketches. For the medal he proposes, Liberty, with her spear and pileus, leaning on General Washington. The British fleet in Boston harbor with all their sterns towards the town, the American troops marching in. For the seal, he proposes, The arms of the several nations from whence America has been peopled, r.s English, Scotch, Irish, Dutch, German, &c., each in a shield. On one side of them, Liberty with her pileus, on the other, a rifler in his uniform, with his rifle gun in one hand, and his tomahawk in the other. This dress and these troops with this kind of armor being peculiar to America, unless the dress was known to the Romans. Dr. Franklin showed me yesterday a book, containing an account of the dresses of all the Roman soldiers, one of which appeared exactly like it. This M. du Simitiere is a very curious man. He has begun a collection of materials for a history of this revolution. He begins with the first advices of the tea ships. He cuts out of the newspapers every scrap of intelligence, and every piece of speculation, and pastes it upon clean paper, arranging them under the head of that State to which they belong, and intends to bind them up in volumes. He has a list of every speculation and pamphlet concerning independence, and another of those concerning forms of government

Doctor F. proposes a device for a seal. Moses lifting up his wand, and dividing the red sea, and Pharaoh in his chariot overwhelmed with the waters. This motto. "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God."

Mr. Jefferson proposed, The children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night and on the other side, Hengist and Horsa, the Saxon chiefs, from whom we claim the honor of being descended, and whose political principles and form of government we have assumed.

I proposed, The choice of Hercules, as engraved by Gribelin, in some editions of Lord ShaAesbury's works. The hero resting on his club. Virtue pointing to her rugged mountain on one hand, and persuading him to ascend. Sloth, glancing at her flowery paths of pleasure, wantonly reclining on the ground, displaying the charms both of her eloquence and person, to seduce him into vice. But this is too complicated a group for a seal or medal, and it is not original.

I shall conclude by repeating my request for horses and a servant. Let the horses be good ones. I can't ride a bad horse so many hundred miles. If our affairs had not been in so critical a state at New York, I should have run away before now. But I am determined, now, to stay until some gentleman is sent here in my room, and until my horses come. But the time will be very tedious.

The whole force is arrived at Staten Island.

Author:
John Adams

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