John Adams letter to Abigail Adams, 8 October 1776

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[Philadelphia], 8 October, 1776.

I OUGHT to acknowledge with gratitude your constant kindness in writing to me by every post. Your favor of 29 September, I came by the last. I wish it had been in my power to have returned your civilities with the same punctuality, but it has not. Long before this, you have received letters from me, and newspaper containing a full account of the negotiation. The communication is still open, and the post-riders now do their duty, and will continue to do so.

I assure you, we are as much at a loss, about affairs at New York, as you are. In general, our Generals were outgeneraled on Long Island, and Sullivan and Stirling with a thousand men were made prisoners, in consequence of which and several other unfortunate circumstances, a council of war thought it prudent to retreat from that island and Governor's Island, and then from New York. They are now posted at Haerlem, about ten or eleven miles from the city. They led behind them some provisions, some cannon and some baggage. Wherever the men of war have approached, our militia have most manfully turned their backs and run away, officers and men, like sturdy fellows ; and their panics have sometimes seized the regular regiments. One little skirmish on Montresor's Island ended with the loss of the brave Major Henley and the disgrace of the rest of the party. An other skirmish, which might indeed be called an action, ended in the defeat and shameful flight of the enemy with the loss of the brave Colonel Knowlton on our part. The enemy have possession of Paulus hook and Bergen point, places on the Jersey side of North river. By this time their force is so divided between Staten Island, Long Island, New York, Paulus hook, and Bergen point, that I think they will do no great matter more this fall, unless the expiration of the term of enlistment of our army should disband it If our new enlistment fill up for soldiers during the war, we shall do well enough. Every body must encourage this.

You are told that a regiment of Yorkers behaved ill, and it may be true ; but I can tell you that sever al regiments of Massachusetts men behaved ill too. The spirit of venality you mention is the most dreadful and alarming enemy America has to oppose. It is as rapacious and insatiable as the, grave. We are in the face Romnli non republica Flalonis. This predominant avarice will ruin America, if she is ever ruined. If God Almighty does not interpose by his grace to control this universal idolatry to the mammon of unrighteousness we shall be given up to the chastisements of his judgments. I am ashamed of the age I live in.

You surprise me with your account of the prayers in public for an abdicated King, a pretender to the crown. Nothing of that kind is heard in this place, or any other part of the continent, but New York and the place you mention. This practice is treason against the State, and cannot be long tolerated.

Don't leave off writing to me. I write as often as I can. I am glad master John has an office so useful to his mamma and papa as that of post- rider.

Author:
John Adams

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