John Adams Letters document,


Philadelphia, Monday, 1 September, 1777.


WE have now run through the summer, and although the weather is still warm, the fiercest of the heat is over. And although the extreme intemperance of the late season has weakened and exhausted me, yet I think, upon the whole, I have got through it as well as upon any former occasion.

A letter from General Washington, dated Saturday, informs that our light parties have brought in four-and-twenty prisoners more. So that the prisoners and deserters since Mr. Howe landed are near a hundred. The question now is, whether there will be a general engagement ? In the first place, I think, after all that has passed, it is not good policy for us to attack them, unless we can get a favorable advantage of them in the situation of the ground, or an opportunity to at tack a detachment of their army with superior numbers. It would be imprudent, perhaps, for us with our whole force to attack them with all theirs.

But another question arises, whether Mr. Howe will not be able to compel us to a general engagement ? Perhaps he may ; but I make a question of it. Washington will maneuver it with him a good deal to avoid it A general engagement, in which Howe should be defeated, would be ruin to him. If we should be defeated, his army would be crippled, and perhaps we might suddenly reinforce our army, which he could not. However, all that he could gain by a victory- would be the possession of this town, which would be the worst situation lie could be in, because it would employ his whole force by sea and land to keep it and the command of the river.

Their principal dependence is not upon their arms, I believe, so much as upon the failure of our revenue. To think they have taken such measures, by circulating counterfeit bills, to depreciate the currency, that it cannot hold its credit longer than this campaign. But they are mistaken

We, however, must disappoint them by renouncing all luxuries, and by a severe economy. General Washington sets a fine example. He has banished wine from his table, and entertains his friends with rum and water. This is much to the honor of his wisdom, his policy, and his patriotism. And the example must be followed by banishing sugar and all imported articles from our families. If necessity should reduce us to a simplicity of dress and diet be coming republicans, it would be a happy and a glorious necessity.

Yours, yours, yours.

John Adams