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ELBRIDGE GERRY TO JAMES WARREN
PHILADELPHIA, Novr. 8th, 1778
MY DEAR SIR, I am a little apprehensive that some of my Friends will consider Silence to their Letters, which an indifferent State of Health and much Fatigue has for some Time rendered inevitable, as an abatement of Friendship, but conscious of the sincerest Esteem for my Friend General Warren and having long experienced his Candour, I flatter myself he will consider such omissions, as they really are, the Effects of Necessity. I shall trouble You with little, in Answer to your several Favours of the 13th May, 7th July, 4th Augt., and 3d Sep. last, as their early Dates render it unnecessary. The marine Commee I presume, have taken the proper Steps to do Justice to Capt. Manly; the bravery of this officer seems not to be questioned, but many appear to Want Confidence in his Abilities and Experience, and on that Ground oppose his being high in office: I presume not to judge of their Motives and Designs on this Occasion, or without further information, of his Character as an officer. I am much concerned to find, that You intend to quit the Business of the navy Board, as it will be soon an important and respectable Department. Under the present State of Affairs it is impossible to do Justice to the Commissioners, but Congress have increased their Salary to 3000 Dollars Per Year. perhaps you consider the Levity of the Times as an Argument for Quitting the Service, if so, I will readily acknowledge that the Vices of some and Follies of others are very displeasing; but in a Revolution like the present, necessarily producing an entire Change of the Governments and Constitutions of thirteen States, the Suspension of Law and Justice, the Want of necessary Arrangements for preventing Frauds, and the most favorable Oppertunities for Speculators and Ingrossers, it must reasonably be expected that the Morals of the people will be greatly injured, and for a while, present a gloomy prospect. but I trust, there is yet Wisdom and Vertue enough in America to recover her Citizens from their Errors, and lead a brave and deserving People into paths conducive to their Happiness. true it is the Work is arduous, And it is equally true, that
it is necessary; for should We exceed in Power and Wealth every Empire on Earth, and neglect the Morals of the People, is it not evident, that our Independance, instead of Freedom would produce a Slavery, far exceeding that of every other Nation? If the best and ablest Friends of America, who under providence have opposed the corrupt Arts, not less than the powerful Arms of G. Britain, will unite in checking the Career of Vanity, Vice and Folly, the Leaders of this feeble Train will vanish at the Appearance of Opposition, and leave the Way clear to the promotion of the opposite Virtues; but if on the other Hand, those on whom We have principally relied, should suffer themselves to be disgusted at the natural appearance of Bubbles on the mighty Ocean of our affairs, and withdraw from the Service, I fear that our Liberties, like such shortlived phaenomenons will burst, and leave not behind, a Trace of their former existence.
I know that You have had much Fatigue and Tryal, and met with many Things that are very disagreable. I assure You that We have had a full Share of these in Congress; I most ardently wish to return to my native Country, and co-operate with my Friends in their salutary Measures. pray confer with our Friend Mr. Dana, on these affairs, as I am persuaded he can inform You of many Things which will assist You in pursuing the necessary Measures. ...
SAMUEL ADAMS TO JAMES Warren
MY DEAR SIR, I have receivd your favor of the 7 October by Mr. Dod. I cannot say that I am by any Means pleasd with the inclosd Letter to [Congress].1 I am glad however that you allowd me the Perusal of it before its Presentation. I consider the Confidence you place in me in this Instance as sufficient to warrant me in delaying to deliver it, till I shall hear further from you, which I will accordingly do in hopes that you will alter your Determination.
I His letter of resignation, p. 61, supra.
We now begin to hope for Peace soon on our own Terms; or if the War should continue longer, that it will be conducted in such a Manner as will render a large Army less necessary, which will enable us to be at greater Expence for an American Navy; the building up of which is looked upon by all wise and good Men whom I converse with as necessary and highly important. General Whipple is again returnd to Congress; and as he is a Man of Sense and great Experience in Marine Affairs, and was formerly of the Marine Comtee. I was sollicitous that he should again be of the Number.1 Congress have added him to the Committee, and I hope he will act as Chairman during the Absence of Colo. Lee who is gone to Virginia. From several Hints which Genl. W. has dropd to me, I am in Hopes that Measures will be come into which may add Weight to your Board and facilitate the Business of it.
The Navy Boards, especially that in the Eastern Department where it is probable there will constantly be a great Resort of our Ships of War, will be standing Boards, and of the greatest Importance to the United States. The best Men must fill those Places.
I will not, least you should think me indelicate, add more on this Subject, than my earnest Request that you will for the present suspend your Resignation.
I am glad that you have discoverd the Mistake you mention,2 and will communicate it.
The Picture, my dear Friend, which you give me of my beloved Native town mortifies me greatly. I had the Vanity to think she would afford Examples of Industry, Frugality, Temperance and other publick Virtues. I fear with you that we have lost our Labour. When ambitious Men aim at establishing a Popularity by confounding the Distinction between Virtue and Vice and through the Degeneracy of Times they can effect it, the People will tamely submit to a Master. Adieu.
PHILADA., Novr. 9th, 1778.
I He was appointed on the Committee November 6, in place of Josiah Bartlett, absent. 2 In his accounts.
SAMUEL ADAMS TO JAMES WARREN
PHILADA., Noor. 23, 1778
MY DEAR SIR, — I have lately receivd a Letter from our worthy Friend Mr. J. A[dams] of an old Date, the 21st of May. "Our Affairs says he in this Kingdom, I find in a State of Confusion and Darkness that surprizes me. Prodigious Sums of Money have been expended and large Sums are still due; but there are no Books of Accounts nor any Documents from whence I have been able to learn what the United States have receivd as an Equivalent." And yet we are told by a Gentleman lately from France that the Accounts and Documents were left in the Hands of a Person in Paris. My Friend A. L[ee] is called by those who dread his Vigilance "a dissatisfied Man." Having receivd many Letters from him since I last saw you, I know he is dissatisfied. What Man who regards the Publick Interest, or his own Reputation, can be satisfied, when he sees Millions of Livres spent, himself accountable with others for the Expenditure, and the Man through whose hands the greatest Part has passd without consulting him after being repeatedly called upon by him, unready or unwilling to account for them. There are other Things which my Friend complains of, and I think not without Justice. When I consider the high Character which one Man sustains and the Depth of Art which he is Master of; the low mercantile Cunning and plausibility of another, the servile and adulating Disposition of some on this side of the Water, the Commercial Interests and Connections of others, and the too formidable Combination of Men of Ambition, Avarice and Vanity, to sacrifice the Characters of those whose Conduct is a perpetual Remonstrance against them I cannot say I am without Apprehensions of what may befall that eminent American Patriot. I fear America is too unsuspecting long to continue free. Men of corrupt Principles, who seek to accumulate Honor and Wealth to themselves, to the Prejudice of the Publick, will endeavor to lull the People into Security, or, as they will call it, perfect good Humour, that they may not keep a vigilant Eye over them. It is the Right of the People which they ought to exercise, a Duty which they owe to their Posterity
to think and speak and publish with a decent Freedom, their Sentiments of publick Men and Measures. Adieu.
Decr. 9. The foregoing I had laid aside, and probably should never have forwarded it to you, had not an extraordinary Peice appeard in the last Saturday's paper signd S. Dean, in which he avows himself to be the Author of the Queries I sent you a few Weeks ago. I believe you will find the Plausibility of this Performance, which I shall inclose, to be answerable to a Character I have given you in the Letter above. He "had the Honor to be the Commercial and political Agent of America in Europe." He might have said more justly that he had the Honor of being employd by the secret Committee of Commerce as their Agent, and by the secret Committee of Correspondence as their Intelligencer. Mr. A Lee he says "having by a wanton Display of his Errand, given great and just Cause of Disgust to the Court of Spain, returnd." I will relate to you certain Matters which may explain, if that Court was disgusted with him as Mr. D[eane] asserts, how it came to pass Soon after the secret Committee was appointed, which if I remember rightly was about three years ago, they wrote a Letter to Mr. Lee then in England, requesting a political Correspondence with him, and desiring he would give them the best Intelligence he could, and pledging to him their Confidence. Mr. Lee being thus honord, in Mr. Dean's Sense, as a political Agent of America, and having the solemn Assurance of Confidence and Secrecy, with his usual fidelity and as became him in that Character, proceeded with unsuspecting Frankness to open to the Committee what he thought as well as what he knew of Men and Measures. There was at that time in England a Mr. Carmichael, who is lately arrivd in America and since appointed a Delegate in Congress for the State of Maryland. Mr. Lee had a good opinion of this young Gentleman; and he being at that time. about to return hither by the Way of France, Mr. Lee thought him a safe hand, and entrusted him with Dispatches to the secret Committee. His Letter was written on the inner Sides of the Outside Leaves of a small pocket Dictionary, and so neatly closd to the Covers as not to afford the least Suspicion if it should meet