Friday, August 12, 2011

Letters from the Front: Dr. Samuel Adams to Samuel Adams, 7 Feb 1775

"...should be desirous to hear the judgment of a Gentleman so well acquainted with our Publick affairs as yourself, and to have his hands strengthened & his heart encouraged in the Glorious Cause of Liberty..."

 The first document in our Letters from the Front series comes from Dr. Samuel Adams, a relation of the more famous revolutionary, to whom he addresses himself in this letter. The good doctor was born in Killingly, Connecticut, on January 28, 1745. At the time of this letter, Adams was the physician for the town of Truro Massachusetts, where he stood out amongst his Loyalist neighbors. Adams would go on to serve as a surgeon for various Continental Artillery regiments through the end of the war. In this letter, we find him full of fire for the American cause and looking to his elder statesman cousin for guidance. The Gray Maggot referred to in his letter was a treatise written by former Receiver-General of Massachusetts Harrison Gray (who also carried that nickname), formally titled A Few Remarks upon some of the Votes and Resolutions of the Continental Congress,...and the Provincial Congress. By a Friend to Peace and good Order.” Harrison's work challenged the validity of the Continental Congress and cast aspersions upon its members. Our thanks go to David Library Volunteer Andrew Dauphinee for this and many other transcripts in the series. The full text of the letter is posted below.


Sol Feinstone Collection No. 49
Dr. Samuel Adams to Samuel Adams, Truro, Massachusetts 7 February 1775                        
Transcribed by Andrew Dauphinee August 2011


            I must begin with an apology for presuming to trouble you with an impertinent Scroll, and beg you will pardon it in one who has the honor to bear your Name, and who flatters himself that he has some sparks of the same Patriotic Spirit, that has so nobly actuated yourself in the important services you have done your Country especially as it proceeds from a desire to testify my gratitude and great esteem for you; as well as to obtain the favour of your opinion upon our Publick affairs.  You cannot wonder Sr: that a person who lives thus remote from the Capital and who hungers and thirsts after Political righteousness, should be desirous to hear the judgment of a Gentleman so well acquainted with our Publick affairs as yourself, and to have his hands strengthened & his heart encouraged in the Glorious Cause of Liberty, so that should the times require it he may be willing to resist the oppressive measures of a North unto blood.___but Can the Nation be so infatuated as to suffer their Minister to persevere in his Diabolical plan!  Or will they not at last open their eyes to see the precipice they are upon!
            The Gray Maggot has made its way down here, but nothing can equal the Contempt it is held in by most; except it be the Malevolence of its author.  I am amazed at the rancour of the writers heart which he discovers in aspersing the characters of the worthy Gentlemen that represented this Province at the grand American Congress; but why should I wonder that such able friends to their Country should be abused from by Creatures who write for hire: where even so insignificant a person as myself meets with insults & threats, from those enemies to all righteousness the Tories, for manifesting myself a friend to the liberties of America.          I am with great esteem & respect
Truro Feb: 7 1779       Sm: your most obedient Humble Servant
                                                                                    Samel: Adams

P.S. Sr. should you please to favour me with a line you may leave one for me at Mr. Willm Lamberts near the Draw Bridge and much oblige yt. [illegible—in haste &ct?]”

Background information on Dr. Samuel Adams is courtesy of and can be found here.

Our thanks to J. L. Bell for the correction on the Receiver General's name and clarification on the source of his nickname!

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1 comment:

  1. A slip on the name of the Receiver-General, or Treasurer, of Massachusetts: He was Harrison Gray, hence “the Gray Maggot.” His grandson Harrison Gray Otis carried on his name.

    Benjamin Harrison was a Continental Congress delegate from Virginia. His great-grandson Benjamin Harrison carried on his name.