January 7

This Day in History

American Revolution

Jan 7, 1776:

Samuel Adams writes that the confederation is not dead, but sleepeth

From Philadelphia, Samuel Adams writes to his friend Colonel James Warren that the idea of a confederation, or loose political union, among the colonies "is not dead, but sleepeth. To those who believed they would see the confederation completed long ago Adams wrote, I do not despair of it -- since our Enemies themselves are hastening it.

The following day, Samuel's cousin, John Adams, wrote Warren's wife, Mercy Otis Warren, and inquired if she would prefer an American Monarchy or Republic. While John declared his own preference for a republic, he wished it only if We must erect an independent Government in America, which you know is utterly against my Inclination. Although he regaled Mrs. Warren with the many virtues of republican government, Adams remained concerned that, there is so much Rascallity, so much Venality and Corruption, so much Avarice and Ambition, such a Rage for Profit and Commerce among all Ranks and Degrees of Men even in America, that I sometimes doubt whether there is public Virtue enough to Support a Republic.

Even among the inter-bred social elites of Massachusetts, there was no unanimity of opinion on the political course the colonies should take. Two days after John Adams equivocated over the sustainability of an American republic in his letter to Warren, Thomas Paine published Common Sense and swayed public opinion towards independence. Six months later, Congress charged Adams, by then considered an American Atlas for his passionate arguments for independence, to serve with Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin on the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence. Only his knowledge that Thomas Jefferson was the better writer kept Adams from drafting the famed document himself.

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