[Ms., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a portion of the text is printed in W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. iii., p. 40.]
PHILE Sept 14—78
I recd your favor of the 3d with the News papers inclosd. I note well the Contents. Our Boston Papers never fail to mark all the Movements of Great Men & to give Honor where Honor is due. The spirited Exertions of our Major Generals to be sure ought properly to be noticed. Some of them have had the good Fortune never to be out of the Way of making a Figure, while others are wisely following the unpopular Steps of Fabius or Count Daun. The Marquis La Fayette every one acknowledges, made surprizing Dispatch in going to Boston and returning to R I; but he was sadly mortified in not being present in the Action on that Island. He did all that Man cd do Impossibilities are not to be expected. But he arrivd in Season to take a distinguishd Share in the well timed & well conducted Retreat. In Him we indeed see an Instance of a young Nobleman “of Rank & fortune foregoing the pleasures of Enjoyment of domestick Life and exposing himself to the Hardships and Dangers of a Camp,” not in his own but a foreign Country, “in the glorious Cause of freedom.”
Congress requested the President to write to him & in their Name acknowledge his Zeal & spirited Services on this Occasion by which he has given a fresh proof of his Attachment to our Common Cause. I am sorry to hear there is a Disposition in some persons in Boston to cast an odium on the french Admiral for his leaving Rhode Island. In my Opinion it is at this Juncture impolitick in the Extreme. Even if his Conduct was thought to be blameworthy Prudence I think would dictate Silence to us. Men of Discretion and Influence will surely by all means check such a Disposition.
The Tories will try their utmost to discredit our new Alliance. You know how much depends upon our cultivating mutual Confidence. It is not in the Power of undisguisd Tories to hurt our Cause. Injudicious tho honest Whigs may & too often do injure it. Those whose chief aim is to establish a Popularity in order to obtain the Emoluments of places or the Breath of Applause will think they may serve themselves by declaiming on this Subject, or prompting others to do it; and they will not fail doing it though they essentially wound their Country.
If there be any of my virtuous & publick spirited fellow Citizens who pay the least Regard to my opinions I wish they would particularly regard what I say on this Occasion.
I have written in haste and must break off abruptly.
[Ms., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]
Philade Sept 21, 1778
My dear sir/