[Ms., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]
PHILAD Decr 25 1778
I am greatly indebted to you for your very acceptable Letter of the 7th of Novr by Mr Temple. That Gentleman, in my Opinion took an unguarded Step on his late Arrival in New York. I mean his writing a Letter to the late President Mr Laurens requesting Permission to pay his Respects to Congress, and another Letter to myself. This excited a Suspicion in the Minds of the true Friends of our Cause, that what they had before seen in the English News papers, viz that he & Dr Berkenhout were sent to America by the British Ministry might not be without Grounds. This Desire of paying a respectful Visit to Congress was judgd to be a Reason merely ostensible; and the Time & Manner of his leaving England, the Company he came with and the Readiness with which the British General granted him the Liberty of sending his Letters, the Contents of which must most undoubtedly have been under his Inspection, it was said, afforded Reason to believe his real Design was to gain an honorable Admission into this City, & the Confidence of Members of Congress & others thereby the more easily to cooperate with the British Commissioners, and carry their Designs into Effect. The Jealousy of the People when it is properly directed or as some chuse to call it, a prudent Caution, is in my Opinion one of the best Securities of publick Liberty. And we must allow them to give all that Weight to a Train of Circumstances respecting our Friend, which in other Instances we shd ourselves judge to be reasonable. His Friends have given him high Recommendations. But say others, his Friends may be partial to him. His Connections are among the warmest Patriots. His Testimonials come from the most virtuous Citizens. They have a good Opinion of him. True, and this might be a strong Inducement to a politick Minister to make Choice of him, & may make him the fittest Instrument to answer his Purpose. For my own Part I know Mr Temples former Character Conduct & Sufferings & have also a good opinion of him. I have done him the most substantial Acts of Friendship in my Power. But so deep rooted were the Suspicions of him and so general, that I have been under a Necessity of forbearing to visit him so often as I otherwise should have done, lest I might lose that consistent Character and that Confidence which it is my Duty as far as I am able, to support, in the Minds of Congress, the Minister of our Ally & the People of America. I have Reason to believe that I am on Terms of Friendship with the Sieur Gerard. In private Conversation with him, I purposely mentiond Mr Temples Name, & I conclude we concur in Sentiment that however upright the Heart of any Gentleman may be yet if an Opinion prevails among the People that he is a secret Emissary from the Enemy, his Residence near the Congress, might, at this Juncture especially, make improper Impressions on the Minds of our Friends abroad. Mr Temple has lately taken his Leave of this City & I believe some Gentlemen of Character have since conceivd a more favorable Opinion of him than they did before.