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Appointed Judge of Admiralty in Massachusetts........ Letter declin
ing the Appointment........ Correspondence with Samuel Adams..... Private Life of the Members of the Provincial Congress.
In pursuance of the design of the law of November 10, 1775, courts were established by the authority of the province for the trial and condemnation of prizes, and the lucrative place of maritime judge for the counties of Suffolk, Middlesex and Essex, was offered to Mr. Gerry. The following letter explains his reasons for refusing this honourable appointment.
MR. GERRY TO THE COUNCIL OF THE COLONY OF
MARBLEHEAD, Dec. 9, 1775. MAY IT PLEASE YOUR HONOURS, I was notified by your secretary last evening, that your honours had appointed me to the place of maritime judge for the counties of Suffolk, Middlesex and Essex, and the information was received with gratitude and respect, as a repeated instance of your kindness towards me.
The appointment I consider as altogether arising from the favour of your honours, and not from any merit in myself; yet, diffident as I am of being able to discharge the duties with correctness, I should nevertheless feel bound to obey this unexpected call, if it did not militate with the public concerns in which I am engaged, and which appear to me of equal if not superiour importance.
As it will be impracticable for me to fill the office consistently with engagements to which I have referred, I beg leave to be excused from accepting the appointment, and flatter myself with your honours' approbation of the motives by which I am influenced.
I shall at all times take pleasure in supporting the authority of your honourable body, and in exerting myself to give efficacy to your measures, and am with great respect, Your honours' obedient servant,
Military preparation did not wholly occupy the attention of the provincial congress of Massachusetts. With a prudent forecast they looked beyond the temporary state of things, and believing that they were establishing a new government, in which their posterity as well as themselves were
interested, were desirous of fixing it upon principles which wisdom might approve, and with a permanency that future generations might be permitted to admire.
MR. S. ADAMS TO MR. GERRY.
PAILADELPHIA, SEPT. 26, 1775. MY DEAR SIR, I arrived in this city on the 12th instant, having rode full three hundred miles on horseback, an exercise which I have not used for many years past. I think it has contributed to the establishment of my health, for which I am obliged to my friend Mr. John Adams, who kindly offered me one of his horses the day after we sat off from Watertown.
I write you this letter, principally to put you in mind of the promise you made me to give me intelligence of what is doing in our assembly and the camp. Believe me, sir, it is of great importance that we should be informed of every circumstance of our affairs. The eyes of friends and foes are attentively fixed on our province, and if jealousy or envy can sully its reputation, you may depend upon it they will not miss the opportunity. It behoves our friends, therefore, to be very circumspect, and in all their public conduct to convince the world, that they are influenced not by partial or private motives, but altogether with a view of promoting the public welfare.
Some of our military gentlemen have, I fear, disgraced us; it is then important that every anecdote that concerns a man of real merit among them, and such I know there are, be improved, as far as decency will admit of it, to their advantage and the honour of a colony, which, for its zeal in the great cause, as well as its sufferings, deserves so much of America.
Until I visited head quarters at Cambridge, I had never heard of the valour of Prescott at Bunker's hill, nor the ingenuity of Knox and Waters in planning the celebrated works at Roxbury. We were told here that there were none in our camp who understood the business of an engineer, or any thing more than the manual exercise of the gun. This we had from great authority, and for want of more certain intelligence were obliged at least to be silent. There are many military geniuses at present unemployed and overlooked, who I hope, when the army is new modelled, will be sought after and invited into the service of their country. They must be sought after, for modest merit declines pushing itself into public view. I know your disinterested zeal, and therefore need add no more than to assure you that I am with cordial esteem,
MR. GERRY TO MR. ADAMS.
WATERTOWN, Oct. 9, 1775.
DEAR SIR, I received your letter of September 26th. It gives me great satisfaction to hear that your ride on horseback has contributed to your health. I hope the friends of America, who are transacting the most important concerns of their country, will not find the want of so valuable a blessing.
I unite in your opinion that the eyes of friends and foes are fixed on this colony, and if jealousy or envy can sully its reputation they will not miss the opportunity. Great attempts have been made to do this by representing the expenses of the camp as unreasonable. These expenses have been great, but they only, who do not know our situation, would call them extravagant. Let it be remembered that the first attack was made on this colony ; that we had to keep a regular force without the advantage of a regular government; that we had to support in the field from 12 to 14,000 men, when the whole forces voted by the other New-England governments amounted to 8,500 only. That New-Hampshire found it impracticable to support its own troops at so short notice, and was for a considerable time actually supplied with provisions from this province. That after