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Prospect over at Union. Eastern educational radio network of the American Revolutionary period in a series of readings from the letters of the second president of the United States. Part of the First Continental Congress convenes.
Monday September 5th 1774. At 10:00 the delegates met at the City Tavern and walked to the carpenter's hall where they took a view of the room and of the chamber where is an excellent library. There is also a long entry where a gentleman may walk and a convenient chamber opposite to the library. The general was that this was a good room. And the question was put whether we were satisfied with this room. And it passed in the affirmative. Very few of the negatives and they were chiefly from Pennsylvania and New York. So John Adams wrote in his diary as he and his fellow delegates to the First Continental Congress gathered in Philadelphia in September 1774 they were to debate what response the colonies would make to the latest acts of the British Parliament in a pro parliament had passed by overwhelming majorities. A group of bills known as the coercive
acts the Boston Tea Party had prompted these retaliatory measures by General Gage The latest governor of Massachusetts was reporting that these acts were virtually unenforceable and was even recommending that they be temporarily suspended unless the British were willing to send greater military aid. The cabinet was unwilling to send any more troops because French design seemed more ominous than American rebellion. They persisted in the delusion that the rebellion could be confined and quenched in Massachusetts General Gage realized that although the Continental Congress was split into moderate radical and conservative over a general constitutional questions they were united in their support of the resistance in Massachusetts. This support hardened when news of the bombardment of Boston by gay just troops arrived. The report was for us coming perhaps from the radicals in the Congress as a spine stiffening maneuver. But even before the
news of the supposed bombardment the delegates had passed the suffix resolves despite the violent language of the preamble where the streets of Boston were said to be thronged with military executioners and the people were exhorted to disarm the PIRA Sayed which points the dagger to their bosoms. If indeed the tone of the Congress was set on the very first day when Mr Dushanbe chose to open it with the thirty fifth Psalm plead my cause oh lord with them that strive with me fight against them that fight against me take hold of the shield and buckler and stand up for mine help draw out also the spear and stop the way against them that persecute me say unto my soul oh I am guy's salvation. Philadelphia September 16th 1774. Having a
leisure moment while the Congress is assembling. I gladly embrace it to write you a line. When the Congress first met Mr. Cushing made a motion that it should be opened with a prayer. It was opposed by Mr. Jay of New York and Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina. Because we were so divided in religious sentiments some oppressed group alians some Quakers some Anabaptists some Presbyterians and some Congregationalists. So that we could not join in the same act of worship. Mr. S. Adams arose and said he was now a bigot and could hear a prayer from a gentleman of piety and virtue who was at the same time a friend to his country. He was a stranger in Philadelphia but had heard that Mr. de Shay do share as they pronounce it. Deserved to that character and therefore he moved that Mr to say an Episcopal clergyman might be desired to read prayers to the Congress tomorrow morning. The motion was seconded and passed in the affirmative. Mr. Randolph our president waited on Mr to say and received for answer that even health
would permit. He certainly would. Accordingly next morning he appeared with his clerk and then his pontifical address and read several prayers in the established form. And then read the collect for the seventh day of September which was the thirty fifth sound. You must remember that this was the next morning after we heard the horrible rumor of the cannonade of Boston. I never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seemed as if Heaven had ordained that song to be read on that morning. I long to see my dear family God bless preserve and prosper. Dear. John Adams. Philadelphia September 18th 1774 my dear in your last year inquired tenderly after my health and how we found the people upon our journey and how we were treated. I have enjoyed as good health as usual and much more than I know how to account for when I consider
the extreme heat of the weather and the incessant feasting I have endured ever since I left Boston. The people in Connecticut New York the jerseys and Pa.. We have found extremely well principled and very well inclined allows some persons in New York and Philadelphia wanted a little animation. Their zeal however has increased wonderfully since we began our journey. When the hard nose was brought here of the bombardment of Boston which made us completely miserable for two days we saw our proofs both of the sympathy and the resolution of the continent. Wow wow wow was the cry. And it was pronounced in a tone which would have done honor to they are a Tory of a Britain or a Roman. If it had proved true you would have heard the thunder of an American Congress. I confess the kindness the affection the applause which has been given to me and especially to our province have many a time filled my bosom and streamed from my
eyes. My best respects to Colonel Warren and his lady when you write to them I wish to write to them. At you. John Adams. Boston Garrison September 22nd 1770 Kaur I have just returned from a visit to my brother with my father who carried me there the day before yesterday. And called here on my return to see this much injured town. I view it with the same sensations that I should the body of a departed friend. Only put Opitz present but I want to rise finally to all my happy state. I will not despair but will believe that our cars being good we shall finally prevail. The maximum time of peace prepare progress. If this may be called a time of peace resounds throughout the country. Next Tuesday they are rounded Braintree all about 15 and under 60 to attend with their arms and the train runs a fraught night from that time a scheme which
lays much at heart with many. There has been a town a conspiracy of the negroes. At present it is kept pretty private and. As discovered by Ron who endeavored to dissuade them from it. He being threatened with his life applied to justice Quincy for protection. They conducted in this way got an Irishman to draw up a petition to the governor. Telling him they would fight for him provided he would on them and engage to liberate them if he conquered. And it is said that he attended so much as to consult Percy upon it. And when left on its small has been very busy and active. There is but little said. And what steps they will take in consequence of it I know not. I wish most sincerely there was not a slave in the province. It always appeared a most iniquitous scheme to me. Fight ourselves for what we are daily robbing and plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have. You know my mind on this subject. I left all our little ones well and shall return to them
tonight. I hope to hear from you by the return of the bearer of this and I revere. I long for the day of your return. Yet look upon you much safer where you are but know it will not do for you. Not one action has been brought to this court. No business of any sort in your way. All last ceases and the gospel will soon follow. For they are supporters of each other. I do my father hurries me yours most sincerely Abigail Adams. Philadelphia September 29 1774. My day. Sitting down to write to you is a scene almost too tender for my state of nerves. It comes up to my view the anxious distressed state you must be in amidst the confusions and dangers which surround you. I long to return and administer all the consolation in my power. But when I shall have accomplished all a business I have to do here I know not. And if it should be necessary to stay here till Christmas or
longer in order to effect our purposes I am determined patiently to wait. Patience forbearance long suffering are the lessons taught here for our province. And at the same time absolute and open resistance to the new government. I wish I could convince gentleman of the danger or impracticability of this as fully as I believe in it myself. The art and address of ambassadors from a dozen belligerent powers of Europe nay of a conclave of cardinals at the election of a pope or of the princes in Germany at the choice of an emperor could not exceed the specimens we have seen. Yet the Congress all profess the same political principles. They all profess to consider our province as suffering in the common cause. And indeed they seem to feel for us as if for themselves. We have had as great questions to discuss as ever engage the attention of men and an infinite multitude of them. I received a very kind letter
from Deacon Palmer appointing me with Mr. cringes designs of removing to Braintree which I approve very much and which I had and house for every family in Boston and abilities to provide for them in the country. I submitted to you my dear whether it would not be best to remove all the books and papers and furniture in the office at Boston up to Braintree. There would be no business there nor anywhere I suppose. And my young friends can study there better than in Boston at present. I should be killed with kindness in this place. We go to Congress at nine and then we stay most earnestly engaged in debates upon the most abstract mysteries of state until 3:00 in the afternoon and we adjourn and go to dinner with some of the nobles of Pennsylvania at 4 o'clock and feast upon ten thousand delicacies and sit drinking Madera Clarett and beg an age of six or seven and then go home to dig to death with a business company and care. Yet I hold it out surprisingly. I
drink now a cider but feast upon Philadelphia beer and project a gentleman one Mr. Hare has lately set up in the city a manufacturer of porter as good as any that comes from London. I pray we may introduce it into the Massachusetts. It agrees with me infinitely better than punch wine or cider or any other spirituous liquor. My love to my dear children one by one. My compliments to Mr. Thaxter and rice and everybody else. Yours most affectionately. John Adams. Philadelphia October 9th 1774 my dear I am aware of the death of the life I lead the business of the Congress is tedious beyond expression. This assembly is like no other that ever existed. Every man in it is a great man and orator critic and statesman and therefore every man upon every question must share his oratorio his criticism and his political abilities. A consequence of
this is that business is drawn and spun out to an immeasurable length. I believe if it was moved and seconded that we should come to a resolution that three and two make five. We should be entertained with logic and rhetoric. Law history politics and mathematics concerning the subject for two whole days and then we should pass the resolution unanimously in the affirmative. The perpetual round of feasting to which we are obliged to submit to makes the pilgrimage more tedious to me. This day I went to Dr. Allison is meeting in a foreign and her doctor. Good discourse upon the Lord's Supper. This is a Presbyterian Meeting. I confess I am not fond of the Presbyterian meetings in this town. I had rather go to church. We have better sermons better prayers better speakers softer sweeter music and Gentilla company and I must confess that the Episcopal Church is quite as agreeable to my taste as the Presbyterian. They are both slaves to the domination of the priesthood.
I like the Congregational way best. Next to that they are independent. This afternoon led by curiosity in good company I strolled away to Mother Church or rather grandmother church. I mean the Romish chapel. I heard a good shot model as I upon the duty of parents to their children founded in justice and charity to take care of their interests. Temporal and spiritual. This afternoon's entertainment was to me most awful and affecting the poor wretches fingering their chanting a Latin not a word of which they understood their Pater noster as an Ave Marias their holy water they're crossing themselves perpetually there bowing to the name of Jesus wherever they hear it. They're bowings and healings and genuflections before the altar. The dress of the priest was rich with a lace pulp it was velvet and goat. The altar piece was very rich. Little images and crucifixes about wax candles
lighted up. But how shall I describe the picture of our savior in a frame of marble over the altar at full length upon the cross in the agonies and the blood dropping and streaming from his runes. The music consisting of an organ and a choir of singers went early afternoon excepting sermon time and the assembly chanted most sweetly and exquisitely. Here is everything which can lay all of the ear and imagination everything which can charm and be which the simple and ignorant. I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell. My dear. John Adams. He left out of his letter to Abigail a third object of his disgruntled temper. Philadelphia itself whose facts he catalogs in a diary entry for the same day. Philadelphia with all its trade and wealth and regularity is not Boston. The amounts of our people are much better. Their manners are more polite
and agreeable. They are pure anguish. Our language is better our persons are handsome our spirit is greater our laws our eyes are our religion is apparent or our education is better. We exceed them in everything but in our market and in charitable public foundations. Philadelphia October 7th 1774. My dear. I thank you for all your kind of favors I wish I could write to you much oftener than I do. I wish I could write to you a dozen letters every day. But the business before me is so arduous and takes up my time so entirely that I cannot write often. I have the characters and tempers the principles and views of 50 gentleman total strangers to me to study and the trade policy and whole interest of a dozen provinces to learn. When I came here. I have multitudes of pamphlets newspapers and private letters to read. I have numberless plans of policy and many arguments to consider. I have many
visits to make and receive much ceremony to endure which cannot be avoided. But you know I hate. There is a great spirit in the Congress but our people must be peaceable. Let them exercise every day in the week if they will. The more the better let them furnish themselves with artillery arms and ammunition. Let them follow the maxim which you say they have adopted in times of peace prepare for Rob. But let them avoid raw if possible if possible I say. Mr. Rivera will bring you the doings of the Congress who are now all around me debating what advice to give to Boston and the Massachusetts Bay where our well hope our family is so remember me to them all. I have advised you before to remove my office from Boston to Braintree. It is now I think absolutely necessary. That the best care be taken of all books and papers. Tell all my clerks to mind their books and study hard for their country
will stand in need of able counsel less. I long to be at home but I cannot say who I am. I will never leave the Congress until it rises and when it will rise I cannot say. And indeed I cannot say but we are better here than anywhere. We have fine opportunities here to serve Boston and Massachusetts by acquainting the whole continent with the true state of them. Our residence here greatly serves the cause. The spirit and principles of liberty here are greatly cherished by our presence and conversation. The elections of the last week in the city prove this. Mr. Dickinson was chosen almost unanimously a representative of the county. The broad brims began in opposition to your friend Mr. Mifflin because he was to Rahm in the cars. This instantly alarmed the friends of liberty and ended in the election of Mr. Mifflin. By eleven hundred votes out of 13 and in the election of our secretary Mr. Charles Thompson to be a burgess with him. This is considered here as a most complete and
decisive victory in favor of the American cars and it is said it will change the balance in the legislature here against Mr. Galloway who has been supposed to sit on the skirts of the American advocates. Mrs. Medwin who was a charming Quaker girl often inquires kindly after your health. A dear my dear wife. God bless you and yours. So wishes and prays without ceasing. John Adams. The juice of caraway Adams referred to in this letter was the leader of the conservatives in the Congress. In a speech on constitutional fundamentals he held that no laws should be binding except those made by consent of the proprietors of England. Therefore NO LAW me since our ancestors immigrated is binding excepting these principles. His plan for a federated colonial council with power to veto Acts of Parliament was one logical solution moved by the radicals
the Congress voted down the getaway plan as he himself had said. I am well aware that my arguments stand to an independent sea of the colonies. It was toward the solution that the Congress moved when it brought it to adopt a non importation non exportation non consumption agreement called an association. It applied to both Great Britain and the West Indies and was to remain in effect until Great Britain should grant the petitions of the Congress. Committees were formed to ensure that this association was inforced pre-booking familiar charges of intimidation even from those who supported American resistance. Whether Americans particularly the merchants will bear the hardships at this interruption of trade would bring was the chief topic of discussion at the Congress. Abigail Adams was one American who accepted these strictures cheerfully and took Bostonian to task for not to vesting themselves of their ornaments and otherwise behaving
in a suitably patriotic manner. Braintree October 16 1774. My much loved friend I dare not express to you what three hundred miles distance how ardently I long for your return. I have some very mild early wishes and cannot consent to your spending one hour in town till at least I have had you 12. The idea plays about my heart and nerves my hand whilst I write. Awakens all the tender sentiments that years have increased and matured and which when with me work every day dispensing to you. I greatly fear that the arm of treachery and violence is looked at over us as a score a joint heavy punishment from heaven from numerous offenses. A part of this improvement of our great advantages. If we expect to inherit the blessings of our fathers. We should return a little brought to their primitive simplicity of manners
and not sink into ingloriously use. We have too many high sounding words and too few actions that correspond with them. I've spent one Sabbath in town since you left me. I saw no difference in respect to ornaments except But in the country you must look for that virtue of what you find out small glimmerings in the metropolis. Indeed they are not the advantages nor the resolution to encourage our own manufacture ease which people in the country have to the Mercantile part to consider throwing away their own bread. But they must retrench their expenses and be content with a smal share of game for they will find but few who will wear their livery. As for me I will seek will and blacks and work willingly with my hands. And indeed there is occasion for all our industry and economy. You mention the removal of our books and things from Boston. I believe they are safe there. And it would incommode the gentleman to remove them as they would not then have a place to repair to for
study. I suppose they would not choose to be at the expense of boarding out Mr Williams I believe keeps pretty much with his mother. Mr Hill's father had some thoughts of removing up to Braintree provided he could be accommodated with the house which he finds very difficult. Mr crunchers last determination was to Tarion town unless anything new takes place. His friends in town oppose his removal so much that he's determined to stay. The opinion you have entertained of General Gage is I believe just Indeed he professes to act only upon the defensive. The people in the country begin to be very anxious for the Congress to rise. They have no idea about the weighty business you have to transact and their blood burgles with indignation at the hostile preparations they are constant witnesses of. Mr. Quincey so secret departure is matter of various speculation. Some say he has to puta by the Congress others that he's going to Harlem and the Tories say he's
going to be hanged. I rejoice at the favorable account you give me of your health. May it be continued to you. My health is much better than it was last fall. Some folks say I grow very fat. I venture to write most anything in this letter because I know the care of the bearer. He'll be most sadly disappointed if you should be broke up before he arrives as he's very desirous of being introduced by you to a number of gentleman of respectable characters. I almost envy him that he should see you before I can. Your mother sends her love to you and all your family too numerous to name desire to be remembered. You will receive letters from two who are as earnest to write to PA as at the welfare of a kingdom depended upon it. If you can get any gas with that amount let me know when you think of returning to your most affectionate Abigail Adams. The movements of friends and relatives books and belongings took on a more urgent
aspect. For our though no one yet like to use the word Americans who supported the actions of the Congress. We're now in Burchill rebellion. There was no chance that American demands would be met in Britain. Even more Chatham who had called Colonial resistance necessary unjust and who led a small and willing opposition to the Crown's American policy refused to consider the deep colonial objection to the maintenance of British troops in America. When Abigail wrote to Catherine McAuley a notable pamphleteer for the American cause in England her letter was not so much an explanation of the grievances from which America could expect little redress but an affirmation of American resolution. Tender plants must spend. But when a government has grown to strength like some old oak rock with it on Bach. It yields not to the tug but only nods and turns to solid state. Should I attempt to describe to you the complicated miseries and the stresses brought upon us by the
late inhuman acts of the British parliament. My pen which fail me. So I said to say. That we are and they did it with fleets and armies our commerce not only obstructed but totally ruined the courts of justice shot. Many driven out from the metropolis thousands reduced to want what appended upon the charity of their neighbors for a daily supply of food. All the horrors of a civil war threatening us on one hand and the chains of slavery ready forged for us on the other. Are these the ideal needs or Britain this the praise that points the barren luster by name these glorious works that in my better days till the bright period of time early fame to rise in Rabaa John with armed profane from freedom to shrine each sacred gift to rend and mark the closing annals of Bahrain with every foul we subdued and every friend.
Prospect of a union is produced and written by Elizabeth Spiro for WFC are the four college radio station of Amherst Smith and Mount Holyoke colleges and the University of Massachusetts from whose faculties the cast of prospect of a union was drawn. Stephen Coyle was hurt as John Adams and Beverly Mae as Abigail Marjorie Kaufman was the narrator. The letters of John and Abigail Adams were taken from the Adams Family correspondence published by the Harvard
University Press. The song Free American Day was written by Dr. Joseph wan. And was recorded by Sawyer as Minute Man from the collection of early American songs of John and Lucy Allison. This program was distributed by national educational radio. This is the national educational radio network.
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Prospect of a union
First Continental Congress convenes
Producing Organization
WFCR (Radio station : Amherst, Mass.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents dramatic readings from the correspondence between John and Abigail Adams.
Series Description
A first-hand account of the founding of the United States, described through the correspondence of John and Abigail Adams.
Media type
Narrator: Kaufman, Marjorie
Producing Organization: WFCR (Radio station : Amherst, Mass.)
Writer: Spiro, Elizabeth
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-6-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:35
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Chicago: “Prospect of a union; First Continental Congress convenes,” 1968-01-03, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 23, 2024,
MLA: “Prospect of a union; First Continental Congress convenes.” 1968-01-03. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 23, 2024. <>.
APA: Prospect of a union; First Continental Congress convenes. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from