Shortly before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams corresponds with his friend, Reverend Samuel Cooper—a guiding light of American independence and pastor of the Congregationalist Church on Brattle Street in Boston.
We cannot make Events. Our Business is wisely to improve them. There has been much to do to confirm doubting Friends & fortify the Timid. It requires time to bring honest Men to think & determine alike even in important Matters. Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason.
To Samuel Cooper.
PHILADA., APRIL 30th 1776.
MY DEAR SIR
I AM to acknowledge the Receipt of your Favor of the 18th Instant by the Post. The Ideas of Independence spread far and wide among the Colonies. Many of the leading Men see the absurdity of supposing that Allegiance is due to a Sovereign who has already thrown us out of his Protection. South Carolina has lately assumd a new Government. The Convention of North Carolina have unanimously agreed to do the same & appointed a Committee to prepare & lay before them a proper Form. They have also revokd certain Instructions which tied the Hands of their Delegates here. Virginia whose Convention is to meet on the third of next month will follow the lead. The Body of the People of Maryland are firm. Some of the principal Members of their Convention, I am inclind to believe, are timid or lukewarm but an occurrence has lately fallen out in that Colony which will probably give an agreable Turn to their affairs. Of this I will inform you at a future time when I may be more particularly instructed concerning it. The lower Counties on Delaware are a small People but well affected to the Common Cause.
In this populous and wealthy Colony political Parties run high. The News papers are full of the Matter but I think I may assure you that Common Sense, prevails among the people—a Law has lately passed in the Assembly here for increasing the Number of Representatives and tomorrow they are to come to a Choice in this City & diverse of the Counties—by this Means it is said the representation of the Colony will be more equal. I am told that a very popular Gentleman who is a Candidate for one of the back Counties has been in danger of losing his Election because it was reported among the Electors that he had declared his Mind in this City against Independence. I know the political Creed of that Gentleman. It is, so far as relates to a Right of the British Parliament to make Laws binding the Colonies in any Case whatever, exactly correspondent with your own. I mention this Anecdote to give you an Idea of the Jealousy of the People & their Attention to this Point. The Jerseys are agitating the great Question. It is with them rather a Matter of Prudence whether to determine till some others have done it before them. A Gentleman of that Colony tells me that at least one half of them have N Engd Blood running in their Veins—be this as it may their Sentiments & Manners are I believe similar to those of N England. I forbear to say any thing of New York, for I confess I am not able to form any opinion of them. I lately recd a Letter from a Friend in that Colony informing me that they would soon come to a Question of the Expediency of taking up Government; but to me it is uncertain what they will do. I think they are at least as unenlightned in the Nature & Importance of our political Disputes as any one of the united Colonies. I have not mentiond our little Sister Georgia; but I believe she is as warmly engagd in the Cause as any of us, & will do as much as can be reasonably expected of her.
I was very sollicitous the last Fall to have Governments set up by the people in every Colony. It appears to me to be necessary for many reasons. When this is done, and I am inclind to think it will be soon, the Colonies will feel their Independence—the Way will be prepared for a Confederation, and one Government may be formd with the Consent of the whole—a distinct State composd of all the Colonies with a common Legislature for great & General Purposes. This I was in hopes would have been the Work of the last Winter. I am disappointed but I bear it tollerably well. I am disposd to believe that every thing is orderd for the best, and if I do not find my self chargeable with Neglect I am not greatly chagrind when things do not go on exactly according to my mind. Indeed I have the Happiness of believing that what I most earnestly wish for will in due time be effected. We cannot make Events. Our Business is wisely to improve them. There has been much to do to confirm doubting Friends & fortify the Timid. It requires time to bring honest Men to think & determine alike even in important Matters. Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason. Events which excite those feelings will produce wonderful Effects. The Boston Port bill suddenly wrought a Union of the Colonies which could not be brot about by the Industry of years in reasoning on the necessity of it for the Common Safety. Since the memorable 19th of April one Event has brot another on, till Boston sees her Deliverance from those more than savage Troops upon which the execrable Tyrant so much relyed for the Completion of his horrid Conspiracys and America has furnishd her self with more than seventy Battalions for her Defence. The burning of Norfolk & the Hostilities committed in North Carolina have kindled the resentment of our Southern Brethren who once thought their Eastern Friends hot headed & rash; now indeed the Tone is alterd & it is said that the Coolness & Moderation of the one is necessary to allay the heat of the other. There is a reason that wd induce one even to wish for the speedy arrival of the British Troops that are expected at the Southward. I think our friends are well prepared for them, & one Battle would do more towards a Declaration of Independency than a long chain of conclusive Arguments in a provincial Convention or the Continental Congress.
I am very affectionately yours,