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Adams, Samuel (1722-1803) to Elbridge Gerry

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01213 Author/Creator: Adams, Samuel (1722-1803) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 25 March 1774 Pagination: 1

Summary of Content: Written by Adams, who later signed the Declaration of Independence, as a member and clerk of the colonial assembly in Massachusetts to Gerry, also a future signer of the Declaration, as a member of the assembly. References a letter from Gerry that explained the violence in Marblehead, known as the Smallpox War or the Marblehead Riots, and asked for military intervention. Gerry was one of the leading citizens of the town who wanted to build a hospital to inoculate the populace against smallpox. Once it was built, the populace, fearful that inoculations spread the disease further, destroyed it, temporarily damaging Gerry's faith in "the people." Adams says he was very busy when he received the letter or he would have directly written a positive letter about Marblehead. Said it turns out as he predicted, "the Storm, though it raged with so much Violence, would soon spend itself, & Calm would ensue. The Tumults of the People is very properly compared to the raging of the Sea, When the Passions of a Multitude become headstrong, they generally will have their Course: A direct opposition only tends to increase them." Says the petition was read to the House and that it seemed like their enemies were going to use it against "the Friends of Liberty," who supposedly had so much faith in the people. But Adams goes on to defend the mob, saying they "rationally" destroyed selective property to protect the property of all. Is fearful that the incident in Marblehead will create a rift in the Revolutionary movement since Adams heard the town of Marblehead was no longer taking part in the Committee of Correspondence. Believes Marblehead will get through this rough time and recommit itself to the cause of liberty. Adams says his committee is writing to the Marblehead committee and he hopes they will respond because of its importance. Docketed in Gerry's hand.

People: Adams, Samuel, 1722-1803.
Gerry, Elbridge, 1744-1814.

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Keywords/Subjects: Smallpox, Revolutionary War, Mobs and Riots, Rebellion, Disease, Health and Medical, Military History, Hospital, Government and Civics, Loyalist, Politics

Sub Era: Road to Revolution