John Adams Describes the Colonists’ Grievances

Author:   John Adams


In the following letter, in which he describes the grievances he feels threaten to reduce the colonists to political slavery, John Adams (1735-1826) revives memories of the Puritan struggle against the religious tyranny of the Stuart monarchs during the English Civil War, a subject dear to the heart of Catharine Macaulay, who was writing an eight-volume history of England from the time of James I.


It is not easy to convey to you, Madam, an Adequate Idea of the State of this Province.–It is now at last, true that we have no Government,–legislative, executive, or judicial.–The People determined never to Submit to the Act for destroying their Charter, so dearly purchased, preserved and defended by the Toil Treasure and Blood of their Ancestors, are, every where devoting themselves to Arms…. What the Ministry will do is uncertain.–All the British Fleet and Army cannot change Minds [or] Opinions.–They cannot make a Juror Serve, nor a Representative.–An attempt to cram a form of Government down the Throats of a People,–to impose a Constitution, upon a united and determin’d People by Force, is not within the Omnipotence of an English Parliament…. If they Send the Sword and Fire, to ravage this Country, they will find in New England, an hundred Thousand descendants of the Puritan in Charles and James’s days, who have not yet lost entirely the Spirit of English men under the English Commonwealth…. If this should be attempted, it will produce Resistance, and Reprisal, and a Flame through all America, Such as Eye hath not yet Seen, nor Ear heard nor hath it entered into the Heart of the Minister or his Minions to conceive.


Source: Gilder Lehrman Institute