Madness and Haranguing at Boston Town Meeting

in about Warren

Author: John Adams

Date: July 21, 1805,-referring to events of 1768 or 1769

“I was solicited to go to the Town Meetings and harrangue there. This I constantly refused. My Friend Dr. Warren the most frequently urged me to this: My Answer to him always was “That way madness lies.” The Symptoms of our great Friend [James] Otis, at that time, suggested to Warren, a sufficient comment on these Words, at which he always smiled and said “it was true.” Although I had never attended a Meeting the Town was pleased to choose me upon their Committee to draw up Instructions to their Representatives, this Year 1768 and the next 1769 or in the year 1769 and the Year 1770, I am not certain which two of these Years. The Committee always insisted on my preparing the Draught, which I did and the Instructions were adopted without Alteration by the Town; they will be found in the Boston Gazette for those Years, and although there is nothing extraordinary in them of matter or Style, they will sufficiently shew the sense of the Public at that time.”

Source: John Adams autobiography, part 1 through 1776, sheets 11 and 12 of 53 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Commentary: By the late 1760s Joseph Warren was part of the inner circle of Boston Whigs, influencing strategy as Samuel Adams’ political protégé and exhorting others to action. John Adams had earlier met and subsequently befriended Warren following Adams’ arduous inoculation for smallpox in 1764. John Adams looked up to Joseph Warren as an inspirational figure, and trumpeted his legacy years later, as second President of the United States.

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