Promissory Note to John Adams

in by Warren

Date: November 29, 1768


For Value received I promise to pay to John Adams Esq on Order forty two Pounds lawful Money in Three Months from the Date hereof.

Joseph Warren

Source: The Adams Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston. Microform Reel 344

Commentary: For better documented historical figures, a piece of ephemera like this garners scant notice, save for its value to signature collectors. The immediate context of this transaction, a short term promissory note from Joseph Warren to John Adams in the amount of £42, is unclear.

Due to the personalities involved and the timeframe, I wonder why Warren needed the loan. Was he short of cash, but awash in accounts receivable from his sick patients, a financial malady to which he and all his colleagues were prone in an era prior to any health insurance?

Was this a factor in Warren’s appointment to supply government reimbursed, fee-for-service medical care to the Almshouse and Manufacturey residents the following year?

Was John Adams fronting for John Hancock, whom Adams served privately at times as counselor?

In the immediate aftermath of the first British Army occupation of Boston in October of 1768, some Loyalists called on their number to close out accounts and business dealings with Whig leaders. Was a cash flow shortage the result for Dr. Warren?

Or was this an instance of a common short-term loan practice among friends in an era prior to retail banking in New England, and whose promissory note was retained for posterity by the fastidious Mr. Adams?

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