An Answer Was Drawn Prettily Written

in about Warren

Date: early 1800s referring to events of January 1773

Author: John Adams

“It was I believe in1772 [sic] that Governor Hutchinson, in an elaborate Speech to both Houses of Congress endeavoured to convince them, their Constituents and the World that Parliament was our Sovereign Legislature, and had a Right to make Laws for Us in all Cases whatsoever, to Lay Taxes on all things external and internal, on Land as well as on Trade. The House appointed a Committee to answer this Speech. An Answer was drawn prettily written, I never knew certainly by whom, whether Mr. Samuel Adams or Dr. Joseph Warren or both together or Dr. Church, or all three together.”

Source: John Adams Autobiography, part 1 through 1776, sheet 15 of 53. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society.

Commentary:  An elderly John Adams identified the co-authors of the Massachusetts’ House of Representative’s answer to Thomas Hutchinson’s New Year’s speech as Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren, and Dr. Benjamin Church.  Adams’ memory was cloudy, as evidenced by his ms strikethrough and vague recollection of timing.

On stylistic and content grounds I judge Samuel Adams to have had the dominant role as author. The piece displays little of the colorful bombast and references to Lockean natural rights and social contract that characterize Joseph Warren’s pseudonymous newspaper writings and Boston Massacre Orations.

I will check on whether Harbottle Dorr, the minor Patriot who compulsively collected and annotated Revolutionary era newspapers, opined on the authorship of the piece in question.

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