John Adams to Joseph Palmer on absolute independence from Britain, Philadelphia, 1774

Contributed by Maine Historical Society


John Adams (1735-1836) was a newly appointed delegate to the First Continental Congress at the time of this letter's writing. A lawyer and leader for the liberation of the colonies from Britain, Adams became a figure of the revolutionary movement following his strong opposition to the Stamp Act of 1765. He later was elected to be the second president of the United States in 1797.

Adams is responding to a letter from Joseph Palmer (1716-1788). Prior to 1774, Palmer owned multiple businesses with his brother-in-law, such as a textile mill, a chocolate mill, and a salt works. He became very active in the fight for American independence and in 1774 joined the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. He later served as a general during the Revolutionary War, fighting notably in the Battle of Lexington in 1775. Like Adams, Palmer is a native of Quincy, Massachusetts.

The letter, dated September 26, 1774, is a response to a previous letter by Palmer. Adams addresses the issue of absolute independence from Britain, saying that the topic "startles people" in Philadelphia. He says that it is best to not declare independence, as the colonies can still obtain "relief" from England. Adams is also responding to a request from Palmer for more funding for war ships. Adams responds that he entered a proposal to the Congress to raise more money for a naval ship, agreeing that America needs stronger support of the standing army.

View/Add Comments


Item has a transcription view a full transcription

About This Item

  • Title: John Adams to Joseph Palmer on absolute independence from Britain, Philadelphia, 1774
  • Creator: Adams, John
  • Creation Date: 1774-09-26
  • Subject Date: 1774-09-26
  • Local Name: Germantown
  • Town: Philadelphia, Quincy
  • County: Norfolk, Philadelphia
  • State: MA, PA
  • Media: Ink on paper
  • Dimensions: 19.2 cm x 15.7 cm
  • Local Code: Coll. 420, Box 58/1
  • Collection: John S. H. Fogg autograph collection
  • Object Type: Text

Cross Reference Searches

Standardized Subject Headings


Other Keywords

For more information about this item, contact:

Maine Historical Society
485 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-1822 x230

Use of this Item is not restricted by copyright and/or related rights, but the holding organization is contractually obligated to limit use. For more information, please contact the contributing organization. However, watermarked Maine Memory Network images may be used for educational purposes.

Please post your comment below to share with others. If you'd like to privately share a comment or correction with MMN staff, please use this form.