Category Archives: John Adam

The Significance of Suffield’s 1774 Resolves

In response to the 1773 Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament passed the Coercive Acts. The Coercive Acts, also referred to as the Intolerable Acts by the Colonists, were four laws passed in protest to the Colonists rising rebellion, with the hope of restoring order. Among these acts was the Massachusetts Government Act, which provided the British Parliament full control over any elections, and prohibited town meetings.The Colonists protested these acts in many ways, including the creation of The Committee of Correspondence, which was started in 1772 by Samuel Adams. Small towns of Massachusetts and Connecticut  joined in on this, creating their own committees, including Suffield. The town of Sheffield was one of the first to create Resolves, and was the template for other towns. Their resolves petitioned against British tyranny and manifesto for individual rights, and were approved on January 12th, 1773. A month later on February 18th, the Sheffield resolves were printed in the Massachusetts Spy, also known as Thomas’s Boston Journal. Having these resolves printed in a newspaper allowed them to be shared and seen all around the colonies. Of their resolutions, one stands out the most, “Mankind in a state of nature are equal, free, and independent of each other, and have a right to the undisturbed enjoyment of their lives, their liberty and property,” this resolution foreshadows a huge part of the Declaration of Independence and the Colonies fight for freedom and independence.

In August of 1774 a committee was formed in Suffield, Connecticut, by Gideon Granger, Alexander King, and Joseph Pease. These three men were all influential men in the community and crucial for the fight for freedom in Suffield. Gideon Granger trained young men to attend Yale and become lawyers. Joseph Pease was a strong supporter and extremely wealthy. He had a diary, and there is specific evidence that shows town residents were ready to go to Boston in the fall of 1774 during the false alarm.

They composed their own resolves and sent it to Boston where the Committee of Correspondence met. The small text, “Suffield and the Lexington Alarm in April, 1775” by H.S. Sheldon described the resolves perfectly.

“A year previous, many of the Towns had, like Suffield, passed Resolutions of condolence with the suffering inhabitants of Boston, and of resistance to the tyrannical acts of the British Parliament. It is worth of comment, that the ‘Resolves’ were conceived two years before the Declaration of Independance, and are in some respects similar in spirit and language.”

The resolves are the clearest description of a peek into the mindset of the town in 1774, and rather than just investigating how the country reacted, we can learn about how the town we live in responded to the Boston Tea Party.

There are many significant aspects of the Suffield resolves.

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Original Sheffield Resolves

This collective claim gives the class a better understanding of how the people throughout the thirteen colonies felt about the closing of the ports, as well as the British influence, as the resolves were written in order to support the residents of Boston. These resolves fought to reject the Massachusetts Government Act, and boycott all imported British goods with the hope of having the Coercive Acts repealed. Another important aspect of the resolves was the fact that it inspired many people. For instance, slave Elizabeth Freeman, better known as Mum Bett was so inspired by the resolves that it gave her the courage to sue for her freedom in 1781. Once she gained her freedom other slaves such as Quack Walker decided to sue as well. The resolves helped people gain strength to fight for what they believed in.

The town of Suffield had many influential visitors such as John Adams and George Washington.Both of these men were strong patriots and had a very noticeable impact on the town, as so many rallied behind them and supported their fight for freedom. George Washington stopped in Suffield on his way to take over the army. This suggests that Suffield was a force that had to be acknowledged.

In a diary entry written by John Adams, while passing through Suffield, he recalls seeing a group of militiamen trained with a man in a green coat.

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John Adam’s Diary Regarding Suffield

This goes against what most people know about the revolutionary war. This is because most people thought the militiamen were just untrained soldiers who did guerrilla warfare.  This diary entry from John Adams shows us that the Suffield men were in fact trained, even if it was just for a small period of time.

Committees from Suffolk, Middlesex, and Essex counties all met in Boston to create a formal response on August 26th, 1774, showing great representation and initiative from all the small towns working together, including Suffield. The declaration, formally made on September 9th, 1774, rejected the Massachusetts Government Act and boycotted imported goods from Britain, unless the intolerable acts were repealed. These resolutions showed great foresight for the Declaration of Independence, as one of the main arguments was a man’s right to life, liberty, and happiness.

 

Places:

“Suffield Historical Society,” 2016.

http://www.suffieldhistoricalsociety.org/

“Suffield Town Hall,” 2017.

http://www.suffieldct.gov

 

Documents:

“Suffield.” NYPL Digital Collections. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2017. <https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/87721580-da40-0132-1544-58d385a7b928>.

“Boston Committee of Correspondence Records 1772-1784 D.” Boston Committee of Correspondence Records. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2017. <http://archives.nypl.org/mss/343#overview>.

“Voices of the Revolution: Sons of Liberty.” The Sons of Liberty. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2017. <https://www.constitutionfacts.com/us-declaration-of-independence/sons-of-liberty/>.

Documentary History of Suffield : In the Colony and Province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England, 1660-1749. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2017. <https://archive.org/stream/documentaryhisto00shel#page/22/mode/2up/search/harry+roco&gt;.

 

Books:

Egerton, Douglas R. “Mum Best Takes a Name.” Death or Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America. New York: Oxford UP, 2011. 150-90. Print.

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John Adams, a complex reporter

I am a senior at Suffield Academy and I am involved in a project-based learning class. Our goal is to find out more about what happened in Suffield in 1774, regarding freedom, slavery, and its complexities.

My previous research was about, Loyalists in Suffield in 1774. Through my investigation I found some important document. One of the document I found contains names of Loyalist that were in Suffield in 1774. This made me wonder: Can I find more documents during the mentioned time period?

By using researching skills, I found a diary written by John Adams. By using investigation skills, I found a page that states that John Adams was in Suffield November 5th 1774.  It was immediately interesting for our class to learn that John Adams had been to our town in 1774. John Adams was an important lawyer and patriot from Massachusetts. He was part of the First Continental Congress that took place in 1774-1775. He later became the second president of the United States. Moreover, John Adams was a complex intellectual. In the after math of the Boston Massacre, he showed his passion for the law and acted on his belief that everyone deserves a fair trial. He agreed to defend the soldiers from Great Britain. He argued that the troops had acted in self-defense. The Boston jury agreed, and six of the soldiers were found not guilty. By defending the British soldiers, he went against his patriot beliefs as well as his cousin´s, Samuel Adams.

Moreover, by looking through the diary of John Adams we realized he was a good reporter, who will help our class learn more about freedom and slavery in 1774. For instance, when he was near Suffield and stayed overnight at an Inn in Palmer, Massachusetts, he describes an interesting discussion. In the diary page from November 5th 1774, he talked about Parliament´s recent Acts with a Scottish Presbyterian couple. They also discussed trade, economy, and politics. Interestingly, he agreed with these “zealous Americans” who were of another faith and belief than his Congregationalist´s ideas.

“The People in this Part of Connecticutt, make Potash, and raise a great Number of Colts, which they send to the West Indies, and barter away for Rum &c. They trade with Boston and New York but most to New York. They say there is a much greater Demand for Flaxseed of which they raise a great deal, at N. York, than there is at Boston, and they get a better Price for it. Kibby at Somers keeps a Shop, and sells W. India goods and English Trinketts, keeps a Tavern, and petty foggs it”.     – John Adams (thoughts on trade in Enfield, CT). 

Moreover, I was excited to find that this important leader of the revolution traveled through Suffield. I started wondering: Had John Adams ever been to Suffield before? Why did he visit our town? What impact did his visit have on the community?

By using cross-referencing skills I found a reference to John Adams in Robert Treat Paine´s diary. This diary states that Paine and John Adams were also in Suffield on August 10th 1774. (While it is likely that John Adams traveled through our area because it was a common pathway between Boston and New York). Moreover, I still want to find more about John Adam´s reason for visiting Suffield, and what impact his visit had. I hope to find out more about this in the time to come. By using more cross-referencing skills, team work and investigation skills I will look thorough more of the pages from the John Adams Diary and mention of John Adams in other local diaries. I also want to research if there were any other important historical figures in Suffield in the 1770s it the diary pages.

Sources:

https://www.masshist.org/publications/apde2/view?id=ADMS-01-02-02-0004-0008-0005

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Adams#Opponent_of_Stamp_Act_1765

http://www.masshist.org/publications/apde2/view?id=DJA02d119

http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/archive/popup?id=D22&page=D22_1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Post_Road