J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

John Adams Sends a Letter to North Carolina

John Adams and William Hooper (shown left, courtesy of the National Park Service) were delegates to the First and Second Continental Congresses in Philadelphia in 1774-76, one from Massachusetts and the other from North Carolina. But they had known each other for more than ten years before that. 

Hooper had been born in Boston and studied law under James Otis, Jr., in the early 1760s. He set up his practice in Wilmington because he figured there would be less competition there.

In March 1776, as Hooper prepared to go back to North Carolina to help plan a government separate from the British Crown, he asked Adams for advice on that challenge. The Braintree lawyer had been recognized as an expert in constitutional law since 1765, when he published his “Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law” in the Boston Gazette. His “Novanglus” essays in the Gazette in early 1775 cemented his reputation. 

Adams wrote out his ideas in a letter to Hooper, then made a copy for another North Carolina delegate, John Penn. Then Jonathan Sergeant of New Jersey wanted a copy, and George Wythe of Virginia another. Finally, Richard Henry Lee asked Adams for permission to have the text printed in Philadelphia; it appeared as a pamphlet titled Thoughts on Government.

North Carolina is displaying Adams’s original letter to Hooper in its state capitol through 8 September.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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