John Adams: “Letters of Novanglus”

(1775)

John Adams’s letters signed with the pseudonym Novanglus (“New Englander”) arose in part out of his public service; he began this long series of newspaper essays in reply to a Massachusetts author who was critical of the authority and policy of the First Continental Congress, in which he had just served. But his “Letters of Novanglus” say virtually nothing about Congress. Instead, they launch into an examination of the last fifteen troubled years in Massachusetts and move on to a broad assertion of the province’s autonomy and the autonomy of all North American colonies within the British Empire, based on the writings of ancient and modern political writers. They go on to construct a detailed legal history of England and its dominions over the past several hundred years.

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John Adams (Library of Congress)

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