Indians and Colonists at the Crossroads of Empire: The Albany Congress of 1754

By Timothy J. Shannon | Go to book overview

Introduction: Narratives of the Albany Congress

There was a prior Congress, held at Albany in 1754 or 1755. . . . Where is any account of that to be found?

-- John Adams, 1813

One story:

In 1812 John Adams renewed his friendship with Thomas McKean of Philadelphia, another patriot leader of the Revolutionary Era. Twenty-two years earlier Adams and McKean had parted ways in a dispute over the French Revolution, but now both were retired and approaching their eighties. Mellowed by the passage of time and the thought that he might soon "glide away, where there is no pen and paper," Adams offered to mend fences.1 McKean responded with enthusiasm, and for the next three years they corresponded regularly.

Both men sensed that they were the last remnants of a passing generation. McKean identified himself as the sole surviving member of the Stamp Act Congress of 1765 and noted that he and Adams were two of only four surviving members of the First Continental Congress. Ever meticulous, Adams corrected that last figure, counting six survivors of the First Continental Congress. Together these two aging patriots decried the current generation's ignorance of their accomplishments. In offering his thoughts on the Stamp Act Congress, McKean lamented that he had to resort to a copy of its proceedings published in London in 1767 because he could not find any "done in the United States." An indignant Adams replied, "Can you account for the apathy, the antipathy of this nation to their own history? Is there not a repugnance to the thought of looking back?"2

____________________
1
Adams to McKean, June 2, 1812, in C. F. Adams, ed., The Works of John Adams, 10 vols. ( Boston, 1856), 10:12-13.
2
McKean to Adams, June 13, 1812; Adams to McKean, June 21, 1812; McKean to Adams, August 20, 1813; Adams to McKean, August 31, 1813, ibid., 14-15, 15-17, 60-62, 62-63.

-1-

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