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Letter from James Adams to John Chamberlain
Adams, James
October 04, 1709
Volume 01, Pages 719-721

[From N. C. Letter Book. S. P. G.]

Va Oct 4 1709


I doubt not but Mr. Gordon informed you, by word of mouth, that, when we came hither, we found the government in the hands of such persons as were promoted for God's service and good order, and from whom

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we met with all reasonable encouragement in the discharge of our mission. But now the case is sadly altered, for the Quakers, alarmed at our arrival, did, in a most tumultuous manner, stir up the ignorant and irreligious, who are by much the greater number in this colony, by bold lies and calumnies against both the government and us; and we are now ruled by such as are generally friends only to drunkenness, irreligious and profane, insomuch that in many places where before I met with all encouragement and civility, I find nothing but reproaches, threatenings, and ill usage; and many, who then seemed zealous and forward, are now turned quite back. Mr. Gordon had experience of these things in some measure before he went over, but now things are carried to far greater extremes. The abuses and contumelies I met with, in my own person, are but small troubles to me in respect of that great grief of hearing the most sacred parts of religion impiously profaned and ridiculed. We had a communion lately, and the looser sort at their drunken revelling spared not to give about their bread and drink in the words of administration, to bring into contempt that most holy sacrament, and in derision of those few persons who then received it; and yet such flagrant crimes, notwithstanding of my complaint to our magistrates, go unpunished and unregarded. We daily expect in our new governor, who, I hope, will set the country again in order and redress our grievances. I pray God he may prove a good man, for upon his disposition will very much depend the further fruit of my mission.

In the precinet of Pascotank, where I chiefly resided last year, are thirteen hundred and thirty-two souls, whereof nine hundred profess themselves of the Church of England, excepting some few Presbyterians, who now constantly join themselves with us in our service, have had their children baptized by me, and are willing to have them brought up in our way of worship. There are about eleven who profess no religion; two hundred and ten Quakers, and two hundred and eleven negroes, some few of which are instructed in the principles of Christian religion, but their masters will by no means permit them to be baptized, having a false notion that a Christian slave is, by law, free. I have baptized, since I came, between the parishes of Pascotank and Caratauk, two hundred and thirteen children and two adult persons. I have administered the sacrament of the Lord's Supper three times: twice in Pasquotank, where I had fourteen communicants; the second time I had twenty-four; and the last time I administered in Caratauk, where I had thirty—the names of all which, housekeepers, communicants, and baptized persons, &c., I have by me in my Notitia Parochialis, according to my instructions.

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I have lately lived mostly in Caratauk, but it is a precinct of so large an extent, and so much divided by water, that I have not yet been able to get passage into all the extreme corners of it.

In my next I shall send you an account of that parish, which is not above half as populous as Pascotank, and but one professed Quaker in the whole bounds. Had the government continued as we found it, there had been churches built now; but since the Quakers and their accomplices have got to the helm, all such thoughts are laid aside.

I have not since I came to the country, received so much as to pay for my diet and lodging, and if I had not drawn bills upon Mr. Hoar, I had been in great want. I have a very laborious mission, the places I preached at being some of them sixty, others above seventy miles distant. I bless the Lord I have had my health well, and I pray God to give me his grace so to direct my ways in this troublesome and unsettled country, as not only to acquit myself with applause to those good men who sent me, but that I may be likewise able to give a comfortable account of my stewardship at that dreadful tribunal where the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, which shall be the daily prayer and faithful endeavor of,

Sir, yours, etc.,

I wrote to you formerly of one Mr. Griffin, who had behaved himself very remarkably in the office of a reader and schoolmaster: he has fallen into the sin of fornication, and joined with the Quakers' interest, which has proved great stumbling-block to many of our persuasion.