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Adams Family Papers : An Electronic Archive
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Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 8 January 1793

My Dearest Friend

Your kind Letters of Decr. 23. [Abigail to John, 23 December 1792] and 29 [Abigail to John, 29 December 1792] , arrived Yesterday by the Post.

You Seem disposed to write to me on the Subject of a late Election and therefore I Suppose a little Egotism from me will not be very disgusting to you. You expected half the Votes from the other five States one of them only, S. C. has vouchsafed me a Vote. V. N.C. G. K. and N.Y. appear to have been wholly governed by the Section Poissoniere, in this Election. There is no End of the Fictions and Falshoods which were propagated and not contradicted in those remote States. I will tell you one from the Mouth of Mr. Lear. A Mr. Basset I think who married a Sister of Mrs. Washingtons told the President, that it was propagated and believed in Virginia that the Vice President was always in Opposition to the President, and that all the Opposition which was ever made to him in Senate originated with the V.P.. The President answered his Brother in Law that as to Some Things which had been reported he could Say nothing because he knew nothing. But this he could Say and would Say was a Lie for to his Knowledge so far from opposing him in Senate, the V.P. [Vice President] had always Supported him.

Another Anecdote I have from Judge Cushing and his Lady, who dined at Richmond in Company with Patrick Henry, Arthur Lee, and many other Gentlemen Young and

old on the 5th of December the day of the Election. Patrick Henry was pleased to harrangue upon my subject. He had formerly had the Pleasure of an agreable Acquaintance with Mr. Adams and had an Esteem and regard from him, but he was much surprized and very Sorry to find that he had written and published such Books and then went on to preach against the Books, and proved only that he knew nothing about them. Judge Cushing perceiving this asked him dryly if he had read those Volumes? He answered No. Cushing recommended them to his Perusal. No he was too old to read so extensive a Work as three Volumes. He took his Account of them he Said from those young Gentlemen pointing to some in Company; Some of whom then Spoke up, and said they had read the Work or some Part of it, when they were Boys at Colledge, and despized and abhorred it. Arthur Lee then Spoke up and Said "They must have been Boys then, for it was the Work of the greatest Genius that had ever been written in this Country." These last dying Words of my Friend Arthur Lee, very tenderly affected me, both as proofs of his Independence and his personal Friendship.

Trumbull the Painter, was lately in Company with Mr. Giles at Miss Nancy Allens. Giles was pleased to entertain, Such a Company with grave observations upon my poor Books and discovered, to Trumbull, who had read them, his total Ignorance of them. Trumbull heard him, till he was tired and then Shrewdly asked permission of Mr. Giles to ask him a Simple Question. "Pray Mr. Giles have you ever read those Volumes of Mr. Adams?"

Giles taken by Surprize with an unexpected Question, had too much Conscience to prevaricate, blushed, hesitated, Stammered, and at last confessed, No he had not read them, but he had seen Accounts of them in the public Papers and had read Extracts. Then Says Trumbull, I insist upon it, Giles, you have no right to give your Opinion of those Books. The two first Volumes are Facts and Authorities. The last is Reasoning upon them. You can therefore have no Idea of the work without reading all three. Nancy Allen turned round to Mr. Giles "I hope Says She Mr. Giles that all your Opinions are not taken up with so much Levity and upon so little foundation!!!" This story I have from Trumbull himself. I mention Names to you but you will use them with Discretion.

These Anecdotes show the real Genius of this enlightened Age. Such is a great part of the Light, which We boast of So much.

I expect however to be restored to the good Opinion of my Fellow Citizens in Virginia. Mr. Vaughan of this Town has recd. orders from a Correspondent in the ancient Dominion to send him a Dozen setts of "The Defence." When the Books shall be read they will vindicate themselves. I wish some one would give some Account of the french Translation and its Notes.

An Election is a Lottery and so is hereditary descent. If foul play is used with a Lottery it is fraud. Much of this there has been and more and more their will be.

J. A.

[Endorsement -- see page image]

Cite web page as: Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 8 January 1793 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society.
Original manuscript: Adams, John. Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 8 January 1793. 4 pages. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
Source of transcription: Adams Papers Editorial Project. Unverified transcriptions.
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