Adams Family Correspondence, volume 9

Abigail Adams to Abigail Bromfield Rogers, 5 September 1790 Adams, Abigail Rogers, Abigail Bromfield
Abigail Adams to Abigail Bromfield Rogers
dear Mrs Rogers [5 September 1790]1

I Received by judge Cushing your very obliging Letter2 and am very happy to find that your Health was so far restored by your journey as to enable you to attend upon commencment. it would have afforded me much pleasure to have been present as I was peculiarly interested in the day. it is a little Singular that I should have three 98sons graduated there and not be able to attend at one single performance of either of them. the good and amiable Character with which mr Thomas quits the university affords the most pleasing Sensations to his affectionate Parents. you must excuse this maternal effusion as I believe you too Sincerly my Friend not to participate in that which so tenderly concerns me. and now my dear Madam How do you immagine Newyork both looks, and feels to me, one attraction after an other has left me here almost alone. Mrs Smith and Family are still strong ties, but were they Removed, I should wish to follow those who are gone before me. I visited mrs Walker twice after you left Town, but as mrs Page occupied your Appartments and we did not visit, I was saved the dissagreeable sensation of entering them and finding them destitute of all that endeard them to me.3 mrs Walker never spoke of you but in terms of most affectionate Friendship and her Eyes testified to the Sincerity of her professions. this day week I took a most tender and affectionate leave of mrs Washington She took me by Hand embraced me tenderly saying god Bless you my dear Madam we will meet again at Philadelphia but She has repeatedly told me that she shall never see N York again. She was extreemly affected the morning she left the city. I did not attend her upon the water as I had parted with her the Evening before. the Citizens of N york behaved with the greatest propriety. the Ladies who usually attended her drawing Room had taken leave of her in the course of the week, but the Govenour Clergy ministers of state and citizens who attended upon the President to the Barge which lay of just behind his House preserved a total Silence, not a word was heard, when the Barge push'd of each person took of his Hat bowd and retired.4 mr & mrs Lear remain in the House with part of the domesticks untill they remove to Philadelphia which will be in october5 with regard to myself I am so devided between a wish to remain with mrs Smith, and the doubt whether we ought to tarry here, that I am in a state of suspence which I am apt to think will terminate in a Removal but where ever I may be it will always afford me pleasure to see or hear from my dear Mrs Rogers. mrs Smith dinned with me yesterday being just a month since her confinement she has a fine Boy we cannot however help regretting the Sex

Dft (Adams Papers); notation: “1790.” Filmed at [Sept. 1790].


The letter is dated based on the Washingtons’ departure from New York, for which see note 4.


Not found.


Mrs. Walker was probably Mary Robinson Walker (1756–1817), wife of New York 99customs officer Benjamin Walker who had served with WSS on George Washington's staff during the Revolution. Margaret Lowther Page (1760–1835), daughter of William Lowther of Scotland, was the second wife of John Page, congressional representative from Virginia (Washington, Papers, Presidential Series , 2:430–431; Derick S. Hartshorn III, The Hartshorn Families in America, Baltimore, 1997, p. 515; New York Evening Post, 27 June 1817; Richmond Enquirer, 10 Nov. 1835; DAB , entry on John Page).


The New York Gazette of the United States, 1 Sept., reported that the Washingtons departed the city on 30 Aug. from Mr. McComb's wharf, where government officials, clergymen, and “other respectable citizens” bid the couple a “solemn and affecting adieu.” The account concluded, “At the moment of embarkation a federal salute was fired from the battery. By the particular request of the President, the gentlemen of the corporation had not given public notice of his intended departure on Monday; which prevented so general an attendance of the citizens as would have been desirous of paying him their respects on this interesting occasion.”


Tobias Lear married Mary Long (1770–1793), daughter of Pierse and Mary Long of Portsmouth, on 22 April. Mary gave birth to a son, Benjamin Lincoln, the following March (Ray Brighton, The Checkered Career of Tobias Lear, Portsmouth, N.H., 1985, p. 91, 98, 114; New Hampshire Gazette, 15 July 1785).

Abigail Adams to Thomas Brand Hollis, 6 September 1790 Adams, Abigail Hollis, Thomas Brand
Abigail Adams to Thomas Brand Hollis
My Dear Sir, New-York, September 6, 1790.

You ask, in one of your letters to Mr. Adams, what is become of Mrs. Adams that I do not hear from her?1

If my heart had not done you more justice than my pen, I would disown it. I have so long omitted writing to you, that my conscience has been a very severe accuser of me. But be assured, my dear sir, that I never fail to talk of you with pleasure, and think of you with affection. I place the hours spent at the Hyde amongst some of the most pleasurable of my days, and I esteem your friendship as one of the most valuable acquisitions that I made in your country:—a country that I should most sincerely rejoice to visit again, if I could do it without crossing the ocean. I have sometimes been suspected of partiality for the preference which I have given to England, but were I to live out of America, that country would have been my choice.

I have a situation here, which, for natural beauty, may vie with the most delicious spot I ever saw. It is a mile and half distant from the city of New-York. The house is situated upon an eminence; at an agreeable distance, flows the noble Hudson bearing upon her bosom the fruitful productions of the adjacent country. On my right hand are fields beautifully variegated with grass and grain to a great extent, like the valley of Honiton in Devonshire.2 Upon my left, the city opens to view, intercepted here and there, by a rising ground, and an ancient oak. In front, beyond the Hudson, the Jersey shores present an exuberance of a rich well cultivated soil. The venerable 100oaks, and broken ground, covered with wild shrubs, which surround me, give a natural beauty to the spot which is truly enchanting. A lovely variety of birds serenade me morning and evening, rejoicing in their liberty and security, for I have as much as possible prohibited the grounds from invasion: and sometimes almost wished for game laws, when my orders have not been sufficiently regarded. The partridge, the woodcock, and the pigeon are too great temptations to the sportsmen to withstand. How greatly would it add to my happiness to welcome here my much esteemed friend. Tis true we have a large portion of the blue and gold, of which you used to remind me, when you thought me an Egyptian; but, however I might hanker after the good things of America, I have been sufficiently taught to value and esteem other countries besides my own.

You was pleased to inform us, that your adopted family flourished in your soil,3 mine has received an addition. Mrs. Smith, Mr. Adams's daughter, and the wife of colonel W. Stephen Smith, respecting the name of the great literary benefactor of her native state, and in grateful remembrance of the friendly attention, and patriotic character of its present possessor, has named her new-born son Thomas-Hollis. She desires me to present you her affectionate remembrance. Mr. Adams is absent upon a journey, or he would have written you a letter of a later date than that which Mr. Knox is the bearer of.4 This gentleman is a brother of our secretary of war, and is appointed consul to Dublin.5 He is intelligent, and can answer you any question respecting our government, and politics, which you may wish to know; but if he should not see you, I know it will give you pleasure to learn that our union is complete by the accession of Rhode island; that our government acquires strength, confidence and stability daily. That peace is in our borders, and plenty in our dwellings; and we earnestly pray that the kindling flames of war, which appear to be bursting out in Europe, may by no means be extended to this rising nation.6 We enjoy freedom in as great a latitude as is consistent with our security, and happiness. God grant that we may rightly estimate our blessings.

Pray remember me, in the most affectionate terms to Dr. Price, and to Mrs. Jebb, and be assured, my dear sir, that I am, with every sentiment of regard and esteem, / yours, &c.

Abigail Adams.

MS not found. Printed from John Disney, ed., Memoirs of Thomas Brand-Hollis, London, 1808, p. 39–40.

101 1.

In a letter to JA of 29 March, Hollis sent his affectionate regards to AA and noted that he “should be gratified with a line from her.” Hollis also wrote to JA on 28 May (both Adams Papers).


AA would have seen Honiton, a picturesque town situated in a valley near the Otter River, during the Adamses’ month-long visit to southwestern England in 1787. Roughly fifteen miles east of Exeter, Honiton was renowned as a center of the lace-making trade (Black's Guide to Devonshire, Edinburgh, 1874, p. 164).


Hollis, who named his American plants and trees after friends from the United States, noted in a letter to JA that “Mrs Adams herself & family are in perfect health at the Hide” (28 May 1790, Adams Papers; vol. 8:195).


Probably that of 11 June (LbC, APM Reel 115).


William Knox sailed for London aboard the brig Rachel on 11 Sept. (Pennsylvania Mercury, 16 Sept.). The London Times reported on 30 Nov. that he had arrived safely in Dublin.


In July 1789, a Spanish ensign seized two English vessels in Nootka Sound, an action that jeopardized diplomatic relations between the two countries. Tensions escalated in the spring and early summer of 1790, with both sides preparing for war—a conflict that also could potentially involve France due to its Family Compact with Spain. The United States, too, committed to maintaining neutrality, faced the troubling possibility that Britain might attempt to march soldiers through Canada and American territory to reach Spanish possessions. Despite these concerns, the crisis was resolved without bloodshed. Although Great Britain and Spain reached a preliminary agreement on 24 July, the news did not reach the United States until months later. Discussion of a possible Anglo-Spanish war appeared in the American press throughout the summer; see, for example, New York Daily Advertiser, 3 Aug.; Boston Columbian Centinel, 4 Aug.; and New York Daily Gazette, 9, 17 August. The New York Gazette of the United States, 4 Sept., contained a report from London that began, “The question, ‘are we to have a war?’ has thrust ‘how d’ye do?’ out of place; and as no person can give a proper answer to this question, the quantity of supposes, conjectures and ifs, are really wonderful” (Washington, Papers, Presidential Series , 6:26, 492–493; Jefferson, Papers , 17:35–37, 92, 93).