Adams Family Correspondence, volume 11

Abigail Adams to John Adams

John Adams to Abigail Adams

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 15 January 1796 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My Dearest Friend Philadelphia 15 Jan. 1796

We have floods of rain but no frost nor Snow and very little news. The Democrats continue to pelt as you will See by the inclosed Political Chess.1 We go on as We always have done, for the three first months of the Session, distributing Business into the hands of Committees, meeting and adjourning. The Gallery finds little Entertainment in our Debates. We have Seldom more than 30 or 40 in it sometimes 4 or 5 and sometimes none at all.

The Treaty is again unaccountably delayed— We are not well Served. These disappointments frequently force from me a vain glorious boast in my own breast, which however I never utter but to you “It was not thus in my Day.”—and what is much more dear to my heart—“It is not thus where my Son is”—

The British Government appears to be driven to hard Shifts. They are hazarding a dangerous Bill, to Suppress Clubbs.2 I wish it may not weaken rather than Strengthen their hands. But restless Democracy Struggling for Aristocracy, will destroy itself and introduce Despotism as I fear. an Awful Struggle must however intervene.

RC (Adams Papers).


“Political Chess, A New Song,” appeared in the Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser, 15 Jan., likening George Washington to the king in a chess match, with Alexander Hamilton as his queen, and promising to break their monarchical rule: “Then let us in Chorus undauntedly sing, / With our pawns we will certainly check-mate your king.” The 141 poem also derides JA for his role in the Washington administration and its acceptance of the Jay Treaty, rhyming, “In Pitt and in Adams your castles display, / Tho’ on opposite sides, they both move the same way, / Both advocate pow’r at the people’s expence, / And are both to the King a strong tow’r of defence.”


News had reached Philadelphia of Britain’s debate over the Treasonable and Seditious Practices Act and the Seditious Meetings Act, for which see JQA to TBA, 18 Nov. 1795, and note 7, above. The Philadelphia Gazette, 11 Jan. 1796, for instance, reported on an 11 Nov. 1795 meeting of the Whig Club of England to oppose the two acts, while the Philadelphia American Daily Advertiser, 13 Jan. 1796, reprinted the 10 Nov. 1795 debates in Parliament.