Adams Family Correspondence, volume 1

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 29 June 1774 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 29 June 1774 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My Dr. York June 29 1774

The Prophet of York has not prophecy'd in vain. There is in this Town and County a Laodiceanism that I have not found in any other 110Place. I find more Persons here, who call the Destruction of the Tea, Mischief and Wickedness, than any where else. More Persons who say that the Duty upon Tea is not a Tax, nor an Imposition because we are at Liberty to use it or not, than any where else. I am told that the Deacon insinuates Sentiments and Principles into the People here in a very subtle manner, a manner so plausible that they scarcely know how they come by them.1

When I got to the Tavern, on the Eastern Side of Piscataqua River, I found the Sherriff of York, and Six of his Deputies all with gold laced Hatts, Ruffles, Swords, and very gay Cloaths, and all likely young Men, who had come out to that Place 10 miles to escort the Court into Town. This unusual Parade excited my Curiosity, and I soon suspected that this was to shew Respect and be a Guard to the Chief Justice if he had been coming to Court.

The Foreman of the Grand Jury, told Judge Trowbridge, that if the C.J. had been here, not a Man of their Jury would have refused to be sworn. However, I have been told by others that the Foreman is mistaken. That it was universally known he was not at Ipswich and would not be here. But if he had been here, there would have been a Difficulty.

There is an uncommon Subject of Conversation here at present—a general Report of some pernicious Quality in Clams, at this Season. It is said that two only, of a particular Sort of large Clams, were given to a Dog a few Days since and that he died in less than two Hours. His Master however, would not be disswaded by his Wife from eating 12 or 13 of the same Sort of Clams the next Day, and he was soon seized with a Numbness, and died before the Doctor could be brought to his Relief. A whole Family it is said at a neighbouring Town, were taken in the same manner after eating Clams, but happening to be advised in Season by Somebody to take Something which operated like an Emetic their Lives were saved, but their Health much impaired. There is also a Report well authenticated from Ipswich, that a Person at Ipswich died in the same manner, and on the same day, with the Man at York, after Eating the same kind of shell fish.

There is a vulgar Saying, that Claims2 are unwholsome in every Month of the Year, which has not an R. in it. This common Sentiment receives much Credit, from the Facts here related.

We are told from Portsmouth, to day, that the Vigilance and Activity of the People there have put the Tea on shipboard again to be sent abroad, to Nova Scotia.

I am &c., John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree To be left at Mr. Adams's Office in Queen Street, or at Mr. Cranch's in Hanover Street”; endorsed: “No 1.”


The “Deacon” was Jonathan Sayward (1713–1797), who from humble origins rose to great influence in the town and county of York, serving from time to time and sometimes concurrently as representative to the General Court, justice of the quorum, probate judge, and special justice of the Court of Common Pleas. As a “rescinder” in 1768 he earned the friendship of Governors Bernard and Hutchinson, and for years threw all his weight on the loyalist side. After reading the Declaration of Independence, he observed in his diary, “Its all beyond my Debth.... I am lost in Wonder”; but he did not go into exile, never forfeited his large property, and only temporarily lost his standing in the community. See Charles E. Banks, History of York, Maine, Boston, 1931–1935, 1:389–401, a sketch based in part on Deacon Sayward's unpublished diary.


Thus in MS.

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 29 June 1774 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 29 June 1774 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
York June 29. 1774

This is the second day of the Term at York: very little Business--very hot weather. My Refreshment is a flight to Braintree to my Corn fields and Grass Plotts, my Gardens and Meadows. My Fancy runs about you perpetually. It is continually with you and in the Neighbourhood of you—frequently takes a Walk with you, and your little prattling, Nabby, Johnny, Charly, and Tommy. We walk all together up Penn's Hill, over the Bridge to the Plain, down to the Garden, &c.

We had a curious Dialogue Yesterday, at Dinner, between our Justices Trowbridge and Hutchinson.1

T. said he had seen a Letter, from England, in which it was said that the Conduct of the Chief Justice was highly approved, and that of the other Judges highly disapproved, at the Court End of the Town.—T. added, I dont know whether they impute it all to me or not.—Aye, says H. but it was all owing to you. You laid Brother Ropes, Cushing and me, under the Necessity of refusing the Royal Grant, and accepting the Province Salary.2

T. said he was of the Mind of a Man he named, who was once in the Streets of Madrid, when the Host was carried along. He was bid to kneel, refused, and was instantly knocked down. Some time after he met the Host again and then he kneeled down, instantly, and said he would never be knocked down again, for not Kneeling to the Host.

T. said to H. did not you say to me, you would take the Province Salary?—No says H. I never said a Word to you about it. Justice Ropes and I agreed to take the Royal Grant.


T. Why did not you refuse to declare?—H. Because you had led the Way, and I lived in Boston; if I had lived in Cambridge, or any where else, I should have had no Notion of being compell'd into any Thing against my Inclination.

T. Brother C. sent the most curious Letter. Instead of declaring what he had done or would do, he declared what he could do.—H. said that was according to the Spirit of his Ancestors.—T. said when I saw that, I said, it proved his Legitimacy.

There was a very large numerous Company present at this Conversation, and seemed astonished, and confounded at this Weakness, and Want of Decency, Prudence, Caution and Dignity of these great Men.

After Dinner Justice Gowen said that H. put him in Mind of a Man, who took the Money Oath, after having frequently taken New Hampshire Bills.3 Somebody expressed his Surprize. Yes says the Man, I have often taken Paper Money, but never Wittingly and Willingly, for I had much rather have taken Silver. I never took a Paper Bill in my Life, but I had much rather have taken Gold, Silver or even Copper.

My Dear, when I shall see you I know not, but I design to write by every opportunity. Pray remember my Marsh Mudd.

I am yours, John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree To be left at Mr. Adams's Office in Queen Street Boston”; endorsed: “No. 2.”


Justices Edmund Trowbridge (1709–1793), Harvard 1728, often mentioned in JA's early Diary, sometimes as “Goffe” (a name he used for a time in early life); and Foster Hutchinson (1724–1799), Harvard 1743, a younger brother of former Gov. Thomas Hutchinson (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 8:507–520; 11:237–243).


Justices Nathaniel Ropes (1726–1774), Harvard 1745, whose worries over the source of his salary contributed to his death in March of this year; and William Cushing (1732–1810), Harvard 1751 (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:94; Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 11:572–574; DAB , under Cushing).


An oath administered to all elective local and provincial officials in Massachusetts between 1750 and 1773. In its last form it read: “You, A.B., do, in the presence of God, solemnly declare that you have not, since the thirtieth day of April, one thousand seven hundred and seventy, wittingly and willingly, directly or indirectly, either by yourself or any for or under you, been concerned in receiving or paying, within this government, any bill or bills of credit of either of the governments of Connecticut, New Hampshire or Rhode Island. So help you God” (Mass., Province Laws , 5:35).