Adams Family Correspondence, volume 1

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1774 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1774 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My Dear Littlefields at Wells. July 3. 1774

Mr. Winthrop, Mr. Quincy and I came this Morning from York, before Breakfast, 15 Miles, in order to hear my learned Friend Hemmenway. Mr. Quincy brought me a Letter from Williams, in which he lets me know that you and the Family were well.1 This is very refreshing News.

Pattens at Arundell July 4. 1774

We went to Meeting at Wells and had the Pleasure of hearing My Friend, upon “Be not Partaker's in other Mens Sins: Keep yourselves pure.”—Mr. Hemenway came and kindly invited us to dine, but we had engaged a Dinner at Littlefields, so we returned there, dined and took our Horses to Meeting in the Afternoon, and heard the Minister again, upon “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness, and all these Things shall be added unto you.”—There is a great Pleasure in Hearing Sermons so serious, so clear, so sensible, and instructive as these.

We went to Mr. Hemmenways, and as it rained a little He put out our Horses and we took a Bed with him, i.e. Mr. Winthrop and I.

You know I never get or save any Thing by cozening or classmating; so I gave Pistareens enough among the Children and Servants to have paid twice for my Entertainment.

Josiah Quincy, allways impetuous and vehement, would not stop, but drove forward, I suppose that he might get upon the Fishing Ground before his Brother Sam. and me.—I find that the Divines and Lawyers, this Way are all Tories. Brother Hemmenway is as impartial as any I have seen or heard of—James Sullivan seems half inclined to be a Whigg.

Mr. Winthrop has been just making some Observations, which I think worth sending to you. Upon Reading an Observation in the Farmers fourth Letter,2 that some of our, (the Massachusetts) Resolves and Publications had better have been suppressed, Mr. Winthrop said, that many Things in our News Papers ought to have been suppressed. For example, Whenever there was the least popular Commotion, or Disturbance, it was instantly put in all the News Papers, in this Province. But in all the other Provinces they took Care to conceal and suppress every such Thing.

Another Thing He says, We ought to avoid all Paragraphs in our Papers about our own Manufactures—especially all vapouring puffing 123Advertisements about them, because such Paragraphs only tend to provoke the Ministry, Merchants and Manufacturers in England, to confine and restrain or prohibit our Manufactures.

But our Presses, in Boston, Salem, and Newbury Port are under no Regulation, nor any judicious prudent Care. Therefore it seems impracticable to keep out such Imprudences.

The Printers are hot, indiscreet Men, and they are under the Influence of others as hot, rash and injudicious as themselves, very often.

For my own Part it has long been my Resolution to avoid being concerned in councilling, or aiding or abetting any Tumult or Disorder, to avoid all exceptionable Scribbling in the Newspaper, of every Kind, to avoid all Passion and personal Altercation or Reflections. I have found it difficult, to keep these Resolutions exactly, all but the last however I have religiously and punctiliously, observed, these six Years.

July 5th: Tuesday Morning

Arrived last Evening at Falmouth, and procured a New Place to Lodge at, Mrs. Eustons. Quincy and I, have taken a Bed together. My Brother Neg. Freeman3 came to pay his Respects to me, and to invite me to a Bed in his House, but I was fixed before, and therefore thanked him and excused myself. It is a very neat House where We sleep. The Desk and Table shine like Mirrors. The floors are clean and white and nicely sanded &c.

But when shall I get home? This tedious Journey will produce me very little Profit. I never saw Falmouth before with such lean Expectations and empty Pocketts. I am much concerned for my Family: These Acts of Parliament and ministerial Maneuvres, will injure me, both in my Property and Business, as much as any Person whatever, in Proportion.

John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree”; endorsed: “No 3.”


Jonathan Williams (d. 1780), one of JA's law clerks, is sometimes confused with his Boston cousin of the same name who was a great-nephew of Benjamin Franklin and is better known to history; see DAB under Jonathan Williams (1750–1815). Williams' letter to JA, brought by Josiah Quincy Jr., has not been found.


John Dickinson's Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies, Phila., 1768.


That is, Enoch Freeman (1706–1788), Harvard 1729, an early (and irregular) practitioner of law, militia officer, and officeholder extraordinary in Portland (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 8:572–581; William Willis, History of the Law, the Courts, and the Lawyers of Maine, Portland, 1863, p. 651–652). JA's epithet “Brother Neg.” 124alludes to the fact that Freeman, like JA, had been negatived by Gage when elected to the Council in the preceding May.

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 5 July 1774 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 5 July 1774 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My Dr. Falmouth July 5. 1774

I cant be easy without my Pen in my Hand, yet I know not what to write.

I have this Morning heard a Dialogue between Will. Gardiner and a Captain Pote of Falmouth.1 Gardiner says he cant subscribe the Non Consumption Agreement, because he has 100 Men coming from England to settle upon Kennebeck River, and he must supply them, which he cant do without English Goods. That Agreement he says may do, at Boston, but not in the Eastern Country. Pote said he never would sign it, and rail'd away at Boston Mobs, drowning Tea, and tarring Malcom.2

James Sullivan at Dinner told us a Story or two.—One Member of the General Court he said as they came down Stairs after their Dissolution at Salem, said to him “Tho we are kill'd we died scrabbling, did not We.”—This is not very witty I think.

Another Story was of a Piece of Wit of Brother Porter of Salem. He came upon the Floor and asked a Member “What State are you in now?” The Member answered “in a State of Nature.”—Ay says Porter, “and you will be d——d before you will get into a State of Grace.”

July 6th.

I spent an Hour last Evening at Mr. Wyers with Judge Cushing. Wyers Father, who has a little Place in the Customs came in. He began, upon Politicks and told us, that Mr. Smith had a Fast last Week which he attended. Mr. Gillman preached, he said, Part of the Day and told them that the Judgments of God upon the Land, were in Consequence of the Mobbs and Riots, which had prevailed in the Country—and then turning to me, old Wyer said “What do you think of that Mr. Adams?”—I answered, I cant say but Mobs and Violences may have been one Cause of our Calamities. I am inclined to think that they do come in for a share: But there are many other Causes; did not Mr. Gillman mention Bribery and Corruption, as another Cause?—He ought to have been impartial, and pointed out the Venality which prevails in the Land as a Cause, as well as Tumults.—“I think he did” says Wyer.

I might have pursued my Enquiry, whether, he did not mention the Universal Pilfering, Robbery and Picking of Pocketts, which prevails 125in the Land—as every Mans Pockett upon the Continent is picked every Day, by taking from him Duties without his Consent.

I might have enquired whether he mentioned the universal Spirit of Debauchery, Dissipation, Luxury, Effeminacy and Gaming which the late ministerial Measures are introducing, &c. &c. &c. but I forbore.

How much Profaneness, Leudness, Intemperance, &c. have been introduced by the Army and Navy, and Revenue—how much servility, Venality And Artifice and Hypocricy, have been introduced among the Ambitious and Avaricious by the british Politicks of the last 10 Years?

In short the original faulty Causes of all the Vices which have been introduced, these last 10 Years, are the Political Innovations of the last 10 Years. This is no Justification and a poor Excuse for the Girls who have been debauched, and for the Injustice which has been committed, in some Riots. But surely the Soldiers, Sailors, and Excisemen, who have occasioned these Vices ought not to reproach those they have corrupted. These Tories act the Part of the Devil—they tempt Men and Women into sin, and then reproach them for It, and become soon their Tormentors for it.

A Tempter and Tormentor, is the Character of the Devil.—Hutchinson, Oliver, and others of their Circle, who for their own Ends of Ambition and Avarice, have procured, promoted, encouraged, councilled, aided and abetted the Taxation of America, have been the Real Tempters of their Countrymen and Women, into all the Vices, sins, Crimes and follies which that Taxation has occasioned: And now by themselves and their Friends, Dependents, and Votaries, they are reproaching those very Men and Women, with those Vices and follies, Sins and Crimes.

There is not a Sin which prevails more universally and has prevailed longer, than Prodigality, in Furniture, Equipage, Apparell and Diet. And I believe that this Vice, this Sin has as large a Share in drawing down the Judgments of Heaven as any. And perhaps the Punishment that is inflicted, may work medicinally, and cure the Desease.

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 Boston”; endorsed: “No 5.”


William Gardiner was a son of JA's client Dr. Silvester Gardiner of Boston. Jeremiah Pote, a loyalist merchant, fled the following year to New Brunswick; one of his daughters had married a brother of the loyalist lawyer David Wyer, frequently mentioned in these letters (William Willis, History of Portland, from 1632 to 1864, Portland, 1865, p. 456, note).


John Malcom (or Malcomb), an unpopular customs collector, was tarred and feathered in Boston in Jan. 1774, and the incident became the subject of 126satirical prints soon afterward issued in London. See a very fully documented account by Frank W. C. Hersey, “Tar and Feathers: The Adventures of Captain John Malcom,” Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns. , 34 (1943):429–473, which reproduces several of the prints.