Adams Family Correspondence, volume 1

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 1774 AA Cranch, Mary Smith Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 1774 Adams, Abigail Cranch, Mary Smith
Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch
Dear Sister 1774 1

I was yesterday at Weymouth where I received your Letter,2 and the saffron risbands3 &c. I thank you and Cousin Betsy both; I expect you a thursday, but from all I can find out, I do not think the visit will be to any purpose; there seems to me to be at present a real aversion to change of state. 4 having quited one has no inclination for an other; so things look to me. I am really sorry upon all accounts, the merrit of the person unquestionable, their Sentiments so generous, upon both sides. What pitty tis we cannot reason ourselves into love? The villan, the urchin is deaf as well as blind—“Spreads his light wings and in a moment flies” at sight of reason.—She feels greatly embarrassed. She knows the wishes of all her Friends and to them joins her own, but all will not avail; I really think she must take her own way and nobody say her Nay. However if you come up you may know perhaps how matters stand. I chanced to find her in a more unreserved state than she commonly is. I expect her here a thursday. Come and dine with me, you will find me a little up in arms as they say—but very glad to see you. I shall expect you. Father says take his horse which Brother has, and come down and change. He wants to send Brothers home. I wish you would procure me half a yd. cambrick about 2/10 yd. and 3 yd. of cloth about 25 seven Eights wide. You will greatly oblige yours,


RC (NAlI); addressed: “To Mrs Mary Cranch Boston”; docketed in an unidentified hand, perhaps that of Lucy (Cranch) Greenleaf: “at Boston—no date. Aunt Elizabeth's affair."


This date is highly tentative. It is assigned on the presumption that AA is discussing her sister Betsy's relationship with John Shaw, whom Betsy was to marry in 1777 but whom she had renounced in March 1774; see Elizabeth Smith to AA, 7 March 1774, above. But since AA later opposed the marriage, this presumption may be wrong.


Not found.


Thus in MS.


Illegible initial.

Abigail Adams to Catharine Sawbridge Macaulay, 1774 AA Macaulay, Catharine Sawbridge Abigail Adams to Catharine Sawbridge Macaulay, 1774 Adams, Abigail Macaulay, Catharine Sawbridge
Abigail Adams to Catharine Sawbridge Macaulay
Madam 1774

In the last Letter which Mr. Adams had the honour to receive from you, you express a Desire to become acquainted with our American Ladies.1 To them Mrs. Macaulay is sufficiently distinguished by her superior abilities, and altho she who is now ventureing to address her cannot lay claim to eaquil accomplishments with the Lady before introduced,2 yet she flatters herself she is no ways deficient in her esteem for a Lady who so warmly interests herself in the cause of America—a Cause madam which is now become so serious to every American that we consider it as a struggle from which we shall obtain a release from our present bondage by an ample redress of our Grieveances—or a redress by the Sword. The only alternative which every american thinks of is Liberty or Death.

“Tender plants must bend, but when a Goverment is grown to strength like some old oak rough with its armed bark it yealds not to the tug, but only nods and turns to sullen state.”

Should I attempt to discribe to you the complicated misiries and distresses brought upon us by the late inhumane acts of the British parliment my pen would faill me. Suffice it to say, that we are invaded with fleets and Armies, our commerce not only obstructed, but totally ruined, the courts of Justice shut, many driven out from the Metropolis, thousands reduced to want, or dependant upon the charity of their neighbours for a daily supply of food, all the Horrours of a civil war threatning us on one hand, and the chains of Slavery ready forged for us on the other. We Blush when we recollect from whence these woes arise, and must forever execrate the infamous memory of those Men whether they are Americans or Brittons, whose contagious Ambition first opened the pandoraen Box, and wantonly and cruelly scatterd the fatal ingrediants—first taught us filled with grief and anxiety to inquire

178 Are these thy deeds o Britton? this the praise That points the growing Lusture of thy Name These glorious works that in thy better Days fild the bright period of thine early fame To rise in ravage and with arm prophane From freedoms shrine each sacred Gift to rend and mark the closing annals of thy reign With every foe subdued, and every Friend.

You will think Madam perhaps from the account I have given you, that we are in great confusion and disorder—but it is far otherways. Tho there are but few who are unfealing or insensible to the general calimity, by far the greater part support it with that firmness, that fortitude, that undaunted resolution which ever attends those who are conscious that they are the injured not the injurer, and that they are engaged in a righteous cause in which they fear not to “bare their bold Breasts and pour their generous Blood.” Altho by the obstruction of publick justice, each individual is left at a loose, to do that which is right in his own Eyes, yet each one strives to shew his neighbour that the restraints of Honour and of conscience are more powerful motives, than the judiciary proceedings of the Law. Notwithstanding the inveterate Malice of our Enimies who are continually representing us, as in a state of anarchy and confusion, torn up with intestine broils, and guilty of continual riots and outrage, yet this people never saw a time of greater peace and harmony among themselves, every one uniting in the common cause, and strengthning each other with inconceivable constancy and sumpathetick ardor.

I mean always to Except those whose venal Souls barter freedom for Gold, and would sell their Country, nay gladly see an innocent land deluged with Blood, if they could riot upon its Spoils, which heaven Avert!—Tis with anxious Hearts and eager expectations that we are now waiting for the result of the united Supplications of America. Yet having so often experienced their Enefficacy we have little reason to hope. We think we have more to expect from the firm and religious observance of the association which accompanied them3—for tho it was formerly the pride and ambition of Americans to indulge in the fashions and Manufactures of Great Brittain now she threatens us with her chains we will scorn to wear her livery, and shall think ourselves more decently attired in the coarse and plain vestures of our own Manufactury than in all the gaudy trapings that adorn the slave.—Yet connected as we are by Blood, by commerce, by 179one common language, by one common religion as protestants, and as good and loyal subjects of the same king, we earnestly wish that the three fold cord of Duty, interest and filial affection may not be snapped assunder. Tis like the Gordean knot. It never can be untied, but the sword may cut it, and America if she falls to use the words of the revered and ever honourd Mr. Pitt, will fall like a strong Man, will embrace the pillars of State and pull down the constitution along with her.

I must intreet your pardon Madam for Detaining you so long from the important Services in which you are engaged, but having taken up my pen I could not refrain giving utterance to some of those Emotions which have agitated my Bosom and are the cause of many anxious hours to her who begs leave to subscribe herself Dear Madam your great admirer & humble Servant,

Abigail Adams

Dft (Adams Papers), undated, with numerous cancellations and insertions not noted here; notes by CFA at head of text assign date “1774” and recipient's name.


The letter in question, dated 11 Sept., was enclosed in Edward Dilly's letter to JA of 24 Sept. 1774 (both in Adams Papers).


Mercy (Otis) Warren, who became a frequent correspondent of Mrs. Macaulay.


The “association” was the nonimportation, nonconsumption, nonexportation agreement adopted by the first Continental Congress, signed by the members on 20 Oct., and widely printed and circulated. See JCC , 1:75–81; “Bibliographical Notes” in same, p. 127; and facsimile of signed MS in pocket inside back cover of that volume.