Adams Family Correspondence, volume 1

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 5 November 1775 AA JA Abigail Adams to John Adams, 5 November 1775 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
November 5 1775

I have been prevented writing you for more than a Week past by a Whitlow upon the fore finger of my right Hand. Tis now so tender that I can manage a pen but poorly.

I hope you have received several Letters from me in this fortnight past. I wrote by Mr. Linch Lynch, and by Dr. Frankling the latter of whom I had the pleasure of dining with, and of admiring him whose character from my Infancy I had been taught to venerate. I found him social, but not talkative, and when he spoke something usefull droped 321from his Tongue; he was grave, yet pleasant, and affable.—You know I make some pretensions to physiognomy and I thought I could read in his countanance the Virtues of his Heart, among which patriotism shined in its full Lusture—and with that is blended every virtue of a christian, for a true patriot must be a religious Man. I have been led to think from a late Defection that he who neglects his duty to his Maker, may well be expected to be deficient and insincere in his duty towards the public. Even suppose Him to possess a large share of what is called honour and publick Spirit yet do not these Men by their bad Example, by a loose immoral conduct corrupt the Minds of youth, and vitiate the Morrals of the age, and thus injure the publick more than they can compensate by intrepidity, Generosity and Honour?

Let revenge or ambition, pride, lust or profit tempt these Men to a base and vile action, you may as well hope to bind up a hungry tiger with a cobweb as to hold such debauched patriots in the visionary chains of Decency or to charm them with the intellectual Beauty of Truth and reason.

But where am I running. I mean to thank you for all your obliging favours lately received and tho some of them are very Laconick, yet were they to contain only two lines to tell me that you were well, they would be acceptable to me. I think however you are more apprehensive than you need to be. The Gentleman to whose care they have always been directed has been very kind in his conveyances and very careful. I hope however that it will not now be long before we shall have nearer interviews. You must tell me that you will return next Month. A late appointment will make it inconveniant (provided you accept) for you to go again to Congress.

The little flock in receiving pappas Letters have been more gratified than they could have been by any other present. They are very proud of being thus noticed. I am much obliged by the Sermons lately received. The Dedication of Dr. Zublys is both spirited and zealous. I was greatly pleased with it, but suppose it will be casting of pearl before Swine.1

It seems Humane Nature is the same in all ages and Countrys. Ambition and avarice reign every where and where they predominate their will be bickerings after places of Honour and profit. There is an old adage kissing goes by favour that is daily verified.

I enclose to you the paper you sent for.2 Your Buisness in collecting facts will be very difficult, and the Sufferings of this people cannot be circumscribed with pen, ink and paper. Besides these Ministers of Satan are rendring it every day more and more difficult by their 322ravages and devastation, to tell a tale which will freeze the young Blood of succeeding Generations as well as harrow up the Souls of the present.

Nothing new has transpired since I wrote you last. I have not heard of one persons escaping out of Town, nor of any Manuover of any kind.

Master John is very anxious to write, but has been confined for several days with a severe cold which has given him soar Eyes, but he begs me to make his Excuse and say that he has wrote twice before, but it did not please him well enough to send it. Nabby has been with her Aunt Betsy ever since her Grandmammas Death. Charlly and Tommy beg mamma to thank pappa for their Letters, and wish they could write to tell him so. Brother and Sister Cranch send their Love. Mrs. Cranch's disorder left her soon, the Sickness has greatly abated all round us. Your Mother speaks pathetically of you, and always sends her Love to you. I will only ask you to Measure by your own the affectionate regard of Your Nearest Friend.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed in John Thaxter's hand: “To The Honble: John Adams Esq. at Philadelphia To the Care of Col: Warren”; endorsed: “Portia Novr. 5. 1775.” For the enclosure see note 2.


John Joachim Zubly, The Law of Liberty. A Sermon on American Affairs, Preached at the Opening of the Provincial Congress of Georgia, Phila., 1775. Several editions were published; see T. R. Adams, “American Independence,” No. 204a-c.


This must have been the Massachusetts Committee of Safety's “Relation” of the battle of Bunker Hill, dated 25 July 1775 (copy in Adams Papers under that date), signed by Joseph Palmer, and requested by JA in his letter to AA of 19 Oct., above, q.v.

Abigail Adams to Mercy Otis Warren, 5 November 1775 AA Warren, Mercy Otis Abigail Adams to Mercy Otis Warren, 5 November 1775 Adams, Abigail Warren, Mercy Otis
Abigail Adams to Mercy Otis Warren
Dear Marcia Braintree ca. 5 November1 1775

I hope the Historick page will increase to a volume. Tis this hope that has kept me from complaining of my friends Laconick Epistles. Our amiable Friend, who lately favourd me with a visit, informd you I suppose of the difficulty I Labourd under, of a Whitlow upon the fore finger of my right Hand, which prevented my writing to my dearest Friend; and to her who holds one of the first places among the female Friend's of Portia.

I have to acknowledge the kind care of both my Friends in the conveyance of Letters. I feel loth the House should rise whilst the Congress sits. But was not there some Mistake in the last Letters, has not your Friend one which must have been meant for me, by a mistake in 323the Superscription? I inclose the Letter. I read it, not regarding the Dear Sir, but could not comprehend how I came to have such a reply to a subject I had said very little upon. Upon Nabbys taking it into her hand she observed the address.

I am curious to know how you spend your time? Tis very sausy to make this demand upon you; but I know it must be usefully imployed and I am fearfull if I do not question you I shall loose some improvement which I might otherways make.

What becomes of the state prisoner? Is he not to have a trial? When weighd in the balance I fear he will be found wanting. A patriot without religion in my estimation is as great a paradox, as an honest Man without the fear of God. Is it possible that he whom no moral obligations bind, can have any real Good Will towards Man, can he be a patriot who by an openly vicious conduct is undermineing the very bonds of Society, corrupting the Morals of Youth, and by his bad example injuring that very Country he professess to patrionize more than he can possibly compensate by his intrepidity, Generosity and honour? The Scriptures tell us righteousness exaltheth a Nation.

I wish there was more of it to be seen among all orders and professions, but the Continental Connextion will not improve the Morals of our youth. A little less snearing at our New England puritanism would be full as honorary to our Southern Breathren.

I thank you my Friend for your invitation but cannot comply with it, tho my inclination is very strong. I want to see my Friends and hear our worthy Dr.2 Pray be so kind as to present my Regards to Dr. Winthrope and Lady. She desired me to write to her. I wish my Friend would let her know that I can better reply to a favour from her than begin a correspondence, tho I should esteem it an honour.

But Marcia can witness for me how averse I have been to writing.

I lament the Death of the worthy president as of an honest Man. Mr. Randolphs character has secured him Esteem. How well might some folks have saved their credit, and their Bacon too (as the phraze is) by a resignation of a certain place.3

O Ambition how many inconsistent actions dost thou make poor mortals commit!

Adieu my Friend. I hope soon to have the pleasure of seeing you at Braintree, and of a social Evening beside our fire. How happy should I esteem myself could the dear Friend of my Heart join us. I think I make a greater Sacrifice to the publick than I could by Gold and Silver, had I it to bestow. Does not Marcia join in this Sentiment with her

Portia4 324

RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); endorsed: “Mrs. Adams”; docketed in two later hands: “Mrs. Adams Novr. 1775 No 5.” Enclosure: a recent letter from JA to James Warren, sent by Warren to AA by mistake and not precisely identifiable.


If not written on 5 Nov., this letter was written close to that date. It is in reply to a note from Mrs. Warren of 3 Nov. (Adams Papers), and it mentions AA's sore finger that has prevented her writing to JA; see the preceding letter to him.


“I shall Not be heer i.e. at Watertown after Next sabbath so think you had better Come and hear Dr. Samuel Cooper then as He Designs to preach himself Notwithstanding a Late accident” (Mercy Warren to AA, 3 Nov. 1775, Adams Papers).


Peyton Randolph, formerly president of Congress, had returned to Philadelphia on 5 Sept. for the new session, but died on 22 Oct. (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 1:lxvi). There were others besides AA who thought that John Hancock should have stepped down from the presidency upon Randolph's return.


A few days later Mercy Warren acknowledged the present letter in a letter without date (Adams Papers, filed under Nov. 1775), which contains the following passage bearing on JA's intercepted letters:

“One Expression in one Letter recently captured aboard a vessel from Ireland I must tell you. The Writer says the Colonies must and will be Reduced, and Notwithstanding the spirit that appears, and the stand that has been made, They are Convinced by the submissive Terms in which the Petition to the king is Couched that there must be a Weakness somewhere.

“How will this make our pidling Geniuss appear, and will not the spirited sentiments, and the Enlarged plans of policy Hinted by a Certain Letter Writer be now applauded.”