Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 21 August 1776 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 21 August 1776 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Philadelphia August 21. 1776

Yesterday Morning I took a Walk, into Arch Street, to see Mr. Peele's Painters Room. Peele is from Maryland, a tender, soft, affectionate Creature. . . .1 He shewed me a large Picture containing a Group of Figures, which upon Inquiry I found were his Family. His Mother, and his Wifes Mother, himself and his Wife, his Brothers and sisters, and his Children, Sons and Daughters all young. There was a pleasant, a happy Chearfulness in their Countenances, and a Familiarity in their Airs towards each other.2

He shewed me one moving Picture. His Wife, all bathed in Tears, with a Child about six months old, laid out, upon her Lap. This Picture struck me prodigiously.

He has a Variety of Portraits—very well done. But not so well as Copeleys Portraits. Copeley is the greatest Master, that ever was in America. His Portraits far exceed Wests.


Peele has taken General Washington, Dr. Franklin, Mrs. Washington, Mrs. Rush, Mrs. Hopkinson. Mr. Blair McClenachan and his little Daughter in one Picture. His Lady and her little son, in another.

Peele shewed me some Books upon the Art of Painting, among the rest one by Sir Joshua Reynolds, the President of the English Accademy of Painters, by whom the Pictures of General Conway and Coll. Barry Barré in Fanuil Hall were taken.

He shewed me too a great Number of Miniature Pictures, among the rest Mr. Hancock and his Lady—Mr. Smith, of S.C. whom you saw the other day in Boston—Mr. Custis, and many others.

He shewed me, likewise, Draughts, or rather Sketches of Gentlemen's Seats in Virginia, where he had been—Mr. Corbins, Mr. Pages, General Washingtons &c.

Also a Variety of rough Drawings, made by great Masters in Italy, which he keeps as Modells.

He shewed me, several Imitations of Heads, which he had made in Clay, as large as the Life, with his Hands only. Among the Rest one of his own Head and Face, which was a great Likeness.

He is ingenious. He has Vanity—loves Finery—Wears a sword—gold Lace—speaks French—is capable of Friendship, and strong Family Attachments and natural Affections.

At this shop I met Mr. Francis Hopkinson, late a Mandamus Councillor of New Jersey, now a Member of the Continental Congress, who it seems is a Native of Philadelphia, a son of a Prothonotary of this County who was a Person much respected. The son was liberally educated, and is a Painter and a Poet.

I have a Curiosity to penetrate a little deeper into the Bosom of this curious Gentleman, and may possibly give you some more particulars concerning him. . . . He is one of your pretty little, curious, ingenious Men. His Head is not bigger, than a large Apple—less than our Friend Pemberton or Dr. Simon Tufts.3 I have not met with any Thing in natural History much more amusing and entertaining, than his personal Appearance. Yet he is genteel and well bred, and is very social.

I wish I had Leisure, and Tranquility of Mind to amuse myself with these Elegant, and ingenious Arts of Painting, Sculpture, Statuary, Architecture, and Musick. But I have not. A Taste in all of them, is an agreable Accomplishment.

Mr. Hopkinson has taken in Crayons, with his own Hand, a Picture of Miss Keys, a famous New Jersey Beauty. He talks of bringing it to Town, and in that Case I shall see it, I hope.

RC (Adams Papers). LbC (Adams Papers); at foot of text: “Sent. by Post Aug. 23.”

105 1.

Here and below, suspension points are in MS.


The thirteen portraits by Peale mentioned by JA in this letter correspond to the following entries in Charles Coleman Sellers, Portraits and Miniatures by Charles Willson Peale, Phila., 1952, and six of them are illustrated therein: No. 617, Peale Family (see Illustration 66); No. 645, “Rachel Weeping” (see illustration 49); No. 896, George Washington (see Illustration 354); No. 278, Benjamin Franklin; No. 953, Martha Washington (see Illustration 374); No. 760, Mrs. Benjamin Rush (see Illustrations 89, 90); No. 387, Mrs. Francis Hopkinson (see Illustration 86); No. 509, Blair McClenachan and Daughter; No. 510, Mrs. Blair McClenachan and Son; No. 351, John Hancock; No. 353, Mrs. John Hancock; No. 804, Benjamin Smith of South Carolina (said by Sellers to be Robert Smith, but see note 3 on JA to AA, 17 May, above, and also JA to AA, 28 Aug., below); No. 170, John Parke Custis.


Simon Tufts (1727–1786), Harvard 1744, AA's cousin and an elder brother of Cotton Tufts; he was a physician in Medford. See Adams Genealogy.

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 22 August 1776 AA JA Abigail Adams to John Adams, 22 August 1776 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
Boston August 22 1776

Yours of August 12 came to hand by last Nights post.1 Mr. Adams and Coll. Whipple are not yet returnd so that I know not what you have wrote by them, but by your Letter of this date I suppose tis something relative to your Return. I shall this morning in consequence of your Letter write to Mr. Bass who I make no doubt will be very ready to come for you. I shall write to my Father to request of him that he would endeavour to procure for you a couple of Horses. I shall try some other Friends and will fix of2 Bass as soon as tis possible to procure Horses for you.

As to the other matters you desired to be informed of, at present I am not capable of acquainting you any further than that I do not believe we have a 100 men as soldiers in this Town. I now and then see a scattering one, but the Militia are not yet come in. Fort Hill is a Beautiful peice of work, I am told not Eaquel to Dorchester. There are about 15 or 20 fine large peices of cannon mounted with Ball &c. by the side of them. We have spaird 700 Barrels of powder to N.Y. We have 600 left as publick Stores. What force we have else where I know not. I have inquired but find every person I have asked as Ignorant as I am. I can learn more in one hour from General Palmer relative to the state of things than I can from all the rest of the persons I converse with and yet I have inquired of those who I think ought to know.

I hear General Lincoln is appointed in the room of Ward. Has he Spirit enough, has he activity, has he ambition enough for the place?—I will endeavour to be informd of all you inquire about and write you the best account I can. As to applying to ——3 for 106Horses, I remember the old proverb, he who waits for dead mens shooes may go barefoot. It would only lengthen out the time, and we should be no better of, than before I askd. I will have them if they are to be had at any price, and they may pay for them. I think you have done your part. I am told that they will appoint somebody to releave you but will not release you.

As to one article you ask about I can tell you we have no scarcity of provisions. In Town upon account of the small pox they are very dear. Ever since june there has been no want of rain and as great a vegatition as was ever known. I have been in Town six weeks yesterday.4 Charlly is better. He is exceeding full, but the little creature is as patient as a Lamb. We carry him out into the air all we can, in the Height of dog days a very bad time for small pox; but we think he will do well. I hope to be able to get Home by the Last of Next Week.

I shall rejoice exceedingly.

Nabbys are most all turnd and going of. She looks speckled.

I am in great Haste, Mr. Cranch and family leave me tomorrow.

I will write by mondays post. Adieu ever Yours,


RC (Adams Papers); addressed in an unidentified hand: “To The Honble: John Adams Esqr; in Philadelphia”; endorsed: Portia ans. Aug. 30.”


His second letter of that date, above.


Thus in MS, meaning prepare and send off, dispatch.


JA had suggested that AA might apply to “some of the Members of the General Court.”


A mistake. The date of the present letter appears to be correct, but AA's sixth week in Boston (since Friday, 12 July) was not completed until Friday, 23 August.