Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 5 September 1776 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 5 September 1776 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Philadelphia Septr. 5. 1776

Mr. Bass arrived this Day, with the joyfull News, that you were all well. By this Opportunity, I shall send you a Cannister of Green Tea, by Mr. Hare.1

Before Mr. Gerry went away from hence, I asked Mrs. Yard to send a Pound of Green Tea to you. She readily agreed. When I came home at Night I was told Mr. G. was gone. I asked Mrs. Y. if she had sent the Cannister? She said Yes and that Mr. G. undertook to deliver it, with a great deal of Pleasure. From that Time I flattered my self, you would have the poor Relief of a dish of good Tea under all your Fatigues with the Children, and under all the disagreabble Circumstances attending the small Pox, and I never conceived a single doubt, that you had received it untill Mr. Gerrys Return. I asked him, accidentally, whether he delivered it, and he said Yes to Mr. S.A.'s Lady.—I was astonished. He misunderstood Mrs. Y. intirely, for upon Inquiry she affirms she told him, it was for Mrs. J.A.

I was so vexed at this, that I have ordered another Cannister, and Mr. Hare has been kind enough to undertake to deliver it. How the Dispute will be settled I dont know. You must send a Card to Mrs. S.A., and let her know that the Cannister was intended for You, and she may send it you if she chooses, as it was charged to me. It is amazingly dear, nothing less than 40s. lawfull Money, a Pound.


I am rejoiced that my Horses are come. I shall now be able to take a ride. But it is uncertain, when I shall set off, for home. I will not go, at present. Affairs are too delicate and critical.—The Panic may seize whom it will, it shall not seize me. I will stay here, untill the public Countenance is better, or much worse. It must and will be better. I think it is not now bad. Lyes by the Million will be told you. Dont believe any of them. There is no danger of the Communication being cutt off, between the northern and southern Colonies. I can go home, when I please, in spight of all the Fleet and Army of Great Britain.

RC and LbC (Adams Papers).


“The Bearer, Mr. Hare, is a Brother of the Gentleman of the same Name in this City, who has made himself so famous by introducing the Brewery of Porter into America. He wants to see our Country, Harvard Colledge, the Town of Boston, etc.” (JA to James Warren, 4 Sept. 1776, Warren-Adams Letters , 1:273; also printed in Papers of John Adams ).

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 6 September 1776 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 6 September 1776 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Fryday Septr. 6. 1776

This day, I think, has been the most remarkable of all. Sullivan came here from Lord Howe, five days ago with a Message that his Lordship desired a half an Hours Conversation with some of the Members of Congress, in their private Capacities. We have spent three or four days in debating whether We should take any Notice of it. I have, to the Utmost of my Abilities during the whole Time, opposed our taking any Notice of it. But at last it was determined by a Majority “that the Congress being the Representatives of the free and independent states of America, it was improper to appoint any of their Members to confer, in their private Characters with his Lordship. But they would appoint a Committee of their Body, to wait on him, to know whether he had Power, to treat with Congress upon Terms of Peace and to hear any Propositions, that his Lordship may think proper to make.”

When the Committee came to be ballotted for, Dr. Franklin and your humble servant, were unanimously chosen. Coll. R. H. Lee and Mr. Edward Rutledge, had an equal Number: but upon a second Vote Mr. R. was chosen. I requested to be excused, but was desired to consider of it untill tomorrow. My Friends here Advise me to go. All the stanch and intrepid, are very earnest with me to go, and the timid and wavering, if any such there are,1 agree in the request. So I believe I shall undertake the Journey. I doubt whether 121his Lordship will see Us, but the same Committee will be directed to inquire into the State of the Army, at New York,2 so that there will be Business enough, if his Lordship makes none.—It would fill this Letter Book, to give you all the Arguments, for and against this Measure, if I had Liberty to attempt it.—His Lordship seems to have been playing off a Number of Machiavillian Maneuvres, in order to throw upon Us the Odium of continuing this War. Those who have been Advocates for the Appointment of this Committee, are for opposing Maneuvre to Maneuvre, and are confident that the Consequence will be, that the Odium will fall upon him. However this may be, my Lesson is plain, to ask a few Questions, and take his Answers.

I can think of but one Reason for their putting me upon this Embassy, and that is this. An Idea has crept into many Minds here that his Lordship is such another as Mr. Hutchinson, and they may possibly think that a Man who has been accustomed to penetrate into the mazy Windings of Hutchinsons Heart, and the serpentine Wiles of his Head, may be tolerably qualified to converse with his Lordship.3

Sunday Septr. 8.

Yesterdays Post brought me yours of Aug. 29. The Report you mention “that I was poisoned upon my Return at New York” I suppose will be thought to be a Prophecy, delivered by the Oracle in mystic Language, and meant that I should be politically or morally poisoned by Lord Howe. But the Prophecy shall be false.

RC and LbC (Adams Papers).


Preceding five words not in LbC, added in RC.


As things turned out, the committee was not so instructed.


Maj. Gen. John Sullivan had been captured in the action on Long Island, 27 Aug. (and was afterward exchanged for the British general, Richard Prescott). Sullivan presented Lord Howe's request to Congress on 2 and 3 Sept.; the debate and votes that JA reports here took place on the three following days ( JCC , 5:723, 730–731, 735, 737–738). See also JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:425; Josiah Bartlett to William Whipple, 3 Sept. 1776 (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 2:66–67).