Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 31 March 1777 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 31 March 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Philadelphia March 31. 1777

I know not the Time, when I have omitted to write you, so long.1 I have received but three Letters from you, since We parted, and these were short ones. Do you write by the Post? If you do there must have been some Legerdemain. The Post comes now constantly once a Week, and brings me News Papers, but no Letters. I have ventured to write by the Post, but whether my Letters are received or not, I dont know. If you distrust the Post, the Speaker or your Unkle Smith will find frequent Opportunities of conveying Letters.

I never was more desirous of hearing frequently2 from Home, and never before heard so seldom. We have Reports here, not very favourable to the Town of Boston. It is said that Dissipation prevails and that Toryism abounds, and is openly avowed at the Coffee Houses. I hope the Reports are false. Apostacies in Boston are more abominable than in any other Place. Toryism finds worse Quarter here. A poor fellow, detected here as a Spy, employed as he confesses by Lord Howe and Mr. Galloway to procure Pilots for Delaware River, and for other Purposes, was this day at Noon, executed on the Gallows in the Presence of an immense Crowd of Spectators. His Name was James Molesworth. He has been Mayors Clerk to three or four Mayors.

I believe you will think my Letters, very trifling. Indeed they are. I write in Trammells. Accidents have thrown so many Letters into the Hands of the Enemy, and they take such a malicious Pleasure, in exposing them, that I choose they should have nothing but Trifles from me to expose. For this Reason I never write any Thing of Consequence from Europe, from Philadelphia, from Camp, or any where else. If I could write freely I would lay open to you, the whole system of Politicks and War, and would delineate all the Characters in Either Drama, as minutely, altho I could not do it, so elegantly, as Tully did in his Letters to Atticus.

We have Letters however from France by a Vessell in at Portsmouth—of her important Cargo you have heard.3 There is News of very great Importance in the Letters, but I am not at Liberty. The News, however, is very agreable.4

RC and LbC (Adams Papers).


JA apparently forgot about his brief letter of 28 March, above, of which he had failed to retain a copy and thus supposed his last to AA was that of the 22d, also above. Note that he speaks in the present letter of the spy James Molesworth as if he had not mentioned him before, though his letter of the 28th 193deals exclusively with the Molesworth “Plott.”


This word supplied from LbC; probably omitted inadvertently from RC.


This was the Mercure, which had brought cannon and other military supplies from Nantes, together with the French officer Preudhomme de Borre; the Mercure arrived at Portsmouth on 17 March ( JCC , 7:211–212; Lasseray, Les français sous les treize étoiles , 2:368; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 2:352 and note).


One of the letters containing this “very agreable” news was the dispatch from Commissioners Franklin, Deane, and Lee in Paris to the Committee of Secret Correspondence, 17–22 Jan., summarized in JA's next letter to AA, 2 April, below, and printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 2:248–251.

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 2 April 1777 AA JA Abigail Adams to John Adams, 2 April 1777 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
April 2 1777

I sit down to write tho I feel very Languid; the approach of Spring unstrings my nerves, and the South winds have the same Effect upon me which Brydon says the Siroce winds have upon the inhabitants of Sicily.1 It gives the vapours, blows away all their gaiety and spirits and gives a degree of Lassitude both to the Body and mind, which renders them absolutely incapable of performing their usual functions.

He adds that it is not surprizing that it should produce these Effects upon a phlegmatic English constitution; but that he had just had an Instance that all the Mercury of France must sink under the weight of this Horrid Leaden Atmosphere. A smart Parisian marquis came here, (to Naples) about ten days ago; he was so full of animal Spirits that the people thought him mad. He never remained a moment in the same place; but at their grave conversations used to skip from room to room with such amazing elasticity that the Italians swore he had got springs in his shoes. I met him this morning walking with the step of a philosopher; a smelling bottle in his hand, and all his vivacity extinguishd. I asked what was the matter? “Ah! mon ami,” said he “je m'ennui à la mort; moi, qui n'ai jamais sçu L'ennui. Mais cet execrable vent m'accable; et deux jours de plus, et je me pend.”

The natives themselves do not suffer less than strangers. A Neapolitian lover avoids his Mistress with the utmost care in the time of the Siroce, the indolence it inspires, is almost sufficent to extinguish every passion. Thus much for the Siroce or South East wind of Naples, which I am persuaided bears a near resemblance to our Southerly Winds, and thus does the happiness of Man depend upon a blast of wind.

I think the Author of common Sense some where says that no persons make use of quotations but those who are destitute of Ideas of their own. Tho this may not att all times be true, yet I am willing to acknowledg it at present.


Yours of the 7 of March received by the Post.2 Tis said here that How is meditating an other visit to Philadelphia, if so I would advise to taking down all the doors that the panels may not suffer for the future.

Tis said here that General Washington has but 8 thousand troops with him. Can it be true? that we have but 12 hundred at Ticondorogo. I know not who has the care of raising them here, but this I know we are very dilitory about it. All the troops which were station'd upon Nantasket and at Boston are dismissd this week so that we are now very fit to receive an Enemy; I have heard some talk of routing the Enemy at Newport, but if any thing was designd against them, believe tis wholy laid aside. Nobody seems to consider them as dangerous or indeed to care any thing about them.

Where is General Gates? We hear nothing of him.

The Church doors were shut up last Sunday in consequence of a presentment, a farewell Sermon preached and much weeping and wailing. Persecuted to 3 be sure but not for righteousness sake. The conscientious parson had Taken an oath upon the Holy Evangelist to pray for His most Gracious majesty as his Sovereign Lord, and having no Father Confesser to absolve him, he could not omit it without breaking his oath.4

Who is to have the command at Ticondorogo? Where is General Lee? How is he treated? Is there a scarcity of Grain in Philadelphia. How is flower sold there by the Hundred?

Are there any stocking weavers needles to be had. Hardwick has been with me, to desire me to write to you, to send Turner to procure 500 and to beg of you to enclose to me 50 or a Hundred at a time as he is in great want of them. Says Turner knows what sort he wants, and if you will send word what the price is he will pay it, and make me a present of the best pair of Brants he gets this year. He is full of work, but almost out of needles.

We are just begining farming Buisness. I wish most sincerely you was Here to amuse yourself with it, and to unbend your mind from the cares of State. I hope your associates are more to your mind than they have been in times past. I suppose you will be joind this month by two from this state.5

Adieu. Yours. Abigail Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed in John Thaxter's hand: “To The Honble: John Adams Esqr. at Philadelphia To be left at the Post Office in Boston”; endorsed: “Portia ans. Ap. 27”; docketed in CFA's hand.


Patrick Brydone, A Tour through Sicily and Malta; in a Series of Letters 195to W. Beckford, Esq., London, 1773, and later editions (BM, Catalogue ). No Adams copy has been found.


JA's second letter of that date, above.


This word editorially supplied for clarity.


Rev. Edward Winslow held his last service in Christ Church, Braintree, on 30 March. See AA to JA, 29 Sept. 1776, above, and note 4 there.


An enlargement of the Massachusetts delegation in Congress, though evidently talked of, did not happen.