Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 15 June 1777 AA JA Abigail Adams to John Adams, 15 June 1777 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
Braintree, 15 June 1777

This is the 15 of June. Tomorrow our new Edition of the Regulating act takes place, and will I fear add wrath to Bitterness. No arguments which were urgd could prevail upon the court to repeal it. A committee in this Town is chosen to see it inforced, and I suppose in other Towns.1 I am surprizd that when the ill Effects of it are so visible, and the spirit of opposition to it so general and voilent that there should be a determination to enforce it.

There is a very evil spirit opperating and an encreasing Bitterness between the Town and Country. The Town of Boston has lost its leaders, and the respectable figure it once made is exchanged for party squables, for Avarice, venality, Animosity, contention, pride, weakness and dissapation. I wish I could say this spirit was confined to the Capital, but indeed too much of it prevails in the cottage.2

Really we are a most ungratefull people, favourd as we have been with peculiar Blessings and favours to make so poor returns. With the best opportunities for becomeing a happy people, and all the materials in our power, yet we have neither skill nor wisdom to put them together.

The House and Counsel have come to a determination to form a Goverment, and to send it out to the people for their inspection. I expect there will be great difficulty as ninety two Towns I am told have sent no representitives, and the Countys of Worcester and Berkshire make up more than a third of the House. Some have instructed their rep's to form a Goverment, others have directly forbid them.3

There has been a list of Tories belonging to this Town made out, and Deliverd in to the Town 13 in number. I will enclose the list.4 Some of them I believe had as goods have been omitted. It will put them to some expence but the practice is to employ one or two gentlemen of the Bar, who generally make out to get them acquitted. Then I expect they will be returnd to us, more Rancorous than before.

There is a movement of Hows, whether he designs for Boston or Road Island or where is as yet unknown—I hope for neither. I think 266I could not tarry here with safety should he make an attack upon either, and the thought of being driven from my own Habitation at this time is more distressing than ever. If I had only myself to look after it would be less anxiety to me; if you hear of our being invaded this way, I think you must return. I used to have courage, but you cannot wonder at my apprehensions when you consider my circumstances. I can but poorly walk about House; However I am not of an over anxious make; I will trust in providence that I shall be provided for. I think we shall know in a week whether he designs this way, and you I suppose will know as soon as we. I wish you would advise me what I had best do if we should be attacked this way.—We have not a Man either upon the Castle or at Nantasket. I believe our Enimies know it.

Two continental vessels have arrived with Salt from Bilbo in the last week, and four prizes sent in by the Fleet. As they came in a Saturday have not learnt with what they are loaded.

Have received two letters since I wrote last, one of May 24 and one of May 27.5 As to your injuntions with regard to my taking any money but this States and continental, I have strictly adhered to them. I know of whom I received the Hampshire money, and returnd it again. I took it of Sister Adams as part of the pay for the Lighter, and she of Vose of Milton. She returnd it the same week to Him, which she took it but He refused to receive it, and tho she has twice sent it to Him, and he does not pretend to say He did not pay it to her, Yet he will not take it again. What can be done? I had several other Bills, but knowing of whom I received them, I found no difficulty in returning them again.—There will no money pass in this State after next month but continental and this States.

How is your cold? Are you better than you was? I feel anxious for your Health. Let me know every time you write How you do. A certain Gentleman was ask'd when he expected to go to Philadelphia. O he did not know. That depended upon some of the others returning. He supposed they would be running Home again in a month or two, as they always were. For his part he had tarried so many months.—A great merrit to tarry from Home when a man loves any place better than home. I am for having them all stay now, to keep him at home as a punishment. Tis of no great importance where he is.6

Adieu most sincerely yours.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Portia”; docketed in two different hands, one of which is CFA's. Enclosure not found, but see note 4.

267 1.

On 9 June the town chose a committee of seven members, “to see that the Act to prevent Monopoly and oppression be not violated in this Town” ( Braintree Town Records , p. 482). This was in accordance with the Act as amended on 10 May (Mass., Province Laws , 5:642–647).


It may be noted that here, as she did on some other occasions, AA borrowed some of her language from Mrs. Warren. See the preceding letter.


On the steps taken by the new General Court to form a new constitution (the abortive Constitution of 1778), see the very informative passages in James Warren's letters to JA of 22 June and 10 July ( Warren-Adams Letters , 1:334–335, 341; also printed in Papers of John Adams )


The enclosed list is missing, but on 9 June, according to the Braintree Town Records (p. 481–482), “the Selectmen presented a list to the Town of those persons they esteemed Inimical to the United States which is as follows, viz. Revd. Edward Winslow, Majr. Ebenezer Miller, John Cheesman, Mr. Joseph Cleverly, James Apthorp, William Veazie, Benj Cleverly, Oliver Gay, & Nedabiah Bent, all which was Voted by the Town to be persons esteemed Inimical. . . . Then the following Persons was Nominated & voted to be added to the aforesaid List . . . viz. Joseph Cleverly second, William Veazie junr. Henry Cleverly & Thomas Brackett.”


That is, JA's letters of 24 and 25–27 May, both above.


Robert Treat Paine had been reelected a Massachusetts delegate on 10 Dec. 1776 (as he was to be again in Dec. 1777), but he never resumed his seat in Congress. On 12 June 1777 he was elected attorney general of Massachusetts (Mass., House Jour. , 1777–1778, p. 23).

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 16 June 1777 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 16 June 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Philadelphia June 16 1777

I had a most charming Packett from you and my young Correspondents, to day.

I am very happy, to learn that you have done such great Things in the Way of paying Debts. I know not what would become of me, and mine, if I had not such a Friend to take Care of my Interests in my Absence.

You will have Patience with me this Time, I hope, for this Time will be the last.

I shall stay out this Year, if I can preserve my Health, and then come home, and bid farewell to great Affairs. I have a Right to spend the Remainder of my days in small ones.

RC (Adams Papers).

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 18 June 1777 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 18 June 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Philadelphia June 18. 1777

We shall have all the Sages and Heroes of France here before long.

Mr. Du Coudray is here, who is esteemed the most learned Officer in France. He is an Artillery Officer.


Mr. De la Balme is here too, a great Writer upon Horsemanship and Cavalry. He has presented me with two Volumes written by himself upon these subjects, elegantly printed, bound and gilt.1

Mr. De Vallenais is with him, who speaks very good English.2

The inclosed Papers will give you all the News. You get Intelligence sooner and better than We.

We are under no more Apprehensions here than if the British Army was in the Crimea. Our Fabius will be slow, but sure.

Arnold, You see will have at them, if he can.

RC (Adams Papers). Enclosed newspapers not found or identified.


Augustin Mottin de La Balme (1736–1780), a French cavalry officer and writer on cavalry tactics, had left France against orders from Vergennes by disguising himself as a physician. He bore letters of introduction from Franklin to Hancock and from Deane to Washington. In Philadelphia he presented to JA copies of his Essais sur l'équitation, Amsterdam and Paris, 1773, and Elémens de tactique pour la cavalerie, Paris, 1776, which are still among JA's books in the Boston Public Library; the titlepage of the Essais is reproduced among the illustrations in the present volume. On 8 July 1777 Congress commissioned La Balme colonel and inspector of cavalry ( JCC , 8:539), but he did not gain Washington's support in this post and retired from it early in 1778. The next year he campaigned as a volunteer on the Penobscot and elsewhere, and thereafter among the old French settlements in the West; in Nov. 1780 he and his men were massacred near Miami, Ohio, by a party of Little Turtle's Indians. Most of the information above is drawn from Lasseray's excellent sketch of La Balme in Les français sous les treize étoiles , 2:329–336.


Of this officer, whose name was spelled in a great variety of ways, little is definitely known beyond an entry in JCC for 8 July 1777 (8:539): “Resolved . . . That Mons. Vallenais be appointed an aid to Mons. de la Balme, with the rank and pay of captain of cavalry.” See also Lasseray, 2:462–463.