Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 4 August 1777 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 4 August 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Philadelphia August 4. 1777

Your kind Favour of July 23, came by the Post, this Morning. It revives me, to hear of your Health, and Welfare, altho I shall be, and am disappointed of a Blessing, which I hoped to enjoy. But this is the Result of Wisdom superiour to ours and must be submitted to with chearfull Resignation.

The Loss of Ti. has occasioned as loud Complaints and as keen Resentment in Philadelphia as in Boston. And Congress have determined that an Inquiry shall be made, and have ordered the Major Generals Schuyler and St. Clair, to Head Quarters and ordered M.G. Gates to relieve M.G. Schuyler.1 Lincoln and Arnold are there. These three I believe will restore our Affairs in that Department.

We have Letters from France, Spain and the West Indies, which shew that our Ground in Europe is firm, and that a War is brewing.

We have all the English Papers, till the latter End of May, which shew that Britain is in a wretched Condition indeed—their East India Affairs in Distraction, their Affrican Trade ruined and their West Indian Concerns in the Utmost Distress. Almost all their West India Planters have left in the Kingdom in Despair.2

Their Scavengers of the Streets of Germany have been able to rake together, but a little Filth.

Where How is going No Astroleger can determine. He has left the Capes of Delaware and where he is gone no one can tell.—We expect to hear from him at the North River, or at Rhode Island, but cant tell when.

I, for my Part am very homesick, but I will not leave the Field untill the Campaign is ended—unless I should fall sick. This horrid Hot Weather melts my Marrow within my Bones, and makes me faint away almost. I have no other Way to keep alive, but by Abstinence 300from Eating and drinking. I should not live a Month if I did not starve myself. When I come home I shall be an Epicure.

Tell Tom, I would give a Guinea to have him climb upon my shoulder, and another to chase him into his Jail.—My Love to all the rest. I will write them as soon as I can. I wrote Mr. Thaxter inclosing Letters to the Court and Bar. Has he received them?3

RC (Adams Papers).


These important measures, in which JA was very much concerned, were the nub of the “Business which thickens, and presses” alluded to in the preceding letter. On 30 July and 1 Aug. respectively, Congress had ordered St. Clair and Schuyler back to Washington's headquarters, and on the latter day JA and four others were appointed a committee “to digest and report the mode of conducting the enquiry voted 29 July into the reasons of the evacuation of Ticonderoga and Fort Independence, and into the conduct of the officers who were in the northern department at the time of the evacuation” ( JCC , 8:585, 590, 596). The subject was a difficult one, Congress was sharply divided on it, and much of Congress' as well as JA's time in the following weeks was given to it. The only visible progress made was a vote on 27 Aug. to conduct a much more elaborate inquiry, and on the 28th Henry Laurens, R. H. Lee, and JA were named the members of a committee to do so. See same, p. 653, 659, 668–669, 681–687, 688. The investigation and its sequels lasted until long after JA had left Congress; see Burnett's valuable notes in Letters of Members , 2:458, 469.

On 2 Aug. JA had also been appointed, with four others, “to take into consideration the state of the northern department,” to “confer with General Washington,” and to “report as soon as possible.” Losing no time, this committee next day recommended, and Congress resolved, that Washington be requested to appoint Schuyler's successor. But Washington declined, and on the 4th Congress elected Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates to command the northern army. See JCC , 8:599, 600, 603–604; also JA to AA, 7 Aug., below.


Thus in MS. Probably JA meant: “have left the Kingdom in Despair.”


These letters were received and they accomplished their purpose, but they have not been found; see Thaxter to JA, 4 June, above, and note 3 there.

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 5 August 1777 AA JA Abigail Adams to John Adams, 5 August 1777 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
August 5. 1777

If allarming half a dozen places at the same time is an act of Generalship How may boast of his late conduct. We have never since the Evacuation of Boston been under apprehensions of an invasion from them eaquel to what we sufferd last week. All Boston was in confusion, packing up and carting out of Town, Household furniture, military stores, goods &c. Not less than a thousand Teams were imployd a fryday and saturday—and to their shame be it told, not a small trunk would they carry under 8 dollors and many of them I am told askd a hundred dollors a load, for carting a Hogshead of Molasses 8 miles 30 dollors.—O! Humane Nature, or rather O! inhumane nature what 301art thou? The report of the Fleets being seen off of Cape Ann a fryday Night, gave me the allarm, and tho pretty weak, I set about packing up my things and a saturday removed a load.

When I looked around me and beheld the bounties of Heaven so liberally bestowed in fine Feilds of corn, grass, flax and english grain, and thought it might soon become a prey to these merciless ravagers, our habitations laid waste, and if our flight preserved our lives, we must return to barren Feilds, empty barns and desolated habitations if any we found, perhaps no1 where to lay our Heads, my Heart was too full to bear the weight of affliction which I thought just ready to overtake us, and my body too weak almost to bear the shock unsupported by my better Half.

But thanks be to Heaven we are at present releaved from our Fears, respecting ourselves. I now feel anxious for your safety but hope prudence will direct to a proper care and attention to yourselves.

May this second attempt of Hows prove his utter ruin. May destruction overtake him as a whirlwind.

We have a report of an engagement at the Northward in which our troops behaved well, drove the Enemy into their lines, killd and took 300 & 50 prisoners. The account came in last Night. I have not perticuliars.2—We are under apprehensions that the Hancock is taken.3

Your obligeing Letters of the 8th, 10th and 13th came to hand last week. I hope before this time you are releaved from the anxiety you express for your Bosom Friend. I feel my sufferings amply rewarded in the tenderness you express for me, but in one of your Letters you have drawn a picture which drew a flood of tears from my Eyes, and rung my Heart with anguish inexpressible. I pray Heaven I may not live to realize it.4

Tis almost 145 years since we were united, but not more than half that time have we had the happiness of living together.

The unfealing world may consider it in what light they please, I consider it as a sacrifice to my Country and one of my greatest misfortunes for my husband 6 to be seperated from my children at a time of life when the joint instructions and admonition of parents sink deeper than in maturer years.

The Hopes of the smiles and approbation of my Friend sweetens all my toil and Labours—

Ye pow'rs whom Men, and birds obey, Great rulers of your creatures, say Why mourning comes, by bliss convey'd 302 And ev'n the Sweets of Love allay'd? Where grows enjoyment, tall and fair, Around it twines entangling care While fear for what our Souls possess Enervates ev'ry powe'r to Bless. Yet Friendship forms the Bliss above And life! what art thou without love?

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Portia”; docketed in an unidentified hand.


MS: “not.”


It was a groundless account.


The Hancock frigate, Capt. John Manley, was captured after a stiff fight on 8 July by H.M.S. Rainbow and carried into Halifax.


See the last paragraph of JA's letter to AA of 8 July, above.


Actually thirteen.


Three words editorially supplied for sense.