Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 11 August 1777 JA JQA John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 11 August 1777 Adams, John Adams, John Quincy
John Adams to John Quincy Adams
My dear Son Philadelphia August 11. 1777

As the War in which your Country is engaged will probably hereafter attract your Attention, more than it does at this Time, and as the future Circumstances of your Country, may require other Wars, as well as Councils and Negotiations, similar to those which are now in Agitation, I wish to turn your Thoughts early to such Studies, as will afford you the most solid Instruction and Improvement for the Part which may be allotted you to act on the Stage of Life.

There is no History, perhaps, better adapted to this usefull Purpose than that of Thucidides, an Author, of whom I hope you will make yourself perfect Master, in original Language, which is Greek, the most perfect of all human Languages. In order to understand him fully in his own Tongue, you must however take Advantage, of every Help you can procure and particularly of Translations of him into your own Mother Tongue.

You will find in your Fathers Library, the Works of Mr. Hobbes, in which among a great deal of mischievous Philosophy, you will find a learned and exact Translation of Thucidides, which will be usefull to you.

But there is another Translation of him, much more elegant, intituled “The History of the Peloponnesian War, translated from the Greek of Thucidides in two Volumes Quarto, by William Smith A.M. Rector of the Parish of the holy Trinity in Chester, and Chaplain to the Right Honourable the Earl of Derby.”

If you preserve this Letter, it may hereafter remind you, to procure the Book.

You will find it full of Instruction to the Orator, the Statesman, the General, as well as to the Historian and the Philosopher.1 You may find Something of the Peloponnesian War, in Rollin.

I am with much Affection your Father, John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); docketed twice in JQA's mature hand: “J. Adams. 11. Augt: 1777,” and “Mr: Adams. Augt: 11. 1777.”


Among JA's books in MB are two editions of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, with Greek and Latin texts in parallel columns, one of them published at Frankfort, 1594, bearing JQA's signature, and the other at Amsterdam, 1731 ( Catalogue of JA's Library ). At the Stone Library in Quincy (MQA) there are no fewer than six other editions in various languages, including William Smith's translation, 2 vols., London, 1781, and Thomas Hobbes' translation, 2 vols., London, 1812. JA's edition of The Moral and 308Political Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, London, 1750 (also in MB), contains Hobbes' discourse preliminary to his translation of Thucydides, but not the translation itself.

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 12 August 1777 AA JA Abigail Adams to John Adams, 12 August 1777 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
August 12. 1777

A few lines by way of remembrance every week tho I have nothing new to write you if I may judge you by myself are very acceptable. I long for a wedensday which to me is the happiest day of the week. I never fail of a pacquet, tis soon read, and then the next wedensday is thought of with the same Solisitude—

“Man never is but always to be blest.”

The last post brought me yours of july 16, 18 and 20th.

You have often of late mentiond a daughter with much tenderness and affection, but before this time you must know of our Bereavement. I felt it last Sunday with all its poignancy. It was the first time of my going out. Your Brother held up a daughter and call'd it by the Name of Susana.1 I wishd to have call'd ours had it lived after my own dear Mother, and was much gratified by your mentioning it and requesting it. But tis now of no importance either the Name or the Relation. Do you feel in your own Breast any Sentiments of tenderness for one you never knew, for one who could scarcly be said ever to have had an existance? The loss occasions very different Sensations from those I once before experienced, but still I found I had a tenderness and an affection greater than I immagined could have possess'd my Heart for one who was not endeard to me by its smiles and its graces. But the Parent is dear to me, dear to me beyond the power of words to discribe. I always feel a perticuliar regard for the young fellow who has attended upon him in the capacity of a servant. Nay even the sight of a Garment (worn) belonging to him will raise a mixture both of pleasure and pain in my Bosome.

Can it then be strange that I should feel a fondness and a tender affection for a pledg of unabated Love, a Love pure as the Gold without alloy—

“I Glory in the sacred ties Which Modern Wits and fools dispise Of Husband and of Wife.”
August 13

I have seen an advertisement in your papers of some Select Essays 309upon Husbandry containing the manner of whitening and Bleaching cloth, raising flax and hemp &c. If you think the Book worth purchaseing should be obliged to you for it.2 We must study to make the most of our Husbandery or we must starve. 3 dollors will not purchase what one would (of any article that can be mentiond) two months ago.

I believe we are no way behind hand in prices with any of the other States.

You wish yourself at Home to study agriculture with your Brother Farmer. Tis a wish I most heartily join in, but he is a great practisser I assure you. He has cut the chief of his Hay this summer and made the whole of it with his own hands, and he has several tons too. He has New Built his barn which he has done much of himself. His whole Heart is engaged in Farming. You never took more pleasure in your meddows and Feilds in their greatest perfection.

Hardwick begs me to apply to you to purchase him some needles as he is now obliged to stand still for want of them, will send the money for them if you think it may be conveyd with safety. If you would send along only one hundred in a Letter to me he would be greatly obliged, he has wrote to Turner the Numbers.

We wish to know where the Enemy are and what they are about, but it seems to me your inteligance is very uncertain and in general bad. General Skliler Skiler Schuyler has calld upon us for 2000 militia. We seem to be already striped of so many Hands as scarcly to leave enough to perform our Farming. They make strange work in this Town in procuring their Men as usual, it always was a croocked place.

I hear nothing new—nothing worth writing you.

Enclosed is a Letter your Brother desires you would take care of.

Adieu most sincerely yours, Portia

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Ans. Aug. 25”; docketed in an unidentified hand. Enclosed letter from Peter Boylston Adams, or concerning his affairs, not found.


This was Peter Boylston and Mary (Crosby) Adams' second daughter named Susanna, born on or just before 10 Aug., their first Susanna having lived less than a year (1775–1776). The second Susanna became Mrs. Darius Boardman in 1803 and died in 1816. See Adams Genealogy.


This work, a compilation from a number of sources, was advertised in the Philadelphia papers during June and July as just published and for sale by Robert Hill. For its full title see Evans 15597.