Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 12 April 1778 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 12 April 1778 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Passy April 12. 1778

I am so sensible of the Difficulty of conveying Letters safe, to you, that I am afraid to write, any Thing more than to tell you that after all the Fatigues and Dangers of my Voyage, and Journey, I am here in Health. . . .1

The Reception I have met, in this Kingdom, has been as friendly, as polite, and as respectfull as was possible. It is the universal Opinion of the People here, of all Ranks, that a Friendship between France and America, is the Interest of both Countries, and the late Alliance, so happily formed, is universally popular: so much so that I have been told by Persons of good Judgment, that the Government here, would have been under a Sort of Necessity of agreeing to it even if it had not been agreable to themselves.

The Delights of France are innumerable. The Politeness, the Elegance, the Softness, the Delicacy, is extreme.

In short stern and hauty Republican as I am, I cannot help loving these People, for their earnest Desire, and Assiduity to please.

It would be futile to attempt Descriptions of this Country especially of Paris and Versailles. The public Buildings and Gardens, the Paintings, Sculpture, Architecture, Musick, &c. of these Cities have already 10filled many Volumes. The Richness, the Magnificence, and Splendor, is beyond all Description.

This Magnificence is not confined to public Buildings such as Churches, Hospitals, Schools &c., but extends to private Houses, to Furniture, Equipage, Dress, and especially to Entertainments.—But what is all this to me? I receive but little Pleasure in beholding all these Things, because I cannot but consider them as Bagatelles, introduced, by Time and Luxury in Exchange for the great Qualities and hardy manly Virtues of the human Heart. I cannot help suspecting that the more Elegance, the less Virtue in all Times and Countries.—Yet I fear that even my own dear Country wants the Power and Opportunity more than the Inclination, to be elegant, soft, and luxurious.

All the Luxury I desire in this World is the Company of my dearest Friend, and my Children, and such Friends as they delight in, which I have sanguine Hopes, I shall, after a few Years enjoy in Peace.—I am with inexpressible Affection Yours, yours,

John Adams

RC (Adams Papers.)


Suspension points in MS. This is the first surviving letter from JA to AA since those he wrote her on 13 Feb., the day he went on board the Boston in Nantasket Roads (see vol. 2:388–389, above); and it was not expressly acknowledged by AA until 23 Nov., below, well after she had received later letters from JA. Whether or not he wrote her from Marblehead a day or two later is not clear; see vol. 2:392–393, 403. He had certainly written her one or more letters at sea and had sent them by the British letter-of-marque vessel Martha, captured by the Boston on 10 March, but this prize was promptly retaken by the British, and its commander, Lt. Hezekiah Welch of the Boston, threw into the sea all the letters he carried. See JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:284–286; AA to JA, 30 June, below.

Thus, curiously, JA seems not to have written home upon his arrival or during his stay at Bordeaux. However, from a well-placed informant a detailed account of JA's reception in Bordeaux survives and has recently come to light. This is in a letter from John Bondfield, a merchant of Canadian antecedents who may have known JA in America and had recently settled in Bordeaux. On 4 April 1778 Bondfield wrote to Samuel Adams “In Congress”:

“Your Brother the Honble. John Adams Esqr. landed Safe at this port from on board the Boston frigate the 1st. Instant.

“His arrival gave universal joy to the Inhabitants of this City and was celebrated with various marks of esteem attatchment and veneration. In the evening an entertainment was given by the house of Messrs. Reculé de Basmarins Raimbault & Ce. in honor of his presence to which was invited the principal officers of the crown and most of the first Merchants of this City his arrival to the Company was anounced by the discharge of thirteen of Canon, after Supper thirteen patriotick toasts, the first given by Mr. Adams was the King which was accompanied by a Royal discharge of twenty one peices of Canon, the Second the Congress and a Continental Salute of thirteen and So in gradation the whole thirteen the Gardens where Illuminated and in the Center

Success to the Congress Liberty & Adams

from which refflected rays illumined the atmosphere it was not possible to gratiffy the principal People in this City who all came for the honor of his company, he was obliged to Shun the 11Publick walks not being able to pass for the crouds that continually attended him, his embassy pressing his department he set off this Morning for Paris and was Saluted as he crosst the River by a discharge of Thirteen peices of Canon, he will arrive at Paris the 8th. Instant at Night.” (P.R.O.: High Court of Admiralty 32, Prize Papers, bundle 473, pt. 1.)

Together with others from Bondfield to American correspondents, this letter was captured at sea and never reached Samuel Adams (communication from H. C. Johnson, Public Record Office, London, to the editors, 7 Feb. 1964). It was brought to the editors' attention by Mrs. Katharine Kellock of Washington, D. C. Concerning Bondfield, appointed American commercial agent at Bordeaux by the American Commissioners at Paris in March of this year, see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:293–294 and passim.

John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams, 12 April 1778 JQA AA John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams, 12 April 1778 Adams, John Quincy Adams, Abigail
John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams
Hond. Mamma Paris April ye 12th. 1778

Having now a good opportunity I Cannot Let it Slip without writing a few Lines To You as it is not often That I have That Pleasure & So I must not let Slip one opportunity in writing To So kind and Tender a Mamma as you have been To me for Which I believe I Shall never be able to Repay you

I hope I Shall never forget the goodness of God in Preserving us Through all The Dangers That We have been exposed to in Crossing The Seas, and that by his almighty Power we have arrived Safe in Paris france after a Troublesome voyage.

We arrived at Paris on Wednesday Evening at about 8 oclock When we Procurd a Lodging Which we found dificult to Get but after Going to 2 or 3 places We found a place That We Could hire for 2 Days where we Logd the Next Morning we went to find Dr Franklin where we found him at a place Calld Passy about 2 Leagus out of the City.

I am with My Love To My Sister and Brothers Your Dutiful Son John Quincy Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. John Adams at Braintree Near Boston.” Text is given here in literal style.

John Adams to William McCreery, 15 April 1778 JA McCreery, William John Adams to William McCreery, 15 April 1778 Adams, John McCreery, William
John Adams to William McCreery
Dear Sir Passi April 15. 1778

I have to thank you for your obliging Politeness to me at Bourdeaux and to request that you would give my most respectfull Compliments, and most hearty Thanks to Mr. Delap1 for his kind present of Wine, which was very good, and afforded us an abundant Supply the whole Journey.


I have another Thing to mention to you, which is, that in unpacking my Baggage, I miss a pair of coarse homespun Breeches, which my little son wore in the Passage. If they are at your House, I should be obliged to you if you would rip open the Waistband in which you will find a few Guineas, 8 at least. The Breeches you may give to the first Child that wants them. The Guineas, you may send to me, or ship the Value of them, deducting your Commissions in any Thing you please, to Mrs. Adams at Braintree near Boston, to the Care of Isaac Smith Esqr., Queen Street Boston. Linnens, or Cambricks, I suppose would be as acceptable as any Thing. If you ship any Thing let it be in some Vessell, bound to Boston, or at least to some Eastern Port.

I am with much Esteem, your Friend & set., John Adams2

RC (PHi:Dreer Coll.); endorsed: “Paris 15 Apl. 1778 Honbl. J. Adams Answd.”; at foot of text: “Given to me by S. M. Shoemaker Esq. of Baltimore 1852. F. J. Dreer.”


S. & J. H. Delap were United States commercial agents at Bordeaux.


McCreery replied from Bordeaux, 3 May (Adams Papers):

“I have made all possible search and enquiry for the Breeches you mention belonging to your Son, containing the Money, but have not been able to get any tidings of them. I do not remember having seen any such at the time you were here. I know that many things were left carelessly loose by the Servants, and am affraid that some of the Porters have got hold of them. I really do not expect that they will be found in this House, after the search that has been made.”

From this JA concluded that the guineas had been lost or stolen “upon the road” between Bordeaux and Paris (to McCreery, 14 May, printed in JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:98), and entered them in the column of expenditures in his Accounts for 1778–1779 (same, 2:326). The “Breeches” having become “a Garment” in these Accounts, they were further transformed in the final resolutions of Congress by which JA was reimbursed. In these the pertinent entry reads: “Money lost which was sewed in the lining of a Coat which was stolen” (enclosure in James Lovell to AA, 14 May 1780, printed below).