Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 27 December 1778 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 27 December 1778 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Passy Decr. 271 1778

Mr. Greenleaf is about to set off, towards Nantes and from thence to Boston.

Last Night, I walked to Paris and saw the Illumination for the Birth of the Princess Maria Theresa Charlotta,2 Fille du Roi—Splendid indeed. My little Friend who was with me will write you a Description of it. The Military school, the Hospital of Invalids and the Palace of Bourbon, were beautiful and sublime indeed, as much so as an Illumination can be. I could scarcely have conceived that an Illumination could have such an Effect. I suppose the Expence of this is a Million of Livres. As much as I respect this Country, particularly the King and Royal Family I could not help reflecting how many Families, in another Country would this Tallow make happy for Life, how many Privateers would this Tallow fit out, for chasing away the Jerseymen and making Reprisals on Messrs. Les Anglois.—But Taste will have its Way in this Country.

The Queen and her illustrious Infant are very well, and this Nation is very happy to have discovered a Way, by which a Dauphin may come to them next Year, or the Year after.

The King and Queen are greatly beloved here—every day shews fresh Proofs of it.

On the other side the Channel there is a King, who is in a fair Way to be the object of opposite sentiments, to a Nation, if he is not at present.

If Keppell should be destroyed in Life or Reputation, I shall expect to hear that all Restraints are taken off, and Passions allowed to sport themselves without Reserve. Keppell told the King he would not fight against America—an unpardonable offence. He will be ruined if possible.3 However I think that Keppell was wrong even to accept a Command against the French. If Britain is wrong in this War against America, she is wrong in that vs. the French, for France and America have the same Object in View and no other. France is right if America is right, because France only assisted the American Cause for which John Bull abused and fought her. But John will come off wretchedly. He will be beat. He has been beat. There have been more British Men 142of War already taken and destroyed, than they lost in two former Wars, and more sailors Prisoners.

RC (Adams Papers).


Corrected from “26” by overwriting.


Marie Thérèse Charlotte (1778–1851), “Madame Royale,” eldest child of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette; in 1799 she married her Bourbon cousin the Duc d'Angoulême (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale ).


Admiral Keppel was about to be court-martialed on charges by his subordinate officer Sir Hugh Palliser. The trial had profound political implications because Keppel was a whig and Palliser a supporter of the administration. The court completely exonerated Keppel. See DNB under both names; also JQA to AA, 16 Feb. 1779, below.

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 30 December 1778 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 30 December 1778 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Passy Decr. 30 1778

We wait and wait and wait forever, without any News from America. We get nothing but what comes from England and to other People here and they make it as they please. We have had nothing from Congress an immense while. Every Merchant and every Merchants Apprentice, has Letters and News when I have none.

In Truth I have been so long from Boston that every Body there almost has forgot me.—I have expected every Moment for almost two Months my Recall.

Carlisle, Cornwallis and Eden are arrived in England, but bring no good News, for the English, or we should have had it, in the Gazette.

The two Houses of Parliament, join Ministry and Commissioners in threatning Fire and sword. They seem to think it necessary to threaten most when they can do least. They however shew their Disposition which they will indulge and gratify if they can.

But be not dismayed. They can do no great Things. Patience, Perseverance and Firmness, will overcome all our Difficulties.

Where the C. D'Estaing is, is a great Mystery. The greater the better. The English fancy he is returning to Europe. But We believe he is gone where he will do something.

The English reproach the French with Gasconade. But they never gasconaded as the English do now.

I suppose they will say as Burgoigne did, Speak Daggers but use none. But I believe however that they and he would use them if they could. Of all the Wrong Heads, Johnstone is the most consummate.1 The Tories at New York and Philadelphia have filled his Head with a Million Lyes. He seems to have taken a N. York Newspaper for holy Writ.


Parliament is adjourned to the 14th. January.

Of this you may be assured that England can get no Allies.—The new Secretary at War makes a vast Parade of the Number of Men in their service by Sea and Land. But it is a mere Delusion.

They intend to bingyfy2 Keppell, to all Appearance. But killing him will not mend rotten ships nor make sailors.

I dined to day at the Dutchess D'Anvilles. When I saw the Companies of Militia on their March to fight her Husband I did not expect this. Did you?3

RC (Adams Papers).


George Johnstone (1730–1787), former governor of West Florida and more recently a member of the Carlisle conciliatory commission ( DNB ).


JA's nonce word. Adm. John Byng (1704–1757) was court-martialed, sentenced, and shot for neglect of duty in a battle with the French off Minorca in 1756 ( DNB ).


This allusion is explained in JA's Diary and Autobiography , 4:42. The Duchesse d'Anville was the widow of the Due d'Anville (or Enville) who had in 1746 “commanded a kind of Armada against Us” that had greatly frightened New Englanders.