Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

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.

William Smith to Abigail Adams, 31 December 1778 Smith, William (1755-1816) AA William Smith to Abigail Adams, 31 December 1778 Smith, William (1755-1816) Adams, Abigail
William Smith to Abigail Adams
Boston 31st Decr. 1778

I have inclos'd two hundred & thirty six Dollars. The amount of the bills was £100. 16. The Cask of Wine gaug'd 30 Gallons. Deducting the £30 you desir'd leaves the sum inclos'd. I shou'd have sent it before, but have not had any oppertunity till the present. Mr. S. Bradford has sent you a Billet1 by Mr. Gannet. He sails next Sunday for France in the Alliance, if you have any letters to send to Mr. Adams he will take the charge of them. If I had known that you wou'd have dispos'd of the £100 bill for paper I shou'd have likt to have had it.2

We have nothing new here. I remain your affectionate Couzin, Wm. Smith

RC (Adams Papers). Enclosed bills not found.


Not found.


See postscript to AA to JA, 27 Dec., above.

Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, 1 January 1779 AA2 Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, 1 January 1779 Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA) Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch
My Dear Friend Plymouth jan 1 17791

I take my pen to perform my promice of writing to you and to wish you a happy new year may heaven pour down those blessings upon you that will make this life agreable


this is an unsertain World we know not what a day may bringh forth & when we think we are in the utmost dainger we may be in the least

Mrs. Waren has lately had a severe trial of her fortitude A Son as it ware raisd from the arms of death in that voielent Storm of last saturday her Son Charles2 was no more than a mile from the shore comeing from Boston in a little sloop expecting every moment to go to the Bottom, but surpriseingly his Life was spaird and he arived safe on his native shore on sunday Morning:

In the same storm the Brig General Annould belonging to Col. Sears and Company wrect and seventy Men frose to death there never was so mallonclery an event took place in this harbour before—we have heard of other damages.3

I belive this letter will give you the dumps if you are free from them when you receive it—

I dont know whether this will find you at Braintree Germantown or Boston if you are at Germantown I suppose you are very happy in the company of that Worthy family4 a letter from either place will be very accepttable to your Sincere Friend


PS in some future letter I shall give you some account of the white chaimber the sun is now shineing into it & looks very pleasant

RC (MHi:Cranch Papers); addressed: “To Miss Eliza Cranch Braintree”; endorsed or docketed: “AA plyth. Jan 1 1779.” The text of this earliest MS letter from AA2 known to survive is given here in literal style.


“Your pretty Daughter is here on a Winter's Visit to Mrs. Warren. She is very well, and wont own that she is not happy” (James Warren to JA, Plymouth, 1 Jan. 1779, Adams Papers).


Charles Warren (1762–1785), Harvard 1782, 3d son of James and Mercy (Otis) Warren (Mrs. Washington A. Roebling, Richard Warren of the Mayflower, Boston, 1901, p. 28).


“On Friday the 25th ult. at 6 A.M. the Wind to the Westward, sailed from this Port the Brig General Arnold, James Magee, Commander; and about Meridian the Wind chop'd round to N.E. and looking likely for a Gale, they thought best to put into plymouth, and came to Anchor in a Place called the Cow Yard. On Saturday the Gale encreasing, she started from her Anchor, and stuck on the White Flatt; they then cut both Cables and Masts away, in Hopes to drive over, but she immediately bilged; it being low Water, left her Quarter-Deck dry, where all Hands got for Relief. A Schooner lying within Hail, heard their Cries, but could not assist them. On Sunday the Inhabitants were cutting Ice most of the Day before they got on board, when they saw 75 of the Men had perished, and 34 very much froze, which they got on Shore; and on Monday they got on Shore and buried the dead. Great Part of her Stores, &c. will be saved.—Some evil-minded Persons have raised a Report that she was plundered by the Inhabitants, which is entirely false, as they behaved with the greatest Humanity.” (Boston Gazette, 4 Jan. 1779, p. 3, col. 2.)


Presumably the Joseph Palmer family at Friendship Hall.


In adopting fanciful names for their girlish correspondence AA2 and her cousin Elizabeth Cranch (“Myrtilla”), later Mrs. Jacob Norton, followed the 145practice of their elders twenty years or so earlier. Some of the persons mentioned under poetical names in the extended series of letters between them during the following decade (of which AA2's are now in the Cranch Papers but Miss Cranch's are lost) cannot now be identified.