Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 2 January 1779 AA JA Abigail Adams to John Adams, 2 January 1779 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
My Dearest Friend Janry. 2 1779

You have directed me to draw Bills upon you for what Money I want, and add, that if my Bills are scrupled, to get them indorsed. I thank you sir, but I have no occasion for an indorser. My credit will last here; till it fails upon the other side of the water, I should find no difficulty in selling many more Bills than you would chuse to pay. I have had various applications to me for Bills, but not a single six pence can I get of substantial coin. That is kept up as choise as the life Blood; if our currency was two weeks together upon the same footing, I should not so much regard receiving it for Bills. Merchants do not care to buy small Bills, and if I draw for more than I have immediate use for, it sinks in my hands.

Remittances made in goods, provided it could be done with any safety, will fetch hard Money, or may be parted with as occasion requires. Every article either of Merchandise or provision has been rising for this Month. I had occasion for a Sum of Money to discharge 146my last years accounts and to provide some family stores, which has obliged me to draw a Bill upon you in favour of Mr. Blodget who is in the Alliance, to the amount of a 100 pounds which added to the Bill I drew in favour of Smith and Codman amounts to 2 hundred pounds Lawfull Money.

I hope you will not think me extravagant, I could account for the expenditure of every shilling to your satisfaction; I will give you one instance of prices here. Yesterday I gave 12 pounds Lawfull Money for one pound of Bohea tea and 14 pounds of ordinary brown sugar. Our crops were so cut of by the drought, and distroyed by the Storm, that 23 Bushels of corn is the sum total of my last years crop. Not a single Barrel of cider was made upon the Farm. I do not exaggerate when I say that 100 and hundreds of families have not a mouth full of Bread to eat. Grain is not to be had at any rate in this State and the Embargoes of other States, has hitherto prevented any supplies.

My determination was, that the Bills I had already drawn should answer all the purposes of the last year; but last Night Mr. Williams the Bearer of this Letter,1 and your former pupil, applied to me for a Bill in his favour, but I declined, as I had lately made so large a Draught, and had paper sufficent for all my present Demands. He then offerd me ten guineas if I would draw a Bill for them. As I knew I should be no loser by having hard money in my Hands I consented to draw for that, and have accordingly given him a Bill. Both my unkle and Genll. Warren had been trying a month for me, but not a shining morsal could they procure for me, nor will they give near so much in paper as dollors sell for, which I think a very great hardship. If on any occasion I should be offerd gold and silver for Bills I shall venture to draw, but will not exceed 2 hundred Lawfull Money yearly if I can posibly avoid it—and if I should receive the articles you say you have orderd for me, I may not perhaps have occasion for near that Sum. I have given to Mr. Williams a List of articles2 nearly the same which I have sent to you and if you give him leave, he will purchase and convey them to me, he has also promised to take perticular care to convey any Letters you may wish to send from time to time. The publick packet in which Capt. Ayers went to France arrived at Cape Ann, and was in the most voilent Storm ever known here, drove ashore, happily no one perish'd. Capt. Ober who I find now commands her, has not got to Boston yet. I expect Letters by him—what shall I attribute it to if I have not? My dissapointment will be great, yet should their be a paper addressed to me, and enclosed should I find what may properly be termd a Letter, my agreable dissapointment will be great 147indeed. Surely I have been the most unfortunate person in the world, to loose every Letter you have wrote me since your absence, and to receive only a few lines at various times wrote in the greatest haste, containing only the state of your Health, perhaps making mention of your Son and Servant and then concluding abruptly yours.

I determine very soon to coppy and adopt the very concise method of my Friend—and as I wish to do every thing agreable to him, send him Billits containing not more than a dozen lines at the utmost Especially as paper has grown so dear, which will afford some coulour of an excuse to his most affectionate


PS Mr. Williams goes in the vessel calld the 3 Friends. I wrote Letters by her a month ago and supposed she was gone. My Love to my Son he will find letters for him on board the same vessel.3

RC (Adams Papers); addressed in John Thaxter's hand: “Honble: John Adams Esqr. Commissioner of the United States of America at Passi near Paris. Pr. favor of Mr. J. Williams”; endorsed: “Portia Jan. 2. 1779 ansd. Feb. 19. 1779.”


Not, of course, the “Mr. Williams” mentioned in the preceding letter, but a young Boston relative of his who bore the same name, Jonathan Williams, and who has been identified at vol. 1:123, above. He was on his way to France, where he arrived in mid-February, partly to improve his health (see Williams to JA, 16 Feb. 1779, Adams Papers), but he died in 1780; see Thaxter to JA, 7 Aug. 1780, below.


List not found.


These letters are not clearly identifiable and were presumably lost.

Abigail Adams to James Lovell, 4 January 1779 AA Lovell, James Abigail Adams to James Lovell, 4 January 1779 Adams, Abigail Lovell, James
Abigail Adams to James Lovell
Dear Sir Janry. 4 1779

May I be permitted to call of your attention from the important and weighty concerns of State to answer me a Question in which I feel myself interested. I find by some late intelligence which I have collected that there is a New arrangement of the commissioners, Doctor Franklin being appointed Minister plenipotentiary for France, Mr. Lee for Spain. My query is where is my Friend to be placed?

I would fain hope not at a greater Distance than he is at present. The publick service may require a removal, to that service he is devoted, and must attend it where ever it can best be promoted, whilst I must endeavour to act the part allotted to my Sex—patience and submission—a Lesson I ought to be well versed in since I have been so often call'd to the Exercise of it.

I wish to know if any vessels have arrived at the Southard from France by which you have received Letters from my Friend. This day 148compleats 10 months since he left his own habitation,1 during the whole of this time I have heard from him only 5 times, his last date 27 of August near four months ago.2 This is a painfull situation and my patience is sometimes nearly exhausted; I should complain more but that I am conscious I am writing to a Gentleman who lives in the continual practise of mortification and self denial, having already been absent from his family near two years, tho the frequent intercourse by Letters must greatly lessen the pains of absence.

If my Friend should be removed from France it is not likely that I should be able to hear even so often as I have done. The climate is perticularly agreable to his Health and the Manners of the people greatly changed for the better during the present Reign, and their Sentiments both in Religion and politicks are much more liberal than they formerly were).3

Since Mr. Thaxter left Philadelphia I have scarcly seen a publick paper, or known any thing that has past in the Capital of America, as it is termd but why I know not unless the residence of your high Mightinesses there should make it so. Some of the Mighty ones of the Earth appear to be at varience and tell sad stories of each other. The publick will not sit down easy from the present disposition which appears among them unless an Eclarismong takes place with regard to the charges exhibited by Mr. Dean. Surely he would not have advanced such articles as he has unless he had the proofs in his Hand's.4

It is a very great misfortune that persons imployd in the most important Departments should be at varience with each other, or should have seperate interests from the publick whom they profess to serve. Ceasars wife ought not to be suspected.

Am I entitled to the journals of Congress, if you think so I should be much obliged to you if you would convey them to me.

I want to be resolved in an other question, what shall we do with our currency? I fear it will be a Hurculean labour to extricate it out of its present forlorn condition. There is a universal uneasiness with regard to it and some are speculating one project, some another.

If the Embargo should cease this month Mr. Lovell will not be unmindfull of his assured Friend and Humble Servant,5


Dft (Adams Papers); at head of text in JQA's hand: “to James Lovell Philadelphia.” Composed several weeks earlier than the date it bears; see notes 1 and 2.


Although JA left Braintree for France on 13 Feb., AA's phrase “10 months” is not so much a mistake as an indication that she actually wrote this 149draft on or about 13 Dec. 1778. She must have affixed to it the date of 4 Jan. when she copied out and sent the (missing) RC to Lovell, but she failed to update this reference in the draft. Lovell's answer of 19 Jan., below, shows that RC was dated 4 Jan. and that she corrected its text to read “near 11 months.”


AA acknowledged JA's letter of 27 Aug. 1778 in hers to JQA of 15 Dec., above, thus confirming the conjecture in the preceding note that she drafted the present letter on or about 13 Dec. 1778.


This paragraph is scratched out in MS. AA perhaps decided that offering to a member of the Committee for Foreign Affairs her personal reasons for JA's remaining in France would be thought meddlesome.


Silas Deane's combined defense of his conduct in France and counterattack on Arthur Lee, entitled “To the Free and Virtuous Citizens of America,” had been printed in the Pennsylvania Packet on 5 Dec. and was reprinted in all the Boston papers early in January. This was the first in a proposed series of articles, but it proved such a bombshell that no more were published. JA was unwillingly but inevitably drawn into the bitter and protracted Deane-Lee feud and was profoundly distressed by Deane's publication when it reached France, declaring on 8 Feb. that there appeared to him “no Alternative left but the Ruin of Mr. Deane, or the Ruin of his Country.” See JA to AA, 9 Feb., below, and JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:345–351.


On the “Embargo” and AA's concern over it, see Lovell to AA, 1, 12 Sept. 1778, above.