Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, 24 January 1779 AA2 Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, 24 January 1779 Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA) Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch
Plymouth jan 24 1779

Last weak I had the pleasure to receive too letters1 from my friend Myrtilla, aney time when you have letters if you send them to Brackets2 and dirrect them to General Waren or his Laidie, they will come safe to hand; you must cover them if you intend I shall read them first: I should have wrote you a longer letter by this opportunity but am prevented by an accident, which has taken up my thoughts for a weak past, but as I know you are not possest of so great a share of curiosity as some others, and suppose you can stey the tide of that torrent which is sometimes so fatal I shall not make you accqainted with it till my return which I do not wish for only upon account of seeing my friends; however I do not talk of it yet. Do not let this raise the little curiosity you are Mistress of to too great a height for a little is dangerous sometimes.

I am very sory to hear Lysander3 is so unwell however I hope the distemper he now labours under will not prove fatal to him or to you:—you say you have not had the symtoms of love yet: but I sincerely belive you have too fataly experienced them. Should be glad you would enclose them4 in the next letter as I ever shall be glad to see aney thing Portius recommends: and I think he did those: I enclose those para-gafts from Charles Wentworth and Grandison which you desired of me.5

I have had the pleasure to see the Miss Eastons.6 Mrs. Waren sais she thinks the oaldest Miss Betsey is an agreable prety Girl so I must defer my opinion till a future day, they are great talkers. I suppose Jack Thaxter has told you he was intimately accqainted with us: I let one of them say this 7 But I think Modestty in a Laidie is one of the shineing virtues of their sex; no dought you have heard.

I am with the sincereest affection your sincere & unalterable friend, Mercella

PS jan 26 I beg you would not show this letter to aney person not even to your Mamma espechely that paragraft which mentions the accident as something has turnd up since I wrot the letter which makes me desire this of you.

RC (MHi:Cranch Papers); addressed: “To Miss Eliza Cranch Braintree”; docketed: “from AA Jan 24 1779.” Enclosed extracts not found.


Not found.


Brackett's tavern in Braintree, frequently mentioned in JA's Diary and Autobiography .

157 3.

Lysander, like Portius below, has not been identified.


Probably excerpts from a sentimental novel.


MS mutilated. The History of Charles Wentworth was a 3-volume novel published anonymously by Edward Bancroft, London, 1770; see above, vol. 1:138; also JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:72–73. Samuel Richardson's History of Sir Charles Grandison, London, 1754, was a novel well known in the Adams circle; see above, vol. 1:42.


Thus apparently in MS, but actually the Miss Watsons; see AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, 4 Feb., below.


The passage scored out in MS is probably a specimen of the Watson girls' conversation, followed by an unfinished comment by AA2.

Abigail Adams to a Massachusetts Member of the Continental Congress, January 1779 AA Lovell, James Continental Congress Abigail Adams to a Massachusetts Member of the Continental Congress, January 1779 Adams, Abigail Lovell, James Continental Congress
Abigail Adams to a Massachusetts Member of the Continental Congress
Dear Sir Braintree, January? 1779 1

It gives me real pain to see the various arts and machinations of our internal Enemies practised with Effect upon the generality of Mankind. From the various reports which have been too successfully circulated for this month past the people will be brought to entertain suspicions with regard to congress which will tend to weaken their Authority and be greatly detrimental to our cause.

Mr. Dean by his indiscreet appeal to the publick has laid a foundation for more extensive mischief than perhaps he first intended. He has insinuated that the Ears of congress were shut against him when matters of the utmost importance to the United States required an impartial tribunal, thereby reflecting upon their wisdom and justice.

This unhappy contest, not so prudently conducted by his antagonist as it ought to have been, has led people to entertain suspicions and surmizes with regard to the integrety of that Honorable Body and the Enimes of America have caught hold of this very opportunity to propogate falshood, which will among the unreflecting part of mankind keep such surmizes alive. I will name two Instances which have lately come to my knowledg. I was told last week by a Gentleman who received it in Town from two Southern Gentlemen that notwithstanding Mr. D—n character appeard in so unfavourable a light, congress had appointed him minister plenipo to Holland.2

I ventured at random to assure the gentleman their could be no truth in it.

The second report is that some Members of congress in conjunction with Gen. Arnold had been counterfeiting the continental currency. I hope their is as little truth in this assertion. For individual Members I cannot answer—their was a judas amongst the Apostles—tho I do not credit the report. In such a Body of Men it would be 158strange indeed, considering the Depravity of Humane Nature if their were not some less attached to the publick than to their private interest. Yet as a Body they have given every proof in their power that they are seeking the good of their country and disinterestedly act for the benifit of the publick weal and tho no Lover of their country would wish to see a blind obeidence to any body of Men, yet at the same time they must be sensible that it is for the good of the community that every member of it should pay a proper respect and regard to those to whom they have delegated power and Authority, that when once the confidence of the people is weakend by any real or immaginary cause of distrust, their rulers become the object of their Suspicion and jealousy, and their power of serving them decreses, their Authority is weakend, and the cause they wish to support is greatly injured.3

This Sir will certainly be our case unless the real Friends and disinterested patriots will excert themselves and counter work the dangerous designs of our Enemies by discovering to the world their Arts and disigns.

I have taken the freedom Sir to address you upon this subject, as a warm and Zealous Friend to America and to the rights of Mankind. At the same time I intreet your pardon for touching upon a subject more properly belonging to your sex, but whilst I saw a dangerous poison spreading not only in this but the Neighbouring Towns, and judged it must be the case elsewhere, I thought it my duty to apply to those capable of applying a spedy antidote.

The absence of a very near and dear Friend I must plead as a further Excuse for addressing any other gentleman upon a subject which may be considerd as foreign to my sex, added to the critical state of our country which requires the Eyes of Argos to watch for its safety and security, will I hope secure from the imputation of vanity one who begs leave to submit to your Eye only the Sentiments of your Friend and Humble Servant.

Dft (Adams Papers); at head of text in JQA's hand: “to James Lovell,” to which CFA added: “1779.”


Neither the intended recipient nor the precise date of this draft letter is determinable. The most likely addressee would seem to be James Lovell, as JQA supposed when he read this letter about 1830. Lovell was AA's regular correspondent in Congress, and one bit of evidence points directly to him. AA's phrase in the fourth paragraph, avowing that Congress is mainly composed of men who “disinterestedly act for the benifit of the publick weal,” is echoed more or less unmistakably in Lovell's letter to her of 19 Jan., printed above: “I am pleased when You speak of my disinterested attachment to the public weal.” But Lovell's letter here quoted is unquestionably an answer to AA's of 4 Jan., also above, of which, since only a rough draft has been found, we do not know the language of the recipient's copy (and therefore the phrase he echoed 159may have been added to it); and nothing else in his answer suggests that he had received from AA a second letter of nearly the same date—a novelty that he would surely have made the most of if he had had an opportunity to do so. Less conclusive but not negligible in the case against Lovell as addressee is the fact that the tone of AA's present draft is definitely more formal than that of her known letters to Lovell of this period. The editors believe, therefore, that she was addressing someone she had not often written to before, if at all—perhaps Samuel Adams or Elbridge Gerry. There is no evidence that the draft was copied and sent; AA may well have decided not to send it.

As to the date, while it could not have been earlier than 3 or 4 Jan., when AA read Silas Deane's controversial address in a Boston newspaper, the rumor of Deane's possible appointment to the Netherlands suggests late January or even early February; see Samuel Adams' letter quoted in the following note.


“Mr Deans Friends are in hopes he will be sent to Holland as a Reward for his good Services. . . . Doubtless deep Commercial Connections may be formd there. They are willing Mr J A should go to Spain. The Design of this is to get Mr A L removd from thence. Others are for sending Mr A to Holland leaving Mr. L in Spain, to whose Influence in that Country our Armies are indebted for Supplys of Blanketts Shoes and Stockins. I am sorry to be obligd to think, that a Monopoly of Trade, and not the Liberty of their Country, is the sole Object of some Mens Views. This is the Cake which they hope shortly to slice and share among themselves.” (Samuel Adams to Samuel Cooper, 19 Jan. 1779, Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 4:37.)


This paragraph is so carelessly written and ill punctuated that for the sake of clarity it has been slightly repunctuated by the editors.