Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

21 John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 16 May 1778 Thaxter, John AA John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 16 May 1778 Thaxter, John Adams, Abigail
John Thaxter to Abigail Adams
Madam York Town May 16th. 1778

I do myself the honor to inclose the postscript to Hall & Sellers's Paper of the 9th instant1 containing the message of the undersigned Ambassador of the Court of France to the Court of London; his Majesty's Speech in Consequence &c. &c. The message is couched in terms very ludicrous and merry. It also speaks tacitly the Power and determination of France.

It has chagrined the King and Ministry beyond any thing yet transacted by France. They seem determined to resent it if necessary. They have a long time counterfeited ignorance; but this is such a finished stroke, that they may let the Pepper Corn rest for a while, to quarrel with France; if able. The Nation, says Ld. North, was never in a more flourishing condition than at present. His propositions give him the lie. We are told a transition from one extreme to another is not suddenly made. Can it be supposed then that his Lordship was actuated by motives of Humanity in proposing his terms? No. He was apprehensive the Connection subsisting between France and Spain would be “consolidated and establish'd by a Treaty”; as it is. His terms originate from his fears. Granting that the nation is in the Predicament represented by his Lordship; it will follow that American Independence has operated no Injury to England. They may as well therefore treat with us as any other power.


There is a secret and seperate Act accompanying the treaties, which reserves liberty to the King of Spain to accede to the Treaty and make such alterations as can be agreed between the Ambassadors and the King of Spain, If his Majesty should judge any necessary.2

Private at present.

Congress have resolved to allow the officers of the army half of their present pay for seven years after the close of the war. None can receive it who do not take the Oath of Allegiance.3

I sincerely congratulate you on the retreat of Hayden. I shall view it as a supernatural peice of business.

I return you many thanks for the domestic History you favoured me with. It carried me in Idea to Braintree. You could not have taken a wiser step than you have done with your Farm as Labour is at such an advanced price. Please to remember me to all.

22 With sentiments of the greatest Esteem I am Madam, your very humble Servant, JT

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “May 16.” For the enclosure (not found), see note 1.


Postcript sheet to the Pennsylvania Gazette of 9 May.


For this “Act Separate and Secret, signed at Paris February 6, 1778,” see Miller, ed., Treaties , 2:45–47.


See the resolves voted on 15 May, JCC , 11:502–503.

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 18 May 1778 AA JA Abigail Adams to John Adams, 18 May 1778 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
May 18 1778

I have waited with great patience, restraining as much as posible every anxious Idea for 3 Months. But now every Vessel which arrives sits my expectation upon the wing, and I pray my Gaurdian Genious to waft me the happy tidings of your Safety and Welfare. Heitherto my wandering Ideas Rove like the Son of Ulissis from Sea to Sea, and from Shore to Shore, not knowing where to find you. Sometimes I fancy'd you upon the Mighty Waters, sometimes at your desired Haven; sometimes upon the ungratefull and Hostile Shore of Britain, but at all times and in all places under the protecting care and Guardianship of that Being who not only cloathes the lilies1 of the Feild and hears the young Ravens when they cry, but hath said of how much more worth are ye than many Sparrows, and this confidence which the world cannot deprive me of, is my food by day and my Rest by Night, and was all my consolation under the Horrid Ideas of assassination, the only Event of which I had not thought, and in some measure prepaird my mind.

When my Imagination sits you down upon the Gallick Shore, a Land to which Americans are now bound to transfer their affections, and to eradicate all those national prejudices which the Proud and Haughty Nations whom we once revered, craftily instilld into us whom they once stiled their children; I anticipate the pleasure you must feel, and tho so many leagus distant share in the joy of finding the great Interest of our Country so generously espoused, and nobly aided by so powerfull a Monarck. Your prospects must be much brightned, for when you left your Native Land they were rather Gloomy. If an unwearied Zeal and persevering attachment to the cause of truth and justice, regardless of the allurements of ambition on the one Hand or the threats of calamity on the other, can intitle any one to the Reward of peace, Liberty and Safety, a large portion of those Blessings are reserved for my Friend, in His Native Land.

23 O Would'st thou keep thy Country's loud Applause Lov'd as her Father, as her God ado'rd Be still the bold assertor of her cause Her Voice, in Council; (in the Fight her Sword) In peace, in War persue thy Countrys Good For her, bare thy bold Breast, and pour thy Gen'rous Blood.

Difficult as the Day is, cruel as this War has been, seperated as I am on account of it from the dearest connextion in life, I would not exchange my Country for the Wealth of the Indies, or be any other than an American tho I might be Queen or Empress of any Nation upon the Globe. My Soul is unambitious of pomp or power. Beneath my Humble roof, Bless'd with the Society and tenderest affection of my dear partner, I have enjoyed as much felicity, and as exquisite happiness as falls to the share of mortals; and tho I have been calld to sacrifice to my Country, I can glory in my Sacrifice, and derive pleasure from my intimate connextion with one who is esteemed worthy of the important trust devolved upon him.

Britain as usual has added insult to injustice and cruelty, by what she calls a concilitary plan. From my Soul I dispice her meaness, but she has long ago lost that treasure which a great authority tells us exalteth a Nation, and is receiving the reproaches due to her crimes.

I have been much gratified with the perusal of the Duke of Richmonds Speach.2 Were there ten such Men to be found, I should still have some hopes that a revolution would take place in favour of the virtuous few; “and the Laws, the Rights, the Generous plan of power deliverd down, From age to age by our renown'd forefathers” be again restored to that unhappy Island.

I hope by the close of this month to receive from you a large packet. I have wrote twice before this,3 some opportunities I may miss of, by my distance from the Capital. I have enjoyed a good share of Health since you left me. I have not mentiond my dear son tho I have often thought of him since I began this Letter, becaus I propose writing to him by this opportunity.4 I omit many domestick matters becaus I will not risk their comeing to the publick Eye. I shall have a small Bill to draw upon you in the month of June. I think to send it to Mr. MacCrery who by a Letter received since you went away5 I find is Setled in Bordeaux in the mercantile way, and I dare say will procure for me any thing I may have occasion for. I wish you would be so good as to write him a line requesting the favour of him to procure me such things as I may have occasion for, and in addition to the Bills which 24may be drawn Let him add ten pounds Sterling at a time, if I desire it. The Bills will be at 3 different times in a year. If they should arrive safe they would render me essential service. Our Publick finnances are upon no better footing than they were when you left us. 500 Dollors is now offerd by this Town per Man for 9 Months to recruit the Army, 12 pounds a Month for Farming Labour is the price, and not to be procured under. Our Friends are all well and desire to be rememberd to you. So many tender sentiments rush upon my mind when about to close this Letter to you, that I can only ask you to measure them by those which you find in your own Bosome for your affectionate


RC (Adams Papers.)


MS: “lililies.”


An anti-ministerial speech in the House of Lords on 11 Feb., reported in the Boston Independent Chronicle, 14 May, though evidently AA had received a text from Thaxter; see her letter to him that follows.


AA's two identifiable letters to JA since his sailing and prior to the present letter are those of 8 March (printed above from a draft), which was sent “by a vessel for Bilboa” but never reached him, and another dated 25 March, which was acknowledged by JA in his reply of 16 June but is now unaccountably missing.


She did not do so, however, until three weeks later; see AA to JQA, 10 June, below.


For McCreery's letter or letters, which AA had sent on to James Lovell, see Lovell to AA, 21 March, vol. 2, above, and notes there.