Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 17 June 1780 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 17 June 1780 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dear Portia June 17. 1780

I yesterday received a Letter of 26 April from Brother Cranch, for which I thank him and will answer as soon as possible. He tells me you have drawn a little Bill upon me. I am sorry for it, because I have sent and should continue to send you, small Presents by which you would be enabled to do better than by drawing Bills. I would not have you draw any more. I will send you Things in the family Way which will defray your Expences better. The Machine is horribly dear. Mr. C. desires to know if he may draw on me. I wish it was in my power to oblige him but it is not. I have no Remittances nor any Thing to depend on, not a Line from Congress nor any member since I left you. My Expences thro Spain, were beyond all Imagination, and my Expences here are so exorbitant, that I cant answer any Bill from any body not even from you, excepting the one you have drawn. I must beg you, to be as prudent as possible. Depend upon it, your Children will have Occasion for all your CEconomy. Mr. Johonnot must send me some Bills. Every farthing is expended and more. You can have no Idea of my unavoidable Expences. I know not what to do.

Your little affairs and those of all our Friends, Mr. Wibert &c. are on Board the Alliance and have been so these 4 months, or ready to be.—Pray write me by the Way of Spain and Holland as well as France. We are all well.—My Duty to your father, my Mother, and affections and Respects where due.

My affections I fear got the better of my Judgment in bringing my Boys. They behave very well however.

London is in the Horrors.—Governor Hutchinson fell down dead 367at the first appearance of Mobs.1 They have been terrible. A Spirit of Bigotry and Fanaticism mixing with the universal discontents of the nation, has broke out into Violences of the most dreadful Nature–burnt Lord Mansfields House, Books, Manuscripts—burnd the Kings Bench Prison, and all the other Prisons—let loose all the Debtors and Criminals. Tore to Pieces Sir G. Savilles House—insulted all the Lords of Parliament &c. &c. Many have been killed—martial Law proclaimed—many hanged—Lord George Gordon committed to the Tower for high Treason—and where it will end God only knows.—The Mobs all cryd Peace with America, and War with France—poor Wretches! as if this were possible.2

In the English Papers they have inserted the Death of Mr. Hutchinson with severity, in these Words—Governor Hutchinson is no more. On Saturday last he dropped down dead. It is charity to hope that his sins will be buried with him in the Tomb, but they must be recorded in his Epitaph. His Misrepresentations have contributed to the Continuance of the War with America. Examples are necessary. It is to be hoped that all will not escape into the Grave, without a previous Appearance, either on a Gibbet or a scaffold.

Govr. Bernard I am told died last fall.3 I wish, that with these primary Instruments of the Calamities that now distress almost all the World the Evils themselves may come to an End. For although they will undoubtedly End, in the Welfare of Mankind, and accomplish the Benevolent designs of Providence, towards the two Worlds; Yet for the present they are not joyous but grievous.

May Heaven permit you and me to enjoy the cool Evening of Life, in Tranquility, undisturbed by the Cares of Politicks or War—and above all with the sweetest of all Reflections, that neither Ambition, nor Vanity, nor Avarice, nor Malice, nor Envy, nor Revenge, nor Fear, nor any base Motive, or sordid Passion through the whole Course of this mighty Revolution, and the rapid impetuous Course of great and terrible Events that have attended it, have drawn Us aside from the Line of our Duty and the Dictates of our Consciences!—Let Us have Ambition enough to keep our Simplicity, or Frugality and our Integrity, and transmit these Virtues as the fairest of Inheritances to our Children.

RC (Adams Papers).


Former Governor Thomas Hutchinson died suddenly of apoplexy or heart disease in London on 3 June, almost at the outset of the week-long disturbances known as the Gordon Riots (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 8:212–213). In a letter to President Huntington of the present date JA added extensive reflections on Hutchinson's role in history (PCC, No. 84, II; LbC in Adams Papers; 368 printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:794–798). AA subsequently permitted the passage to be published, anonymously, in the Boston Independent Chronicle; see Lovell to AA, 27 Nov. 1780, and AA to Nathaniel Willis, ante 4 Jan. 1781, both in vol. 4 below.


Besides accounts in London newspapers of the rioting inspired by Lord George Gordon and his Protestant Association, JA had received a vivid account in a letter from his secret informant Thomas Digges, who wrote over the pseudonym “W. S. Church,” 8–10 June (Adams Papers).


Former Governor Sir Francis Bernard had in fact died in June 1779 ( DNB ).

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 18 June 1780 Thaxter, John AA John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 18 June 1780 Thaxter, John Adams, Abigail
John Thaxter to Abigail Adams
Paris 18th. June 1780

About a fortnight since Mr. Hutchinson, formerly Governor of the Massachusetts Bay, dropped down dead in England. The Reflection made by some one in the English Papers is this. “Governor Hutchinson is now no more. On Saturday afternoon he dropped down dead. It is charitable to hope, that his Sins may be buried with him in the Tomb, but they must be recorded in his Epitaph. His Misrepresentations have added Fuel to the unnatural War which has been kindled against America. Examples are necessary; and there is Reason to wish, that all Incendiaries may not escape into the Grave, without a previous Appearance, either at the Gibbet, or on the Scaffold.” This ought to be engraved in indelible Characters on his Tomb. The Viper has lost his Sting. He has left Monuments of Infamy behind him to make his Memory execrated. He has not lived long enough, to see the Liberty and Independence of the Country he wished to subjugate, established and confirmed. Doubtless he has foreseen what must be. Even the Anticipation ought to have been Death to him.

There have been great Convulsions in England. Perhaps these have killed him. The Mob have burnt Lord Mansfield's House and many other private Houses, besides three Prisons. It was a Mob of fifty thousand Men. They visited Parliament, buffeted several Lords and Bishops. Lord George Gordon was at the Head. They went to Parliament to insist upon a Repeal of an Act in favor of Popery.1 I am sorry they have risen upon this principle. It was but an act of Toleration. Had they turned Administration out of Doors for bringing them into an American War, and a War with France and Spain, they would have done nobly. If they had beheaded their obstinate King, and a few others, they would have done better.

Lord Gordon is in the Tower, and impeached for High Treason. If he is beheaded something more serious will take place. Lord Gor-369don is a Scotchman and powerfully supported. What the End of these things will be Time will determine. In its present Stage, it is no Advantage to Us. Mobs fighting against Toleration are of no Service to America. I wish it may not be known in America that the Insurrection was upon that Ground. At any Rate it is a ruined Kingdom, more despised than ever respected by Europe.

The Abbies Chalut and Arnoux have Copies of the Celebrated Letter of Madam Adams to Madam Grand.2 It is a Subject of Panegyrick, and very justly. It is full of good Sense, and Affection—no Husband of Sensibility can read it without Encomiums and Tears.

I had the pleasure of dining there last Sunday, and of seeing Miss Labhar and many other Ladies who were very handsome, but I have seen none as yet that have made so great an Impression on my Heart as my favorite Miss —— in America. I will say no more.—Johnny and Charley dined here to day and are very well, and behave in a Manner the most charming. I have the Honor to &c. &c.

Duty, Love, &c. where due. J.T.

RC (Adams Papers).


The Catholic Relief Act, passed by Parliament in June 1778 in the hope of encouraging Catholics to enlist in the army. See Christopher Hibbert, King Mob: The Story of Lord George Gordon and the London Riots of 1780, Cleveland and N.Y., 1958, p. 34 ff.


On this (lost) letter see Thaxter to AA, 16–27 Feb., above, and references in note 2 there.