Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

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.

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 23 June 1780 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 23 June 1780 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dear Portia June 23. 1780

We are very much affected with the Loss of Charlestown—it seems the most disagreable Affair, We have ever met with. I dont know that the Consequences will be bad, but the Loss of so many Men, ships, and Artillery and stores is heavy besides the Town. To maintain it, they must weaken themselves at N. York and elsewhere. We hope to hear of something to ballance it.

I inclose a Paper, giving an Account of the Troubles in London. What they will come to, in the End, I dont know. It seems hitherto a fanatical Business. Their civil Liberties, and most essential Interests are forgotten, while they are running mad for their own contracted notions. It is said, that the Catholic Bill will be repealed. The true motive for making that Law, with the Ministry and King, was to engage the Irish Catholicks, on their Side, and get them to inlist into the American service.


In the midst of the dismay of these Mobs, comes the News from Charlestown.

The Ways of Heaven are dark and intricate, it seems as if they were to be permitted to have Success enough, to lead them on, untill they become the most striking Spectacle of Horror that ever was seen.

These Riots discover Symptoms of deep distress and misery, among the lower Classes of People. The particular Spight against the Prisons is one mark of it. The decided Part they took against the Ministry, shews upon what Ground they stand. It is however a Shocking Scaene. The King seems in a fair Way to the Summit of all his wishes, absolute Power. Martial Law is very agreable to him. Governor Hutchinson died in the Beginning of the Affray. Lord Mansfields House underwent a worse Fate, than his.

I suppose that it will cost two millions Sterling, to indemnify the Sufferers. This must be added to all the other Expences of the War. They forget the state of Ireland, France, Spain, West Indies, N. America, the armed Neutrality of the maritime Powers, and their own distracted State, in their Joy for the News of Charlestown, which in reality however unpleasant to Us ought to be more dreadful to them, because it will be a Grave to their Army and a drain to their Purses without any considerable Advantage.

They however think not of Peace.—We are all well.

RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Collection). Enclosed “Account of the Troubles in London,” doubtless from a newspaper, not found. The letter itself must have been sent on by AA to Mercy Warren; it remained among her and her husband's papers and was included by Worthington C. Ford in his edition of the Warren-Adams Letters , MHS, Colls. , 73 (1925): 133–134, where, despite the salutation to “Portia,” the addressee is wrongly assumed to be Mrs. Warren.