Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 2 September 1778 Thaxter, John AA John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 2 September 1778 Thaxter, John Adams, Abigail
John Thaxter to Abigail Adams
Madam Wednesday Philadelphia Septr. 2d. 1778

Your much esteemed favors of 23d. July and 19th. Augst. came to hand on Monday. Your Letters and the inclosed ones were very acceptable; as they contained agreeable Information. The Letter of June from you and also those from home of the same month mentioned that our Parents were under the operation of a disease, which has swept away its thousands. Tho' Art has check'd its malignity, yet fears will arise when near connections have it in the way which promises the greatest success. The present Letters contain the only information from that Quarter since June—an Interval of more than two months. I will only say that my sensations in that period were neither pleasing nor agreeable.

Should I pass over the Quotations and observations in your letter respecting the Commissioners without expressing Admiration, I should deprive myself of the pleasure which the pertinency of both inspired on the perusal. There is not a passage in Milton more applicable—it designates their characters in a very just manner. Their productions 87since the last publication of Congress are curious. Govr. Johnstone has made a seperate declaration—Carlisle, Clinton and Eden a joint one. There is neither decency nor conclusive reasoning in either of them. Johnstone to prevent embarrassments and difficulties has seperated himself from his Colleagues in Iniquity, Congress having declared they could not negociate with him as a Commissioner. The Commissioners may publish their productions—Congress I believe will not. It is not known among people here that Congress have recieved any thing further from them. You will therefore Madam use your discretion as to a communication of the above. I believe it is somewhat private as yet.

We hear nothing of consequence of late of the expedition against the inchanted Island. Great men have gone—may great Exploits be atchieved. I hope the present Expedition has no features of the old. Success there will materially affect the Councils and Operations of the Enemy at New York. For that reason I most ardently wish for it. The departure of the French Fleet has no doubt thrown embarrassments upon the operations on the Island, but I presume not insuperable Obstacles. The Spirit of the Militia does them great honor. If General Spencer is within the Atmosphere of the Troops he ought to be sacrificed. It must be damp, rainy or foggy wherever he is if fighting is the Object.1

The Charges against General Lee were as follows viz. 1st. Disobedience of orders in not attacking the Enemy agreeable to repeated instructions. 2d. Misbehaviour before the Enemy in making an unnecessary, disorderly and shameful retreat. 3d. Disrespect to the Commander in Chief. He was found guilty of the whole of the 1st. and 3d. and in part of the 2d. viz. in making an unnecessary and disorderly retreat. The proceedings of the Council of War are publishing.2 Every one that reads them will judge for themselves. He is suspended.

You propose a number of Questions to me respecting the Ladies in this part of the world, which I beg leave to arrange under the two following heads viz. Sense and Beauty. I can answer them Madam, only in general terms, as a multiplicity of business and other causes have prevented any considerable Intercourse with them. I have been introduced to Ladies possessing the former and latter. You will excuse any thing of a descriptive nature, lest insipidity or partiality should be the most conspicuous Color in the portrait. I possess not a descriptive talent, but good Sense and Literature I respect in both sexes. As to the Question which immediately affects me, I must candidly answer, that 88a cold phlegmatic frame has in times past and does at present render me invulnerable to the most poignant shafts of the celebrated Bow. This is a constitutional answer. It is a misfortune—and one without remedy.

I am much obliged by your polite Caution, Madam: Be assured that the greatest attention shall be paid to the preservation of the health of so valuable a Lad as he who has the honor to be with great respect your most humble Servant,

J.T. Junr.

RC (Adams Papers).


Maj. Gen. Joseph Spencer of Connecticut had led the abortive attack on the British in Rhode Island a year earlier; see vol. 2:351–352.


On 21 Aug. Congress “Ordered, That 100 copies of the proceedings of the court martial of the trial of Major General [Charles] Lee, be printed for the use of the members” ( JCC , 11:826). They were published as Proceedings of a General Court Martial, Held at Brunswick, in the State of New Jersey . . . for the Trial of Major General Lee, Phila., 1778 (Evans 16140). A copy bound for CFA and with his bookplate is in MHi.

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 9 September 1778 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 9 September 1778 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Passi September 9 1778

I fear you will complain of me, for not writing so often as I ought. But I write as often as I can.—I really never had more Business to do in my Life, and what mortifies me, beyond Measure is, to be obliged to say I never did less.

No News from England, or America—dreadfull Intervall! I say dreadfull Because, the Question of Speedy Peace or not depends, I apprehend upon what has already passed in America and We have not heard of—our last News was that D'Estaing was anchored, before Sandy Hook.

I send you a litle Amusement1—and Love and Respects to all Friends. Nabby, Charly and Thommy particularly. Johnny is well—reads and chatters french like a french Boy.

John Adams

RC (Adams Papers).


What this was does not appear.

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 11 September 1778 Thaxter, John AA John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 11 September 1778 Thaxter, John Adams, Abigail
John Thaxter to Abigail Adams
Madam Friday Philadelphia Septr. 11th. 1778

Your favor of the 26th. Augst. I was honored with last Monday.

Just after I had wrote my last to you we had an account here of the action at Rhode Island. I am very happy in its being successful in so 89great a degree; but will be honest enough to declare that my most pleasing expectations are disappointed. There seemed to be a Certainty almost of a total reduction of the Enemy at that post. There is a Spell set upon the Island, which we shall not I fear be able soon to remove.

The Spirit and Patriotism of the Militia in the affair have acquired them much honor every where. Congress have thanked them for their Exertions.

Pardon my impoliteness in omitting to congratulate you on the birth of the Haverhill Nephew. My only apology must be that I really intended, what unfortunately escaped my recollection at the time of writing. May a sincere Congratulation at this present expiate the offence. I hope it is “bettered by the Mothers side” in all conscience, else I pity it. May it be an heir to its sweet mother's Perfections and an alien to its Father's Imperfections.

In the margin beside the preceding paragraph: This is too impudent. The flames will purify.

I have not as yet been able to get any needles of the Number Mr. Hardwick wants. I will make all enquiry possible. If I can procure any I will send them forward.

I am very desirous to hear from Mr. A. and Son again. I was very glad in hearing of the health of both sometime agone. You will certainly hear oftener in a little time. The intercourse with that Country will become more general.

With great respect I am Madam Your very Hble. Servt. J.T. Junr.
12th. Septr.

I have just heard that a vessel has arrived at some part of Maryland after a passage of 26 days. The news brought by her is to the following effect—that the Brest fleet, consisting of 30 sail of the line and 40 frigates, had sailed. That Keppel had sailed from his Station; but soon returned.—This is the substance. What will be the consequence time will unfold.—It is all conjecture at present.

I begin to feel the greatest uneasiness for Providence and Boston. May they escape the vengeance of a merciless Enemy.


RC (Adams Papers).