Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 15 September 1778 Thaxter, John AA John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 15 September 1778 Thaxter, John Adams, Abigail
John Thaxter to Abigail Adams
Madam Tuesday Philadelphia Sept. 15th. 1778

Since the date of that letter mentioning my not having recieved any intelligence from home for more then two months,1 I have had the honor of four or five letters from you and two or three from home. Your favor of the 2d. inst. came to hand yesterday. My situation is such at present, that it will by no means answer for me to reside here. Boarding, at almost the cheapest rate, is 16 dollars per week and Washing between two and three dollars per dozen. Every thing else is in proportion. Shoes 9. 10. and 12 dollars per pair. My pay is 100 dollars a month. After the Bills for boarding and washing and other contingent expences are paid, what is there left? Why a fund sufficient to support an extravagant Wife, a magnificent Table and all the equipage and parade of high life. I never wish to see Salaries very high in America. My Ambition is a decent competency. I believe my pay will not be raised. Congress do not seem inclined to raise Wages. Compensation is most agreeable to them. If the limits of some Room in a certain building, now before my Eyes, does not mark the utmost extent of my personal liberty, I shall be easy. I hope to escape.—Enough of Egotisms.

Ten sail of Jamaica men were lost on the Bahamas in the late storm. Fine Harvest indeed for the Divers.

A paragraph of a letter from the far Country mentions, that an Engagement between the two fleets was daily expected. It was the opinion of the Writer that as soon as the news of the Ratification of the Treaty between France and America reached England, War would 91be instantly declared. The letter was dated July 4th. 1778. A letter of the 12th from a Gentleman of distinction at Camp mentions that the accounts from deserters as well as appearances seem to indicate a total evacuation of New York by Water.—Destruction attend them wherever they go. Thus much for News. It needs no Comments. The Observations to be made will naturally occur.

With great respect I am Madam Your humble Servt., JT J.

I have this instant heard that the Privateer Montgomery has arrived from Nantz in France. She brings news that Keppel is blocked up in Portsmouth, by the Brest fleet—that 3000 manufacturers had risen—and that the insurrection was quelled by Subscriptions. Tame fools. They are fit subjects for so mercenary an Administration.

I hope de Chartres the French Admiral will make Keppel tremble to some purpose.

RC (Adams Papers).


Thaxter to AA, 21 Aug., in Adams Papers but not printed here.

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 23 September 1778 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 23 September 1778 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Passi September 23 1778

A very idle, vain Conversation, at a Dinner, has produced you this Letter from a venerable old Lady, in this Neighbourhood, the Wife of Monsr. Grand the Banker.1

As the Subject was introduced, and according to the turn that the Conversation really took, there was not so much Vanity and Ostentation on my Part, as you will suspect from her Account of it. But as I speak french very imperfectly and she understands not a syllable of English I suppose she did not fully understand me.—All that I maintained was that it was the Duty of a good Citizen to sacrifice all to his Country, in some Circumstances. God Grant I may never be called to do this again so often as I have done already: for I have hazarded all very often and done as much as sacrifice all sometimes.

You will have a delicate Task to answer her. Write to her in English —she has a son about five and twenty who is a Master of English and will interpret.2

It is a virtuous Family, and very civil to me and my dear Johnny of whom the whole Family is very fond.3

We are in deep Concern for America, the last Accounts having left D'Estaing going to Rhode Island and Ld. Howe after him.

It is high Time for me to write to my Children but hitherto I have 92not had time. I hope you have received twenty Letters from me, in which I have desired you to draw upon me for what Money you want. Yours,

John Adams

RC (Adams Papers). Concerning the (missing) enclosure see note 3.


The writer was Marie (Silvestre) Grand, wife of Ferdinand Grand (1726–1794), whose banking house in the Rue des Capucins handled financial transactions between the French government and the new United States (Lüthy, La banque protestante en France , 2:339 and passim). The Grands had a suburban villa in Passy near the residence of the American Commissioners; see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:303.


Jean François Paul Grand (afterward Grand-Labhard) (d. 1829), who married his cousin Marie Labhard and became a partner in his father's banking firm (Lüthy, La banque protestante en France , 2:341, 820).


Although Mme. Grand's letter has been lost, its tenor is clear from these comments by JA and a summary of it in AA's letter to AA2, ca. 11 Feb. 1779, below. It reached AA with the present letter early in February, and she followed JA's instructions in answering it. This answer, which must have been among AA's most interesting efforts of the kind, was enclosed in her reply to JA of 13 Feb. 1779, below. This, however, did not reach JA before he left Paris on 8 March, and the enclosure was ultimately delivered by hand to Mme. Grand after JA's return to Paris almost a year later; see JA to AA, 27 Feb. 1780, below. Despite its circulation in French as well as English, no version has so far been found. “Your Letter to Madam Grand,” John Thaxter wrote AA, “is rendered into French and admired by every one that reads it, for its excellent Sentiments” (16–27 Feb. 1780, below). Four months later it was still circulating in France and producing “Encomiums and Tears” (Thaxter to AA, 18 June 1780, below).