Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

Abigail Adams to John Quincy Adams, 29 September 1778 AA JQA Abigail Adams to John Quincy Adams, 29 September 1778 Adams, Abigail Adams, John Quincy
Abigail Adams to John Quincy Adams
My Dear Son Sepber. 29 1778

Writing is not A la mode de Paris, I fancy or sure I should have heard from my son; or have you wrote and have I been so unfortunate as to lose all the Letters which have been written to me for this five months.

I have sufferd great anxiety in not hearing from your pappa, or you. I hope you have not been so unlucky in those Letters sent to you.

I want to know your situation, what proficiency you make in the Language. I expect you will write me a Letter en Francois á vous dire le vray, un si long silence commençoit déja á me donner de 1'inquietude.

We have here a large portion of the French Navy. I never wanted to speak the language half so much before, it is difficult holding any intercourse with them. Many of the officers appear to be Gentleman of Education.

I wrote you one very long Letter, hope you received it. You must be very perticuliar when you write. I think it very hard when a vessel arrives without a Letter for me. You know the pleasure I always took in hearing from your pappa in his frequent absence from me. You must think now both he and you are at such a distance from me that Letters are more acceptable than ever.

Your Friends here are all well. The next opportunity you have for writing you must not forget your Grandmamma. Mr. Thaxter is at Philadelphia yet, tho he talks of returning this month.

Does the climate of France suit your constitution. You used to be unwell in the spring and fall. It is very sickly here with the dysentery.

We have heard of the engagement between the French and English Fleets, and are much gratified with the good conduct of our Allies.

After the faileure of the late Expedition against Rhoad Island, we were in great apprehension of an attack upon Boston, as the Fleet lay in that harbour, but haveing looked in upon them Lord How thought it best to retire to New York after plundering 9000 Sheep from Martha Vinyard.1

Your Brothers send their Love to you, and thank you for their Letters, will write to you as soon as they are capable of it. Charlly got his pen to day and attempted it but could not please himself. I believe I must not write an other Letter to Paris till I hear from thence. Be dutifull my dear Son, be thoughtfull, be serious, do not gather the 98Thorns and the Thistles, but collect Such a Garland of flowers as will flourish in your native climate, and Bloom upon your Brows with an unfading verdure.

This will rejoice the Heart and compensate for the continual anxiety of your affectionate xxxxxxx xxxxx

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mr. John Quincy Adams Paris In France”; endorsed: “Mamma's Letter Ansd. Decr. 2d. 78”; docketed twice in JQA's later hand, the more inclusive notation reading: “A. Adams. 29. Septr: 1778. 2. Decr: Ansd:”.


An account of Howe's marauding expedition on Martha's Vineyard is in the Boston Gazette, 28 Sept., suppl.

Abigail Adams to John Thaxter, 29 September 1778 AA Thaxter, John Abigail Adams to John Thaxter, 29 September 1778 Adams, Abigail Thaxter, John
Abigail Adams to John Thaxter
Dear Sir Braintree Sepbr. 29 1778

I know not but you are upon your return home. If you be a pleasent journey to you but you will not I fear find us a bit better people than you left us. We are more extravagant, selfish, oppressive than we were last year, and then you well know we were bad enough. What can be done with this light commodity which makes such strange work amongst us. It cost me as much to live one month as it used to in a year, but the mischief is that I know not where to get it. To day Labour I cannot go because forsooth they have placed my Husband in a Station that must not be so disgraced. Yet had he been left in his own station, I need not have had a care of this kind.

It is true says one that Mankind in general are a worthless and ungratefull set of Beings for a Man to wear out himself in serving but if we do not lay out ourselves in the Service of mankind whom should we serve? Our own insignificant selves that would be sordid indeed.

Thus I hush all my murmurs by considering we are all embarked upon the same bottom, and if our Country sinks we must sink with it.

I believe we shall be rest1 pretty secure in this quarter this winter. How is gone to New York to winter, and Count Destaing has made this harbour impregnable.—By the way I am going on Board the Fleet tomorrow by a perticuliar invitation, I will tell you all about it when I return.2—Your good sister Hannah has been with me these 5 weeks and presents her Love to you. Your Mamma3 was well to day and here for a rarity. No News yet from my absent Friend, how cruel this suspence. Present my most sincere regards to Mr. Lovell for his kind 99attention to me. I will thank him myself soon, at present adieu in haste from your affectionate Friend,


PS Hardwick desires if you cannot procure No. 6 that you would try for No. 7.

RC (MB); addressed: “To Mr. John Thaxter Philadelphia”; endorsed: “Mrs. Adams 29 Sept. 1778.”


Thus in MS.


No such account has been found. In her letter of 21 Oct., below, AA gave JA a brief account of a later visit she paid on board Estaing's flagship in Quincy Bay.


Anna (Quincy) Thaxter (1719–1799), AA's aunt, wife of John Thaxter Sr.; see Adams Genealogy.