Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

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.

Lafayette to Abigail Adams, 29 September 1778 Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de AA Lafayette to Abigail Adams, 29 September 1778 Lafayette, Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Adams, Abigail
Lafayette to Abigail Adams
Boston Tuesday Morning 29 September?1 1778

Le Marquis de lafayette Most Respectful Compliments Wait on Mrs. Adams and is highly sensible of the honor she had done him By her Most polite letter.2 He is very sorry that his Going immediately to Camp prevents him from Waiting on her at Bain tree Where he should have been happy to Present her With a tribute of his Gratitude and Respect.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. john Adams Bain Tree.”


This is simply the most plausible date and is not assigned with perfect confidence. Lafayette's first visit to Boston had been for only two or three days at the end of August, to smooth over differences between Gen. Sullivan (with whom Lafayette was serving at Rhode Island) and Adm. d'Estaing, whose shattered fleet had just sailed into Boston Harbor. See Gottschalk, Lafayette , 2:263–265. No Tuesday occurred during that visit. Lafayette returned to Boston just a month later for further conférences with Estaing, and stayed a little longer; this visit included Tuesday, 29 Sept. (same, p. 279–282). The writer's saying in the present letter that he is “Going immediately to Camp” presumably refers to his imminent departure for Washington's headquarters on the Hudson, for which he in fact did set out on 1 Oct. (same, p. 282–283).

It is true that Lafayette soon paid a third and longer visit to Boston, lasting from about 12 Dec. 1778 to 11 Jan. 1779, when he sailed with Congress' dispatches for France on the Alliance (same, p. 311, 315–320). During this period he may very well have met AA (whose favorable allusion to him in her letter to JQA of 15 Dec. sounds as if they had not yet become acquainted), but on this longer visit he was headed for France and not back “to Camp.”


Not found.

John Quincy Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, 1 October 1778 JQA Adams, Thomas Boylston John Quincy Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, 1 October 1778 Adams, John Quincy Adams, Thomas Boylston
John Quincy Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams
My Dear Brother Passy october the 1st. 1778

As my thoughts are Principally busied upon the French tongue, & as I wish you to turn yours the same way, earlier than I did, I cannot 100think of a Subject to write to you upon more agreable & useful both to you & me than this: Pappa who has an opportunity of Conversing with many men of Learning in this Kingdom, among the phisiciens & Lawyers, as well as eclesiasticks, of various orders, particularly with several very learned abbys,1 he has made it his buisiness to enquire after the best books, & other helps for learning the language of this nation2 in some future letters to my brother Charles & you, I will give you a List of the grammers, Dictionarys, & treatisies upon the French tongue which he has collected as I have the use of this little library if I do not make myself master of French it will not be for want of opportunity or of books but that this talent with which Providence has intrusted3 me may be improved to the best advantage it is necessary to be a good husband of my time.

I cannot impress too strongly upon my mind or recommend too warmly to you the importance of a sentence4 which I lately read in a French writer “tous les momens de 1'enfans sont precieux”5 with which I take my Leave of you and subscribe myself your affectionate Brother

John Quincy Adams

RC (Adams Papers); docketed by CFA. LbC (Adams Papers); at foot of text: “to my brother Tommy.” RC was doubtless enclosed in JA's letter to AA of 2 Oct., below. Text is given here in literal style. There is a second RC in Adams Papers, dated at Passy, 10 Feb. 1778 [i.e. 1779]; it was copied from LbC and may have been sent either as a duplicate or because JQA thought he had not previously made a copy to send; see descriptive note on JQA to CA and TBA, 3 Oct., below.


The inseparable Abbés Arnoux and Chalut, warm friends of the Adamses and of the American cause; see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:317 and passim.


See JQA to CA and TBA, 3 Oct., below.


JQA here first wrote “instructed” and then altered it to “instrusted”; but the correct form appears in LbC and is given here.


LbC: “sentiment.”


LbC adds translation: “every moment of infancy is precious.”