Adams Family Correspondence, volume 4

Abigail Adams to James Lovell, 14 July 1781 AA Lovell, James Abigail Adams to James Lovell, 14 July 1781 Adams, Abigail Lovell, James
Abigail Adams to James Lovell
My dear Sir July 14th 17811

Your favour by General Ward2 was not deliverd me till this day or I should have replied to it by the last post; the Generous acknowledgement of having transgressed forbids any further recrimination even tho I had more than the Right of a Friend. The serious part of your Letter drew a tear from the Eye of Portia. She wished for ability she wished for power to make happy the Man who so richly deserved far better treatment than he had ever yet met with. The pittance you mention, is meaner than my Immagination could possibly form tho I have had sufficient Specimins of it here to fore but it must and shall be enlarged if the Friends to whom Portia is determined to apply have any influence in a Body who too often strain at a knat while they gulph down a camel with great facility.

I am gratified however to have from your own Hand arguments 177to rectify the Ideas of some who I really believe your Friends, but who not knowing or fully attending to the circumstances you mention, have been left to wonder at a conduct they could not account for. The affectionate regard you profess for a Lady who I believe every way deserving of it, intirely banishes from my mind the insinuations of Cornelia, and I could wish that Letter might not be submitted as you tell me others have been,3 least it should unnecessaryly give pain to a Lady I must more and more Esteem—and with whom I am determined to cultivate a more particular acquaintance. Possibly I may be able to render her some small services. I cannot be so particular as I wish because this must take its chance by the post. I will not thank you for your comments upon my Letter of March 17th. They are not generous. However as I have never spaired my correspondent when I thought him wrong, I will suppose that he really believed Portia deserving the censure he has bestowed.—“Dutch Idea” abominable. You know I meant by the Word property, only an exclusive right, a possession held in ones own right.4 Will you please to consult Johnson upon the term?—Still more Sophistical is your comment upon the fine tuned Instrument. If I did not know you I should suppose you a practiseing Attorney. There is one thing however that sticks a little hardly by me—“I am very unwilling that it should be submitted to the Eye of one so very much my Friend as you profess yourself to be.” This looks like such a distrust of my sincerity as wounds me. There are some other strokes to which I am not callous, but can forgive them considering the freedom I have exercised in my own remarks.

Will you balance accounts? and we will begin a New Score upon the old Stock of Friendship. I do not pretend to exculpate from censure what I really thought deserving of it, but only the doubtfull right I had to use it as it did not at that time particularly affect me.

You have not fulfilled one part of your promise which was to transmit to me some Annecdotes respecting my Friend abroad and as a preparitive I was to see Mr.——.5 I have now 6 received my preparitive. In the Name of Indignation can there be any thing more diabolical than what is put into my Hands? False insinuating disembling wretch—is it for this your Grey Head is spaired—is this the language of courts?—is this the reward of an Independant Spirit, and patriotick virtue? Shall the Zealous and Strenuous asserter of his countrys rights be sacrificed to a court Sycophant? This finished Courtier has first practised his Arts upon the Minister till he has instilled into his mind the most ungenerous prejudices, played over the same Game he practised against Dr. Lee by reporting Speaches I dare say that were 178never made, or taking them seperately from what might be connected with them and therby rendering offensive what in an other view might be quite harmless—and having gained his point there, is now in the most specious manner crocodile like whining over the prey he means to devour, to your Body who if they mean peace and good will to their country will immediately accept a resignation which it is said he has tendered but for Heavens sake do not join him in commission with my Friend, they cannot act in concert, after such a proof of jealousy, envy and malice can you suppose it?7

Join to him an upright honest Man of real abilities and he will thank you for an assistant should a negotiation commence, but do not Saddle him with a Man who looks no further than the present state of existance for a retribution of his virtues or his vices, but who considering this world as the summum bonum of Man might I think have a little more regard to the happiness of his fellow Mortals in the present state, and not quite so willing to relinquish their Natural Rights. One will speak a bold and firm language becomeing a free sovereign and Independant Nation, the other will be indesisive yealding fauning flattering. Are these consistant qualities? Very justly does he observe that they do not always hold the same language and the one may erase the impressions of the other.—If after all the Efforts of the Friends of Liberty Congress should join them you may be assured my Friend will resign his commission. I shall intreat him to, but he will not want persuasion. He shall not share if I can prevent it in the disgrace which will most assuredly fall upon these States. Humiliating thought, that so much Blood and treasure should be sacrificed to state intrigues and our negotiation disgraced by a Man—but I will believe a more virtuous Majority exists among you. I ask not the support of my Friend because he is my Friend—I ask it no further than as you find he persues the best Good of his country, than as you find he acts a disinterested part considering himself only as one individual of the many he represents.

Dft (Adams Papers); without indication of addressee; text probably incomplete, breaking off above the middle of last page of MS and without leavetaking.


Day of the month, left blank by AA, supplied from Lovell's acknowledgment of receipt of this letter in his reply of 10 Aug., below.


Dated 16 June, above.


The “Lady” is Mrs. Lovell, and “that Letter” (which AA did not wish to have “submitted” to Mrs. Lovell) is AA's to Lovell, 23 June, above.


On the “Dutch Idea” see Lovell to AA, 16 June, above, at note 10.


Samuel Adams; see Lovell to AA, 29 May, above.


AA wrote “&.”


Sentence thus punctuated in MS. The allusions in this paragraph will not 179be clear unless read in the light of a number of letters that precede. The “False ... wretch” is Franklin, and what had been put into AA's hands—her “preparitive”—was a text of Franklin's letter to Congress of 9 Aug. 1780, which took the French side in the dispute between JA and Vergennes and which Lovell characterized as “most unkind and stabbing” toward JA (Lovell to AA, preceding; see note 7 there; and see also vol. 3:394–395, above).

AA's term “the Minister” (on whom Franklin had “practised his Arts”) echoes phrasing used in Mrs. Shippen's letter to Mrs. Samuel Adams, 17 June, above, and means Vergennes. See notes on AA to Lovell, 30 June, and Lovell to AA, 13 July, both above.

Richard Cranch to John Adams, 16 July 1781 Cranch, Richard JA Richard Cranch to John Adams, 16 July 1781 Cranch, Richard Adams, John
Richard Cranch to John Adams
Dear Sir Boston July 16th 1781

I have enclosed to you a Copy of certain Letters lately transmitted to Congress by B:F: Esqr.—Copies of them having been sent from Congress Philadelphia to your Friends here, I tho't it my Duty to let you know as soon as possible what treatment you receive from that Gentleman. I have heard (sub rosae) that influence has been used in a certain Place august Assembly to have the Regulator of Heaven's Artillery Conductor of Lightning joined with you in a certain Negotiation bearing the Olive Branch. This Time may discover. I know not whether you have ever seen an Order of Congress of Decr. 12th. 1780. I have enclos'd a Copy of it as sent to your Dear Lady. I suppose it referrs to the same Subject when transmitted by you to Congress, which is now said to have given such offence elsewhere.1

I have wrote you often, particularly by Doctor Dexter on the 28th of May, and again largly by a Vessell bound to Denmark on the 22d of June: And tho' I have never yet had the happyness of receiving a Line from you since you left us, yet I shall embrace every Oportunity, of writing to you, believing that you have written to me tho' I have been so unhappy as not to have received your Letters.

The General Court is now prorogued untill the 3d Wednesday in September sufficient Provision having been first made for filling up what is yet wanting in our Quota of the Continental Army; and also for sending into the Field immediately 3,200 Melitia from this Commonwealth to assist in the present Campaign on the North River &c. As I wrote you before, so I must still lament the want of a sufficient number of Ships of War on this Coast. For want of a very few More Ships those that are here already can do little or no service, being too weak to venture far out of Port. By this means the Enemys Ships of every sort on the Coast of Virginia and the Carolinas can with safety by water carriage facilitate every movement of their Army without 180interruption, while our Troops and those of our Generous Allies under that best of Men and of Generals, the Marquis de la Fayett and other excellent Commanders, are subjected to the slow tiresom and expensive Modes of Land Carriage by which all their Plans for our defence are retarded and often rendered abortive. You that are placed nearer the Centre of the grand System can perhaps discover the Wisdom of this Conduct as it regards the whole, while to us who view but detached Parts it appears like a most fatal Failure in the management of the American War.

I saw your dear Lady and Children Yesterday, who with your Mother and Brother &c. are all well. My Dear Partner and Children are in usual Health, and join with me in the tenderest sentiments of Love and Friendship to you, your dear little Boys, and Mr. Thaxter. We have not heard from you for above eight Months (if I recollect right) a tedious Period! especially to those whose “Love is without Dissimulation,” among whome I hope you will always find him who in Days of Yore signed himself


Dft (MHi:Cranch Papers); endorsed by Richard Cranch: “Rough draft of a Letter to Bror. Adams July 16th. 1781 by Capt. Davis bound to Amsterdam (Suppos'd to be taken.).” Written on a folio sheet, on verso of which is a canceled draft in Cranch's hand of a Massachusetts House of Representatives committee report on printing the resolves of the General Court. For the enclosures in the (missing) RC, see note 1.


At least two of Cranch's enclosures, though not found, are clearly identifiable: (1) a copy of Franklin's letter to Pres. Huntington, 9 Aug. 1780, enclosing copies of JA's recent correspondence with Vergennes and commenting unfavorably on JA's high tone toward the French court; see above, Lovell to AA, 13 July, note 7, and vol. 3:394–395; (2) copy of Congress' resolution of 12 Dec. 1780 approving JA's letter to Vergennes of 26 June 1780, which had defended the new monetary policy of Congress against Vergennes' criticisms; see vol. 3:391–392. JA's letter had been read in Congress on 30 Nov. and referred to a committee of three, Lovell chairman; the committee reported on 6 Dec. but action was postponed; and on the 12th Congress ordered “That the said letter be referred to the Committee of Foreign Affairs, and that they be instructed to inform Mr. Adams of the satisfaction which Congress receives from his industrious attention to the interests and honor of these United States abroad, especially in the transactions communicated to them by that letter” ( JCC , 18:1107, 1123, 1147).