Adams Family Correspondence, volume 5

136 Charles Storer to Abigail Adams, 26 April 1783 Storer, Charles AA Charles Storer to Abigail Adams, 26 April 1783 Storer, Charles Adams, Abigail
Charles Storer to Abigail Adams
N:2 Paris. 26th. April. 1783

The last Evening's news, Madam, has made me somewhat anxious on your Account. We heard of the arrival of Captain Barney, in the Packett-Washington, at Philadelphia. By him Mr. Adams wrote to you advising to come to Europe.1 After the departure of Captn. Barney from hence, Mr. A. changed his mind and sent Counter-advice to L'Orient, in hopes of sending it by the same vessell.2 Whether these last letters have reached you or not I cannot say. If they should not, I fear it may occasion you some trouble in making preparations for embarking. Some other letters, on the same subject, were sent to different Sea-ports,3 but whether they have been duly forwarded or not I cannot tell. However, I have mentioned the matter in several of my Papa's letters, which I hope will arrive with timely intimation respecting your embarkation.

Negotiation, Madam, is again coming on the Carpet. Mr. Hartley, (whom probably you know thro' Mr. Adams,) is arrived here4 and appears disposed to close all matters as liberally, as amicably and as speedily as possible. However, be his wish ever so good, as Matters do not depend solely on him, the business may be spun out yet to a great length. The unsettled, divided state, and heterogeneous Ministry we see in England, favor this opinion.

The public Accounts from London savour not of prosperity to the Kingdom. Three or four violent parties divide the Nation, and opposition is made for opposition – sake – or, for a worse purpose, striving at the mastery. The People are complaining for want of a final Settlement of Affairs and for an arrangement in the Commercial line. With the people at large, to very heavy taxes, is added almost a famine, on account of the very extraordinary year past. Such is the Nation at this moment. The latter grievance may be remedied, but their political prospect is not easily cleared up. Some very black Clouds hang over them, deeply charged with various evils, and should they descend too low may shake the Kingdom to its very foundation—in other words, their public debt is so monstrous, their sources of raising taxes so nearly exhausted, yet their debt encreasing, so violent is the party rage among the higher order, and on the other hand, the frequent meetings of the People at large, County-assemblies, (they have no Committees of Correspondence yet,) and the Clamours of the 137Nation for a more equal representation, all these opposite Circumstances must terminate in something—and something extraordinary. In short, they are upon the eve of Revolution, which will be very important in its Consequences. Other Revolutions, in other places, are doubtless involved in our grand Revolution, but these Mr. A. says are not yet to be spoke of.5 An extensive revolution begun is not easily averted.

We have been daily wishing for letters from America, on public, as well as private Accounts. Much is depending on both. Compliments, if you please, to Miss Adams, with very best wishes.

Let me request you to present my Respects to all? >my friends in your neighborhood and quarter, and to be I am, with much esteem, Madam, Yrs.

C. Storer

P.S. Mr. W. Warren has been sailed this sometime for America, from Marseilles.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs. John Adams, Braintree, near Boston.” Several words lost where the seal was removed.


8 Nov. 1782, above. Capt. Barney did not leave France with this letter until 17 Jan., arriving in Philadelphia on 12 March (Pennsylvania Gazette, 19 March).


These could have been JA's letters of 4 and 28 Dec. 1782, both above, which could have reached Barney before his departure, and that of 22 Jan., above, written too late, but whether any of these three letters were forwarded to Capt. Barney is not known. JA probably wrote at least one other letter, of about 1 Dec. 1782, that has been lost (see JA to AA, 4 Dec. 1782, note 3, above).


These could include any of the letters mentioned in note 2, above, and others of 29 Jan., and 4, 18, and 27Feb., all above. From 29 Jan., JA consistently advised AA not to come to Europe unless his revoked commission to negotiate a commercial treaty with Britain was honorably restored.


Hartley received his commission on 18 April, arrived in Paris on 24 April, and wrote to JA on Friday, 25 April (Adams Papers), offering to meet him and his colleagues at JA's lodgings on Sunday, 27 April. JA briefly describes this meeting in his Diary (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:112).


The reference is obscure, but JA may have expected a revolution in Dutch politics as early as 1783. When the Dutch Patriot party attempted major reforms a few years later, he followed their efforts with keen interest, especially during his Aug.–Sept. 1786 visit to Holland, during the highpoint of the Patriot movement. By 1787, however, conservative forces had swept the Patriot party from power throughout the Netherlands. JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:201–202, note 1, 211, note 2.

Abigail Adams 2d to John Thaxter, 27 April 1783 AA2 Thaxter, John Abigail Adams 2d to John Thaxter, 27 April 1783 Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA) Thaxter, John
Abigail Adams 2d to John Thaxter
Braintree April 27 1783

Opportunities of conveyance from America have for these many Months past been so seldom, that it would be unpardonable to omit the present, my good Will being so greatly indebted. Allow me to judge; and the intrinsick value, will by no means balance the account.


We have been in the disagreeable state of uncertainty and expectation, balancing between hopes and fears, for this long time; and are by no means confirmed as yet. Pappa's letters have so contradicted each other that we know not what to judge, by his last date of Feb 18, I suppose it is his intention to return home immediately without waiting to hear from Congress, Mamma thinks otherwise. We have in the week past had a report from N. York, that Mr. Jay had arived at Phyladelphia.1 Some persons supposed it might be pappa—but yesterday the account was contradicted. I wrote you a forghtnight since by a vessel of Mr. Guilds that was going a roundabout way.2 Whether you will receive it or not is uncertain, some reasons induce me to wish you never may—and yet I wish you to know that we have not been inattentive when any conveyance has offered.

Peace is again restored to our Country. Tis not received with so great a degree of joy and gladness as could have been expected, or as so important an event demands. The political World have been balancing in their minds with regard to the certainty of it, not having received satisfactory accounts till very lately.

Mamma has thought it best to put my Brothers under the care of Mr. Shaw at Haverhill which has deprived us, of a very agreable part of our family. Charles a sweet boy was just become a companion: and enlivened many a solitary moment, but Mamma consulted their advantage; twas hard to part with them, we are now but five in family—except honest puss and sparder.3 Dont you think this is an interesting detail of events to communicate many thousand Miles. Braintree I assure you looks more solitary than ever; we have generally had some person as a preceptor for the young gentlemen, and we have been fortunate in meeting with those who were agreeable. My Brothers absence deprives us even of this privilege. The general determination is to convert the great House at Germantown4 into a Monastry and in our own distress? all turn Nuns. Miss Paine is to be Lady Abbess, and parson Wibird has offered to become professor. However we chose a person not quite so advanced and have had the offer of one—very agreable, “he is the professor and practitioner of Urbanity.” He proposes following the King of Prussia's late example. After a certain short time, to absolve the assembly of Nuns and take one under his immediate protection,—a good plan is it not? We expect however; when you long absent gentlemen return, that you will at least make use of some very powerfull arguments with some of us, to change our situation. Twill be unpardonable if you should disappoint our hopes and expectation.


I have scribled away at a curious rate. I had nothing particular to say when I took my pen, but to indeavour, by Words only, to make some little return for your past kindness. I have not succeeded to my wishes, a perusal will only augment the mortification of having said nothing better.

The situation of our friends at Germantown is realy disagreable, tis hard that so great a share of excellence as there exists; should be so deluded clouded by misfortunes and unhappiness,5 but we cannot account for the various causes of events. Those that are fraught with happiness do not claim so great a degree of our amaizement and surprize, as the contrary. “The Ways of heaven are dark and intricate.”

I believe tis a happiness to have arived at that state of mind in which we can look calmly and composedly on all the events of fortune, and meet its decrees without repining. This is seldom attained by youth for where it does exist in young minds there is generally a want of that sensibility and feeling, which, constitutes it a virtue.

Not one word have we heard from my Brother John these many, many, months, I feel as if he was lost almost. Sincerely and ardently do I wish for the period to arive when this family, Now so widely seperated; shall be again collected. I anticipate the many future scenes with pleasure and my imagination sometimes, perhaps always, leads me beyond my reason. At times I feel very impatient, that there is not a prospect of its being at an earlyer period than I am allowed to expect. Whenever you shall receive this, make my compliments to Mr. Storer—and permit me to subscribe your young friend

A Adams

I must ask Miss D—6 pardon for not long ere this acknowledging the receipt of the pincushing. As you have desired to be permitted to communicate any returns I shall make to her, I authorize you, to present to her my best compliments, and thank her for this mark of attention to one unknown to her, and in that way which shall be most acceptable to the young Lady acknowledging you to be a better judge than I possibly can.

RC (Private owner, Boston, 1957); endorsed in the margin of the last page: “Miss Adams 27. April 1783.”


Jay did not return to the United States until the summer of 1784.


Letter not found.


See AA to Charles Storer, 28 April, below. Since AA there counts two domestics among her five, “puss” and “sparder” were evidently pets.


Gen. Joseph Palmer's home in Braintree's Germantown section, called “Friendship Hall” as a tribute to Palmer's generous 140hospitality (Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy , p. 488).


Gen. Palmer's financial difficulties, which would soon become acute, were probably already evident by 1783. AA2 may also be referring to the tragic death of Elizabeth Palmer's fiancé, and cousin, Nathaniel Cranch, in 1780, and the broken health of Elizabeth's older sister, Mary, who had suffered from a nervous disorder since 1765 (vol. 3:329, note 5; Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy , p. 488, note).


Perhaps Nancy, daughter of C. W. F. Dumas and close to AA2 in age. See vol. 4:355 and note 2.