Adams Family Correspondence, volume 6

Abigail Adams to Elizabeth Cranch, 8 March 1785 AA Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch Abigail Adams to Elizabeth Cranch, 8 March 1785 Adams, Abigail Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Abigail Adams to Elizabeth Cranch
No 5 My Dear Betsy March 8th. 1785 Auteuil

There is a Gentleman by the Name of Blakney1 a Philadelphian who is with other company to dine here to day and on Monday is going to England. I think to charge him with a Letter or two, tho I know not of any present conveyance unless Young is yet there, who has been going every week, ever since December, and who has, as my Friends will find, Letters on board written in that month, which is very discouraging. I could write by way of New York monthly, but I am loth to load my Friends with a postage. If Mr. Gerry continues there I shall some times take the freedom of covering a Letter to him, and getting him to forward it by a private hand.2 And my Friends may in the same manner enclose at any time under cover to Mr. Jay who is minister for foreign affairs directed to your uncle which Letters have a right to come as far as the packet, without postage, and from thence will not be more expensive nor indeed so much so, as those which come by way of England. Never omit writing for want of Subjects, every thing and every object is interesting to me, ten thousand times more so than any thing which I can write you from hence, because I had almost Said I love; every thing and every body in that Country. Tell me when you begin to garden. I can brag over you in that respect, for our flower pots were set out in February and our garden began to look smilling. The orange Trees were not however brought out of the House, and it was very lucky they were not, for since this month commenced came a nipping frost very unusual at this season, and stiffend all our flower roots. I really fear they are kill'd. O Betsy how you would delight in this Garden. As to the House it is large and with 20 thousand livers expence in repairs and furniture would be very elegant and fit for a minister to live in, but as it is, let it pass, it is as good as we can afford, and is a fine clear air. The Garden too is much out of repair and bespeaks the too extravegent provision of its owners who are not able to put it in order. The Garden 75is however a fine walk in summer and the beautifull variety of flowers would tempt you to tan yourself in picking and trimming them. The garden has a number of statues and figures, but there is none which pleases me more than one of a Boy who has robed a bird of her nest of young; which he holds in one hand and in the other the old bird, who has laid hold of his finger with her Bill and is biteing it furiously, so that the countanance of the lad is in great distress between the fear of loosing the young and the pain of his finger.

Cousin Nabby says Mam, the company are come some of them. Well then go down and entertain them, for I will finish my Letter to Betsy. There is amongst them a Mr. Pickman of Salem, to whom Mr. Tracy gave a Letter of introduction. Do you know him? I have never seen him yet. He calld and left his Name one Day and his address. Your cousin Jack returnd his visit but not being at home, he also left a card, and we sent him an invitation to dine here to day. That is the form and process in this country. There is a Mr. Williamos here who was in Boston after I left it. He is a Swiss by Birth, a very clever sensible obligeing man, who is a very great intimate at Mr. Jefferson's, which alone would be sufficient to recommend him. He dines here to Day and Col. Humphries our Secretary, a Mr. Waren3 a Carolianian and Miss Jefferson from the Walls of her convent4 does us the favour of a visit to day. Those form our Society for this day. O, could I transport you and your Dear family how much it would enhance the pleasure. Mr. T——r5 too should assist at table as he is very handy that way, but his Carveing abilities would be almost useless here as the provision seldom wants any thing more than shaking to peices. I have got a long Letter begun to your Mamma6 and I have had some thoughts of changing the address and sending it to you, only I owe her one and not you. Tell Lucy I would give a great deal for one of her Cats. I have absolutely had an inclination to buy me some little Images according to the mode of this country that I might have some little creatures to amuse myself with, not that I have turnd worshiper of those things, neither.

There is not one creature of you that will tell me a word of our good parson.7 How does he do? Alass he deserves it, for being a simple individual. I will however remember him and tender him my Respects.

I design to get my other Letters ready to send on, about the middle of the week, but if this should have the Luck to get a passage as soon as it arrives in England, why it may possibly travel along accompanied only, with one to Dr. Tufts and an other to Mrs. Feild8 which is all I 76have had leisure to get ready. Your cousin John thinks very much of it that none of his Friends have written to him.9 Remember me to all my dear Friends. I can name none in particular but your good Parents. I have vanity enough to think it would take all the rest of my paper to enumerate them.

I have written you all this, to shew you how to triffle and as it is unworthy of a copy and written in great haste I must apoligize for its inaccuracy.

Believe my dear Girl affectionately yours,


I darnt send my Elder Sister such a hasty scrip, besides I may venture to triffel with the daughter when her Mamma requires a steadier pen.

RC (MB); docketed in an unknown hand: “Letter from Mrs. A. Adams, to Miss Eliz. Cranch Mar. 8. 1785. France. (No. 5).” The name “John” appears to the right of the docket.


John Bleakley (JQA, Diary , 1:227, 230).


Elbridge Gerry attended Congress in New York, 31 Jan. to 1 March, and 12 July to 4 Nov. 1785 (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 8:lxxxvii). No letter from AA to Gerry in 1785 is known to the editors.


JQA has “Mr. Waring”; this may have been Dr. Thomas Waring of South Carolina (JQA, Diary , 1:216, and note 2, 230).


Martha Jefferson, age twelve, had accompanied her father to France and would remain there, receiving her education at the Abbaye Royale de Pentemont, a fashionable Paris convent school, until April 1789, shortly before her return with her father to America (Jefferson, Papers , 7:364, 410–411; 14:356–357; 15:490–498, 560–561).


Probably Royall Tyler; see AA to Tyler, post 14 June 1783 , above.


Of 20 Feb., above, finished on 13 March.


A “+” appears above the line at this point. Written in lighter ink, it was probably not inserted by AA. The “good parson” is Rev. Anthony Wibird.


AA's letter to Esther Field's mother has not been found; her letter to Cotton Tufts is immediately below.


The last extant letter received by JQA from anyone in America, except for his mother and sister, is that from Elizabeth Cranch, May 1781 (vol. 4:146–148). Following his 17 March 1782 reply to Elizabeth (vol. 4:297–299), the only extant JQA letters to anyone in America outside his immediate family are those to Richard Cranch, 6 Sept. (MeHi), to Mary Cranch, 12 Dec., above, and to William Cranch, 14 Dec. 1784, also above. See AA to Mary Cranch, 9 Dec. 1784, above; and JQA, Diary , 1:214.

Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts, 8 March 1785 AA Tufts, Cotton Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts, 8 March 1785 Adams, Abigail Tufts, Cotton
Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts
My Dear Sir March 8th. 1785

Mr. Adams received last Evening a Letter from you dated January 1st,1 in which you inform him of some little purchases which are very agreeable to him. I wrote you by his consent in January respecting Mr. Alleynes Farm. I suppose my Letters have not yet reachd America, as Captain Young has been detained Months in England longer than was expected. We are a little alarmed at the Hazard we have run, 77because we find it impossible upon the present Establishment to save any thing from it. I believe I mentiond to you that with the assistance of my son I had kept a Regular account of all our expences. And I am sure you will suppose that we live very differently from what we really do, when I assure you that I am obliged to Economize not to be in debt at the close of every Month; if Congress would place us where we were at first, we might get through the purchase of the place, but as that is yet dubious and our sons are going into College which will be attended with a large expence, we are fearfull of being involved in difficulties, and tho it is an object very desirable to us, we fear we shall be obliged to give up the Idea of it. If Mr. Alleyne however should be as dilatory as he has hitherto been, I will not dispair, if our former request have not reachd you so as to have taken decisive measures. You will go no further at present than to make inquiries what it may be had for, and what you really think the value of it, which you will be so kind as to transmit to us. I recollect a story of a minister of Queen Elizabeths whom she one day visited, and observed to him that he had a very small and indifferent House. May it please your Majesty said the minister, the House is big enough for the Man, but you have made the Man too big for the House.

As to the Medford Farm you will be so kind as to have every thing done which will be for the benifit of it. We have so perfect a confidence on your judgment with regard to all these matters that we scarcly wish to direct about them, and Mr. A has been so long a statesman that I cannot get him to think enough upon his domestick affairs. He loves to have every thing as it should be, but does not wish to be troubled about them. He chuses I should write and think about them and give directions. Tho I am very willing to releive him from every care in my power, yet I think it has too much the appearence of weilding instead of sharing the Scepter.

I cannot Sir give you any very promising account with Regard to the Treaties of commerce. Prussia have compleated theirs all to signing. As to England they appear as much infatuated as ever, no answer has been as yet sent to the information which our ministers gave them in December, that they were ready to go to England and treat with them.2 I have heard that our Merchants are very Angry that the ministers do not Treat, and that they reflect upon them. What more can be done than to inform the Courts of their powers, and to offer them term of treatys. They cannot compel nations into treaties. England is very sour and bitter haughty and imperious, and I hear abuses America upon every occasion. Time was you know Sir, when 78an amicable treaty might have been made with England very favourable to America, and you know to what intrigues it was oweing that the Commercial powers were taken from the person in whom they were first invested;3 but Time past, can not be recalled, as our Country Men now feel, and as was then predicted.

Mr. Jays acceptance as minister for Foreign affairs4 gives us hopes that his wisdom and integrity will have a happy influence upon our affairs. Mr. Adams's Colleigue Mr. Jefferson is an Excellent Man. Worthy of his station and will do honour to his Country. He has been sick all winter and is now far from being well. Dr. Franklin goes not out at all. Remember me sir to my dear good Aunt and to your son and Neice.5 My Heart always overflows when I think of all my dear Friends in America, in the first of that Number I hold you and yours and such I hope you will ever consider your affectionate

A Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed by JQA: “Honble. Cotton Tufts Esqr. Boston Massachusetts”; endorsed: “Mrs. Adams Lettr. March 5th”; in another hand?: “recd. by Dr. Clarke May. 17. 1785.” Some damage to the text where the seals were torn away, and along one edge.


Not found. JA's letter to Tufts of 5 March, above, acknowledges receipt of the letter.


See AA to Mary Cranch, 9 Dec. 1784, note 4, above.


Congress' decision, in July 1781, to revoke JA's sole power to negotiate a commercial treaty with England (see AA to Tufts, 3 Jan., and note 8, above; JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:104, and note 1).


Congress elected John Jay secretary of foreign affairs in May 1784, just as he was preparing to return to America ( JCC , 26:354–355). Jay assumed his office on 21 Dec. 1784, and formally notified JA, Franklin, and Jefferson of his acceptance on 14 January (Jefferson, Papers , 7:606). JA, who had expressed his concern to Jay on 15 Dec. over whether he would accept the office, warmly congratulated him on 9 March (PCC, No. 84, V, f. 363, 371).


Probably a daughter of Dr. Cotton Tufts' brother, Dr. Simon Tufts, and his first wife, Lucy Dudley Tufts, who died in 1768.