Adams Family Correspondence, volume 6

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 15 April 1785 AA Cranch, Mary Smith Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 15 April 1785 Adams, Abigail Cranch, Mary Smith
Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch
No. 7. My Dear Sister Auteuil April 15 17851

There is a Young Gentleman going from Passy in the pacquet for New York. His Name is Chaumont, the Son of a Gentleman whose Name is well known in America. I have met him once or twice at Dr. Franklin: whose next Neighbour he is, and he has once dinned here: the Ministers have intrusted him with publick dispatches of importance to Congress. He appears a modest agreeable Young Gentleman. He proposes visiting all the States and has requested Letters of introduction from Mr. Adams, which he has given him, to some of 83our Boston Friends who will be kind enough to notice him.2 All foreigners who have visited America speak in the highest terms of the Hospitality of the people of Boston, and with reason, for I do not believe that it is exceeded, if equald: in any part of the World. Mr. Chaumont speaks english tolerably, so that he will have that advantage, over many others of his Nation. Nothing can be more dissagreeable than liveing in a Country, the language of which you cannot speak.

He has requested me to give him Letters but as I expect my son will sail in the next pacquet, I have not been very solicitious to write this way, as it is probable the Letters will be very old before they reach you.

I have not heard from my American Friends since December, but as the Spring opens I begin to have my usual impressions that there are some Letters on their way. If my Friends have any thing pressing at any time which they wish to communicate by covering to Mr. Jay who is Minister of foreign affairs; or to Mr. Gerry whilst he is at Congress it will come more speedily by the pacquets; I have writen by way of England when ever a private opportunity has offerd of conveying Letters from hence; most of the Americans who have past the winter in Paris, have left it, and are going, so that I fear we shall be very trist, especially when Master JQA leaves us. In proportion as a person becomes necessary to us we feel their loss: and in every way I shall feel his absence: I dare not trust myself with thinking upon the Subject. He is now at a time of Life when it is necessary for him to Regularly compleat his Education at some Seminary: that he may go into the Study of the Law which he proposes; we expect he will be at Home before his Brother enters Colledge: but if he should not, so that I should be able to write by him concerning Charles: I must request you to take care to provide what ever is necessary for him, and to have the Same care of him, that I would take for Yours, in the like circumstances. Whatever expences occur you will apply to Dr. Tufts, and consult with him in all things with respect to him. Mr. Adams and I both think that in order to prevent confusion all money Matters should pass through the hands of the Dr, and that he should make the necessary draughts upon Mr. Adams here, both for our sons in America and that which is going out, always remembring that there is to be no extrodanary expences on account of the publick Character which Mr. Adams sustains, because he is not half so able to bear them, as he would have been if he had been only a private citizen. In short I am weary of being obliged to eat and drink up all we have. 84This is very easily done, and have company no oftner than once a week neither: I dare say we should be able to live, and I hope educate our children in America. We shall do no more here, and must excercise a frugality to accomplish that; which is thought meaness here. A Minister who cannot keep a train of Servants, a publick table &c. is thought very little off. The Spanish Ambassodor Count d'Aranda has no less than Seventy 50 of whom are Livery and the British minister the Duke of Dorset who was invited to dine here to day, but was prevented by our inviting him upon one of the days in which he gives publick dinners: he has a train of 50 servants 25 of which are in Livery and lives in every other respect answerable to that Retinue, and So does every other foreign minister who resides here.3 It would be vastly more to my taste, and much more to my satisfaction to return to my own Country and live in that social Friendship and that Simplicity in which I formerly rejoiced. I take no pleasure in a life of ceremony and parade. I had rather dine in my little room at Braintree with your family and a set of chosen old Friends, than with the Marquisses Counts and countesses Abbes and Great folks who dine with us to day.4 Madam de la Fayette, I will however except. I should always take pleasure in her company. She is a good and amiable Lady, exceedingly fond of her Children and attentive to their education, passionatly attached to her Husband!!! A French Lady and fond of her Husband!!!

Remember me to all my Dear Friends in America. Tell Cousin Betsy, that I have procured of our gardner a parcel of Beautifull flower seeds for her, which I design sending her by her cousin, and that she must new Name them, calling them after our family. It is a fine season now a little too dry, but I have got some pots of flowers with which the gardner has presented me, now flourishing in my Chamber, and the peach blossoms are just shewing themselves. They complain here that it is very cold for the season. We are all well. Pray is Mrs. Otis a Mother yet? I want to hear; has Mr. Cranch forgot us that we see not his hand writing? Regards to Mr. Tyler. I hope he is very buisy and to great purpose.5 My paper calls upon me to close. Most affectionately and tenderly Yours

Abigail Adams

RC (MWA: Abigail Adams Corr.); addressed in JQA's hand: “Mrs. Mary Cranch. Braintree near Boston Massachusetts.”


The body of this letter may have been written, or at least drafted, on 14 April; see note 4.


Jacques Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont (later known in America, where he lived after 1800, as James Le Ray) was the son of the owner of the house in Passy in which Benjamin Franklin lived, rent-free, for nine years, 85and which JA shared with Franklin in 1778–1779. JA and JQA had known young Chaumont since 1778; AA met him on 17 March 1785, if not earlier, at Franklin's. Chaumont left Paris for Lorient and the New York packet on 14 April. JQA would travel with Chaumont from New York to Boston in August, and would correspond irregularly with him to 1821. See JQA, Diary , 1:236, and note 2, 249, 298–318 passim.

On 14 April, JA wrote letters of introduction for Chaumont to Samuel Adams (NN), Thomas Cushing, John Hancock, Samuel Allyne Otis (all LbC, Adams Papers), and William Tudor (MHi).


In February, JQA had commented on the servants, equippage, and other trappings of wealth and power displayed by the Conde d'Aranda, and had recorded the Duke of Dorset's expression of disgust at the ceremony of court life ( Diary , 1:224, 225–226). AA2 made similar observations on Aranda's and Dorset's households in April ( Jour. and Corr. , 1:71).


AA may be referring to the dinner which the Adamses gave on 14 April, for the Lafayettes, the Count and Countess Doradour, the abbés Chalût and Arnoux, Daniel Hailes, the secretary of the British embassy, and Count Sarsfield (JQA, Diary , 1:249).


Royall Tyler was in Braintree, maintaining his social ties with the Cranches, and by mail with the Shaws and the young Adamses in Haverhill. On 20 March, Elizabeth Shaw reported to Mary Cranch (DLC: Shaw Family Papers) that the previous week they had received a letter from Tyler, “accompanied by a genteel Present, of a Morocca Pocket-Book to Mr. Charles, and an elegant Set of Geographical Cards for Mr. Thomas; informing us at the same time that he had made several attempts to make us a Visit, but that all had proved ineffectual, and must therefore give it up for the Present. I hope however when the soft Season is further advanced, and the roads are become good, both Mr. Tyler, and my Cousins will be more fortunate. It would have given me pleasure to have seen them here.”

Cotton Tufts to Abigail Adams, 19 April 1785 Tufts, Cotton AA Cotton Tufts to Abigail Adams, 19 April 1785 Tufts, Cotton Adams, Abigail
Cotton Tufts to Abigail Adams
Dear Cousin Weymouth April 19. 1785

It is now a violent Snow Storm (PM) and I hope it will be the last for this Spring, for the Snow has been on the Earth through the Winter and from January to the first Instant the Sledding has continued; on the 26th. of March I rode to Abington, from Mr. Williams's Meeting House,1 in one of the Roads for near two Miles the Snow was level with the Walls and the Crust so hard as to bear my Horse, the Snow supposed to be 2 ½ Feet upon a Level at that Time. On the 10th. of this Month Your Sister Shaw writes, Ice continues in our River over which People pass and repass &c.2 The Weather however has not been so cold through the Winter as in some former Seasons.

Last Week Mr. Smith handed me a Letter from a Mrs. Fitch of Jamaica directed to You and informed me what he supposed it related to. I took the Liberty to open it, write a few Lines in it sealed it and as Col. Norton was just then going to Europe committed it to him. I found Mrs. Fitch as an Expression of Gratitude for the Kindness and Civilities shewn by Mr. Adams to Mr. Fitch and herself when in Europe had sent you some Sweet Meats and Cuhen.3 I advised Mr. Smith to distribute them among Your Friends, but afterwards finding that they consisted of several Parcels, packed up in great order and 86no Danger of spoiling, Your Sister Cranch thought it best to let them laiy untill We had Your Directions and She will accordingly write to You therefor.

I have wrote both to Mr. Adams and to You 3 or 4 Letters since You left America. Cap. Young arrived last Wednesday and brot sundry Letters for Haverhill and Braintree4 also One for me from Mr. Adams of Dec. 15. 1784 in which he makes no Mention of his or Your having received any from me. Should some Things be repeatedly mentioned Youll excuse it, as I am in doubt whether my Letters reach my Friends and for want of some sure Conveyance I think it prudent to withhold many Things which I wish to communicate.


I just received Yours of January 3d. which affords me much entertainment and Pleasure. Your Scituation methinks is Curious, to be obliged to appear in high Life in Europe (and indeed almost any where else) and submit to all its Follies is I suspect laying Nature upon the Wreck but as You justly observe when Necessity calls it is best to obey with Patience.

I received a Letter from your Brother Shaw the other Day. Your two Sons are in Health. They have besides their Studies attended a Singing and Dancing School through the Winter. I took Occasion upon Mr. Shaws consulting me with respect to their attending the dancing School, to express some sentiments relative to Master Charles's Attention being engaged to his Studies, the Expectation of his entring at our University next Commencement and my Wish that He might be so fitted as to enter with Honor to his Instructor and to himself. I received an agreable Answer Viz. “If Master Charles has his Health and pursues his Studies as Well as he has done I doubt not but he will enter College with Reputation to himself and his Instructor.” I am pleased with the Intention of Mr. Adams's sending Master John to our University, I am of Opinion, the sooner he sends him the greater will be the Advantage. If there is any particular Branch of Learning that he may be unacquainted with and necessary for his Admission to an advanced Station, he may be placed under some of the Professors or some eminent Instructor for a short Time previous thereto if thought best. I cannot but urge the Expediency of his residing a Year and an half or two Years at the University, he may be of great Service to his Brother Charles and he will have the Company of his Cousin Cranch, a sober amiable and studious Youth.—It is reported here that Miss Nabby is to return with Your 87Son.5 Would it not be best for her to defer it untill You return which I presume will not exceed another Year for I am pretty Certain You will by that Time be well tired of Europe. And by that Time I hope Mr. Adams will have compleated the necessary Treaties in Europe and that We shall once more have the Pleasure of seeing You all at Braintree.

I last Week went to Medford, leased the Farm at £40 Per Annum to Benj. Teal a Nephew of the Old Tenant. The Farm Buildings and Fences are all in bad Order. Repairs must soon be made. The House at Boston I have contracted with a Carpenter to take down the Roof (which is rotten) and raise it one Story higher. Belcher is going out of the House at Braintree. Turner the Stocking Weaver is coming in. I know not what to do with this House, the South End of it is going to Wreck and Ruin. Real Estates in the Country are Sunk greatly in Value, they afford but little Profit. This is a Subject if Time permits I shall enlarge upon in some future Letter.

Pheobe and Abdy is still in your House, she takes good Care of it. Notwithstanding her Attention, somethings will suffer. I call'd in this Week and took a general View. Some of the Woollen Articles, and especially some of Mr. Adams Cloaths, that will not answer for the Children, had they not better be disposed of? However Your Sister will write You more fully upon this. I have now and then a little Trouble to keep down the Spirit of the African and reduce it to a proper bearing, but upon the whole I generally succeed.

The Farm under the Care of Mr. Pratt is conducted as heretofore. I have made an Addition to it of 20 Acres bott of James Thayer and between 2 & 3 Acres of Salt Marsh bott of Davd. Bass of which I suppose You have received Information by this Time as I drew a Bill on the 5th. January on Mr. Adams for £50, in favour of Mr. Elworthy on Account of the Purchases. On Settling with Mr. Pratt he claimed a Remission of such Part of the Town Taxes as exceeded the ordinary Taxes of the Town, this he said You agreed to, and as I had hitherto found him honest, I allowed it, But wish You to write in Your next what lies in Your Mind with respect to it.

I have not had an Opportunity to negociate any thing relative to Allens Farm, but shall attend to it as Opportunity presents.


You kindly enquire after the State of our Parish. I wish I could give You a pleasing Account, but we are still unsettled. We have made several unsuccesful Attempts. Two have been called and have re-88fused, Viz. Mr. Shuttleworth, and a Mr. Packard.6 Their Refusal perhaps, may prove in the Issue advantageous. But Time must settle the Minds of contending Parties and I hope Time and Patience will bring us a good Man.

May 1. Sunday Evening 12°

I need not tell You my Letters are wrote in haste, they sufficiently shew it, besides my Eye sight is so weak that I suffer much by writing. I can only add that Mrs. Tufts presents her Love to You Mr. Adams and the Children, a Turn of the Cholic kept her Low through the fore part of the Winter but she is now in her former State, begins to think of getting into her Chaise and take an Airing. Lyde I am informed will sail to Morrow and hope to forward this seasonably in the Morning, and trust it will reach You in London. With Love and Affection to Mr. Adams, Yourself and Children I am Yr Affectionate Kinsman

C. Tufts

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed by AA2: “Dr Tufts April 19.”


Probably the South Congregational Church of Weymouth, of which Simeon Williams was minister from 1766 to 1818 ( Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 16:272–273).


On 20 March, Elizabeth Shaw wrote Mary Cranch: “The Ice has longer held in Our River the Merrimack than for many years past, it is said there is 3 feet of Snow now upon the Ground, caked into a sort of ice. I do not know but it will be June before it is all melted” (DLC: Shaw Family Papers).


Preserves and cayenne pepper; see Tufts to AA, 11 April, descriptive note, above.


The letters written in Dec. 1784, and probably several of AA's letters of early January, all above (see AA to Elizabeth Cranch, 3 Jan., above; Mary Cranch to AA, 25 April, below).


The source of this rumor is not known to the editors. In her letter of 30 April to Mary Cranch, below, Elizabeth Shaw assumed that neither AA nor AA2 would be returning to America in the near future.


Probably Samuel Shuttlesworth, Harvard 1777, and Asa Packard, Harvard 1783 ( Harvard Quinquennial Cat. , p. 197, 199).