Adams Family Correspondence, volume 8

Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, 30 August 1787 Jefferson, Thomas Adams, Abigail
Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams
Paris Aug. 30. 1787. Dear Madam

I have omitted writing sooner to you in expectation that Colõ Smith would have taken this in his route: but receiving now information from him that he embarks from Lisbon, I avail myself of the opportunity by mr̃ Payne of thanking you for the disbursements you were so kind as to make for my daughter in London, and of stating to you our accounts as follows.

£ s d
Disbursements of mrs Adams as summed up in her state of them1 10–15–8
Error in addition to her prejudice   1–0–6
Cash paid by Petit to mrs Adams, viz. 6. Louis d'ors @ 19/6 5–17– 
paid by do. for black lace 75₶. which at the same exchange is 3–1– 
do. for 2. doz. pr̃ gloves 37₶–12s. . . . 1–10–6
balance due to mrs Adams . . . .   1–7–8

which balance I will beg the favor of Colo. Smith to pay you and to debit me with.

I am afraid, by the American papers, that the disturbances in Massachusets are not yet at an end. mr̃ Rucker who is arrived here, gives me a terrible account of the luxury of our ladies in the article of dress. he sais that they begin to be sensible of the excess of it themselves, and to think a reformation necessary. that proposed is the adoption of a national dress. I fear however they have not resolution enough for this. I rejoice in the character of the lady who accompanies the Count de Moustier to America, and who is calculated to reform these excesses as far as her example can have weight. simple beyond example in her dress, tho neat, hating parade & etiquette, affable, engaging, placid, & withal beautiful, I cannot help hoping a good effect from her example. she is the Marquise de Brehan, sister in law to the Count de Moustier, who goes partly on account of a feeble health, but principally for the education of her son (of 17. years of age) which she hopes to find more masculine 151there & less exposed to seduction.2 the Count de Moustier is of a character well assorted to this. nothing niggardly, yet orderly in his affairs, genteel but plain, loving society upon an easy not a splendid tone, unreserved, honest, & speaking our language like a native. he goes with excellent notions & dispositions, and is as likely to give satisfaction as any man that could have been chosen in France. he is much a whig in the politics of his own country. I understand there is a possibility that Congress will remove to Philadelphia.— my daughter talks of you often & much, still fancies she is to pay you the visit she promised. in the mean time she is very contented in the Convent with her sister.3 both join me in compliments to mrs̃ Smith and in assurances to yourself of the attachment & respect which I have the honour to proffer for them as well as for, dear Madam, your most obedient & most humble servant

Th: Jefferson

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs. Adams / London”; internal address: “Mrs. Adams.”; endorsed by AA2: “Mr Jefferson August 30th 1787.”


See AA to Thomas Jefferson, 10 July, above.


Elénore François Elie, Comte de Moustier, France's minister to the United States, arrived in New York in Jan. 1788. Their official relationship notwithstanding, the Marquise de Bréhan, an artist, was widely believed to be the Comte de Moustier's mistress. Her son Armand Louis Fidèle de Bréhan (1770–1828) later served in the Royal Lorraine cavalry and became the Marquis de Bréhan (Jefferson, Papers , 12:66, 219; 14:291, 340–341; Doc. Hist. Ratif. Const. , 9:877–878; Washington, Diaries , 5:417). See also AA2 to AA, 18 May, below.


Martha and Mary Jefferson were educated at the convent school of the Abbey of Pentemont in Paris. Both girls apparently enjoyed their school, and Martha even gave some consideration to becoming a nun, a vocation her father opposed (Jefferson, Papers , 14:xl–xli, 356–357).

Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 10 September 1787 Adams, Abigail Jefferson, Thomas
Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson
London Sepbr 10th [1787] Dear sir

your obliging favours of july and August came safe to Hand. the first was brought during my absence on an excursion into the Country. I was very happy to find by it, that you had received your daughter safe, and that the dear Girl was contented. I never felt so attached to a child in my Life on so short an acquaintance, tis rare to find one possessd of so strong & lively a sensibility. I hope she will not lose her fine spirits within the walls of a convent, to which I own I have many, perhaps false prejudices.

Mr Appleton delivererd my Lace & gloves Safe. be so good as to let Petit know that I am perfectly satisfied with them. Col smith has paid me the balan[ce whic]h you say was due to me, and I take your 152word for it, but [I do] not know how. the Bill which was accepted, by mr Ada[ms i]n the absence of col Smith, I knew would become due, in our absence, and before we could receive your orders. the money was left with Brisler our Servant, who paid it when it was presented. on our return we found the Bill which you had drawn on mr Tessier, but upon presenting it he refused to pay it, as he had not received any letter of advise tho it was then more than a month from its date, but he wrote immediatly to mr Grand, and by return of the next post, paid it.1

with regard to your Harpsicord, Col Smith who is now returnd, will take measures to have it Sent to you. I went once to mr Kirkmans to inquire if it was ready. his replie was, that it should be ready in a few days, but [. . . .]2 no orders further than to report when it was [. . . .]3 to write you, but he seemd to think that he had done all [that was] required of him.4 The Canister addrest to mr Drayton deliverd to mr Hayward with Special directions, and he assured me he would not fail to deliver it.

The ferment and commotions in Massachusetts has brought upon the Surface abundance of Rubbish; but Still there is Some sterling metal in the political crusible. the vote which was carried against an emission of paper money by a large majority in the House, shews that they have a sense of justice: which I hope will prevail in every department of the State. I send a few of our News papers, some of which contain Sensible speculations.5

To what do all the political motions tend w[hic]h are agitating France Holland and Germany? will Liberty finally gain the assendency, or arbritary power Strike her dead.

Is the report true that is circulated here, that mr Littlepage has a commission from the King of Poland to his most Christian Majesty?!6

we have not any thing from mr Jay later than 4th of july. there was not any congress then, or expected to be any; untill the convention rises at Philadelphia7

Col Smith I presume will write you all the politiks of the Courts he has visited—and I will not detain you longer than to assure you that I am at all times / your Friend and Humble Servant


RC (DLC:Jefferson Papers); endorsed: “Adams mrs̃.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed and due to a torn manuscript.


Louis Tessier had served as the Adamses' London banker since 1780. Ferdinand Grand had performed the same function in Paris since 1778 (JA, Papers , 9:140, 245, 393, 398, note 3; JA, D&A , 2:303; Jefferson, Papers , 12:194).

153 2.

Approximately three words missing.


Approximately three words missing.


The firm of Jacob Kirckman (1710–1792) and his nephew Abraham Kirckman (1737–1794) was one of London's leading harpsichord makers in the late eighteenth century. Jacob came to London from Alsace in the 1720s and began producing instruments in 1744. The firm shifted from harpsichord to piano construction after its founder's death and operated until the end of the nineteenth century. Thomas Jefferson purchased a Kirckman harpsichord in 1786 (Raymond Russell, The Harpsichord and Clavichord: An Introductory Study, N.Y., 1973, p. 79, 82, 90–91).


The Massachusetts Gazette, 26 June 1787, reported that on 23 June, the House of Representatives had rejected a motion to issue paper money by a majority of 56.


Lewis Littlepage (1762–1802), a native of Virginia, was appointed chamberlain by King Stanislaus II of Poland on 2 March 1786. He negotiated treaties for Poland with Russia and Spain and served as a secret commissioner to France and other European courts ( DAB ).


John Jay reported to JA on 4 July 1787 that the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention had brought the activities of Congress to a standstill; consequently, he had found no opportunity to present formally JA's resignation. If the secret proceedings of the convention were to fail, Jay wrote, “the Duration of the Union will become problematical. For my own Part I am convinced that a national Government as strong as may be compatible with Liberty is necessary to give us national Security and Respectability” (Adams Papers).