Adams Family Correspondence, volume 8

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 15 December 1788 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
Jamaica december 15th 1788 My dearest Friend

It was not untill yesterday that I received your Letter & mrs Cranchs. mr mccomick came up & brought them both to my no small satisfaction, and this was the first that I had heard from Home since I left it, except by the News papers which I have engaged George Storer to forward to me. I have written to you every week since I left you, and Subjected you to more postage than my Letters are worth, which I did not know untill Saturday when mr Jay offerd to Frank my Letters & requested me to have mine sent to him. Members of congress it seems have not that privilege but when they are upon duty. mr Jay came out on Saturday to visit me. he had been waiting some Time for mrs Jay, but the children were sick with the measles and prevented her. Col smith was gone to Town, so we had all the Talk to ourselves, and very social we were, just as if we had been acquainted Seven years. He expresst a great desire to see you, and thought you might have come on without subjecting yourself to any observations, tho he knew your Reasons were those of Delicacy. I replied to him that your wish to see him was mutual that a visit from him to you would have made you very happy, but that you was become quite a Farmer and had such a fondness for old Professions that you talk'd of returning to the Bar again. he replied with some warmth, that if your Countrymen permitted it, they 319 would deserve to be brought to the Bar—that you must not think of retireing from publick Life. you had received your portion of the bitter things in politicks it was time you should have some of the sweets. I askt him where he thought the sweets in the new Government were to grow. he smild and said that he hoped for good things under it. I askd him whether the oppositition in virginia was not likely to become troublesome, particularly when joind by this state. he said it was his opinion that they might be quieted, by the New Governments assureing them that a convention should be called to consider of amendments at a certain period. Col Smith dinned at club on Saturday. col Hammilton shew him a Letter from madison in which he “Says, we consider your Reasons conclusive. the Gentleman you have named will certainly have all our votes & interest for vice President,” but there is interest making amongst the antifeds for Clinton both in Newyork and virginia, and if the Electers should be of that class tis Said General washington will not have the vote of his own State for Pressident.1 Col Wadsworth says he is sure of connecticut with respect to a vice president— I am rather at a loss to know how to act. I find there is much inquiry made for me in Newyork. one Lady is sending to know when I am comeing to Town & an other where I shall keep and Tickets for the assembly have been sent up to me. mr Jay requested me to make his House my Home, but I have no maid with me and should experience many difficulties in concequence of it if I went where I should be exposed to so much company and I was previously engaged to mrs Atkinson, but my Trunk with all my Cloaths is not yet arrived, & I am Sadly of, even here having only one gown with me. and I must be obliged to return home without even Seeing Newyork should Barnard be driven off to the west Indies, if a good snow comes I shall not wait. the Ladies must stay their curiosity till my Leve day, and if that never comes, they will have no further curiosity about seeing A A—who it seems was of so much concequence or somebody connected with her, that at every Inn upon the Road it was made known that I was comeing. I find the peice called a Tribute justly paid &c is in the Nyork & conneticut papers—2 I see several political maneuvers in our Boston papers particularly the Letter which places you a certain Gentleman in the chair dividing the state into two parties one for the Late & the other for the present Governour, & supposing they mean both to unite in mr A.3 an other peice dated at Braintree, which I am persuaded was never written there I dare say I shall tell you News out of your own papers4


Mrs Smith desires me to present her duty to you. she is very weak yet, but otherways well. mr Jay upon seeing william cry'd out well here is Grandpappa over again. he is a fine red cheekd chubby Boy, as good temperd as I ever saw a child. Mrs Cranch says you are very solitary and that she cannot get you to see her. they tell me here that the Great Folks in Newyork are never solitary, if the wife is absent why they supply her place, now rather than my Husband should do so, I would stick to him, cleave I believe is the proper word all the days of my Life. I hope the Lads are all well and that Esther takes good care of them & of their things. Mrs Smith says I am in better spirits since I got my Letters. I believe it is true I know I was near home sick before. I think of a thousand things which I ought to be doing, and here I am near 300 miles distant. my duty to your good mother, I hope she has recoverd from her Fall & is able to visit you sometimes. pray write me all about the Family and cover your Letters to mr Jay— adieu most affectionately yours—

A Adams

RC (Adams Papers); docketed by JQA: “A. A. / December 15t 1788.”


Probably James Madison to Alexander Hamilton, 20 Nov., not found, for which see Hamilton's letter to Madison of 23 Nov. (Hamilton, Papers , 5:234–237).


This article first appeared under a London dateline in the New York Packet, 21 Nov., and was subsequently reprinted in the Connecticut Journal, 10 December. When the Massachusetts Centinel printed it on 3 Dec., it used the headline “A Tribute —Justly Paid—to Mr. Adams.” It celebrated JA's public career to date, noting in particular his work negotiating treaties with the European powers and securing a loan from the Netherlands, as well as his publication of the Defence of the Const.


In the twentieth letter in a series, “Francois de la E——” commented on the politicking in Massachusetts, arguing that the state was divided into two parties, “Hancockonians” and “Bowdoinites.” He believed that the Bowdoinites planned “to exert the whole of their influence in favour of the Hon. John Adams, Esq; in order to place him in the chair of government the next year; and I am induced to believe they will effect it; for Mr. Adams is generally beloved by both parties, his great talents acknowledged by every one, and his persevering friendship to the American cause, has got him a name and character which will be lasting as the pages of time” (Boston Herald of Freedom, 8 Dec.).


Another piece in the same issue entitled “Unbiassed and Impartial” and signed at Braintree, 5 Dec., by “Suffolk” disparaged “the peculiar method lately taken with respect to Representatives for our Federal Government.” He critiqued the newspapers for writing as if the question had already been decided and was not up to the people of the state (same).

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 15–18 December 1788 Adams, Abigail Cranch, Mary Smith
Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch
Jamaica December 15 1788 my dear sister

I thank you for your kind Letter of Novbr 30th Decbr 2d you judg'd rightly I was almost melancholy to be a month from Home, and not to hear once from Home in all that Time, but the post is long in 321 comeing I am Eleven miles from York with a great Ferry between, and you are ten from Boston so that we do not always get our Letters ready for post day. I wrote you the day after I arrived here & trust you have long ago got the Letter. your Neice is very well, except weak, & very free with her mamma as I can instance to you, for having written a Letter to her pappa & seald it, she comes in & says o, mamma what is the Letter seald, why I must see it, and very cordially opens it to read. the little Boy grows finely, but I dont feel so fond of him yet as I do of william. whether it is because he was Born in our own House, or the first or the best temperd child I cannot determine.

Dec'br 18th.

Mrs Smith has had several of her Neighbours to visit her since I have been here they appear to be geenteel people, but all the acquaintance she has upon the Island are of the ceremonious kind. In their own Family are four young Ladies all of them agreeable sensible well behaved woman Peggy the Eldest is tall, agreeable rather than handsome, and the most particularly attentive to her manners without discovering any affectation of any Lady I have met with.1 Belinda the second daughter has less of person to boast of than her Elder Sister, but she has that Interesting countanance & openness of manners that Interests you at first sight, nor are you dissapointed upon a further acquaintance. her temper and disposition appear perfectly amiable accommodating and kind. I have more acquaintance with her than with either of the others. I found here when I came taking charge of mrs Smiths Family during her confinement. this she performd with much ease and tender sisterly affection.2 at Home their mamma has used them to the care of her Family by Turns each takes it a week at a Time. Charity is the third daughter, and if it was not for the loss of one Eye which she was deprived of at two years old I think she would be the Bel of the Family. she has been absent till last sunday ever since I came. I have seen her but once. she is more social has, Read more and appears to have the greatest turn for literature of either, she has a taste for drawing for musick &c the fine arts seem to be the objects of her attention, and as she has a most inquisitive mind she would shine with brightness if she had Books to direct her and masters to instruct her. she dresses with neatness but great simplicity rather in the Quaker stile, avoids all publick company assemblies &c but is strongly attachd to her Friends. I take from mrs Smith part of her History for as I 322observd before I have seen her but once3 Sally is the fourth daughter about 17. tall as mrs Guile a fine figure & a pretty Face unaffected and artless in her manners, modest & composed. she wants only a little more animation to render her truly Interesting she has dignity, & that you know is inconsistant with a gay, playfull, humour,4 this Belinda has. They are four fine women and well educated for wives as well as daughters. there are two young ones Betsy & Nancy one of ten and the other seven years old.5 Daughters so agreeable must have a worthy mother, and this is universally her character. Mrs Smith is a Large tall woman, not unlike mrs Gray She is about 50 years old and has been a very Handsome woman, tenderly attachd to all her children. she has I tell her been too indulgent to her sons of whom she has four, but of them an other Time.6 she is really a Charming woman as far as I have been able to form an acquaintance with her, and she has been here a good deal & I have visited her. we have had company several Times from Nyork and I have & many and repeated requests to go there, but my Trunk is, I know not where. I have only one morning gown & a Green Sattin which I very fortunatly had in my small Trunk or I should not have been able to have seen any body I have no shoes but the pr I wear no Bonnet, very little Linnen & only my calimanco skirt, and there are very few things of mrs smiths that I can wear, I am sadly of. we had yesterday a cold snow storm, hardly enough to cover the ground, but it has cleard up very cold, I think of my poor dear & pitty him. I long to get back to my Family, but must wait for snow as the roads are too bad to Travel without I regreet daily the distance, but mrs Smith comforts herself with thinking that I shall very soon be nearer to her, but I fear I shall not have much comfort if that should happen tis only on plain ground that one walks easily, up hill or down is painfull. I am affraid J Q will turn Hermit, if buisness does not soon call him into the world, but how much better is this, than having no given object no persuit— I had rather a son of mine should follow any mechanical trade whatever than be a Gentleman at large without any occupation

I am sorry to hear my good Mother has met with such an accident. it is one source of my anxiety to get home, that I have thought for some months that she would not Live through the winter. pray present my duty to her and tell her that her Grandchildren & great Grandchildren talk of comeing to see her. my Love to my two daughters, tell Betsy she must not steal a march upon me. if she 323 waits an other month mrs Smith will come & be Bride maid. Present me kindly to Brother cranch & go as often as you can & see my good Gentleman. tell Esther she must write to me & let me know how she makes out. my fingers are so cold I can Scarcly hold a pen. adieu my dear sister write as often as you can, mrs Smith desires me to present her duty & Love. she will write soon. Yours most tenderly

A Adams

RC (MWA:Abigail Adams Letters); docketed: “Letter from Mrs/ A: Adams, (Pha. ) / Jamaica, Decr 15th/ 1788.”


For Margaret Smith, WSS's eldest sister, see vol. 7:441. For further genealogical material on the Smith family, see Marcius D. Raymond, “Colonel William Stephens Smith,” NYGBR , 25:153–161 (Oct. 1894).


Belinda Smith (b. 1765) married Matthew M. Clarkson of New York (Sarah Johnson Lynch to ECA, 26 Aug. [1893?], Adams Papers, Genealogical Materials, folder 9).


Charity Smith married first Benjamin Shaw (1758–1807), then Capt. Abraham W. Long. She settled in Boston and ran a ladies' academy (same; JA, D&A , 3:237; NYGBR , 15:136 [July 1884]).


Sarah (Sally) Smith (1769–1828), designated as SSA in The Adams Papers , married CA on 29 Aug. 1795 in a double wedding with her elder sister, Margaret. SSA and CA had two daughters, Susanna Boylston Adams (1796–1884) and Abigail Louisa Smith Adams (1798–1836). After CA's death in 1800, SSA and her two children lived with AA and JA for a time in Quincy.


Elizabeth Smith (b. 1778) married John Smith Jr., a merchant from Baltimore. Ann (Nancy) Smith married Josiah Masters (Sarah Johnson Lynch to ECA, 26 Aug. [1893?] and 31 Aug. 1893, Adams Papers, Genealogical Materials, folder 9).


The Smith sons, besides WSS, included Col. John Smith; Justus Bosch Smith (1761–1816); and James Smith (b. 1773), who married Ann Ross (same).