Adams Family Correspondence, volume 8

Cotton Tufts to Abigail Adams, 21 May 1787 Tufts, Cotton Adams, Abigail
Cotton Tufts to Abigail Adams
Weymouth May. the 21. 1787. Dear Con.

I recd. your several Letters of Jany. 24. Feby. 8t & March the 10th. by Cushing, Barnard & Scott who all arrived in the latter End of April.1 Before the Receipt of Mr. Adams Letter I had purchased the Half of the House & Land occupied by Belcher at £70— although it appeared to me to be dear— yet as it stood connected with your Land and the other half of yr. Building would go to Ruin unless something was speedily done to prevent it by Repairs to the other and further if you should hereafter be disposed to divide the Farm and lease it out to Two Tenants, as well the having a Place under your Command so near you, which if People disagreable to you should live therein, would be very troublesome, were preponderateg. motives to purchase it even at a high Price—2 Belcher remains in one half for which he gives with a small Garden Spot 11 Dollrs./Year Turner in the other half of the House with the like Pervilege gives 11 Dolrs. also—3 5 acres remain to be imporoved in Common with the Farm so that after the Expence of some Repairs which I am now making, & are indispensably necessary, it will yield a Profit little short of £6 per Ct if not exceed it— Mr. Willm. Vesey the other Day offered me his House & Land adjoyning yr. Farm—said that Mr. Adams engaged him to give him the Refusal of it, that as he was determined to sell he accordingly had applied to me on yr Behalf— he said he could have had formerly £300— but his present Price I could not obtain, but seemed to be desirous that I should write to you on the Subject and I assured him I would— You will therefore return me an Answer— As you have as much Land as can be managed with Advantage unless of a better Quality—I was doubtful whether you would wish to purchase it—more especially if you should have in Contemplation Borlands House & Farm— I believe it is now at your Service if you incline to purchase, as the late occupants Time & Attention is so fully taken up at New York in writing Comedies for which he is become famous, that whether Creditors or Collectors attach his Windmill, make distreint on the Stock of the Farm or the materials provided for Repairs of the Fences & Buildings or who purchases the Farm out of his Hands, cannot be an object of equal Importance as that of acquiring the Fame of a Writer of Comedies and the receiving the Claps of Applause & Acclamations of a crowded Stage—


The Buildings on this Place are much out of Repair— it will not probably fetch so much by several Hundreds, partly for that Reason and partly on Acctt. of the Scarcity of Specie as it would have done several years past—

I have purchased between 3 & 4000 Dollr. of Appletons Loan Office Notes and shall as Opportunity presents, proceed further—these stand in about 2s/5d per £ Consolidated Notes of this State are sold @ 4s/ per £ the Interest upon their nominal Sum has generally realized about 10s/ in the Pound that is to say a Note of £100— which you buy for £20— produces an Interest of £6— this paid in orders, those sold will at present average 10s/ per £ wch. makes £3— for the £6—4

I am not surprized at yr. Loss of 50 or 60 Guineas by a certain Cape Gentleman, whose Character ever appeared to me problematical you may recollect, in some former Letter— my Queries respecting him I wish you may not suffer similar Losses by your Advancements for particular Persons and for public Uses—That for public Papers which you refer to will not probably be paid by the Lt. G——r till you return— I shall however drive the Matter— Believe me I cannot write on these matters without feeling an Indignation at my Countrymen— But to proceed— Mr. Adams order is sent forward to The Honl Mr. Mc. Kean and will I trust be duly honoured— this I committed to Stephen Gorham Esq. who is gone to Philadelphia; to him also I committed an Acctt. against Willm. Barrells Estate together with Stephen Collins Admr. on Barrells Estate Acctt. against Mr Adams which was transmitted by Collins to Un. Smith—who will adjust the same and pay a small Ballance due to Barrells Estate—5 The Goods you sent by Cushing—were prohibited Articles I.E. the Porter & Cheese, the former might be drank here, as we do not make Beer sufficient, but the latter we must consider as not eatable here without some little Degree of remorse— we had much trouble to prevent these being sent back to England— However we finally got them landed, paying former Duties— The Cheese will make but an awkward appearance at Commencement— probably your Friends will do your Farm the Honour of gracing the Board—with some of its last years Production, which I hope will vie with any made in Europe— Since the last Impost Act, All Articles brought in the Captains Chests or otherwise must be entered and they are inspected—6 if you have any Articles to send, other than some small Book, Pamphlet or Packet—they had better be put up in a Box & consigned as it makes great Difficulty in entring at the Impost office— The 58Officers permitted the Volumes sent by Mr Adams to be received Duty free— these have a very considerable Run—& are spoke off with great Praise & will I hope be a Word in Season to our Countrymen—in them they may read their own Fate— I wish you to send yr Bror. Shaw one of those Publications— as I percieve it was yr. Intention, altho omitted in Mr. Adams List, of Distribution—and I have so disposed of the whole of them—as not to leave One for him— in my Letter to Mr. Adams I have given him an Acctt. of my Procceedings with respect to them— the 80— Vols. disposed of will neat 10s/ Lawfmoney per Vol—

Our public affairs remain yet critical, although the Rebels in Arms, have in great Numbers been taken, their Forces broke to Pieces and their Leaders driven out of the State, yet they have found an Asylum in the out Skirts of New York, Vermont & Connecticut— Shays, Days & other their principal officers fled to Canada, they are said to have returned— 700 or 800 are mustering from their lurking Places & will probably make some onset— their Object We are informed is to rescue those who are condemned— Great Numbers have been tried 12 or 15 in Worcester Hampshire & Berkshire have been convicted of capital Crimes 4 or 5 only are under Sentence of Death, the Rest are pardoned. We have had for some Time past 1000 Men in Service stationed in those Counties, their Enlistments will expire in Six Weeks or two Months7 Much depends on the next General Court I might have said—every Thing— The People have in great Number of Towns given unequivocal Proof of their Disapprobation of the late Measures of Government— They have elected More late County Conventioners—fomentors of the late Rebellion—others Advocates for Tender Acts & Paper Money & for paying off public Securities at the going Price (, which is a very popular Matter) others declaimers against Lawyers, against Government and every thing that is good & great— There are however a Number of very respectable Characters chosen from diverse Towns— If Time permits I will write further a few Days hence [In] the mean Time Am with Affection Yrs.

C Tufts

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Madam Abigail Adams / Grovesnor Square / London—”; internal address: “Mrs. Abig. Ad[ams]”; endorsed: “Dr Tufts 21 May / 1787.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.


For AA's letter to Cotton Tufts of 24 Jan., see vol. 7:454–455. The 10 March letter is above, but the 8 Feb. letter has not been found.


JA, in a 15 Jan. letter, instructed Tufts not to pay more than fifty pounds sterling for the Belcher property (Adams Papers).


John Turner served JA as a servant in 1777 and later advertised as a stocking weaver. Turner had resided in the Belcher 59house since 1785 (vol. 2:304, 341, 6:87). See also vol. 7:144, note 1.


From 1777 to 1787, AA and JA purchased steeply discounted state bonds in several lots with a total face value of $8,000. JA opposed bond speculation on principle because he believed that it deflected capital from agriculture, manufacturing, and trade, but he acquiesced to AA's desire to enter the market. The investment paid off handsomely, yielding a profit of more than 400 percent when Congress funded state and federal debts in 1790 (Woody Holton, “Did Democracy Cause the Recession That Led to the Constitution?” JAH , 92:457–460 [Sept. 2005]).


William Barrell was a New England merchant who operated a store in Philadelphia from 1774 until his death in 1776. JA's debt probably dated to 1774 and 1775 when he charged goods in Barrell's store during his service in the Continental Congress. The administration of the Barrell estate by Stephen Collins, a Quaker merchant of Philadelphia, was much complicated by the war and took more than a decade to complete (JA, D&A , 2:121, 170, 171; Winthrop Sargent, “Letters of John Andrews, Esq., of Boston,” MHS, MHS, Procs. , 8:318–319 [1864–1865]; vol. 1:238).


“An Act to Raise a Public Revenue by Impost” required that captains and commanders report the contents of their vessels immediately upon arriving at their ports of destination. The act, which went into effect on 1 Jan. 1787, also provided for the search of vessels thought to contain contraband or smuggled goods (Mass., Acts and Laws , 1786–1787, p. 117–130).


The previous sentence was written in the margin and marked for insertion here.

Richard Cranch to John Adams, 24 May 1787 Cranch, Richard Adams, John
Richard Cranch to John Adams
Braintree May 24th. 1787 My dear Bror.

I herewith send you the News-Papers by which you will see the state of our publick proceedings.1 Our most excellent Governor Mr. Bowdoin is to be left out this Year—Mr Hancock will doubtless succeed him. Strenuous efforts have been made at the present Election to get a Genl. Court that will suit the minds of the Insurgents and their Friends—Many good Men, however, will be chosen into both Branches, who will, I hope, stem the Current in some degree and support in some measure the Dignity of Government. Our excellent Friend Doctr. Tufts is one of them. I am left out—the ostensible reason is my belonging to the Court of Com: Pleas, which Court the Populace want to have abolished, and many People now pretend that it is inconsistant with the spirit of the Constitution that any Justice of that Court should have a Seat in the Legislative Body or Council, and they are generally left out this year. The following Gentlemen who are Justices of that Court and were of the Senate and Council last year are not chosen this year. Vizt: Spooner & Durfee from Bristol County; Gill, Ward & Baker from Worcester; Prescot and Fuller from Middlesex; Holton and S: Philips junr. (the late President of Senate) from Essex; Freeman from Barnstable; Wells from York; Cranch &c.2

Your most excellent Book (for one of which I thank you) is eagarly read by Gentlemen of all the learned Professions here. It 60came to America at a very critical Moment just before the Meeting of the grand Convention at Philadelphia for revising and amending the Confederation, when the Subject matter of your Book will naturally be much talked of, and attended to by many of the greatest States-men from all parts of the United States. I have my self conversed with many Gentlemen here of the first Rank for Learning and Abilities, who, after reading your Book with great attention, gave it as their Opinion that you have supported your System of the Ballance in a most masterly manner. I find that the Litterati themselves are amazed at the vastness of your Reading on the Subject of Legislation and Government, from which you have been enabled so fully to bring your Theory to the Test of historical Facts, and to shew that the Continuance and Steadiness of every free Government, of any large extent, has been and must be in a just Proportion to the Perfection or Imperfection of that Ballance between the Powers of Government which you have so clearly and fully pointed out.

The Young Gentlemen of the Class who are to take their Degree next Commencement have petitioned for a private Commencement on account of the present Difficulty of raising money enough to defray the necessary charges of their Education, but their Petition was rejected so far as respected a private Commencement. The Corporation and Overseers Ordered, however, that the greatest œconomy should be observed, so as to save all needless Expences on that Occasion. It was Ordered that no [families] should give any Entertainment out of Colledge un[less the] Parents lived in Cambridge—that a cold Collation in a frugal Stile at their Chambers should be all that should be provided on that Occasion—That no new Suits of Clothes should be procured for that Day, but that the Schollars should all appear in their Black Gowns—That three Dollars of the Sum formerly paid towards the publick Dinner by each Schollar who took his Degree, should be remitted this Year &c. I suppose the Class will be satisfied with those Regulations. I hear that your very worthy and amiable Son is to deliver an English Oration on that Day; And my Son is to bear a part in a publick Conference on the necessity of having three independant Powers in Government, each having a negative on the others.— Please to present my best Regards to your most amiable Friend, and to Col: Smith and his Lady. I am with Sentiments of the highest Esteem your obliged and affectionate Brother—

Richard Cranch 61

We are all well in the several connected Families, and earnestly wish to see you safely returned to Braintree again, of which your late Letters give us the pleasing Prospect.

Mrs. Cranch wrote to Sister Adams by Capt. Barnard who sailed on Monday [last].3

P:S. Since writing the [above] I find Mrs. Cranch's Letter, (which was given to the Pilot by Uncle Smith after the Ship was gone down) came back again rumpled and dirty as you will see, and I have now enclosed it in the Pacquet.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To His Excellency / John Adams Esqr. / Grosvenor Square / Westminster.”; endorsed: “Mr Cranch. 24 / may. 1787—” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.


The results of the statewide election were not official until 30 May and not published in complete form until they appeared in the Massachusetts Gazette, 1 June. The Boston American Herald, 9 and 16 April, and Worcester Magazine, 24 May, however, reported scattered results that showed John Hancock far ahead of James Bowdoin in the race for governor.


Walter Spooner (1720–1803) of Dartmouth, Thomas Durfee (1721–1796) of Freetown, Moses Gill (1734–1800) of Princeton, Artemas Ward (1727–1800) of Shrewsbury, Samuel Baker (1722–1795) of Bolton, James Prescott (1721–1800) of Groton, Abraham Fuller (1720–1794) of Newton, Samuel Holton (1738–1816) of Danvers, Samuel Phillips Jr. (1752–1802) of Andover, Solomon Freeman (1733–1808) of Harwich, Nathaniel Wells (1740–1816) of Wells (now Maine), and Cranch served their respective counties as senators in the 1786–1787 session but were not put forward in the 30 May elections (Massachusetts Spy, 1 June 1786; Charlestown, Mass., American Recorder, 2 June; Massachusetts Gazette, 1 June 1787; John A. Schutz, Legislators of the Massachusetts General Court, 1691–1780: A Biographical Dictionary, Boston, 1997).


Mary Smith Cranch to AA, April 22, above, which Cranch did not complete until 20 May, but see also Cranch to AA, 27 May, below.