Adams Family Correspondence, volume 8

Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts, 10 March 1787 Adams, Abigail Tufts, Cotton
Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts
Dear sir London March 10th 1787

your Letters by Captain Callihan did not come to hand untill the 7th ult. and I embrace the earliest opportunity of writing you.1 in yours you mention the account forwarded by you last fall, which was duly received, and I thought it had been acknowledged; I sometimes leave these matters in hopes mr Adams will notice them, but he is too much engaged in publick affairs, to attend at all, to his private buisness, by which means he is often a sufferer I believe History will scarcly find an instance of a person who have held the distinguishd offices that he has been employd in for ten years past, borrowed and transmitted such sums of money as he has, & received so little advantage from it, if he had received only one single pr cent, he would have been in possession of an handsome fortune,—but thus it is.— by captain Cushing I transmitted you the acct which I mentiond to you. it is hard to pay money here at a loss of a years interest, as well as the advance upon Bills for those who think no more of it. records & papers are not to be searched & procured here for any trifling sum; you will find by captain Barnard an accompt & Rect to the amount of 35 guineys advanced to mr Cutting on account of mr McKean chief Justice of the state of Deleware. this money is also advanced to search records at his request, & 7promise to pay the Bill upon sight, I hope you meet with no further trouble than the distance of negotiating it.2 there are fifty six guineys which I look upon wholy lost, which under various pretences & promises of immediate payment, upon the arrival of a mr Noyes, have been lent to col Norten, but really and in truth Swindled out of us. I was very loth he should have it, particularly the last but mr Adams believed him, till to his cost, he found himself deceived. he has made every American tributary to him, been once in Newgate, from whence he was relieved by their subscriptions, and is now shufling about living no one knows how. he has quite left our House mr A having dealt very freely with him, & represented the disgrace he was bringing upon his state & Country.3 has he any property in America? I fear not, and that we shall lose the whole.

mr Elworthys Bill will be answerd immediatly, but mr Adams wishes you in future to make an even sum when you draw either for one or two hundred guineys, as that is our usual method of taking from the Banker, and do not let us be in debt, rather keep a sum before hand in your Hands— I am sorry for the Luck of our House, but suppose it is oweing to the Times— the paper of America will be redeemed I have no doubt, but one must wait for interest, & run risks, but at all events it will fetch what is given for it. I hope the affairs of our Country will wear a more favourable aspect. many of the difficulties you experience must arise from want of publick confidence. could that be restored, your paper would rise in value. I wonder land should sell so dear when specie is so scarce. by the New York packet we learn the dispersion of the insurgents. I wish there may be an end of the troubles—but has our government exerted itself with that vigor and dignity which it ought to have done? why has it addrest when it ought to have commanded. why has it submitted to insults which it ought to have punished. Honestus is realy become a partizan for government. he first kindled & fomented the storm, & to his publications may be in a great measure attributed, the very resistance against the courts of justice which has now risen to a Rebellion—4

But I quit a subject so unpleasent to assure you of my best and warmest Regard and / the affection with which / I am dear sir your / Neice

A Adams

RC (NjMoHP); addressed by WSS: “The / Honourable / Cotton Tufts Esquire / Boston”; endorsed: “Mrs: Adams Lett of / March 10. 1787— rcd April 27—” and “recd. the 27 April.”

8 1.

Cotton Tufts to AA, 14 Oct. 1786 and 2 Jan. 1787, vol. 7:370–372, 423–426.


Thomas McKean (1734–1817) held multiple political positions and appointments throughout his life, some simultaneously in two states, notably in Delaware as a member of the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1783 and Pennsylvania as chief justice from 1777 to 1799. He never, however, served as chief justice of Delaware. Dr. John Brown Cutting, who had recently arrived in London to study law at the Inner Temple, was advanced money by JA for probate searches and traveling expenses necessary to recover the estate of William Atlee, father of William Augustus Atlee, senior justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and McKean's friend ( DAB ; vol. 7:122, note 8; Thomas McKean to JA, 1 July 1786, John Brown Cutting to JA, 13 Dec., and Thomas McKean to JA, 30 April 1787, all Adams Papers).


Col. Beriah Norton of Martha's Vineyard was in London on behalf of the Vineyard's residents attempting to reclaim their property losses from the war. After several unsuccessful years, the residents accused Norton of lavish spending and dereliction of duty. He wrote to JA in Nov. 1786 asking for a meeting to defend himself against claims of misconduct. Dr. Nathaniel Noyes, an apothecary from Boston, had previously accompanied Norton to visit the Adamses in July 1785, although their relationship is unclear. Noyes, too, was trying to recover property losses, but he appeared to be working on his own behalf (Charles Edward Banks, The History of Martha's Vineyard, 3 vols., Boston, 1911–1925; Samuel Adams to JA, 17 April 1784, Adams Papers; JA to Samuel Adams, 25 June, NN:George Bancroft Coll.; Beriah Norton to JA, 27 Nov. [1786?], Adams Papers; vol. 6:207, 7:9; Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 15:439–442).


AA blamed Honestus' (Benjamin Austin Jr.) 1786 publication Observations on the Pernicious Practice of the Law, taken from a series of articles in the Boston Independent Chronicle, for Shays' Rebellion. He was elected to the state senate from Suffolk County in 1787 and again from 1789 to 1794 ( DAB ; vol. 7:168, 170).

Abigail Adams to Isaac Smith Sr., 12 March 1787 Adams, Abigail Smith, Isaac Sr.
Abigail Adams to Isaac Smith Sr.
My dear sir London March 12th 1787

I have sent by Captain Scott the Books you wrote for,1 and if there is any thing else in which I can serve either you or my cousins, I shall be happy to do it—

it is with much pleasure I learn that my cousin W.S. is like to be so pleasingly connected, and with a family to whom both you, & my Late parent, were much attached by a long accquaintance, and established Friendship.2 Educated under virtuous parents, & possessing an amiable dispositions are pleasing presages, of a happy union: they have my best wishes for their prosperity. I thank you sir for extending to my Children, the same indulgence, you and my late dear Aunt confered upon me. your House was always the habitation of Hospitality; and ever seemed to me a Home. tho I doubt not of your continued kindness; it can never be to me what it once was; the loss we have both sustained, cannot be repaired.

By way of Newyork we have received accounts of General Lincolns success in dispercing the insurgents. I fear my Countrymen do not know, properly to estimate the blessings they enjoy. if they are harder-prest by publick burdens than formerly,3 they should consider it as the price of their freedom. if Britain had succeeded 9against us, the same scenes would probably, have taken place, as have been acted in India, for we have no reason to doubt but that England could have produced more than one Hastings—4

Mr Adams is seriously determined to return Home, & has informd Congress of his design.5 since England has wholy forgotten that Such a place as America ever existed, it is a pitty to take any pains to refresh their memory; every Member in the House of commons Majority and minority studiously avoid the subject, & when it was forced upon them by the publication of monssieur de callone Letter; they noticed it only, as a proof of the subtlety and duplicity as they termd it, of the Court of France, & gave America the go by 6

By all accounts from America your winter has been terrible.7 I hope you have had snow enough to suffice for several. I know not how I shall bear the Heats and colds, after an abscence of three years. the season has been uncommonly mild here, and the Trees have already budded & are bursting into Blosom. the verdure is equal to june with us.8 this has commonly been called a foggy Island. it is true that the Smoke of the city creates a fog, but go only one mile into the Country, and you will have as fine weather, and clear a sky as we can boast in America nor do I think the climate more Subject to fogs, if the manners of the people, were as pure as their Air, no one would have reason to complain.

please to present my regards to mr & mrs otis to cousin Betsy & the mr Smiths. mr Vassel and family drank tea & spent the Evening, with us last week. they inquired very kindly after you, so did mr John Boylstone who was my Gallant during my stay at Bath. he bears his age surprizingly well. mr storers family I hope are well; I am indebted to Charles, will write him soon

I am dear sir with Sentiments of Esteem and affection—your Neice

A Adams

RC (MHi:Smith-Carter Family Papers); addressed by WSS: “To— / Isaac Smith Esquire / Boston—”; notation by WSS: “favd. by / Capt. Scott.” Dft (Adams Papers), filmed at [1787].


Not found.


For the marriage of William Smith and Hannah Carter, see vol. 7:422–423, and note 4.


In the Dft, AA completed the paragraph with the following: “Still they have bread to eat & rayment to cloath them, provided they will labour—let only behold the poor of Europe, & they would have reason to be Silent.”


For Warren Hastings, former governor-general of British India, and his trial for corruption, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 6, above.


JA tendered his resignation to Congress on 24 Jan. 1787; see vol. 7:471, 474.


Charles Alexandre de Calonne, comptroller general of the finances of France, sent a letter on 22 Oct. 1786 to Thomas Jefferson detailing a plan for improved commercial relations between the United States and 10France. The letter was published in the New York Independent Journal, 30 Dec., and read before the British House of Commons in late Feb. 1787, after which it was reprinted in the London newspapers ( Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789 , 1:827–829; London Daily Universal Register, 23 Feb.).


The winter of 1786–1787 in the Northeast was notable for three early and very heavy snowstorms in December. Boston, Nantucket, and Newport were badly damaged, and all of eastern Massachusetts experienced severe cold (David M. Ludlum, Early American Winters, 1604–1820, Boston, 1966, p. 68–72). See also vol. 7:400, 401–402, 421, 434, 458, 460; JQA, Diary , 2:136–139.


At this point in the Dft, AA included the following: “but most people fear that the fruit will be cut of.”