Adams Family Correspondence, volume 8

John Cranch to Abigail Adams, [ca. 23 June 1787] Cranch, John Adams, Abigail
John Cranch to Abigail Adams
[ca. 23 June 1787] For Mrs. Adams:

Substance of miss Palmer's account of the University exhibition at Cambridge, the 10th. of April: To J.C.

“—— preceded by a band of Music, consisting of such of the pupils as had a taste for Music—among whom were John and Charles Adams and William Cranch: When the president and governors arrived, the exercises began in the following order:

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1st. Forensic dispute in english:—subject—'whether Man has a natural right to destroy the inferior animals'—Peter Eaton & T. Harris:1

2d—Syllogistic dispute in latin by John Treadwell —— Underwood and William Hill:2

3d. Hebrew oration by James Prescott:3

4th. Greek oration by John Phillips:4

5th—Dialogue from the tragedy of Tamerlane: Oliver Baron and Benjamin Abbott:5

6th. Conference upon divinity—physic & law—Nathaniel Freeman—Moses Little—& J. Q. Adams:6

7th. English oration by Bossenger Foster:7

A grand Musical Symphony & chorus, concluded:

The gentlemen all performed to acceptation: Those who held the 'conference' were loudly applauded: Mr. Adams, in the excellent composition, sound sense & unusual candour, of his argument, happily united the scholar, the man of sense and the gentleman: He spoke well, and his action was easy:— In every sentiment he beathed the spirit of his father: Mr. Freeman's beautifull face, elegant person and gracefull manner were captivating: He spoke well—and what he said was good—Yet Mr. Adams had greatly the advantage, as a gentleman, by the delicacy with which he avoided drawing a paralel between the three professions—allowing them to be equally necessary in a well-ordered community, while the others contended for a partial superiority:

Afterward the lads assembled in military form &c— &c.”

Midsummer eve, 1787—


Among other agreeable informations from America I have just received the above: It reads so interesting, that I really cannot in conscience keep it to myself; and I flatter myself with your pardon for the liberty I take, by supposing, that though you should already be in possession of the circumstances of fact, it may be only from those whom Modesty and decorum will not permit to do themselves justice in their descriptions of this important and pleasing entertainment.

I intreat my respectfull compliments to mr. Adams, and to Mr & Mrs Smith; and have the honor to be, / Madam, / Your Excellency's / very faithfull / Humble servant

J. Cranch.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “For / His Excellency John Adams Esq / Grosvenor square, / London.”; endorsed: “J Cranch june— / 1787.”

92 1.

For Peter Eaton and Thaddeus Mason Harris, see JQA, Diary , 2:184–185, 198–199.


John Dexter Treadwell (1768–1833) became a physician in Marblehead and Salem, Mass. Nathan Underwood (1753–1841) became a Lincoln clergyman. William Hill died in 1790. All three graduated from Harvard in 1788 ( NEHGR , 60:194 [April 1906]; 38:402 [Oct. 1884]; Harvard Quinquennial Cat .).


James Prescott (1766–1829), Harvard 1788, of Groton, Mass., became a lawyer and chief justice of the Middlesex County Court of Common Pleas (William Prescott, The Prescott Memorial, Boston, 1870, p. 75).


John Phillips (1770–1823), Harvard 1788, became the first mayor of Boston and the father of abolitionist Wendell Phillips ( NEHGR , 20:297–299 [Oct. 1866]).


Oliver Barron Jr. (1766–1809), Harvard 1788, was the son of Chelmsford legislator Oliver Barron Sr. Benjamin Abbot (1762–1849), Harvard 1788, would serve as headmaster of Phillips Academy in Andover for fifty years. Their recitation was from Nicholas Rowe, Tamerlane: A Tragedy, 1702 (Vital Records of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849, Salem, 1914, p. 21; Harvard Quinquennial Cat. ; John A. Schutz, Legislators of the Massachusetts General Court, 1691–1780: A Biographical Dictionary, Boston, 1997; NEHGR , 4:99 [Jan. 1850]).


For Nathaniel Freeman and Moses Little, see JQA, Diary , 2:190, 218. See also JQA to JA, 30 June, below.


For Bossenger Foster, see JQA, Diary , 2:188.

Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 26 June 1787 Adams, Abigail Jefferson, Thomas
Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson
London june 26 1787 dear sir

I have to congratulate you upon the safe arrival of your Little daughter, whom I have only a few moments ago received.1 She is in fine Health and a Lovely little girl I am sure from her countanance, but at present every thing is strange to her, & She was very loth to try New Friends for old. She was so much attachd to the Captain & he to her, that it was with no Small regreet that I Seperated her from him, but I dare say I shall reconcile her in a day or two.2 I tell her that I did not see her sister cry once.3 she replies that her sister was older & ought to do better, besides she had her pappa with her. I Shew her your picture.4 She says she cannot know it, how should she when she should not know you. a few hours acquaintance and we shall be quite Friends I dare say. I hope we may expect the pleasure of an other visit from you now I have so strong an inducement to tempt you. if you could bring miss Jefferson with you, it would reconcile her little Sister to the thoughts of taking a journey. it would be proper that some person should be accustomed to her. the old Nurse whom you expected to have attended her, was sick & unable to come5 She has a Girl of about 15 or 16 with her, the sister of the servant you have with you—6 as I presume you have but just returnd from your late excursion, you will not put yourself to any inconvenience or Hurry in comeing or Sending for her:7 you may rely upon every attention towards her & every care in my power. I have just endeavourd to amuse her by telling her that I would carry 93her to sadlers wells, after describing the amusement to her with an honest simplicity. I had rather Says She See captain Ramsey one moment, than all the fun in the world.

I have only time before the post goes, to present my compliments to mr Short. mr Adams & Mrs Smith desire to be rememberd to you. Captain Ramsey has brought a Number of Letters. as they may be of importance to you to receive them we have forwarded them by the post— miss Polly sends her duty to you & Love to her Sister & says she will try to be good & not cry. so she has wiped her Eyes & layd down to sleep—

believe me dear sir / affectionately yours &C &c

A Adams

RC (DLC:Jefferson Papers); endorsed: “Adams mrs̃.”


Thomas Jefferson's youngest surviving daughter Mary (Maria) “Polly” Jefferson (1778–1804) had remained in Virginia when her father sailed for Europe. After receiving a convent education in France, she returned to Virginia in late 1789 with her father. Mary's death at the age of 25 prompted AA to write a letter of condolence to Jefferson, a gesture that temporarily ended the rift between the families caused by growing political differences in the early republic. While only a brief exchange of letters followed, it presaged the eventual resumption of correspondence between JA and Jefferson beginning in 1812 (Gordon Langley Hall, Mr. Jefferson's Ladies, Boston, 1966, p. 61; DAB ; Edith B. Gelles, Portia: The World of Abigail Adams, Bloomington, Ind., 1992, p. 86).


Mary Jefferson sailed to London aboard the ship Arundel under the care of the vessel's captain, Andrew Ramsay (Hall, Jefferson's Ladies, p. 82; Jefferson, Papers , 11:351, 524, 556).


AA and AA2 had spent time with Mary's sister Martha in 1784 and 1785 during the Adamses' stay in Auteuil, France (vol. 6:75; Hall, Jefferson's Ladies, p. 65–66, 73–77).


A Mather Brown portrait of Jefferson, for which see vol. 7:287, 288–289.


Jefferson had asked that “A careful negro woman” slave named Isabel be sent to accompany Mary to Europe, but Isabel had given birth in April and thus could not make the trip (Jefferson, Papers , 8:451; Byron W. Woodson Sr., A President in the Family: Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and Thomas Woodson, Westport, Conn., 2001, p. 9).


Sally Hemings, Jefferson's fourteen-year-old slave, accompanied his daughter on this voyage. In 1784 Sally's brother James had come with Jefferson to Paris, where he was trained as his cook (Jefferson, Papers , 7:364, 10:296, 11:502).


Thomas Jefferson had just returned to Paris on 10 June after a fifteen-week tour of southern France and northern Italy. The purpose of Jefferson's trip was to seek out the curative properties of the mineral water at Aix-en-Provence as a remedy for his crippled wrist, but he also used it as an opportunity to tour the ports of France where the United States traded and, more importantly, to document the canal system at Languedoc (Noble E. Cunningham Jr., In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson, Baton Rouge, La., 1987, p. 107–108; Jefferson, Papers , 11:96).