Adams Family Correspondence, volume 9

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 18 December 1791 Adams, Abigail Cranch, Mary Smith
Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch
my dear sister Philadelphia december 18 1791

I wrote to you on the 27 of Novbr but company comeing in call'd me from my pen, and I have not since had leisure to reassume it. I have so little Time that I can call my own whilst here that I think when I return to Braintree I ought without suffering from any reflections to be able to live retired. on Monday Evenings our House is open to all who please to visit me. on twesdays my domestick affairs call for me to arrange them & to labour pretty well too, for the wednesdays dinners which we give every week to the amount of sixteen & 18 persons which are as many as we can accommodate at once in our Thousand dollors House on thursday the replacing & restoring to order occupies my attention the occasional intercourse of dinning abroad returning visits &c leaves me very few hours to myself. I feel that day a happy one, when I can say I have no engagement but to my Family I have a cleaver sober honest & Neat black woman as my daily cook. in this respect I am happier than formerly. I always hire for company. the greatest trouble I have, is that mrs Brisler is chiefly confind to her Bed wholy unable to do the least thing for herself or Family. she was better after I came here, but a return of the intermitting fever together with her old weakness & complaints not only deprives her of her usefulness, but is a great incumberance to me, and takes up much of the Time of my help. in short I know not how I get through, for I have no other help than those I brought with me except the cook. I have been very well myself till about a fortnight since. I have labourd under complaints [. . . .]1 I am still afflicted. mr Adams is recoverd from his 245complaints but labours under a great cold. Thomas has escaped better than I feard from the Rhumatism. it threatned him for several weeks Louissa is very well. cealia requests me to inquire after her child & prays you would write to me & inform her if it is well. mrs otis & cousin Betsy are well. we live Socible & Friendly together. in many respects I am much better off than when I lived out of Town. expence is not to be taken into consideration that is almost beyond calculation. What a dreadfull blow this defeat of Sinclair & his Army?2 my Heart bleads for the Relatives of as worthy officers as ever fought or fell but, the justice the policy the wisdom of this cruel enterprize lies with higher powers to investigate than mine.

Your kind Letters of Novbr 6th & 11th came safe to Hand and made me truly happy3 So little hopes had I of the recovery of our dear and valuable Friend that I feard to hear from you; I could never have imagind that a Leg such as his was, & which appeard to be so far gone in a mortification, could possibly have been restored & that so soon— thanks to that all gracious Providene whose kindness has been so frequently displayd towards us— I heard last week from mrs smith and her little ones.4 they were all well. you begin I suppose to feel anxious for mrs Norten. I hope to hear in due time that she has a daughter. I feel anxious about our House at Braintree There was a place in the Roof that Leakd much. I sent for two Carpenters but they could not find out the place. I wish it might be lookd too. I spoke with Brother about it, but fear he has not thought about it. I see by the paper that mr Jeffrie is gone to the Madarics for his Health. I want to know how Polly does & how she is likd. I often think of your Neighbours saying she was as necessary to him as his daily Bread. I miss her very much in things which it will be hard for any other person ever to make up to me, in that ready offerd service which prevented my wishes, and which is always so pleasing. yet she balanced the account sometimes by the vexation which she occasiond me. I wish her well, and shall always value her good qualities, and freely credit her for them cealia is as good as I could expect, but would soon be led way if I did not strickly guard her. Katy has all the dispositions in the world [as] sterns says,5 but wants experience, in a Service which is quite New to her. She is faithfull in her duty, but poor Girl has h[er] sister & two children to look after. in short I think sometimes it cost me as dearly for honesty & fidelity as it would for knavery and I seem to have got an entailment that follows me through the world, particularly a certain degree of sickness that I must take charge of— however it is I hope a 246part of the portion of good which I ought to do. if so I am in fault to complain— remember me kindly to all Friends mrs Payne I often think of. give my Love to her & tell her I hope to see her early in the spring with my other Friends pray if I did not mention the desk before give for it what you think it reasonably worth, and ask the dr for the money. let me hear from you as often as you can and be assured of the sincere affection / of your sister

A Adams

RC (MWA:Abigail Adams Letters); addressed by TBA: “Mrs: Mary Cranch / Braintree”; endorsed by Richard Cranch: “Letter from Mrs. / A Adams. Pha: / Decr 18. 1791.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed and due to a torn manuscript.


One line at the top of the page has been cut off.


On 4 Nov. an American army sent into the Ohio country under the command of Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair to subdue the Miami and Shawnee Indians was itself overwhelmed in a surprise attack. More than 900 of the approximately 1,400 Americans present—regulars, levies, and militia as well as women and children—were killed, wounded, or went missing, including 69 of the 124 officers (Wiley Sword, President Washington's Indian War: The Struggle for the Old Northwest, 1790–1795, Norman, Okla., 1985, p. 145–203).


Neither letter has been found.


AA2 to AA, 10 Dec., above.


Laurence Sterne, A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, ch. 20, “Montreuil.”

Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts, 18 December 1791 Adams, Abigail Tufts, Cotton
Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts
my dear sir Philadelphia Decbr 18th 1791

Tis more than two months since I left you yet I have neither written a word to you or heard from you. Since I left Home, I have been much occupied removeing, and living in the city subjects us to company at all times, so much so that I must either be denying myself through the whole day, or appoint one evening in the week as a publick Evening. this I have found to be the most agreeable to those strangers who are daily brought to this place either by buisness or curiosity, and to those who are more imediatly connected as members of the same body with us, & who wish to keep up an intercourse, but are become too numerous to do it in any other way. we have also found it expedient to see company to dinner one day in every week, so that a good House wife as I profess myself to be must be fully occupied. I have had more Health since my return here than for many Months before, and I hope to run away from the Ague in the spring, if congress will rise soon enough, but weighty concerns occupy them, and the important one of Representation has occasiond great discussions of the subject, but no intemperate 247heat. yet the great fish have a wonderfull appetite for the small fish, and the old dominion Strugles hard for an over balance in the scale. what is surprizing, is to see Some persons helping them, who mean well, but do not seem to apprehend the weight of the Negro Representitives as mr King calls them. the black cattle in the Northern states might as well claim to be represented. one of the southern rep's observed in debate that if virgina had been fully represented in senate the Question would not have gone as it has (mr Lee is absent).1 the debates of congress are most misirably given to the publick, as the Members themselves declare. the sad and dreadfull Havock of our Army at the west ward cast a Gloom over us all. some of the best officers who remaind to us after the Peace have fallen here. all our Boston youths who were officers are amongst the slain. a son of col Cobb I have heard much regreeted.2 in short tis such a stroke as we Scarcly experienced through the whole of the War. not even Bradocks defeat is said to have caused such Slaughter. a poor Gouty infirm General, always unsuckselsfull, a misirable Bandity of undisiplind Troops—an excellent Choir of officers—who I am told went out like Lambs to the Slaughter, having no prospect of conquering— I apprehend much uneasiness will ensue—what is to be done is not yet determind? for Foreign affairs, mr Madisson is to go to France, and a mr pinckny who was an officer from S carolina and lost a Limb in the service, will be Nominated for England he sustains an amiable good character—3 I presume congress will set Six months if not longer.4

with regard to our private affairs, sir mr Adams wishes you to engage mr Loud to make and have ready by spring two sashes for to make windows from my Chamber and two small ones for the chamber over that, and he thinks it would be best to paint the House again.5 at what season can that be best accomplishd?

I should be obliged to you sir if you could engage a person to procure me two beds at vendue Bolsters & pillows I was obliged to Borrow all last summer. I would chuse they should be of the best kind, and you will think of me for Beaf in the season of it and a cask of Tongues, two of them I should like to lay in as I found them more usefull than large hams—and I should think it best to secure six Barrels more cider than we have. if we live we do not mean to remain here a week after congress rises even tho it should be in Febry

in Janry you will receive some interest for me. I wish you would send mrs Cranch 5 cords of wood on my account, but do not let even her know from what quarter it comes. mr Cranchs long 248sickness must have embarassed them. and there is a widow dawson very old and infirm, be so good as to direct mrs cranch to inquire into her necessities and to lay out two dollors for her in wood or other necessaries—6 ‡ a mark of that kind in your Letter will inform me that what I request will be Complied with—

I hope you enjoy better Health this winter than in the summer past, and that you will take good care of yourself when the spring approaches. my best regards attend your worthy Family and all other Friends—

yours most / affectionatly

A Adams.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed by TBA: “Honble: Cotton Tufts Esqr: / Weymouth”; endorsed: “Mrs A. Adams / Dec. 18. 1791”; notation: “No. 1.”


Senator Richard Henry Lee of Virginia did not take his seat in the 2d Congress until 21 Dec. (U.S. Senate, Jour. , 2d Cong., 1st sess., p. 358).


William Gray Cobb (1773–1791), an ensign under St. Clair, was a son of Col. David and Eleanor Bradish Cobb of Taunton. At the time of his son's death, David Cobb (1748–1830), Harvard 1766, was chief justice of the Bristol County Court of Common Pleas, major general in the Massachusetts militia, and speaker of the state house of representatives (Bradford Adams Whittemore, Memorials of the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati, Boston, 1964, p. 106–108).


On 21 Dec. George Washington nominated three men as U.S. ministers plenipotentiary: Thomas Pinckney to Britain, Gouverneur Morris to France, and William Short to the Netherlands. Rumors that James Madison would receive the appointment to France had circulated for months. In a letter to Thomas Jefferson of 29 Sept., written from Paris, Short reported, “A letter from America informs me that the delay in the appointment of the minister here is supposed to proceed from your endeavouring to prevail on Madison to accept it and his hesitating and taking time to consider. As the person who writes me is a great friend of yours as well as mine I should have supposed what he said well founded if your letter did not prevent it” (Jefferson, Papers , 22:174, 262). See also WSS to JA, 21 Oct., above.


Congress sat from 24 Oct. to 8 May 1792 ( Biog. Dir. Cong. ).


Possibly Jacob Loud (1747–1820) of Weymouth ( History of Weymouth , 3:376).


Probably Mary Veasey Dawson, widow of George Dawson (Sprague, Braintree Families ).