Adams Family Correspondence, volume 9

John Adams to Abigail Adams Smith, 10 March 1792 Adams, John Smith, Abigail Adams
John Adams to Abigail Adams Smith
My Dear Child: Philadelphia, March 10, 1792.

Your kind letter of the fourth of this month is before me.1 I have frequently desired your mother to consent that I should send for 268other advice; but she has always forbid it, alleging that she was perfectly satisfied. The assiduity of her physician has, indeed, been very great; and his anxiety to do every thing in his power, most apparent. She is better to-day than she has ever been since her illness began, and I am much encouraged.

I rejoice that you are to wait till the equinox is over.

I do not read the New-York papers, having seldom an opportunity; but should be glad to have a hint of the various reasons which are conjectured for Mr. Jay's consenting to be a candidate.2

My love to Colonel Smith and my dear little boys.

I am, my dear daughter, with full intentions of corresponding with you frequently in your absence, and with sanguine expectations of pleasure in it, / Your affectionate father,

John Adams.

MS not found. Printed from AA2, Jour. and Corr. , 2:118.


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John Jay, although still chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, agreed to stand as a Federalist candidate for governor against Gov. George Clinton in 1792. Alexander Hamilton, who led the Federalists in New York State, recruited Jay as the only person who might have a chance to defeat Clinton. The contest generated considerable comment in the newspapers, including speculation on Jay's reasons for accepting the nomination. Jay's friends and foes alike believed personal interests guided his decision to run but put different interpretations on those interests. One supporter wrote, “Mr. Jay no doubt consults his ease and comfort in withdrawing himself from the fatigues to which his present appointment expose him, or is perhaps of opinion that he can serve this state and the United States more essentially as our first magistrate than as Chief Justice. In the first case gratitude for his long and important services in the most trying times impell us to support him, and in the latter the spirit of federalism will call forth our most earnest exertions.” By contrast, an opponent sarcastically noted Jay's “noble instance of condescention and disinterested generosity;—he will give up £.1600 a year, and relinquish the pleasure of travelling nine months in the twelve—for the pitiful consideration of a continual residence in the most elegant mansion on the continent, and a salary, that by the next appropriation, will probably amount to £.2000.” Jay was defeated after a highly partisan and sometimes controversial election (Monaghan, John Jay , p. 325–327, 333–337; New York Daily Advertiser, 20 Feb.; New York Diary, 22 Feb.). See also CA to JA, 20 Aug., below.

Abigail Adams Smith to Abigail Adams, 11 March 1791 Smith, Abigail Adams Adams, Abigail
Abigail Adams Smith to Abigail Adams
New York March 11th 1791 [1792]

I received your Letter of March 7th my Dear Mamma and was very happy to find you so far recovered as to be able to use again your Pen1—altho I doubt not you find yourself very feeble and fear it may be long before you regain your strength; yet I hope by care and attention you will soon subdue this fever which afflicts you— I confess that I am but a novice in Phisick—yet I cannot reconcile it that so many weakening methods were necessary to subdue your 269dissorder— I hope you will be able to go to the Eastward as soon as the roads will admit I think—a change of Air may benefit you—but of this you are the best judge—

of the situation of my mind at leaving you in such an ill state of health—it is best for me to be silent— I can only say that anxiety must be my attendant— I think it is my Duty to go—but the contest is I confess almost too much to Bear— I feel myself obliged to Mrs Dalton and Mrs Otis for their attention to you— they are friendly good Women— I hope that I may be so fortunate as to meet with one or two such friendly spirits upon my Pilgrimage— it is but very Seldom that I allow myself to reflect upon this subject but when I do— it depresses my spirits not a little— I am fortunate as it respects a Lady who is going a Passenger in the same Ship with us. she is a Mrs Thomson who has lived as a companion and friend to Mrs Gates for three or four years—her Husband is a Clergiman a Scotchman [who] came over to this Country in the begining of the war and he purchased a little Farm at Johns Town above albany and was settled there—for two years but did not find success equal to his expectations— he returnd four years since to Dundee from whence he came but his People had settled some other Person in his Place during his absence— they have however settled an hund Guineas a year upon him during his Life—and he has sent for Mrs Thomson to come home—2 Colln Duer has purchased her farm in this State—and she is going home in the Ship with us— She is a friendly cleaver Woman— her manners are mild and pleasing—and I think myself fortunate in her company—

with respect to the Chrildren—if you were settled in one place near a good school I should not object to Leaving Wm in your care—but you are travelling from Braintree to Philadelphia— at Braintree there is no school fit for him to go to; and if I Leave him here he will do just as he pleases with the whole family before one month is at an end: and Colln S. Mamma would think it hard that he should be from her all the time—so that I beleive it is best to avoid contests and evil consequences to take them both—with us— I suppose I shall be obliged to put Wm to a school from home—but I can see him every day—and I think he is too young not to require great attention from me—

I hope my Dear Mamma to hear that you are much better before I sail— I shall acquint you with the day before I go— in a Merchant Ship the period is never certain I wish it may be the last of the Month


remember me to all the family with sincere affection / yours Daughter

A Smith—

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs Abigail Adams / Philadelphia—”; docketed: “Mrs Smith to / her Mother / March 11th 1791.” Filmed at 11 March 1791. Some loss of text where the seal was removed.


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Mary Vallance (ca. 1740–1810), a wealthy spinster, had become Horatio Gates’ second wife in 1786 (Paul David Nelson, General Horatio Gates: A Biography, Baton Rouge, La., 1976, p. 284, 290). Rev. James Thompson briefly ministered to the Presbyterian congregation at Johnstown, N.Y., but his pastorate “was far from exemplary, and when he left, in 1787, quite a number of charges affecting his character were brought against him” (E. H. Gillett, History of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, rev. edn., 2 vols., Phila., 1873, 1:383–384).