Adams Family Correspondence, volume 9

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 2 January 1793 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
my dearest Friend Quincy Janry 2. 1793

our son brought me your favour of the 19 december on sunday last, by which I find that the same Ideas have past through both our 365minds on a late Election amidst all that has been written upon the occasion, no one has ventured to state the comparative merrits, and services of the Candidates, but have contented themselves with saying that they would not bear a comparison, that clintons were lighter than a feather when weighd against yours. the Peice I mentiond to you in my last Letter, did you more justice than any which I have before read. the Characters who have been most active against you, are many of them such as a Man would rather chuse to be in opposition to than upon terms of civilitity with. the misfortune is that they have their weight and influence in society. possessing some talants and no principals they are fit agents for mischiefs of the blackest kind. by the candidate they have opposed to you, they have come forward and openly declared themselves opposed to the Government. mark their measures, watch their movements and we shall see them strugling whenever they dare shew themselves, for the assendency. the late success of the Arms of France against their Enemies, seems to give much satisfaction to the half thinking politicians, as tho the Retreat of the King of prussia was to give Peace to France and heal all her internal wounds, establish a quiet Government and build up a Republick in a Nation shaken to its center, and Rent to Peices by Faction. when I read citizen President, & citizens Equality, I cannot help feeling a mixture of Pitty and contempt for the Hypocrisy I know they are practising and for the Tyranny they are Executing. I was visiting at mr Apthorp the other day. he mentiond to me the surprize he was in when he read Pains Letter and the account he gave of the treatment he received from the custom house officers who Searchd his papers, to find that the P——t had any correspondence with a man whom he considerd as an incenderary and a Character unfit for to be trusted. he could not but consider it as degrading his Character and doubted the Authenticity of the Letter. tho it struck me in the same manner when I read the account, I was determind not to say so to him. I only observd to him that the passage publishd could not do any injury to any Character, tho no doubt mr Pain took pains to have it known Publickly that he had the honour of a Letter from the President in order to give himself weight & importance—1

Inclosed are a few lines which pleasd me from a symplicity of stile as well as for the truth they contain. the Author I know not they are taken from the Centinal.2

You inquired of me in a late Letter3 whether I had any prospect of hireing a Man by the year. a Young Man of a good countanance has 366offerd himself this week. he lived the last year with a mr Williams at Roxburry. he is from the state of N Hampshire and has lived four years at Roxburry in different places a year at a time. he talkd of 30 pounds by the year. I told him that would not do, I did not hear that more than 24 was given by any body the last year, and that it must be a very extrodinary hand to earn such wages— I told him we did not want a hand till the first of march he said he wishd to let him self immediatly—but we fi[nally] came to these terms if upon inquiry his character would answer and you approved I would hire him from the 1 of Feb’ry & he came down to 26 pounds, which you will think too high perhaps—but I am not bound to take him if you do not chuse— I mentiond the first of Feb’ry that I might have time to write to you, and in the mean time I shall inquire his Character.

present my Love to mrs otis, and Regards to all inquiring Friends from your ever / affectionate

A Adams

P S the Timbers for the corn House is all cut & drawn to gether in the woods waiting for snow to get it home we have very cold weather but little snow about 2 inches depth

RC (Adams Papers); addressed by JQA: “The Vice-President of the United States. / Philadelphia.”; endorsed: “Portia Jan. 2 / ansd 14. 1793.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.


George Washington's letter of 6 May 1792 to Thomas Paine was one of a number of papers a customs official attempted to seize when Paine passed through Dover en route to Paris to take a seat in the French National Convention. In Paine's 15 Sept. report of this incident, he included a short excerpt from Washington's letter, which was written to thank Paine for sending Washington several copies of Paine's Rights of Man (Boston Columbian Centinel, 12 Dec.; Washington, Papers, Presidential Series , 10:357).


The enclosure has not been found but was possibly a piece entitled “Dr. Parr's Opinion of Mr. Paine,” which dismissed Paine's understanding of government as “too partial for theory, and too novel for practice, and under a fair semblance of simplicity, conceal a mass of most dangerous errours” (Boston Columbian Centinel, 2 Jan. 1793).


JA to AA, 10 Dec. 1792, above.

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 2 January 1793 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Philadelphia January 2. 1793

Our Antifœderal Scribblers are so fond of Rotations that they Seem disposed to remove their Abuses from me to the President. Baches Paper which is nearly as bad as Freneaux's begins to join in concert with it, to maul the President for his Drawing Rooms, Levees, declining to accept of Invitations to Dinners and Tea Parties, his Birth day Odes, Visits, Compliments &c—1 I may be expected to be an Advocate for a Rotation of Objects of Abuse, and for Equality 367in this particular. I have held the office, of Libellee General long enough: The Burthen of it ought to be participated and Equallized, according to modern republican Principles.

The News from France, so glorious for the French Army, is celebrated in loud Peals of Festivity and elevates the Spirits of the Ennemies of Government among Us more than it ought: for it will not answer their Ends. We shall now see the Form of the French Republick. Their Conventions will have many Tryals to make before they will come at any thing permanent. The Calamities of France are not over.

I shall claim the Merit of Some little Accuracy of foresight when I see General Lincoln, who you remember was inclined to think the Duke of Brunswicks march to Paris certain, while I was very apprehensive that the numerous fortified Towns in his Way would waste his army and consume the Campain.

We Shall Soon See the Operation in France of Elections to first Magistracies.2 My Attention is fixed to this Object. I have no doubt of its Effects: but it is a curious Question how long they can last. We have lately Seen how they have Suceeded in New York and what Effect that Election has had upon the Votes for President. Cabal, Intrigue, Manœuvre, as bad as any Species of Corruption We have already seen in our Elections. and when and where will they Stop?


J. A.

RC (Adams Papers). Filmed at 2 Jan. [1794].


Benjamin Franklin Bache's General Advertiser, 2 Jan. 1793, included a piece, “To the Noblesse and Courtiers of the United States,” ostensibly advertising for a poet laureate for the United States and explaining the duties of the position and the nature of the poetry to be written: “To give a more perfect accommodation to this almost new appointment, certain monarchical prettinesses must be highly extolled, such as Levies, Drawing Rooms, Stately Nods Instead of Shaking Hands, Titles of Office, Seclusion from the People, &c. &c. It may be needless to mention certain other trifling collateral duties, but that the poet may be acquainted with the whole circle of requisites, it may not be amiss to hint, that occasional strokes of ridicule at equality; the absurdity that the vulgar, namely the people, should presume to think and judge for themselves; the great benefit of rank and distinction; the abomination of supposing that the officers of government ought to level themselves with the people by visiting them, inviting them to their tables, &c. may be introduced by way of episode to the Poem.”


The National Convention required new elections to all local and municipal administrative bodies after the establishment of the republic. Most of these took place in late 1792 and early 1793 (Malcolm Crook, Elections in the French Revolution: An Apprenticeship in Democracy, 1789–1799, N.Y., 1996, p. 98–101).