Adams Family Correspondence, volume 9

428 Thomas Boylston Adams to Abigail Adams, 21 May 1793 Adams, Thomas Boylston Adams, Abigail
Thomas Boylston Adams to Abigail Adams
My dear Mother Philadelphia 21 May. 1793.

Your kind letter of the 12 has reached me, in complyance with Mr Brieslers request I enclose the Receipt of Mrs Lynch.1 She was in much need of the little assistance, and expressed gratitude for the receipt of it. The Porter also shall be attended to; I have been so fortunate as yet to have received no warning from the owner of our Store— The furniture still rests there and I have some hope will not yet be disturbed. The most disagreeable trouble on my hands at present is to find a suitable place for my own head. My good Quaker lady intends giving up house-keeping about the middle of next month, and of course we are all under the necessity of changing our lodgings. The reasons of her taking this step are such as might naturally be expected from one who was brought up in a very different course of life. She finds that house Rent is increasing, that every article of life is nearly double in price, and that her expences in living far exceed the trifling assistance she derives from her lodgers. Unless she took a large house and admited every comer & goer, her present course of life cannot be profitable, & for this she is by no means calculated; so that she has by the advice of her Family & Friends come to a resolution to quit house keeping & return to her Father's. I shall regret the change of lodgings because I am persuaded it cannot be for the better— However I have not much longer to reside here, and I shall do as well as I can. I have no particular place in view as yet— The terms of board will be higher I know than at present but I won't go If I can avoid it to a common lodging house—

Col Smith has been some time in town, and finds little prospect of accomodating himself with an house at present. All the best houses in the City are taken up, and I know he wont live in an ordinary one. There may be opportunities between this & next fall to suit himself, at present Rent is monstrous, & houses very scarce— I have not met with the Publications you mention; no judicious peices will be republished here you may rest assured. People will not think for themselves—nor in all cases will they be guided by the judgment of others—so that we must be content with the dictates of the ignorant Multitude. I will say nothing of French Affairs. Calculation & conjecture have so often been lost upon them that the event ought rather to be acquiesced in when it shall arrive, than 429deplored by anticipation. I am out of all patience with the eternal folly of palliating every calamity & seting it down to the score of necessity— I think the excentricities of a Commet might as well be calculated, as the probable effects of such & Such particular events. Whilst France was successful in beating her first enemies, & conquering foreign states—I wished her spirit might be humbled— A Country really desirous of establishing a peaceful Government, has no business with foreign Territories— War is by no means its proper Element. Since the universal combination of powers against her, whether she has provoked it or not, I feel a powerful principle of humanity taking Root in my mind, as an advocate for the weaker party; ’tis a rule, & a very good one for individuals no less than Sovereign powers, to examine the justice of the cause about which Nations are quarreling. Considering France in her present situation, without examining the means by which it was acquired, the justice of the dispute seems to lay on their side. They have abolished an odious & oppressive Government too effectually ever to be reared again from its ruins—we will not say a word whether this was done by the general sense of the Nation— It suffices that having reduced themselves to Anarchy—the nation now see the necessity of a Government in some shape—still there is no Cry for a King, a Nobility, an established Clergy, &ca. The very sound is odious; nothing that has the smallest tendency to superiority or eminence of rank will be received as yet. Here then is the great danger, the Shivre de Freze—that may cause Shipwreck—2 The first axiom of civil Government, is authority & Subordination; But all confidence is destroyed between man & man; who then shall dare to take the helm. No man has a right to challenge the obedience of another, unless his authority is confered & derived from the original source— here is no original source, because the people are divided in their sentiments too far to unite upon any common measure of utility. What then must be the first step towards Government in France in such circumstances? It will be trod by a military force—whether they maintain their own ground against the combination, & establish their independance, or whether they become their slaves & vassals. This Combination of powers are practising injustice so far as they distract the attention of the French from Pacifick institutions, & prevent their worshiping Liberty & Equality in peace at home. I have become a wellwisher to the French so far as they are to be considered struggling with adversity, even tho’ tis merited. I justify no single event that has taken place—since they are so, make the best of them, they cannot be 430recalled. They anticipated declarations of war, so far they act on the defensive. I can only further add, that seeing things are so, the event must sanctify the means— Conscientious people will exclaim, but necessity is not under the influence of dominion. These are my sentiments of French politics, so far as they go— I began by declining them altogether, & fully intended to stop at the first sentence— but you see the difference—

With all due affection / I remain your son

Thomas B Adams

RC (Adams Papers); notation: “May 23d.


Not found.


Possibly cheval de frise, literally “horse of Friesland,” a defensive mechanism for halting cavalry charges or other military advances ( OED ).

Charles Adams to John Adams, 29 May 1793 Adams, Charles Adams, John
Charles Adams to John Adams
My dear Sir New York May 29th 1793

It is with great pleasure I hear that my brother is appointed to speak the town Oration, on the fourth of July next. It would give me infinite satisfaction to hear him, but as I cannot, I request a few copies if they can be procured, as soon as they appear in print.1 Confined as he must be, by the shackles which are, I think erroniously, imposed upon those who have this duty to perform; I have no doubt but he will greatly add to his already far extended reputation. Publicola, has been reprinted in Edinburg and in London; and in an European Magazine, there is a contradiction of your being the Author of those publications, as was indicated by the edition printed in Scotland.2 The reports of Dumourier's defection, come from so many different quarters, that we begin to give credit to them; nor do I think it so very extraordinary, no man in his right senses could submit to be the instrument of so mad a faction, as now seem to govern in France. We have in our papers this day, a dialogue said to have passed between the General and the Commissioners sent to carry him to Paris: In which Dumourier says “your Convention consists of three hundred fools, governed by four hundred rascals. They have formed a Government infinitely more imbecile, dangerous and destructive, than the former. They will annihilate the nation.”3 I am very much pleased with a writer with the signature of Marcellus; I have seen but one Number reprinted in Fenno's Gazette, but his sentiments are perfectly coincident with those, which I think every 431well wisher to his Country, every real American ought to adopt: but alas! what will not this people swallow, if gilded over with the foil of liberty and equality. Where is the Lover of this Country who will not join in the wish? “that laurelled victory may sit upon the sword of Justice and that success may always be strewed before the feet of virtuous Freedom” but we should learn to discriminate; We should learn to distinguish virtuous freedom, from unprincipled licentiousness; then, and then only, can we be a happy or a dignified people.4 While we are continually hunting in the catalogue of improbabilities, for excuses, to palliate the enormities of an enraged clan of Jacobins, we are injuring our morals and destroying our reputations.— Dumourier seems to have expressed great surprize that Condorcet, should not have pointed out a constitution, more worthy of his abilities: but what could he do? Might he not have fallen a victim to just ideas? and I think it is quite time that martyrdom should be discarded at least from France; there is but little encouragement. Monrs Genet is received with open arms in Philadelphia, I know of no objection which can with propriety be offered to this; provided it did not convey the idea of an acquiescence in the transactions in France. I know very well that such ideas as these, are termed Aristocratic. I disclaim the faith. My sentiments are dictated by the purest philanthropy. Can those who with the stern eye of apathy behold murder carnage and every affliction which can desolate a Country, following as a consequence of the unbridled machinations of a few: men Can they love mankind? No person can be more an advocate for civil liberty and civil equality than myself, but name not the French as models; name not that barbarous, that cruel people, as examples worthy to be followed by Americans, who are happy in equal laws and a just Government. Happy! thrice happy people! if they would reflect upon their own prosperity. I have found it adviseable of late, again to peruse with attention the writers upon Natural law. Grotius, puffendorph, Vattel, Burlemaque. many questions interesting to the community, and to individuals, dayly arise. These studies, blended with that of the law, have lately occupied my attention. I think I have pitched upon a method of reading, by far the most preferable: instead of reading the Reporters in course, I take up Espinasse's Law of actions, a book of great authority and credit, and constantly refer to the cases in the Reporters: a method which fixes much more firmly in my memory the principles of every case: in this manner I intend to go through him, and have no doubt of reaping ample reward for my pains. It has been my endeavor to 432select in the first instance The Reporters during the time of Lord Mansfield. I have purchased

{ Burroughs
Durnford and East }
Richardson's pra K B
Cowper Reports Bacon's abridgment Crompton's practice
Douglass Espinasse Nisi Prius Powell on Mortgages
Do  on Contracts
W Blackston Lilly's Entries Highmore on bail
Lovelace laws disposal Kyd on bill of exchange

Laws of the State of New York.—5

Our parties in this City begin to cool down of late; it was quite time, for very warm blood was raised, and it was very much feared that serious consequences might have ensued.

Perhaps you may recollect, that when I was last at Quincy you offered me a work entitled Cours D’Etudes:6 I had then no method of conveying it to New York: should you now remain of the same mind, Brizler will pack them up, and send them to me by Barnard. I had occasion while I was there to peruse several parts of that work, and was highly delighted with it, as containing a very useful and instructive epitome of the Sciences. Judge Duane in his kindness has been pleased to appoint me one of the Commissioners to examine the claims of invalid pensioners. He may think it an honor conferred, but there is no emolument to be derived, and except its being a charitable duty, would be rather tedious. I accepted it on that account; but the late law of Congress has so restricted applicants, that I doubt much whether any one will be able to take advantage of it.7 Our latest arrivals from Europe bring intellegence to the fifth of April only; it appears that communications from France have been of late so impeded that we are led to suspect much of our information has been coined in England. I fear I have long since tired your patience And I will bid you adieu

Beleive me my dear Sir your ever affectionate and dutiful son

Charles Adams.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “The Vice President of the United States / Quincy”; endorsed: “Charles Adams / May 29. / ansd June 5. 1793.”


On 4 July, JQA delivered an address at Boston's Old South Meeting House, which Benjamin Edes & Sons published some days later. “Seventeen times has the sun, in the progress of his annual revolutions, diffused his prolific radiance over the plains of Independent America,” JQA said. “Millions of hearts which then palpitated with the rapturous glow of patriotism, have already been translated to brighter worlds; to the abodes of more than mortal freedom.” The press reported an enthusiastic reaction to the address: “The elegance and spirit of the composition, and the forceful elocution of the 433Speaker, excited such a burst of admiration, as would have flattered a CATO” (JQA, An Oration Pronounced July 4th, 1793, Boston, 1793, p. 12, Evans, No. 25076; Massachusetts Mercury, 5 July). An incomplete Dft and Tr of the oration are in the Adams Papers, filmed at 4 July.


JQA's Publicola articles were first published in Edinburgh in 1791 as Observations on Paine's “Rights of Man” without any identifying author, though they were commonly attributed to JA. John Stockdale—a friend of JA—subsequently published them in London in 1793 under the title An Answer to Pain's Rights of Man. By John Adams, Esq. but stopped the printing when he learned that JQA, not JA, was the author. The European Magazine, Feb. 1793, p. 85, included a note avowing that JA had not written the pieces (JQA, Writings , 1:66; John Stockdale to JA, 16 March, Adams Papers). See also TBA to AA, 27 May [1792], and note 5, above.


Reports of the French National Convention for 1 April 1793 included an extended dialogue between General Dumouriez and the commissioners from the Convention. This dialogue suggested that it was Dumouriez's “fixed intention” to go to Paris to protect the queen and her children, and he further threatened that “the convention will not exist three weeks longer” and expressed his determination to restore the monarchy (New York Journal, 29 May).


Marcellus appeared in the Boston Columbian Centinel, 24 April, and 4, 11 May. The third installment was also reprinted in the Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 25 May, and CA quotes from the final lines of that piece. Marcellus examines the role the United States and its citizens should play in the war among the European powers, arguing that “a rigid adherence to the system of Neutrality between the European nations now at war, is equally the dictate of justice and of policy, to the individual citizens of the United States, while the Nation remains neutral.” Furthermore, he suggests that “the natural state of all nations, with respect to one another, is a state of peace.”


Henry Cowper, Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Court of King's Bench: from . . . 1774, to . . . 1778, London, 1783; William Douglass, A Summary, Historical and Political, of the First Planting, Progressive Improvements, and Present State of the British Settlements in North-America, 2 vols., Boston, 1747–1752, Evans, No. 5936; Charles Durnford and Sir Edward Hyde East, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of King's Bench, London, 1787; Matthew Bacon and others, A New Abridgement of the Law, 5 vols., London, 1736–1766; John Lilly, Modern Entries, Being a Collection of Select Pleadings in the Courts of King's Bench, London, 1723; Peter Lovelass, The Law's Disposal of a Person's Estate Who Dies without Will or Testament, 4th edn., London, 1787; Robert Richardson, The Attorney's Practice in the Court of King's Bench, London, 1739; George Crompton, Practice Common-placed; or, The Rules and Cases of Practice in the Courts of King's Bench and Common Pleas, Methodically Arranged, 2 vols., London, 1780; John Joseph Powell, A Treatise upon the Law of Mortgages, London, 1785; Powell, Essay upon the Law of Contracts and Agreements, London, 1790; Anthony Highmore, A Digest on the Doctrine of Bail in Civil and Criminal Cases, London, 1783; Stewart Kyd, A Treatise on the Law of Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes, London, 1790; Laws of the State of New York, Albany, N.Y., 1777–  .


Étienne Bonnot de Condillac, Abbé de Mureaux, Cours d’étude pour l’instruction du prince de Parme, 16 vols., Parma, Italy, 1775. Copies of all but vol. 13 are in JA's library at MB ( Catalogue of JA's Library ).


On 28 Feb., George Washington signed into law “An Act to Regulate the Claims to Invalid Pensions,” which modified the earlier “Act to Provide for the Settlement of the Claims of Widows and Orphans . . . and to Regulate the Claims to Invalid Pensions,” enacted the previous year. The new law created higher bars to establish legal claims of disability from military service during the Revolutionary War, including oaths from two doctors and multiple witnesses testifying to the injury and strict deadlines for applications. The act also required that all evidence be submitted either to a district court judge or to a three-person commission appointed by the judge ( Annals of Congress , 2d Cong., 2d sess., p. 1346–1348, 1436–1437).