Adams Family Correspondence, volume 9

472 John Adams to Abigail Adams, 15 December 1793 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Philadelphia Decr 15. 1793

Having taken a cold which makes it inconvenient to go out this morning I cannot employ myself more agreably than by writing to you. The President and Mrs Washington enquire after you very respectfully every time I see them. Mrs Washington enquires after all of Us and particularly Miss Louisa— She wishes, with an Emphasis and I dare Say very sincerely, that I had brought you along with me.— Mr Dandridge acts at present as The Presidents Secretary and I dont find that he has any other Secretary or Aid de Camp at all.1 Miss Nelly went over into Maryland in the Course of the Summer and there got the Ague and Fever. The poor Girl looks pale and thin, in Consequence of it: but will soon got the better of it.

Brisler has engaged some Rye Flour for you, but when you will receive it, I know not. Cheesman is not yet Arrived. Yesterday was brought me an Account of which I had not the least Suspicion for above an hundred dollars, from Bringhurst. Will it not be adviseable to sell the Cochee? and the Chariot,? and buy a new Chariot? Perhaps Some Coachmaker in Boston would exchange. We Shall have little Use for the Cochee, and have no Room at present to dispose of the Coach. I only mention this for Consideration. Furniture and Carriages have made Mischief enough for Us.— Rocks are much better, at least they do less harm.

I went to See Mrs Wilson, but she was gone out. The Judge was at home, and is very young notwithstanding his Spectacles and White Hair.— Mrs Hammon looks portly enough for a Lady who has been the Wife of an Ambassador half a Year and more.2

I told you in a former Letter that Thomas was examined approved and sworn.

For Want of a virtuous Magistracy or a virtuous Attorney General Pro Tempere, to prosecute convict and punish disorderly Houses at New York, the Sovereign Mobility took the Guardianship of the public morals into their own Hands and pulled down Seven or Eight houses, turning with exemplary Inhumanity many Ladies into the cold Air and open Street. The public was irritated by two or three Charges of Rapes, and the Lawyers treated the Subject with too much Levity, treated virtuous creditable Women with too much indifference and Mother Cary the old Beldam with to much respect. This is what I hear. I am sorry that Mobs should have a plausible 473Excuse for Setting up for reformers. But I never could feel an intollerable Indignation against the Riots called Skimmington Ridings3 when they really were excited by gross offences against Morals.

Yours as ever

J. A.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Decbr 15 1793.”


Bartholomew Dandridge Jr. (ca. 1772–1802), Martha Washington's nephew, had replaced Tobias Lear as George Washington's secretary earlier in 1793 (Washington, Papers, Presidential Series , 8:234–235).


Margaret Allen, daughter of Andrew Allen of Philadelphia, had married British minister plenipotentiary George Hammond on 20 May ( DNB ; Philadelphia Federal Gazette, 21 May).


“A ludicrous procession . . . usually intended to bring ridicule or odium upon a woman or her husband in cases where the one was unfaithful to, or ill-treated, the other” ( OED ).

John Adams to Charles Adams, 16 December 1793 Adams, John Adams, Charles
John Adams to Charles Adams
Dear Charles Philadelphia Decr 16. 1793

The Revolution in France is commonly Said to be without Example in the History of Mankind: But although there may be circumstances attending it, peculiar to itself, I cannot think it altogether unlike any Thing that has happened. The Revolution in England in the time of Charles the first has so many features in common with it, that I think the History of England from the Year 1625 to the Year 1660 deserves to be more attended to than it is in these days. It would well become all young Gentlemen to read it, not for the Sake of imbibing the Spirit of Party from it, but to observe the Course and Progress of human Passions in Such Circumstances. In this View let me recommend to you to inquire where you can borrow Lord Clarendons History of The Rebellion and Civil Wars in England and to read it through in Course. To me who read it, within the first Year after I was admitted to the Bar, in the Winter of 1758 and 1759, it has been as Useful as any Work I remember to have read. It has put me on my guard against many dangers, on on hand and on the other to which in the Course of my Life I have been exposed.1 Whitelock is another Writer on the Same Times who is well worth your reading.2 You may indeed read the Account given by Rapin, Maccauley Hume, smollet or any of the Historians, but none of them in my opinion will render the reading of Clarendon Useless or unnecessary.3 There is the Life of Oliver Cromwell written by Harris, and if my Memory Serves me, some other Lives by the Same Author, which, although they are Apologies for Oliver and his friends, will through much Light upon the Transactions of that 474Period.4 Rushworths Collections you may perhaps find in some of your Public Libraries and Rimers Fadera may contain Usefull Papers.5

The Monarchy was voted down the King was beheaded, the House of Lords were decreed Useless and Prelacy or the Hierarchy were demolished as compleatly as they have been lately in France. Yet in 1660 Monarchy Aristocracy and Hierarchy were restored and became more popular than ever. The Interregnum continued twelve years from 1648 to 1660: Oliver Cromwell however and his Army held the Place of Government. How long the Commonwealth could have lasted without his Aid is uncertain. Whether the Commonwealth of France will last as long, time will determine. The national Convention Seem to be determined that none of their Generals, shall live long enough to acquire Power either to Support or counteract them. This System will probably shorten the duration of their own Influence. In reading the Events of this Period of Republicanism in England, you will naturally increase your Esteem of real Liberty and your Affection for it, while you Satisfy your Understanding that it cannot exist without Government wisely tempered & well organized. You will find much Entertainment as well as Instruction. That you may receive both from these and all other Studies is the sincere Wish of your Father

J. A

RC (MHi:Seymour Coll.); internal address: “Mr Charles Adams”; endorsed: “Decr 16 1793.”


Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England Begun in the Year 1641, 3 vols., Oxford, 1702–1704. Portions of two volumes of a 1720 edition are in JA's library at MB ( Catalogue of JA's Library ).


Bulstrode Whitlocke, Memorials of the English Affairs; or, An Historical Account of What Passed from the Beginning of the Reign of Charles the First, to King Charles the Second His Happy Restauration, London, 1732.


Paul de Rapin-Thoyras and N. Tindal, The History of England, 25 vols., London, 1725; Catherine Macaulay, The History of England from the Accession of James I. to [the Revolution], 8 vols., London, 1763; David Hume, The History of England, 6 vols., London, 1754–1762; Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England, 4 vols., London, 1757–1758.


William Harris, An Historical and Critical Account of the Life of Oliver Cromwell, London, 1762. Other titles by Harris include An Historical Account of Hugh Peters, London, 1751; An Historical and Critical Account of the Life and Writings of Charles I, King of Great Britain, London, 1758; An Historical and Critical Account of the Life of Charles the Second, King of Great Britain, 2 vols., London, 1746; and An Historical and Critical Account of the Life and Writings of James the First, London, 1753.


John Rushworth, Historical Collection of Private Passages of State, Weighty Matters in Law, Remarkable Proceedings in Five Parliaments, 8 vols., London, 1721–1722; Thomas Rymer, Foedera conventiones, liter, et cujuscunque generis acta publica, 20 vols., London, 1704–1735.