Adams Family Correspondence, volume 10

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 19 April 1794 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Philadelphia April 19. 1794

Senate has been three days in debate upon the Appointment of Mr Jay, to go to London. It has this day been determined in his favour 18 vs. 8.1

You cannot imagine what horror some Persons are in, least Peace Should continue. The Prospect of Peace throws them into Distress. 148 Their Countenances lengthen at the least opening of an Appearance of it. Glancing Gleams of Joy beam from thier Faces whenever all Possibility of it seems to be cutt off.— You can divine the Secret source of those Feelings as well as I.

The opposition to Mr Jay has been quickened by Motives which always influence every Thing in an Elective Government. Pretexts, are never wanting to ingenious Men. But the Views of all the principal Parties are always directed to the Election of the first Magistrate. If Jay Should Succeed, it will recommend him to the Choice of the People for President as soon as a Vacancy shall happen. This will weaken the hopes of the Southern states for Jefferson. This I beleive to be the Secret Motive of the opposition to him though other Things were alledged as ostensible Reasons: such as His Monarchical Principles, his Indifference about the Navigation of the Missisippi, his Attachment to England his Aversion to France, none of which are well founded, and his holding the office of C. J &c2

The Day is a good omen: may the gentle Zephers waft him to his Destination and the Blessing of Heaven succeed his virtuous Endeavours to preserve Peace.— I am So well Satisfied with this measure that I shall run the venture to ask leave to go home, if Congress determines to sitt beyond the middle of May.

Mr Adams is to be Governor, it Seems by a great Majority of the People: and I am not Surprized at it.— I should have thought human Nature dead in the Massachusetts if it had been otherwise. I expect now he will be less antifœderal. Gill is to be Lt.— We will go to Princetown again to congratulate him.— I thought however that Gerry would have been the Man.

We are illtreated by Britain, and You and I know it is owing to a national Insolence against Us. If They force Us into a War, it is my firm faith that they will be chastised for it a Second time worse than the first.— I am with / an Affection too tender to be expressed your

J. A.

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs A”; endorsed: “April 19 1794.”


By early April, George Washington had begun seriously to consider sending an envoy to Britain to make another attempt to negotiate an Anglo-American commercial treaty. The growing threat of war made this mission more pressing, though its goal was also to address the fact that neither side had lived up to the terms of the 1783 Treaty of Paris. Washington initially considered several people for the post, including JA, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and John Jay. Washington eventually settled on Jay as the best option and offered it to him on 15 April. Jay accepted the next day, and Washington immediately submitted his name to the Senate, who approved it on 19 April (Stahr, John Jay, p. 313–317; Hamilton, Papers, 16:261–265).


Democratic-Republicans and Southerners had numerous objections to Jay’s nomination. He was already chief justice of the 149 U.S. Supreme Court—which meant he would hold posts in two separate branches of government—and Jay’s previous work as a diplomat during the Revolution and as secretary for foreign affairs under the Articles of Confederation also brought him criticism. Specifically, some felt he had behaved too warmly toward Don Diego de Gardoqui during negotiations with Spain in 1785 and had been too willing to compromise with the Spanish over navigation of the Mississippi River (Monaghan, John Jay, p. 256–259, 367).

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 22 April 1794 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Philadelphia April 22. 1794

I recd. Yesterday your kind favour of the 11th. I have not been able lately to write you so much as I wished. The President has appointed Mr Jay to go to England as Envoy Extraordinary, in hopes that Satisfaction may be obtained for the Injuries done us in the Capture of our Vessells. I have no very Sanguine hopes of his Success, but if any Man can Succeed I presume he is as likely as any. At least he will give as much Satisfaction to the American People as any Man.

Mr Adams’s Election is no surprize to me. I should indeed have wondered if he had been disgraced and should have lessened my Veneration for the sentiments of Justice and Gratitude in the Breasts of the People of Massachusetts. I wonder not at his lukewarmness at the national Government. I wonder rather that I am not as indifferent to it, as he is. He knows as well as I do, what a kind of Ennemies We are associated with.— I have no Apprehension that he will oppose or embarrass the general Government more than another.— A Governor must ex officio be good for nothing.

Mr Gills Election was not so clearly forseen by me. He however can afford to be Lieutenant Governor or Governor as well as any Man, and is for what I know as well qualified. One thing I know We have three Governors in senate neither of whom are a whit wiser or more virtuous than Mr Gill.1 The People are most afraid of knowing and designing Men, as Governors.

You conduct your Farm with great Spirit, and I wish you good Success.

Last night and to Day We have a charming Rain after a long droughth— I hope you will have rain enough for a fruitful Season.

I cannot answer your Question: but I hope the Appointment of an Envoy, will accellerate our Adjournment by Some Days.

Our Friend here is evidently disappointed. The Farm at Brooklyne will prove like that at Neponsit and like that at Cambridge.—2 These Advances to the Chair, are like the Advances of a Mistress: unless 150 they are attempted with great Address and Delicacy they are Apt to cool the Ardour of the Lover.

The Election of Mr Austin is no Way unexpected to me. The Mechanicks who think he has Brains, in my Opinion are not wholly mistaken. I wish he had more liberal Connections and better informed Advisers.— I wish he was a more Sincere Inquirer after Truth less under the Influence of Prejudices and less disposed to flatter the Prepossessions of others.

The House has resolved to prohibit British Manufactures next November. Whether a Bill will pass as currently as the Resolve I know not. And What will be the Fate of the Bill if it comes, in the Senate I doubt not.—3

The English have treated Us very ill: but Neutrality is so much preferable to War, that We shall bear somewhat, rather than fight. We must not bear too much however. The American People must not loose the Sentiment of their Forces, nor submit to too many and too deep humiliations. I am with / an ardent desire to see you, most / tenderly your

J. A.

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs A”; endorsed: “April 22d 1794.”


Three senators in the 3d Congress had previously served as governor: John Langdon of New Hampshire, Alexander Martin of North Carolina, and Moses Robinson of Vermont. Additionally, James Jackson of Georgia was elected governor in 1788 but declined the position, and William Bradford of Rhode Island served three years as deputy governor ( Biog. Dir. Cong. ).


“Our Friend” is George Cabot, who JA believed had recently purchased a home in Brookline, Mass., in order to further his political aspirations to become governor. JA is predicting that instead it will become a place of retirement, as Neponset Hill, in Milton, Mass., was for James Warren and Cambridge for Elbridge Gerry. See vol. 9:484, 485.


The House of Representatives continued to discuss responses to British attacks on U.S. vessels throughout April. After approving one resolution, to suspend all commercial intercourse with Britain, on 15 April (see JA to AA, 15 April, and note 2, above), the House approved another resolution on 17 April, to extend the general embargo, due to expire shortly, to 25 May. The Senate concurred in that decision the next day. Subsequently, on 25 April, the House approved a bill suspending importation of various British goods by a vote of 58 to 34. Three days later, however, the Senate defeated the bill, with JA casting the tie-breaking vote ( Annals of Congress, 3d Cong., 1st sess., p. 84, 90, 598, 605, 1483).