Adams Family Correspondence, volume 10

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 10 February 1794 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Philadelphia Feb. 10. 1794

I have recd yours of Jan. 31.— And it has relieved me from a Melancholly which has hung upon me and been taken notice of by every body, since you wrote me of my Mothers illness— Present her my dutiful Affection and tell her that I hope to enjoy the Pleasure of her Company yet for many Years— That I am of her Opinion that she has the best Daughter and that the best Mother ought to have such a Daughter.


It is Day about with the Newsmongers. France is in not so good a Way. Even Mr Butler told me this day that “he turned away his Face and thoughts from France with Disgust and Horror.”— A shambles is called a Republic—And if they would but have read the Discourses on Davila they would have seen all this foretold in plain Language. St. Bartholomews Days are there said to be the natural and necessary Consequence of such a form of Government. And St. Bartholomews Days will endure as long As the form of Government— Aussi longtems qu’il plaira a Dieu.

I am weary of this eternal Indecision. I wish for the Times when Old sam. and Old John conducted with more Wisdom and more success. This is Egotism enough to deserve the Guillotine to be sure but I cannot but recollect old scænes, and old Results.—

The Rascals are now abusing the President as much as ever they abused me— And We shall see that A life of disinterested Devotion to the Publick is no more sacred in him than in another. In this Days Paper he is compared to Cosmo De Medicis to sylla to Cæsar: and charged with arbitrary illegal Conduct in many particulars particularly in the Proclamation respecting Duplaine.1

He cannot get out, any more than the Stirling, but I believe he desires it as fevently. I am determin’d to be saucy and I say that a Parcell of ignorant Boys who know not a rope in the ship, have the Vanity to think themselves able seamen.

We ought to authorize the President in perfect Secrecy to go as far as two hundred Thousand Pounds to obtain a perpetual Peace with the Algerines— Build a few Frigates if you will but expect they will be useless because unmanned.— But there is not a Member of either House who is not more master of the Subject than I am— so I should be modest

yours as ever


RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Febry 10 1794.”


A letter appearing in the Philadelphia General Advertiser, 10 Feb., signed Gracchus opens with the statement, “No station, no character in a republican government ought to shield a man’s conduct from investigation.” Gracchus further accuses George Washington of denying citizens the right to trial by jury and of behaving disrespectfully toward Edmond Genet. He concludes, “The freedom of these strictures may lead some to suppose that I am unfriendly to the President, … but although I respect his virtues I cannot admire his faults, neither can I tacitly submit to offer up my birthright on the altar of his power or aggrandizement. The language which I have held is that of a freeman, and none but a slave or a tyrant can be offended at it.”

Lucius Cornelius Sylla (or Sulla, ca. 138–79 B.C.), a Roman military leader, waged a civil war and became a dictator but eventually also restored constitutional government and retired to private life. Plutarch described his character as “rapacious in a high degree, 76 but still more liberal; … submissive to those who might be of service to him, and severe to those who wanted services from him” (Oxford Classical Dicy.; Plutarch, Lives, transl. John Langhorne and William Langhorne, rev. edn., N.Y., 1859, p. 322).

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 12 February 1794 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
my Dearest Friend Quincy Feb’ry 12th 1794

Yours of the 26th of Jan’ry I received last evening. You talk of not rising till june. why I know not what I shall possibly do, every Farm to Man—and with hands perhaps that I am unacquainted with. a scene of Buisness quite distant from me, when my Garden & potato Yard are full enough for me to attend to. why I shall have to travell from one Farm to the other, and not bring much to pass neither I fear without a proper overseer. we shall want a Farm Horse before that time and I know not what else, but there are many things to be thought of and those in season. I cannot but hope however that you will not sit later than May, at furthest. you will attend to my request in my Letter of the 10th1 We have got two Lambs already. The Animals in the yard have all had the Mumps I believe one of them I thought we should have lost. he was so sweld in his Throat that for a week he never eat a mouthfull and could not lye down. the poor creature set up on his hind legs & slept. I cured him by having his Throat Rubd with Goose oil daily Belcher has made them a yard of about 20 foot square inclosing their House and it is full of sea weed. the black Animal never would fat and I finally lost him from the misfortune he met with Grain continues very high corn at 5 & Rye at 6/8 Hay from seven to Nine shillings.

The two Houses cannot agree upon an answer to the Govenours Speach they are quite puzzeld.2 French influence appears to be going out of fashion, and daily losing ground the Democratick Societies are dwindling down. you will read in Russels paper some admirable observations addrest to the Phyladelphia Society taken from the Minerva.3

adieu my dear Friend how can I reconcile myself to the Idea of not seeing you till june. the terrors of the fever will Haunt my imagination. you must not tarry there so long— Remember me affectionatly to all inquiring Friends— Thomas will not get his Boots this winter. poor Cheeseman was torn all to peices—& starved almost to Death— There are letters from him—

Most affec’ly yours

A Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed by JQA: “The Vice-President of the United States / Philadelphia.”; endorsed: “Mrs A. Feb. 12. / ansd. 17. 1794.”


AA probably refers to her letter of 8 Feb., above, and her request for JA’s advice on the disposition of their various farms and the purchase of livestock. No letter from AA to JA of 10 Feb. has been found.


The members of the Mass. General Court had difficulties coming to terms on an appropriate response to Lt. Gov. Samuel Adams’ speech to the Court. The debate centered largely on whether or not to express approval of George Washington’s statements of neutrality in the response—a subject Adams had not broached in his own speech. The two houses finally agreed to a response, which was delivered to Adams on 19 February. The response began with a tribute to John Hancock and primarily reiterated the principle “that all men are born free and equal in rights.” The Court ultimately made no mention of neutrality but did include a statement “expressing our affections for that nation who assisted us in the time of our adversity, and with whom we are in alliance; and our sincere wishes that they may succeed in the defence of their country, and in the establishment of peace and good government, founded on the principles of liberty, and the rights of man.” It concluded with a promise to pay “due attention” to any proposals Adams might choose to make (Boston Columbian Centinel, 8, 22 Feb.).


On 5 Feb. the Boston Columbian Centinel reprinted a piece by “An American” that had originally appeared in the New York American Minerva, 24, 25 January. The article makes a point-by-point refutation of the recently published resolutions of the Democratic Society of Pennsylvania, strongly challenging its goals and even the very notion of popular societies and questioning its motives, while mocking its commitment to “liberty.” “An American” argues, “the strongest professions of good intentions cover the darkest designs.”