Adams Family Correspondence, volume 9

Abigail Adams Smith to John Quincy Adams, 18 April 1790 Smith, Abigail Adams Adams, John Quincy
Abigail Adams Smith to John Quincy Adams
Richmond April 18th 1790—

I had the pleasure to receive a letter from my Dear Brother many weeks since,1 I must acknowledge that I have been very deficient in attention by thus long neglecting to acknowledge its receipt, and I cannot find any sufficient appology to you, except a certain Indolence which at times takes possession of me and unfits me for writing—and which I presume others are not more exempt from them my self, I dare say you can as easily imagine its existance and affects as I could describe them,

the Communications which I made in my last respecting your Fathers oppinion of your going to Boston were taken from his General Conversation but was not official information but as I am informed that several Letters have passed between you since that time upon the Subject, I presume and hope that you are possessed of his sentiments upon it, and that they do accord in all respects with your 47wishes,— I do not think that you have any right at this period to Complain of any want of Success in your pursuits, do not anticipate such an Evil, for I cannot admit the idea that it can ever be realized, your situation will become every day more agreeable and sattisfactory as you become engaged in Business that will employ your time; engage your attention; render you independant; and enable you to promote the Happiness of others; busy minds are never Sattisfied unless their time and attention, is fully engaged, upon subjects which they esteem worthy of them

you must excuse me if I do not give any beleif to your Confession of the existance of an attachment to which “reason and Prudence would oppose their influence” I have other oppinions of your judgement and discretion than to suppose you have given your mind up uninfluenced by reason and Prudence,— I could not even advise you to permit yourself to become speedily engaged in an attachment upon which must devolve your future happiness, prosperity, and Success,— if it is not too late to advise,—I would rather offer mine, in favour of your first settling in business and takeing time to form a more extensive acquaintance with the World,— I am Sensible that your knowledge of Mankind is more enlarged and Extensive than perhaps any young Man of your age Possesses. that your knowledge of Books is Superior, and that your acquaintance with Human Nature has been derived from observation as well as from reading, that you have traversed those paths of Science and Learning which others much more advanced in years have yet to pursue—but you may yet be deficient in Practical knowledge, and as one who feels much interested in your Prosperity and Wellfare, I could wish to see you a few years further advanced in Life before you engage in a Connection which if you form at present must impede your progress and advancement

but if your mind is already engaged—I shall not hesitate to beleive that the object is in every respect worthy of your Partiallity, and if so time for Consideration will not abate the degree; or Chancell the weight of the engagement upon your mind,—

but I am sure that I have said enough upon a Subject which I had no pre-intention of mentioning when I took up my Pen, I hope you will not think I have been too explicit, or permit thease my Sentiments if they should not accord with your oppinions to interfere with the future Confidence of your letters, I shall ever Consider myself flattered by your Confidence and Communications upon every Subject, but I shall never excite them for unworthy purposes or to 48expose to others who may view things through a different medium from what they are intended

I am prepareing and expect to remove to New York the first week in May we have taken a House in Nassau Street,2 at which, (should you make an excursion in the Course of the Summer to this place) I shall be very happy to receive you, and flatter myself it will be in my Power to Contribute more to your amusement, and Happiness, than it was at your last visit; Mr Smith desires me to present his regards to you upon the Subject of Politicks I must refer you to Mamma and your Brother I do not pretend to understand them nor to attend to them, it seems to be a General observation that Congress set day after day and do nothing,—

My Chrildren are well and Willm desires to be remembered to you I am with Sincere affection your Sister

A S—3

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “My Sister. 18. April 1790.”; “My Sister April 18. 1790.”; and “answered May 1st: 1790.”


Not found.


The Smiths moved to 13 Nassau Street, parallel to Broadway and perpendicular to Wall Street, in the heart of New York City ( New-York Directory , 1790, Evans, No. 22724).


Unable to fit her full signature at the bottom of the page, AA2 repeated her signature, “sister A Smith—,” in the margin.

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 21 April 1790 Adams, Abigail Cranch, Mary Smith
Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch
my dear sister Richmond Hill April 21 1790

I received your two kind Letters of April 1 & 51 I am extreemly sorry to hear that mrs Norten is afflicted in the way that you write me she is, but tell her to keep up a good Heart. I can Sympathize in her Sufferings a Bath of Hot Herbs was the most salutary means made use for me. a poultice of Camomile flowers is also very good, but I hope she is relieved before this time. painfull experience would teach me upon the very first chill, to apply a white Bread poultice because those cold fits are always succeeded by a fever and complaints of the Breast always follow.2 I am glad to hear that my great Nephew [is su]ch a fine child.

When I wrote you last, you may remember that I told you I would speak to Genll Knox in behalf of mr Cranch. I thought I had best do it before I said any thing to mr A about the place as the arrangments which the Genll might make would prove more advantageous to him and require his attention upon the spot. I talkd with him and he engaged to send me a letter for him which is now inclosed to you.3 49he told me that at west point he would find a dwelling House work shop &c and two years employ if he would go there immediatly that he believed there was yet Buisness to be compleated at Springfield. there are many applicants so that Mr Cranch should not be dilatory as there may be now a good opening for him.4 he will not fail of writing directly to Genll Knox and giving him the information he requests The Miss Palmers may continue in the House untill mr Cranch can accommodate them better. I wish my dear sister that I could come to Braintree, but I do not see how it can be effected to any good purpose. pray can you tell me where I could get a Boy of a dozen years I would have him come round in Barnard if any one is to be had. Such a wretched crew as N york produces are scarcly to be found in any city in Europe. I am so much discouraged by every Body here that I dare not attempt to take one. I wish you would inquire of Ruthe Ludden whether she would be willing to come in Barnard & let me know. Mr Smiths Petter had a likely Boy that he askd me to take before I came here. if he is not put out, and he will Send him to me by captain Barnard I will take him—5 Let me hear from you soon Mrs Smith is going to House keeping in N york the 1 of May, the day when every Body Removes as they tell me here— I shall feel lost— the children amuse & divert me much but they will be here half there time. William is down on his knees searching the pictures in Milton, whilst I write. Gammar he says look here, the Man with a great sword going to cut them are Men all to pieces.— he is a lovely child with a temper as mild & sweet as one would wish. adieu my dear sister. I must quit to dress, as mrs washington Lady Temple mrs dalton mrs King & Several other Ladies drink Tea with me this afternoon

Yours most affectionatly

A Adams

wednesday Noon—

Mr Brisler desires me to ask if mr Cranch has got the Remainder of his money from mr Baxter and prays he would see mr Baxter & let him know that he wants it

RC (MWA:Abigail Adams Letters); addressed: “To / Mrs Mary Cranch / Braintree.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.


The 1 April letter is above, but the 5 April letter has not been found.


Poultices of boiled chamomile flowers and of heated white bread and milk were used to treat sore and broken breasts (Henry Wilkins, The Family Adviser; or, A Plain and Modern Practice of Physic, 3d edn., Phila., 1801, p. 22, Shaw-Shoemaker, No. 1658; Eliza Smith, The Compleat Housewife; or, Accomplish'd Gentlewoman's Companion, 5th edn., Williamsburg, Va., 1742, p. 204, Evans, No. 5061).

50 3.

Not found.


The military arsenal located on the Connecticut River in Springfield, Mass., was used during the Revolution and later designated a national armory. Congress established two companies of artillery in 1786 to be stationed at Springfield and West Point, though the assignment was set to expire in early 1790. Joseph Cranch had worked briefly as an armorer at Springfield in 1785 (David D. Hartzler and James B. Whisker, The Northern Armory: The United States Armory at Springfield, Massachusetts, 1795–1859, Bedford, Penn., 1997, p. 14; First Fed. Cong. , 1:118; Joseph Palmer to JA, 28 Nov. 1785, Adams Papers).


For Peter's son, Prince, see AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 13 June 1790, below.