Adams Family Correspondence, volume 10

Thomas Boylston Adams to William Cranch, 25 April 1794 Adams, Thomas Boylston Cranch, William
Thomas Boylston Adams to William Cranch
My dear William Philadelphia April 25— 94.

This day I had the pleasure to receive by our Friend Mr White your obliging favor of the 12th: inst;1 your other favors by private hands have also reached me; you have the luck of discovering private opportunities of Conveyance, while I am obliged to omit writing or send my letters Pr Post— I insist that when I send you a letter for which you are taxed with postage in return your next letter shall come with the same incumbrance, for I am one of those who admire reciprocity, & unless you agree to this plan I shall desist from being a punctual correspondent. To be sure I would not omit a private opportunity for the sake of sending by Post, but when I received a letter it should be speedily answered, whether a private conveyance occurred or not. I am happy in the introduction of Mr: J Greenleaf to my acquaintance; I had long known him by reputation, & even felt my self acquainted with him, before this last revival; but as several years have intervened since my first seeing him, a new introduction was necessary, not to refresh my memory as to his person, but to inform us both that we were before acquainted.2 Partaking the disposition of the family of which he is a member, he must be amiable, and if a countenance ever spoke benevolence, it is such an one as his. Our friend Mr: White seems to me rather sober, thoughtful, & gloomy at times; but the nature of his errand I presume from its novelty carries something with it to inspire apprehension. I have derived much pleasure however from his Company, and have only to regret that you could not conveniently attend him to this Place— You gave me a hint in one of your Letters that I might possibly see you, & I had no small dependence upon the prospect; however when I lament the disapointment, I should be doubly unhappy if the cause of your detention did not afford some satisfaction; happy shall I esteem myself when the plea of business in the Professional line may be urged with propriety in Bar of Expeditions of the pleasureable kind in which I may incline to partake.


I have however time enough upon hand to take a journey into the interior parts of this State upon a Circuit with the Supreme Court, in which I am not yet allowed to plead— Tomorrow (28—) I sett off I regret that Mr White did not sooner arrive, that I might have passed more time with him.

Pray my dear Coz—when does your turn arrive to be manacled with Hymen’s Chains. I presume you mean to give me timely notice, that I may wish you all the happiness this life affords in such a State— You, & if not too presumptuous to name my self in such good company I will say, I, have hitherto governed my self by the maxims of cautious prudence, O! may She never forsake us; but conducted by her wise directions may our wishes ever conform to circumstances, and our pleasures take every latitude, but that of excess.

This letter will probably be rather out of date when it reaches you, but I could not suffer Mr White to return with out a few lines— When I return from my Journey I will give you some account of it; ’till then receive the warmest affection / of your Friend & / Brother

Thomas B Adams

PS Remember me to our Unckle’s family— I may sometimes omit to express, but my love is allways implied in my letters to you— Miss H—— is not forgotten

RC (OCHP:William Cranch Papers, Mss fC891c RM); addressed: “William Cranch / Atty at Law / Haverhill”; internal address: “W Cranch Esqr:”; endorsed: “T.B.A. April 25. 1794 / recd. May 11th.— / ansd.—18th.”; notation: “Mr: White.”


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James Greenleaf (1765–1843) of Boston spent several years in Europe representing the New York mercantile firm of Watson & Greenleaf and served as U.S. consul at Amsterdam from 1793 to 1795, although he only lived in Amsterdam for the first few months of his appointment. William Cranch, who would also become Greenleaf’s brother-in-law, later became his agent in Washington, D.C. (Greenleaf, Greenleaf Family, p. 101; Clark, Greenleaf and Law, p. 13, 80–81). See also JA to AA, 9 Nov. 1794, below.

Abigail Adams Smith to John Adams, 29 April 1794 Smith, Abigail Adams Adams, John
Abigail Adams Smith to John Adams
My Dear Father: New-York, April 29th, 1794.

Your letter of the 21st of March, has lain by me some time.1   *  *  *  * 

The prospect of a war alarms me much; many persons express their apprehensions respecting the safety of this town in particular— supposing that in case of a war, it would be of great consequence 157 for the British to have possession of it, and presuming they will attempt to invade it; but I hope they will find other objects to engage their attention, and that we shall be permitted to enjoy peace, however little we may merit its continuance.

Our fortifications do not proceed with much rapidity. I cannot but lament that the Baron Steuben has been wholly unnoticed; he would have considered it as complimentary, if he had been appointed to superintend the buildings, and I believe would be allowed by the best judges, to be as capable of the business as those who are honoured with the attentions of the President.2

I hope Congress will not continue in session until the approach of the hot weather, or, if they are obliged to, that they will adjourn out of that uncomfortable city. I shall be distressed from an apprehension of the return of the fever.

Do you, my dear sir, flatter yourself with the idea, that the mission of Mr. Jay will secure to us the blessings of peace? He is to carry the olive branch in one hand, and the sword of defence in the other. I wish the former may soothe, and the latter strike them with terror; but I fear that we are too incapable of exciting their apprehensions on the subject of self-interest; and until they find us necessary to their prosperity, they will not pay us much respect. I not only wish the cause prosperity, but I wish Mr. Jay, individually, success. I confess I do not feel very sanguine upon the subject.

From the debates in the British Parliament, we find that the opposition make honourable mention of our government, and of the President’s measures; but the opposition does not gain much strength or many numbers, and there are so many persons interested in the support of their government, that the minister is generally sure of carrying his points.3

Will you be so good as to let me know when you think it probable that you shall return?

Yours, affectionately,

A. Smith.

MS not found. Printed from AA2, Jour. and Corr., 2:131–132.


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In early March a committee submitted a report to the House of Representatives listing those ports and harbors that “ought to be put in a state of defence,” including New York City. On 20 March Congress approved “An act to provide for the defence of certain ports and harbors in the United States,” which authorized money for the fortification of those ports under the president’s direction. Several French engineers were appointed to oversee this work. Baron von Steuben, who had written around the same time an “Opinion on a Proper System of Defense of the City and Harbour of New York,” was instead appointed by the New 158 York State legislature to supervise the building of forts in the western part of the state ( Annals of Congress, 3d Cong., 1st sess., p. 479–480, 1423–1424; J. E. Kaufmann and H. W. Kaufmann, Fortress America: The Forts That Defended America 1600 to the Present, Cambridge, 2004, p. 142–143; Young, Democratic Republicans, p. 379, 391).


On 21 Jan. King George III gave his address at the opening of Parliament justifying the necessity of war with France. In response, John Henry Petty, Earl Wycombe, suggested that the British, “so far from rushing on with avidity to the contest, we might have, like America, avoided, and like her enjoyed in its stead, all the benefits of a neutral situation against contending powers.” Wycombe, however, was in the minority. A proposed amendment by Charles James Fox in the Commons encouraging the king to open negotiations for peace with the French as soon as possible was defeated by a vote of 277 to 59; a similar amendment in the Lords likewise failed by a wide margin ( Parliamentary Hist., 30:1045–1047, 1062–1286; New York Daily Advertiser, 26 April; Clive Emsley, Britain and the French Revolution, Harlow, Eng., 2000, p. 25–26).