Adams Family Correspondence, volume 10

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 12 December 1794 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
my dearest Friend Quincy December 12th 1794

If I had waited patiently for the post of Thursday Noon, I need not have had so much anxiety, but I had Sent on Wednesday to the office, and received my papers, & word that there were no Letters, so not having been very well myself, my Imagination conjured up 296 that you were not only sick, but very sick, or you would not let two posts pass without writing. I was relieved by your Letters of December 1 & 2d. what I wrote you respecting the Medford Farm, and collecting Materials for Building, went only upon the Supposition that my Sister should sell. the Building I know will be expensive, but according to Captain Brooks, the house is Scarcly habitable If I had more landed estate, which had been my Fathers, I should regreet less the parting with my part of the Medford Farm. For I never had an anxiety upon my mind, but what if I was ever to be so unhappy as to need it, that I should be sufficiently provided for. yet as that is my Birth Right; been upwards of ninety years in the Family & sixty Tennanted by the Same Name; I own I should part with it with great reluctance. captain Brooks told me that there had been a Number of persons to him, since the death of mr shaw to inquire if mrs shaw would sell, & whether it were possible to purchase the whole. the Cannals have given a rise to land in that Neighbourhood1 if Mrs shaw does not sell, she will Mortgage the income to Build I have conversd with the Doctor upon the Subject. he means to go to Medford & take a Carpenter with him and estimate the cost. Mrs Shaw has some thoughts of selling Hockly which will enable her to Build without relinquishing her income from the Medford Farm, but she is still undertermind, & wishes for advise— I did not like to give it, first, because I really could not say which was best for her to do, and because I was an interested person. tho I know I am not selfish, and should dispise my self if I was capable of even wishing an advantage over any person, much less the widow & Fatherless. I was gratified the last week in hearing of an act of benevolence in the Haverhill Farmers. some of them proposed to the Gentlemen of the Town, that if they would purchase a Quantity of wood in the woods Sufficient for Mrs shaw this Winter, they would cut & draw it, which was accordingly done, and at Thanksgiving they continued & manifested their regard and affection towards her. who ever goes after her in the Relation in which she has stood, will find a difficult Task to make her place good. no person could wish to be more loved & regarded by a people than she is by them.

Have you read the Jacobiniad in the orrery?2 do you know its features? you will recollect a request made for a coppy of a poem. the Reply was that it was out of the hands of the owner. if they become Sausy & Insolent it shall be printed, said they who the retailer is I know not. I suppose Honestus’s attack upon the President has brought forth the extracts alluded to. I was pleasd with the address 297 of the Senate, and observd to mr Cranch, how feelingly the President replied, & with an ardour & warmth, that shew his sensibility upon the occasion— the address of the House, is like the motion of a Caterpillar, slow & heavy; I expect the Countanance which the Democrats have met with from the House, and their unwillingness to censure them, will cost this Country a standing Army. as France has had a great hand in raising the Spirit of munity & Rebellion here, now she appears to be convinced of the pernicious concequences resulting from her Revolutionary Tribunals, Jacobine clubs &c & Since the convention have declared it a disgrace to suffer any voices to be heard in the Republick, which shall speak louder than the National representitives. I hope their influence will be as great in crushing this Hydra, as in giving birth to it, but the Devil is always easier raisd than laid. what say the Jacobins to that part of the address, which says—“No private Authority, or society is the People; or ought to act or speak in their Name.”3 Holland it is generally believed is in the Hands of the French— England is just ready for Tumult. happy America, Land peculiarly blest! long may it continue thus, under an all gracious Providence, to whom do this people owe their safety and security? to their wise govenours—their judicious patriots, & to the enlightned part of the community.

present my respectfull compliments to mr Ceracchi for his obliging present. if it is as good a likeness as the Bust, I shall value it highly— I wish I could obtain a Medallion of the President as a companion to it. this Country will never again be blest, as it is at this Period. may the Remembrance be perpetuated. I see the Secretary of the Treasury has Sent in his determination to resign. have his adversaries hunted him down? or has he more asspiring views.? where will be found a successor?

The Farmers Calender must Succeed. this week 3 days have been employd in the woods, one day in plowing for mr Belcher. diging up the wall & heaping the Stones for sleding has occupied some of their time. to day they are in quest of more sea weed, but my people, all report, that they have cleard the Shores of it. the manure at the Barn will be attended to. at present we see no prospect of Snow, nor does the Season look like winter. shaw told me a few days ago that he had been seven weeks here, & that his Team had not stood still a day during the whole time, Sundays excepted. his Name sake wants more energy. tis difficult getting him in motion.

Mrs Brisler is here to day She and her Family are well— our Friends are all So. your Mother has walkd here twice this week, and 298 spent two days with me. Remember me to mrs otis & cousin Betsy. they were all well at her Brothers yesterday—


A Adams—

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “M[rs] A. Decr. 12 and 23.” Some loss of text due to a torn manuscript.


The Middlesex Canal, which was designed to connect Boston Harbor with the Merrimack River, was first authorized in June 1793 and construction began in Sept. 1794. While it was not fully operational until 1803, its planned existence increased the value of land along its route (Mary Stetson Clarke, The Old Middlesex Canal, Melrose, Mass., 1974, p. 9–10, 35, 42).


“Remarks on the Jacobiniad,” a ten-part series published in the Boston Federal Orrery between 8 Dec. 1794 and 22 Jan. 1795, was a satirical treatment of Democratic-Republican societies in Boston disguised as a serious literary review of a fictitious poem, “The Jacobiniad.” It was later published in pamphlet form in Boston, 1795, Evans, No. 28276, where it is attributed to John Sylvester John Gardiner (1765–1830), an Episcopal priest and rector at Trinity Church, Boston ( DAB ).


AA is quoting from a letter from the National Convention to “the French People” warning that “the participators of the crimes of ROBESPIERRE, and of all the conspirators that you have overthrown, are employing every artifice to sap the foundations of the Republic; and, covered with different masks, are trying by disorder and anarchy, to affect a counterrevolution.” The letter continued, “The National Convention, constant in its progress, supported by the will of the people, will maintain and organize the government which has saved the Republic” (Boston Columbian Centinel, 3 Dec. 1794).

Thomas Boylston Adams to Abigail Adams, 12 December 1794 Adams, Thomas Boylston Adams, Abigail
Thomas Boylston Adams to Abigail Adams
Dear Madam, The Hague December 12th: 1794

The Commission with which you charged me for the Messrs Willink has been executed so far as depends upon me. The Gentlemen have promised to embrace the first opportunity that offers for Boston, to forward the things to you. I thought that they were too large to be sent with convenience form New York, for which port only, were there any vessels to sail immediately from Amsterdam.1 The commissions with which I was charged for Mrs Welsh to be executed in England, were duly attended to. The Silk was colored according to the pattern given; and the money delivered to Mrs Copley to purchase the other silk, who promised to send it by the first opportunity addressed to you.2 I believe this is all the important business I have to communicate.

I wish it were in my power to afford you any amusement by this opportunity; but having experienced very little myself since my residence here, I have nothing to relate which could be worthy of your perusal. I past a few days some time since at Amsterdam, and received many flattering civilities from many people there, but as I cannot yet speak either french or the language of the Country, I felt 299 myself what I actually was in most companies, a mere cypher. I understand almost every thing spoken in French, and hope shortly to acquire the talent of speaking that language, which is more generally in use than the language of this Country.

I was pleased with the City of Amsterdam, which in point of appearance is much superior to London. We were occasionally in company with the Orangists & the Patriots, and sometimes there was a mixture of both; the professions of friendship & cordiality were greater from some of the patriotic party than the orangists, but I should do violence to my opinion if I said, that any difference was discernible in the actual attentions we experienced. I could easily discover the exciting cause of professions of attachment to America, which came from gentlemen, who owe all their present wealth to the lucrative commerce they carry on with that Country, and I could not but think, that the warmth of expression was in some measure proportioned to the degree of benefit. In short there is a species of idolatry to money in this Country, which altho’ it may not be more fervent than in other places, at least has the appearance of devotion, because it is not a point of delicacy to conceal their homage. I began in England to despise the sordid temper which appear’s to actuate that people in a great degree, but my contempt was not complete till I saw this passion in its most lively colors in the genius of a Dutchman. I have no contempt for the possession of money, as it is a means of obtaining the goodthings of this world, but to possess millions, and convert them to no use for the benefit of others, is practising avarice in its most approbrious shape. I suppose however that the doctrine of Hobbes is more strikingly illustrated in this Country, than any other; and that the ladder of power is made of gold, instead of personal merit. It is but a different mean of attaining the end & aim of all mankind. When gold is wisdom, or in the same estimation among a whole people, the heaviest purse is sure of the greatest patronage. It is a circumstance as singular in my opinion as it is true in fact, that this principle of avarice is so strong, that it will not suffer these people to contribute a trifling proportion of their wealth to defend and secure the whole. I suspect that the despotic dominion of their glittering Master, has so dazzled the active force of independence in their minds, that they will submit to any foreign power, that may chose to take them under protection. Present appearances authorize all these reflections; you will not therefore accuse me of severity; when they deserve a better opinion I shall be happy to embrace it.


You will wish to know in what manner we pass our time here. I can satisfy you in a few words. We rise in the morning between 8 & 9, write all the forenoon, that is till 3 ’o’Clock. Get our dinner, and then read or write till between 12 & 1. at night. This is the journal of one day, and it answers equally well for all. When the weather permits I take a walk in the wood, where the only beings with whom I have any connection are an army of half naked beggars who are emploring a hard earned pittance from the close-clinched fist of charity. This place is in itself a delightful spot. I never saw a City altogether so beautiful; in Summer it must be another paradise, you see already I have begun to rebell.

Remember me to all friends in your neighborhood, and believe me now & at all times / your Son

Thomas B Adams.

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs: A Adams.”; endorsed: “T Adams / December 12 1794.”


The exact details of the items AA requested that TBA purchase for her are not known but apparently included tablecloths and sheeting. AA complained in Nov. 1795 that some of the items she received were not of adequate quality, and as late as Oct. 1796, TBA was still trying to resolve matters with the Dutch merchants involved ( AA to TBA, 30 Nov. 1795; TBA to AA, 5 Oct. 1796, both Adams Papers).


Susanna Clarke Copley sent the silk for Abigail Kent Welsh on 15 Nov. 1794; see Copley to AA, 15 Nov., above, and AA to TBA, 11 Feb. 1795, below.