Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 16 July 1776 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 16 July 1776 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Philadelphia July 16. 1776

In a Letter from your Uncle Smith, and in another from Mr. Mason which I received by this days Post1 I am informed that you were about taking the Small Pox, with all the Children. . . .2 It is not possible for me to describe, nor for you to conceive my Feelings upon this Occasion. Nothing, but the critical State of our Affairs should prevent me from flying to Boston, to your Assistance.

I mentioned your Intention to Mrs. Yard at noon. This Evening our President was here. I was engaged abroad, the whole Evening till it was late. When I came home, I found the inclosed Card from the President. I have not yet had an Opportunity to thank Mr. Hancock for his Politeness, which in this Instance is very obliging, but I shall take the first opportunity of doing it, and of informing him, that your Uncles Kindness of which I shall ever entertain the most gratefull Sentiments, has rendered it unnecessary, as well as improper, for you to accept of his most generous Offer.

I can do no more than wish and pray for your Health, and that of the Children. Never—Never in my whole Life, had I so many Cares upon my Mind at once. I should have been happier, if I had received my Letters, before Mr. Gerry went away this Morning, because I should have written more by him.—I rely upon the tender Care of our Friends. Dr. Tufts and your Uncle Quincy, and my Brother will be able to visit you, and give you any Assistance. Our other Friends, I doubt not will give you every Advice, Consolation and Aid in their Power.—I am very anxious about supplying you with Money. Spare for nothing, if you can get Friends to lend it you. I will repay with Gratitude as well as Interest, any sum that you may borrow.—I shall feel like a Savage to be here, while my whole Family is sick at Boston. But it cannot be avoided. I cannot leave this Place, without more Injury to the public now, than I ever could at any other Time, being in the Midst of scaenes of Business, which must not stop for any Thing. . . . Make Mr. Mason, Mr. any Body write to me, by every 51Post—dont miss one for any Cause whatever.—My dearest Love to you all.

RC and LbC (Adams Papers). Enclosure: John Hancock to JA, 16 July, printed herewith.


Isaac Smith Sr. to JA, 8 July, above, and Jonathan Mason to JA, 9 July (Adams Papers).


Here and below, suspension points are in MS.

Enclosure: John Hancock to John Adams, 16 July 1776 Hancock, John JA Enclosure: John Hancock to John Adams, 16 July 1776 Hancock, John Adams, John
Enclosure: John Hancock to John Adams
Sir Philada. Tuesday Eveng. 16 July 1776

On a Visit to Mrs. Yard this Evening I was inform'd by her that your Lady and Children propos'd to go into Boston, with an intention of Taking the Small Pox by Inoculation, and as the Season is warm, and the present process of Treating that Disorder, requires all the Air that can possibly be had, and as my Scituation in Boston is as much Bless'd with a free Air as most others, I make a Tender of my house and Garden for their use if you Choose to improve it, and by a Signification of your Consent I will write by this Express to that purport. The fruit in the Garden shall be at their Controul, and a maid Servant and the others in the House shall afford them every Convenience that appertains to the House.—It will give me pleasure to be any way instrumental, however small, in adding to their Convenience.1

I am Sir Your very hum sert., John Hancock

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To the Honl. John Adams Esqr. At Mrs. Yard's.” Enclosed in JA to AA of this date, preceding.


The mansion of John Hancock, built by his uncle Thomas Hancock in 1737, stood on the southern slope of Beacon Hill, overlooking the Common, on the grounds of the present west wing of the Massachusetts State House. Its gardens and orchards were extensive, and the house became a Boston landmark not only because of its conspicuous site and opulence but because it was visited by so many eminent persons (including JA and AA upon their return from Europe in June 1788) and was described by everyone who wrote about the city. Its grounds were greatly reduced by the building of Bulfinch's State House not long after Hancock's death, and in the 1850's the house itself was threatened with destruction to make way for more modern dwellings. Attempts by the State to acquire it as a governor's residence, and by the City to remove and preserve it as “an historical cabinet” or museum of antiquities, failed. Though many relics were preserved, the house was demolished in 1863. The dwellings which replaced it were razed when the west wing of the State House was added in the present century. See City of Boston, Report of Committee on the Preservation of the Hancock House, 1863; Chamberlain, Beacon Hill , ch. 11, with 52illustrations; and Walter Kendall Watkins, “The Hancock House and Its Builder,” Old-Time New England, 17:3–19 (July 1926), which is admirably illustrated.