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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


This foot note contained in document ADMS-04-01-02-0233
10. If JA 's reply to this letter were not lost (see descriptive note above), it would undoubtedly be possible to tell with certainty what AA meant by “the Speach from the Rostrum” which she found so distasteful. In any case, her present comments would not have been, as she says, “sausy” unless she were criticizing something for which JA had had some personal or official responsibility. One possibility is the Proclamation of the Massachusetts General Court of 23 Jan., designed to be read at annual town meetings in March, at the opening of courts, and in pulpits. This paper had actually been written by JA ; see his Works , 1:192–197; Diary and Autobiography , 2:226; Ford, Mass. Broadsides , No. 1973, with facsimile facing p. 272. But whether or not AA knew of his part in the Proclamation, she was more likely to have approved its sentiments and style than to have criticized them. Her strictures may of course have been intended for an as yet unidentified pamphlet or a piece in one of the newspapers among those that JA was cur• { 361 } rently sending her from Philadelphia. But the editors incline to think that they apply to Provost William Smith's Oration in Memory of General Montgomery, which was delivered on 19 Feb., advertised on 4 March, and could have been sent to AA with JA 's letter of 8 March, here acknowledged. If AA was indeed commenting on Smith's performance, her opinion accorded very well with that of the Philadelphia ladies who had heard the eulogy delivered. On 26 Feb. Samuel Adams wrote his wife:
“Certain political Principles were thought to be interwoven with every part of the Oration which were displeasing to the Auditory. It was remarkd that he could not even keep their Attention. A Circle of Ladies, who had seated themselves in a convenient place on purpose to see as well as hear the Orator, that they might take every Advantage for the Indulgence of Griefe on so melancholly an Occasion, were observd to look much disappointed and chagrind” (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 1:365).