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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


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Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0120

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Warren, Mercy Otis
Date: 1775-01-25

Abigail Adams to Mercy Otis Warren

[salute] Dear Mrs. Warren

I wrote you last Sabbeth evening2 in a good deal of pertubation of Spirits. I fear I did wrong in sending it you; I then promised to acquaint you with the result as soon as I knew it. Mr. Adams returnd a monday night in order to Relieve me from my apprehensions. It does not appear that there was any premediated design to raise a Tumult. An officer very drunk sallied forth, and was seen in that state by the Watch who suspecting that some evil might ensue offerd to see him to his lodgings. He readily consented, but his Servant comeing up and seeing him with the Watch, enterd into a Quarrel with them, and ran to Jones tavern and raised nine officers who were pretty well warmd with liquor and they without inquireing into the merits of the cause, fell upon the Watch. The people applied to the General. He orderd them under guard, and a court martial sat upon { 180 } them a monday. I have not heard what they did. The Watch enterd their complaint befor Justice Quincy and Warrents were issued out. Yesterday Mr. Adams went to Town to attend the examination before Justice Hill, Quincy and Pemberton. I hear the court was much crouded, and that they did not get thro, but adjourned till to day.3—Thus are we to be in continual hazard and Jeopardy of our lives from a Set of dissolute unprincipald officers, and an Ignorant abandoned Soldiery who are made to believe that their Errant here is to Quell a Lawless Set of Rebels—who can think of it without the utmost indignation. “Is it not better to die the last of British freemen than live the first of British Slaves.” Every act of cunning and chicanery is made use of by the execrable Massachusettensis “to make the worse appear the better reasoning” and with high words that bare semblance of worth, not substance gently raise their fainting courage and dispell their fears “and now his Heart distends with pride, and hard'ning in his strength glories.” I do not think it unlikely that he receives a share of the Money we are told was sent as a bribe for the Leaders of the people. “Sly undermining Tool” representing the Whigs as men of desperate fortunes as tho Truth could not be told only by men of fortunes and pensioners. When is it ever told by them? Are not pensions and places productive of a most narrow sordid and mercenary Spirit, and are we not told that they are granted more for Ministeria[l] than publick Services?—Help me to a Name befitting the character of this Miscreant!4
We have had a Town meeting this week for the chusing of Delegates, and voted to send but one by which means Col. Thair [Thayer] is left out and Deacon Palmer chosen. They voted also to pay a Shilling L M5 to every Man who will excersise once a week from 3 o clock till 6 and to pay the Money which shall be collected as taxes into the hands of the Select Men.6
We have had a Rumor here that a collection of tories from Marshfield have flown to Town, to request a regiment of Soldiers to protect them, and in concequence of it that 100 & 25 have embarked but should it be so what they can propose we can not immagine, unless it is to give them opportunity to escape.
Dft (Adams Papers), undated; in JQA 's hand at head of text is an assigned (and erroneous) date: “1777.”
1. Internal evidence makes it possible to date this letter precisely. As the newspapers indicate, the “examination” before the Suffolk justices began on Tuesday, 24 Jan., and was continued next day, which AA speaks of as “to day,” i.e. 25 Jan. 1775.
2. This letter, which must have been { 181 } written on 22 Jan., has not been found.
3. The Boston Gazette of 30 Jan. gives a detailed account of this incident. Eight British officers were bound over by the justices on 25 Jan. “to answer for their conduct at the Superior Court, ... but the good People of this County will rather chuse to hear no more of this Matter, than return Jurors [to] the Superior Court upon the Act of Parliament to regulate the Government of this Province, which they have resolved never to submit to.”
4. The author of the “Massachusettensis” papers, which appeared in the Boston Post Boy, 12 Dec. 1774–3 April 1775, was Daniel Leonard, though JA , who answered them in twelve numbers over the signature “Novanglus” in the Boston Gazette, 25 Jan.–17 April 1775, long supposed they were the work of Jonathan Sewall. See JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:161; 3:313.
5. Lawful money.
6. This meeting was held on Monday, 23 January. It elected Joseph Palmer to the second Provincial Congress, instructed him to “attend to the Spirit & letter” of the “recommendations & resolves of the continental Congress,” and voted a long series of measures for the encouragement of the militia ( Braintree Town Records , p. 453–454). Though JA had been a member of the first Provincial Congress, which had by now taken over the functions of the General Court, he was glad to have been left out of the second Congress (along with Ebenezer Thayer), for reasons he detailed to James Warren in a letter of 15 March (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.; JA, Works , 9:354–355).

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0121

Author: Warren, Mercy Otis
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1775-01-28

Mercy Otis Warren to Abigail Adams

I think myself Doubly obligated to my amiable Friend that she has for once Layed aside that Cerimonious Demand of a Letter in Return for Every Line she favours me with.
Your Last1 I perceive was wrote with a heart trembling with the Laudable feelings of Humanity Least your suffering Country should be driven to Extreemities, and its Inocent inhabitants be made the sacrifices to Disappointed Ambition and Avarice, but I will hope yet a Little Longer for a more Favorable termination of the Distresses of America. But we cannot Long Continue in this state of suspence. It is and Ever has been my poor Opinion that justice and Liberty will finally Gain a Compleat Victory over Tyrany. What may be the intervening sufferings of the many individuals, Heaven only knows, and to a superintending providence we must Leave the Decession of the important Contests of the Day, who alone has power to Avert the Evils we fear.
I am very sensible with you my dear Mrs. Adams that by our Happy Connection with partners of Distinguished Zeal, integrity and Virtue, who would be Marked out as Early Victems to successful Tyrany, we should therby be subjected to peculier Afflictions but Yet we shall never wish them to do anything for our sakes Repugnant to Honour or Conscience. But though we may with a Virtuous Crook2 be Willing to suffer pain and poverty With them, Rather than they should Deviate { 182 } from their Noble Principles of Integrity and Honour, yet where Would be our Constancy and Fortitude Without their Assistance to support the Wounded Mind. And Which of us should have the Courage of an Aria or a Portia in a Day of trial like theirs. For myself I dare not Boast, and pray Heaven that Neither Me nor my Friend May be Ever Called to such a Dreadful proof of Magnanimity. I do not mean to die by our own Hand Rather than submit to the Yoke of servitude, and survive the Companions of our Hearts, nor do I think it would have been the Case with Either of those Celebrated Ladies had they Lived in the Days of Christianity, for I think it is a much Greater proof of an Heroic Soul to struggle with the Calamities of Life, and patiently Resign ourselves to the Evils we Cannot Avoid then Cowardly to shrink from the post Alloted us by the Great Director of the Theatre of the Universe, Before we have finished our part in the Drama of Life.
You have doubtless heard that their is a Detachment from head quarters stationed in the Neighbourhoud of Plimouth. People here are much at a Loss what Can be the Design of this Ridiculous Movment. Most probably to try if they Cannot provoke to some precepitant Measures that may tend to Divide and Distress this Country to a Higher Degree.
Yours of Jan. the third3 begins with an instance of Curiosity which I am willing to Cherish. Nay Even to Gratify provided I may be indulged in Return with the sight of Mr. and Mrs. Adams's Correspondence with the Lady Refered to,4 for however I may fall short of Mrs. Adams in many Female accomplishments, I believe I must own we are on an Equal footing with Regard to the one quality which the other sex so Generously Consigns over to us, though for no other Reason but because they have the opportunities of indulging their inquisitive Humour to the utmost in the Great school of the World, while we are Confined to the Narrower Circle of Domestic Care. But we have yet one Advantage peculier to ourselves. If the Mental Faculties of the Female are not improved it may be Concealed in the Obscure Retreats of the Bed Chamber or the kitchen which she is not often Necessitated to Leave. Whereas Man is Generally Called out to the full display of his Abilities but how often do they Exhibit the most Mortifying instances of Neglected Opportunities and their Minds appear Not with standing the Advantages of what is Called a Liberal Education, as Barren of Culture and as Void of Every useful acquirement as the most Triffling untutored Girl.
The Request towards the Close of your Last may perhaps be Complyd with in some Future Day if you Continue to Desire it.
{ 183 }

[salute] With much Affection I subscribe your unfeigned Friend,

[signed] Mercy Warren
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams.” Early Tr (MHi: Mercy Warren Letterbook); in an unidentified hand and assigned the conjectural and incorrect date “February 1774.” Tr (obviously based on an undated Dft , not found) lacks initial paragraph and last paragraph before complimentary close; other variations between the two texts are not noted here.
1. Probably the missing letter of 22 Jan., mentioned in note 2 on the preceding letter.
2. This is not an intended play on words but an example of Mrs. Warren's inveterate habit of assuming classical postures. Her “Virtuous Crook” must be a shepherdess' crook symbolizing rural retirement and poverty.
3. Not found.
4. Doubtless Mrs. Macaulay is meant.