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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0159

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1775-07-05

Abigail Adams to John Adams

I have received a good deal of paper from you; I wish it had been more coverd; the writing is very scant but I must not grumble. I know your time is not yours, nor mine. Your Labours must be great, and your mouth closed, but all you may communicate I beg you would. There is a pleasure I know not whence it arises nor can I stop now to find it out, but I say there is a degree of pleasure in being able to tell new's—especially any which so nearly concerns us as all your proceedings do.
I should have been more particuliar but I thought you knew every thing that pass'd here. The present state of the inhabitants of Boston is that of the most abject slaves under the most cruel and despotick of Tyrants. Among many instances I could mention let me relate one. Upon the 17 of june printed hand Bills were pasted up at the corner of streets and upon houses forbideing any inhabitant to go upon their houses or upon any eminence upon pain of death.1 The inhabitants dared not to look out of their houses nor bee heard or seen to ask a Question. Our prisoners were brought over to the long wharff and there laid all night without any care of their wounds or any resting place but the pavements till the next day, when they exchanged it for the jail, since which we hear they are civily treated. Their living cannot be good, as they can have no fresh provisions. Their Beaf we hear is all gone, and their own wounded men die very fast, so that they have raisd a report that the Bullets were poisond. Fish they cannot have—they have renderd it so difficult to procure it, and the Admiral is such a villan as to oblige every fishing schooner to pay a Dollor every time they go out. The money that has been paid for passes is incredible. Some have given ten twenty 30 and forty Dollors, to get out with a small proportion of their things. Tis reported and believed that they have taken up a number of persons and committed them to jail—we know not for what in perticuliar. Master Lovel is confined to the Dungeon, a Son of Mr. Edes is in jail. One Mr. Wendle [Wendell] who married a Hunt, and one Wiburt a ship carpenter is now upon trial for his life. God alone knows to what lengths these wretches will go, and will I hope restrain their malice.
I would not have you be distressd about me. Danger they say makes people valient. Heitherto I have been distress'd, but not dismayed. I have felt for my Country and her Sons, I have bled with them, and for them. Not all the havock and devastation they have made, has { 240 } wounded me like the death of Warren. We wanted him in the Senate, we want him in his profession, we want him in the field. We mourn for the citizen, the senator, the physician and the Warriour. May we have others raised up in his room.
I have had a very kind and friendly visit from our dear Friends Col. Warren, Lady and Son. Mrs. Warren spent a week almost with me, and he came and met her here and kept Sabbeth with me. Suppose she will write to you, tho she says you are in her debt.2
You scarcely make mention of Dr. Franklin. Surely he must be a valuable member. Pray what is become of your Judas. I see he is not with you upon the list of Delegates?3 I wish I could come and see you. I never suffer myself to think you are about returning soon. Can it, will it bee? May I ask? May I wish for it? When once I expect you the time will crawl till I see you—but hush—do you know tis eleven o clock at Night?
We have had some very fine rains, since I wrote you last. I hope we shall not now have famine added to war. Grain Grain is what we want here—meat we may have enough and to spair. Pray dont let Bass forget my pins. Hardwick has applied to me for Mr. Bass to get him a 100 of needles no. 6 to carry on his stocking weaving.4 He says they in Phyladelphia will know the proper needle. We shall very soon have no coffee nor sugar nor pepper here—but huckle berrys and milk we are not obliged to commerce for.
All the good folks here send their regards. Unkle Quincy is just gone from here, sends his love. You dont say in the two last Letters I received how you do. I hope I have not felt unwell by sympathy, but I have been very unwell for this week tho better now. I saw a Letter of your[s] to Col. Palmer by General Washington.5 I hope I have one too.

[salute] Good Night with thoughts of the[e] do I close my Eyes; Angels gaurd and protect the[e], and may a safe return ere long bless thy

[signed] Portia
1. No such handbill has been found.
2. Mercy Warren wrote JA this day from Watertown; her letter is in the Adams Papers and is printed, incompletely, in Warren-Adams Letters , 1:71–73.
3. Very likely Joseph Galloway is meant. He had served as a Pennsylvania delegate in the Continental Congress of 1774 and been reelected in Dec. 1774, but he disapproved of the measures adopted by the first Congress, published pamphlets against them in the early months of 1775, and in May declined to serve in the second Congress. He ultimately went over to the British side. See Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 1:lix; Julian P. Boyd, Anglo-American Union: Joseph Galloway's Plans to Preserve the British Empire, 1774–1788, Phila., 1941, p. 44–50.
4. The Hardwicks (Hardwigs, Hartwicks, Hartwigs) were one of the families of artisans in the industrial colony { 240 } { 240 } | view { 240 } | view { 240 } { 241 } established at Germantown in the 1750's; their name was early Anglicized, and they became substantial citizens of Braintree and Quincy. See Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy , p. 480 and passim.
5. Dated 20 June 1775 (PHC; facsimile in William Brotherhead, The Centennial Book of the Signers, Phila., 1872 [i.e. 1875], p. 175–176).

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0160

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1775-07-07

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dear

I have received your very agreable Favours of June 22d. and 25th. They contain more particulars than any Letters I had before received from any Body.
It is not at all surprizing to me that the wanton, cruel, and infamous Conflagration of Charlestown, the Place of your Fathers Nativity, should afflict him. Let him know that I sincerely condole with him, on that melancholly Event. It is a Method of conducting War long since become disreputable among civilized Nations: But every Year brings us fresh Evidence, that We have nothing to hope for from our loving Mother Country, but Cruelties more abominable than those which are practiced by the Savage Indians.
The account you give me of the Numbers slain on the side of our Enemies, is affecting to Humanity, altho it is a glorious Proof of the Bravery of our Worthy Countrymen. Considering all the Disadvantages under which they fought, they really exhibited Prodigies of Valour.
Your Description of the Distresses of the worthy Inhabitants of Boston, and the other Sea Port Towns, is enough to melt an Heart of stone. Our Consolation must be this, my dear, that Cities may be rebuilt, and a People reduced to Poverty, may acquire fresh Property: But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever. When the People once surrender their share in the Legislature, and their Right of defending the Limitations upon the Government, and of resisting every Encroachment upon them, they can never regain it.
The Loss of Mr. Mathers Library, which was a Collection, of Books and Manuscripts made by himself, his Father, his Grandfather, and Greatgrandfather, and was really very curious and valuable, is irreparable.2
The Family picture you draw is charming indeed. My dear Nabby, Johnny, Charly and Tommy, I long to see you, and to share with your Mamma the Pleasures of your Conversation.
I feel myself much obliged to Mr. Bowdoin, Mr. Wibirt, and the two Families you mention, for their Civilities to you. My Compli• { 242 } ments to them. Does Mr. Wibirt preach against Oppression, and the other Cardinal Vices of the Times? Tell him the Clergy here, of every Denomination, not excepting the Episcopalian, thunder and lighten every sabbath. They pray for Boston and the Massachusetts—they thank God most explicitly and fervently for our remarkable Successes—they pray for the American Army. They seem to feel as if they were among you.
You ask if every Member feels for Us? Every Member says he does—and most of them really do. But most of them feel more for themselves. In every Society of Men, in every Clubb, I ever yet saw, you find some who are timid, their Fears hurry them away upon every Alarm—some who are selfish and avaricious, on whose callous Hearts nothing but Interest and Money can make Impression. There are some Persons in New York and Philadelphia, to whom a ship is dearer than a City, and a few Barrells of flower, than a thousand Lives—other Mens Lives I mean.
You ask, can they reallize what We suffer? I answer No. They cant, they dont—and to excuse them as well as I can, I must confess I should not be able to do it, myself, if I was not more acquainted with it by Experience than they are.
I am grieved for Dr. Tufts's ill Health: but rejoiced exceedingly at his virtuous Exertions in the Cause of his Country.
I am happy to hear that my Brothers were at Grape Island and behaved well. My Love to them, and Duty to my Mother.
It gives me more Pleasure than I can express to learn that you sustain with so much Fortitude, the Shocks and Terrors of the Times. You are really brave, my dear, you are an Heroine. And you have Reason to be. For the worst that can happen, can do you no Harm. A soul, as pure, as benevolent, as virtuous and pious as yours has nothing to fear, but every Thing to hope and expect from the last of human Evils.
Am glad you have secured an Assylum, tho I hope you will not have occasion for it.
Love to Brother Cranch and sister and the Children.
There is an amiable, ingenious Hussy, named Betcy Smith, for whom I have a very great Regard. Be pleased to make my Love acceptable to her, and let her know, that her elegant Pen cannot be more usefully employed than in Writing Letters to her Brother at Phyladelphia, tho it may more agreably in writing Billet doux to young Gentlemen.
The other Day, after I had received a Letter of yours, with one or two others, Mr. William Barrell desired to read them. I put them into { 243 } his Hand, and the next Morning had them returned in a large Bundle packed up with two great Heaps of Pins, with a very polite Card requesting Portias Acceptance of them.3 I shall bring them with me [when] 4 I return: But when that will be is uncertain.—I hope not more than a Month hence.
I have really had a very disagreable Time of it. My Health and especialy my Eyes have been so very bad, that I have not been so fit for Business as I ought, and if I had been in perfect Health, I should have had in the present Condition of my Country and my Friends, no Taste for Pleasure. But Dr. Young has made a kind of Cure of my Health and Dr. Church of my Eyes.
Have received two kind Letters from your Unkle Smith5—do thank him for them—I shall forever love him for them. I love every Body that writes to me.

[salute] I am forever yours—

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree”; endorsed: “C No 14.”
1. Corrected from “June” by overwriting.
2. The Mather family books and MSS largely survived and now form “the greatest treasure of the American Antiquarian Society” (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 7:236). JA 's knowledge of this famous collection derived from direct use of it; see his Diary and Autobiography , 3:302.
3. See AA 's request in her letter to JA of 16? June, above. Barrell's “Card” has not been found, William Barrell (d.1776) was “a worthy Bostonian transmuted into a worthy Philadelphian” ( JA to James Warren, 30 July 1775, Warren-Adams Letters , 1:95). A collection of Barrell's papers is in MHi, including a long and important series of letters written to him by his brother-in-law John Andrews, 1772–1776, printed in MHS, Procs. , 1st ser., 8 (1864–1865): 316–412.
4. MS torn by seal.
5. Only one has been found, that of 24 June–1 July, above.