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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0220

Author: Smith, Isaac Jr.
Recipient: Smith, Rev. William
Date: 1775-12-05

Isaac Smith Jr. to the Reverend William Smith?

[salute] Dear Sir1

The present opportunity appears to me so convenient for writing to you, that I cannot avoid sending you a few lines.—I will not now trouble you with my motives for leaving home, so soon after I last saw you. You will do me the justice, Sir, to believe me, that it was not owing to the want of affection to my Country, or of sympathy with my friends and immediate connections. The distressed circumstances of both have, from the first moment of my arrival here, oppressed my mind in a degree, that has rendered me far from happy at this distance from them.2
I suppose by this time, you are impatient in general to know what effect the various unfortunate events, that have happened in America during the spring and summer have upon Parliament this Winter. The K[ing']s Speech you will have probably before Christmas. The spirit of the two Houses is the same, and the measures proposed in it, have been approved and adopted. The K. is enabled, if he pleases, to embody the Militia of the Kingdom. A Bill is passing to prohibit all intercourse with the Colonies, and authorize the K. to appoint Commissioners in the Colonies, for the purposes of granting pardons, opening the Ports, and restoring trade as usual, upon Submission. 25,000 men or more are to be in America in the Spring, and 70 Sail of men of war. This force however, (say the Ministry) is not intended, for immediate action, but to give greater weight to the proposals of the Commissioners, who will be vested with large discretionary powers, to terminate the contest, if possible, without further effusion of blood. An end this, which almost every man in the Kingdom wishes to see { 334 } accomplished. The Minority have received a small increase this Session. The D [uke] of Grafton, with a number of his connections, has joined their number. They have exerted themselves with great warmth, but with their former inefficacy. The Ministry carry every point, by a majority of two to one. On one occasion the last week, the opposition was no more than ten. Gov. Pownall is no longer our Advocate. Lord G. Sackville Germaine is appointed Secretary for the American Department. The last petition to his Majesty from the Congress has been laid before the H[ouse] of L[ord]s, but tho the D. of G. moved a resolve in consequence of it, none was passed.
Individuals, and particular branches of trade and of manufacture must and indeed do suffer, yet I hear no general complaint of the failure of either. The woollen Manufacture, which is the proper Staple of G.B. is said to be fully employed. To tell you the truth, Sir, we have not a sufficient knowledge among us in general of the commerce or the wealth of this Country. I know, how ready we are to imagine, that both are absolutely dependent upon the Colonies for their existence. I wish for our own sakes, that we were not quite so confident. It is a good old rule, tho' grown rather obsolete, “boast not thyself of tomorrow.” To me we seem to be waging a most unequal war. G.B. if it does fall, will fall gradually and imperceptibly. God alone knows the consequences of the present dangerous contest, and his wise providence commonly causes civil convulsions to advance the good of mankind. Confidence in his government is at all times our duty, but in such as these, it is certainly one of peculiar importance, a Virtue of the most desirable kind. How to acquire it indeed in any just degree, is a difficulty which experience alone can tell!
I am at present at this place in an agreeable situation, and officiating to a small Society. But I shall not take up my Abode in Old E[ngland] from choice and inclination. I wish for nothing more ardently upon earth, than to see my friends and Country again in the enjoyment of peace, freedom and happiness. Nor shall I delay my return to them, the moment that I find there is the least certainty of their being restored to a better Situation, than is now their unfortunate lot.
I wish, Sir, to say much more to you, but I know not whether this will reach you. To Dr. T.3 I shall write with pleasure another time, tho' I consider myself indeed, as writing to him now. I should be glad to hear from you, if possible. I beg to be remembred in the most affectionate manner to my Aunt, and every body else at Weymouth and Braintree, and am, dear Sir, with sincere respect Your, much obliged.
[signed] I Smith junr.
{ 335 }
P.S. I had fully designed to have wrote by this Conveyance to M.A.,4 but for several reasons, hope he will forgive me, that I do not.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed in the hand of William Gordon(?): “I. Smith Jnr. Decr. 5. 1775.” Probably enclosed in AA 's letter to JA , 2–10 March 1776, below, q.v.
1. The name of the recipient of this letter has been assigned conjecturally and solely on the basis of internal evidence. At the close of the text the writer asks to be remembered to “my Aunt, and every body else at Weymouth and Braintree.” Isaac had only one aunt in either place, namely Mrs. William Smith, AA 's mother, the news of whose recent death he had obviously not heard. The allusions in the letter to others in the Weymouth-Braintree circle fit in perfectly well with the assumption that it was addressed to AA 's father. Apparently he turned it over to her and she sent it on, with a tart comment or two, in hers to JA , 2–10 March 1776, below.
2. He had arrived in London in June after a four weeks' voyage (Isaac Smith Jr. to Isaac Smith Sr., 26 June 1775, MHi: Smith-Carter Papers).
3. Doubtless Dr. Cotton Tufts.
4. Thus in MS , the editors suppose for “Mr. A.,” meaning JA .

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0221

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1775-12-10

Abigail Adams to John Adams

I received your obliging favour by Mrs. Morgan, with the papers, and the other articles you sent which were very acceptable to me. As they are not to be purchased here, I shall be very choise of them.
I have according to your desire been upon a visit to Mrs. Morgan, who keeps at Major Miflins. I had received a Message from Mrs. Mifflin some time agone desireing I would visit her. My Pappa who you know is very obliging in this way accompanied me, and I had the pleasure of drinking coffe with the Dr. and his Lady, the Major and his Lady and a Mr. and Mrs. Smith from New York,1 A daughter of the famous Son of Liberty Capt. Sears,2 General Gates and Lee, a Dr. McHenery3 and a Mr. Elvin,4 with many others who were strangers to me. I was very politely entertaind and noticed by the Generals, more especially General Lee, who was very urgent with me to tarry in Town and dine with him and the Laidies present, at Hob Goblin Hall, but I excused my self. The General was determined that I should not only be acquainted with him, but with his companions too, and therefore placed a chair before me into which he orderd Mr. Sparder to mount and present his paw to me for a better acquaintance. I could not do otherways than accept it.—That Madam says he is the Dog which Mr. . . . . . has renderd famous.5
I was so little while in company with these persons and the company so mixed that it was almost imposible to form any judgment of them. { 336 } The Dr. appeard modest and his Lady affable and agreable. Major Mifflin you know I was allways an admirer of, as well as of his delicate Lady. I beleive Phyladelphia is an unfertile soil, or it would not produce so many unfruitfull women. I always conceive of these persons as wanting one addition to their happiness, but in these perilous times I know not whether it ought to be considerd as an infelicity, since they are certainly freed, from the anxiety every parent must feel for their rising ofspring.
I drank Coffe one day with General Sulivan upon Winter Hill. He appears to be a Man of Sense and Spirit. His countanance denotes him of a warm constitution, not to be very sudenly moved, but when once roused, not very easily Lull'd. Easy and social, well calculated for a Military Station, as he seem[s] to be possess'd of those populour qualifications necessary to attach Men to him. By the way, I congratulate you upon our late noble acquisition of military Stores. Tis a most Grand mortar I assure you.6 Surely heaven smiles upon us in many respects, and we have continually to speak of mercies as well as judgments. I wish our Gratitude may be any ways proportionate to our Benefits.
I suppose in congress you think of every thing relative to trade and commerce, as well as other things, but as I have been desired to mention to you some things I shall not omit them. One is that their may some thing be done in a continental way with regard to Excise upon Spiritous Liquors that each of the New England colonies may be upon the same footing where as we formerly used to pay an Excise, and the other colonis none or very little by which means they drew away our trade. That an Excise is necessary tho it may be objected too by the mercantile intrissts, as a too frequent use of Spirit endangers the well being of Society. An other article is that some method may be devised to keep among us our Gold and Silver, which is now every day shiped of to the West Indias for Molasses, Coffe, Sugar &c. This I can say of my own knowledg that a Dollor in Silver is now become a great rarity, and our Traders will give you a hundred pounds of paper for Ninety of Silver, or near that proportion. If any trade is alloud to the West indias would it not be better to carry some commodity of our own produce in exchange? Medicine, Cotton Wool and some other articles we are in great want of. Formerly we used to purchase cotton wool at 1 Shilling Lawfull money pr. Bag, now tis 3, and the scarcity of that article distresses us, as it was wrought up with less trouble than any other article of cloathing. Flax is now from a Shilling to one and Sixpence pr. pound, Sheeps wool Eighteen pence { 337 } and linnens not to be had at any price. I cannot mention the article in the English goods way which is not double, and in the West India Molasses by retail I used formerly to purchase at one and Eight pence now tis 2 and Eight pence, rum 3 Shillings, coffe one and 3 pence &c. All other things in proportion. Corn is 4 Shillings pr. Bushel, rye 5, oats 3 and Eight pence, Hay 5 and Six Shilling pr. hundred, wood twenty Shillings pr. cord. But meat of all kinds cheap.
I enclose a memorandom of Dr. Tufts requesting you to procure for him those articles if you can bring them with any conveniance. The Dr. takes it a little hard that you have never wrote him a line, as he has wrote you several times. If it was but a few lines he would Receive it kindly.
I am very loth to trouble you about articles of conveniancy for myself, especially as they are so much out of your way of Buisness. I will only mention two or three which if you can direct Bass to get for me will much oblige me—one black Barcelona hankerchief, two or 3 yd. of black Caliminco for shooes and binding for the same—he knows how much will be proper—and 3 or 4 common manchester check hankerchiefs for the pocket.7 Not a hankerchief of any kind can be purchased here, but out of the Store for the Army, and they are allowd only to those who inlist. My Pappa would be glad you would send him a Sermon of Dr. Zublys.
My unkle Quincy desires to be rememberd to you, inquired when you talked of comeing home. I told him you had not fixed any time. He says if you dont come soon he would advice me to procure an other husband. He of all persons ought not to give such advice I told him unless he set a better example himself.8
Be kind enough to burn this Letter. Tis wrote in great haste and a most incorrect Scrawl it is but I cannot conclude it without telling you we are all very angry with your House of Assembly for their instructions. They raise prejudices in the minds of people and serve to create in their minds a terror at a Seperation from a people wholy unworthy of us. We are a little of the Spanel kind. Tho so often spurned still to fawn argues a meaness of Spirit that as an individual I disclaim, and would rather endure any hardships than submit to it.9
Our Little folks are all well and long for Pappas return, in which wish their Mamma most sincerely joins them. Yours.
I often meet with a [bundle?], open a cover with eager expectations and find only a news paper, but I know your avocations will not suffer you to write so often as you [wish?].
{ 338 }
RC (Adams Papers); docketed in AA 's hand: “Portia Decembr. 10 1775.” Enclosed list of medicines wanted by Cotton Tufts not found.
1. Not further identified.
2. Isaac Sears (1730–1786) ( DAB ).
3. Dr. James McHenry (1753–1816), of Philadelphia and Baltimore, who shortly became an officer in the medical service and, years later, secretary of war in Washington's and JA 's cabinets ( DAB ).
4. Not identified. AA 's spelling of the name is uncertain.
5. In the last paragraph of his letter to James Warren of 24 July, which was intercepted and published by the British, JA spoke of “the Oddity of a great Man,” meaning Gen. Charles Lee. “He is a queer Creature. But you must love his Dogs if you love him, and forgive a thousand whims for the Sake of the Soldier and the Scholar” ( Warren-Adams Letters , 1:89). Writing JA on 5 Oct., Lee declared himself flattered by these remarks, and added in a postscript: “Spada sends his love to You and declares in very intelligible language that He has far'd much better since your allusion to him, for he is carress'd now by all ranks, sexes and Ages” (Adams Papers).
AA 's spelling “Sparder” for Spada is a revealing example of New England phonetic or orthographic overcompensation or both.
6. On 29 Nov. Capt. John Manley in the Lee privateer of Marblehead captured the Nancy, an ordnance ship from Woolwich; a spectacular item in the Nancy's cargo was a large brass mortar, which was taken to Cambridge and named The Congress (William Gordon, The History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment, of the Independence of the United States of America, London, 1788, 2:144–145).
7. Dashes supplied in this sentence for clarity.
8. Norton Quincy had married Martha Salisbury in 1747; she died just a year later, and he never remarried (Adams Genealogy).
9. On 3 Nov. the Continental Congress, after intermittent discussion and debate since 18 Oct., had resolved to advise the New Hampshire Provincial Convention “to call a full and free representation of the people” in order to establish and maintain “a form of government... during the continuance of the present dispute between G[reat] Britain and the colonies” ( JCC , 3:319; italics supplied). It is somewhat remarkable that AA , immediately and without any guidance from her husband (who had lately said nothing about public affairs in his letters to her), should have pronounced this language and action timid and unsatisfactory. JA was a member of the committee that had reported this resolution, and though according to his later recollections he had argued against using the term “Colonies,” he nevertheless “thought this resolution a Tryumph and a most important Point gained” ( Diary and Autobiography , 3:354–357).