A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close

Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0259

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-07

Abigail Adams to John Adams

How many are the solitary hours I spend, ruminating upon the past, and anticipating the future, whilst you overwhelmd with the cares of State, have but few moments you can devote to any individual. { 402 } All domestick pleasures and injoyments are absorbed in the great and important duty you owe your Country “for our Country is as it were a secondary God, and the First and greatest parent. It is to be preferred to Parents, Wives, Children, Friends and all things the Gods only excepted. For if our Country perishes it is as imposible to save an Individual, as to preserve one of the fingers of a Mortified Hand.” Thus do I supress every wish, and silence every Murmer, acquiesceing in a painfull Seperation from the companion of my youth, and the Friend of my Heart.
I believe tis near ten days since I wrote you a line. I have not felt in a humour to entertain you. If I had taken up my pen perhaps some unbecomeing invective might have fallen from it; the Eyes of our Rulers have been closed and a Lethargy has seazd almost every Member. I fear a fatal Security has taken possession of them. Whilst the Building is on flame they tremble at the expence of water to quench it, in short two months has elapsed since the evacuation of Boston, and very little has been done in that time to secure it, or the Harbour from future invasion till the people are all in a flame; and no one among us that I have heard of even mentions expence, they think universally that there has been an amaizing neglect some where. Many have turnd out as volunteers to work upon Nodles Island, and many more would go upon Nantaskit if it was once set on foot. “Tis a Maxim of state That power and Liberty are like Heat and moisture; where they are well mixt every thing prospers, where they are single, they are destructive.”
A Goverment of more Stability is much wanted in this colony, and they are ready to receive it from the Hands of the Congress, and since I have begun with Maxims of State I will add an other viz. that a people may let a king fall, yet still remain a people, but if a king let his people slip from him, he is no longer a king. And as this is most certainly our case, why not proclaim to the World in decisive terms your own importance?
Shall we not be dispiced by foreign powers for hesitateing so long at a word?
I can not say that I think you very generous to the Ladies, for whilst you are proclaiming peace and good will to Men, Emancipating all Nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over Wives. But you must remember that Arbitary power is like most other things which are very hard, very liable to be broken—and notwithstanding all your wise Laws and Maxims we have it in our power not only to free ourselves but to subdue our Masters, and without voilence throw both your natural and legal authority at our feet—
{ 403 }

“Charm by accepting, by submitting sway

Yet have our Humour most when we obey.”

I thank you for several Letters which I have received since I wrote Last. They alleviate a tedious absence, and I long earnestly for a Saturday Evening, and experience a similar pleasure to that which I used to find in the return of my Friend upon that day after a weeks absence. The Idea of a year dissolves all my Phylosophy.
Our Little ones whom you so often recommend to my care and instruction shall not be deficient in virtue or probity if the precepts of a Mother have their desired Effect, but they would be doubly in-forced could they be indulged with the example of a Father constantly before them; I often point them to their Sire

“engaged in a corrupted State

Wrestling with vice and faction.”

I designd to have finished the sheet, but an opportunity offering I close only just inform you that May the 7 our privateers took two prises in the Bay in fair sight of the Man of war, one a Brig from Irland the other from fyall [Fayal] loaded with wine Brandy and the other Beaf &c.1 The wind was East and a flood tide, so that the tenders could not get out tho they tried several times, the Light house fired Signal guns, but all would not do, they took them in triumph and carried them into Lyn.
Johnny and Charls have the Mumps, a bad disorder, but they are not very bad. Pray be kind enough to remember me at all times and write as often as you possibly can to your
[signed] Portia
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in an unidentified hand: “To The Honble: John Adams Esqr. In Philadelphia To the care of Col: Warren”; docketed in an unidentified hand.
1. Thus punctuated in MS .

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0260

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Warren, Mercy Otis
Date: 1776-05-08

Abigail Adams to Mercy Otis Warren

[salute] Dear Marcia

Mr. Morton has given me great pleasure this morning by acquainting me with the appointment of our Worthy Friend to the Bench.1 Have I any influence with him? If I have I beg he would accept. I know very well what he will say, but he has long been accustomed to { 404 } Courts and the office he held led him to some acquaintance with Law, and his own abilities will easily qualify him to fill the place with Dignity.
If he refuses it will bring a contempt upon the place; to have those offices banded about from hand to hand may give the World just occasion to say that they are not considerd of any importance.
I know the Service of his Country is his chief aim, and he who is upon principal desirous of it cannot faill of the important end. I need not add how much pleasure it will give to my perticuliar Friend and to your
[signed] Portia
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed in two later hands: “Mrs. Adams 1776 No. 8.”
1. William Read having declined his appointment to the Superior Court, James Warren was commissioned, but Warren considered himself not qualified, and, despite appeals from his friends, after some hesitation declined to serve. See Warren to JA , 30 April–1 May and 8 May 1776 ( Warren-Adams Letters , 1:238, 240); AA to JA , 9 May and 17 June, below.