A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close
-
The Adams Papers Digital Edition is undergoing active maintenance while we work on improvements to the system. You may experience slow performance or the inability to access content. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We will endeavor to return to full capabilities as soon as possible.

Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 2


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0117

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1777-02-15

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Mr. Hall, by whom this Letter will be sent, will carry several Letters to you, which have been written and delivered to him, several Days. He has settled his Business, agreably.
I have not received a Line from the Massachusetts, since I left it.
Whether We shall return to Philadelphia, soon, or not, I cannot say. I rather conjecture it will not be long. You may write to me, in Congress, and the Letter will be brought me, wherever I shall be.
I am settled now agreably enough in my Lodgings, there is nothing in this Respect that lies uneasily upon my Mind, except the most extravagant Price which I am obliged to give for every Thing. My Constituents will think me extravagant, but I am not. I wish I could sell or send home my Horses, but I cannot. I must have Horses and a Servant, for Congress will be likely to remove several Times in the Course of the ensuing Year.
I am impatient to hear from you, and most tenderly anxious for your Health and Happiness. I am also most affectionately solicitous for my dear N. J. C. and T. to whom remember Yours.1
We long to hear of the Formation of a new Army. We shall loose the most happy opportunity of destroying the Enemy this Spring, if We do not exert ourselves instantly.
We have from New Hampshire a Coll. Thornton, a Physician by { 162 } Profession, a Man of Humour. He has a large Budget of droll Stories, with which he entertains Company perpetually.
I heard about Twenty or five and twenty Years ago, a Story of a Physician in Londonderry, who accidentally met with one of our new England Enthusiasts, call'd Exh[orters].2 The Fanatic soon began to examine the Dr. concerning the Articles of his Faith, and what he thought of original Sin?
Why, says the Dr., I satisfy myself about it in this manner. Either original Sin is divisible or indivisible. If it was divisible every descendant of Adam and Eve must have a Part, and the share which falls to each Individual at this Day, is so small a Particle, that I think it is not worth considering. If indivisible, then the whole Quantity must have descended in a right Line, and must now be possessed by one Person only, and the Chances are Millions and Millions and Millions to one that that Person is now in Asia or Africa, and that I have nothing to do with it.
I told Thornton the story and that I suspected him to be the Man.3 He said he was. He belongs to Londonderry.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs. Adams at Mr. John Adams's Braintree”; docketed in pencil by AA .
1. JA evidently intended to break off here, but then resumed on a second page.
2. MS torn by seal.
3. That is, the man who answered the exhorter. Dr. Matthew Thornton (ca. 1714–1803) was a delegate to the Continental Congress from New Hampshire, 1776–1777 ( DAB ).

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0118

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1777-02-17

John Adams to Abigail Adams

It was this Day determined, to adjourn, tomorrow Week to Philadelphia.1
How, as you know my opinion always was, will repent his mad march through the Jersies. The People of that Commonwealth, begin to raise their Spirits exceedingly, and to be firmer than ever. They are actuated by Resentment now, and Resentment coinciding with Principle is a very powerfull Motive.
I have got into the old Routine of War Office and Congress, which takes up my Time in such a manner that I can scarce write a Line. I have not Time to think, nor to speak.
There is an united States Lottery abroad.2 I believe you had better buy a Tickett and make a Present of it to our four sweet ones, not for• { 163 } getting the other sweet one. Let us try their Luck. I hope they will be more lucky than their Papa has ever been, or ever will be.
I am as well as can be expected. How it happens I dont know nor how long it will last. My Disposition was naturally gay and chearfull, but the <awful> Prospects I have ever had before me, and these cruel Times will make me melancholly. I who would not hurt the Hair of the Head of any Animal, I who am always made miserable by the Misery of every sensible being, that comes to my Knowledge, am obliged to hear continual Accounts of the Barbarities, the cruel Murders in cold Blood, even by the most tormenting Ways of starving and freezing, committed by our Enemies, and continual Accounts of the Deaths and Diseases contracted by our People by their own Imprudence.
These Accounts harrow me beyond Description.3
These incarnate Daemons say in great Composure, [“that] 4 Humanity is a Yankey Virtue.—But that they [are] governed by Policy.”—Is there any Policy on this side of Hell, that is inconsistent with Humanity? I have no Idea of it. I know of no Policy, God is my Witness but this—Piety, Humanity and Honesty are the best Policy.
Blasphemy, Cruelty, and Villany have prevailed and may again. But they wont prevail against America, in this Contest, because I find the more of them are employed the less they succeed.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs. Adams at Mr. John Adams's Braintree”; docketed in pencil by AA .
1. That is, Congress was to adjourn at Baltimore on the 25th, but on that day the adjournment was suspended in consequence of letters received from Gen. Washington and Robert Morris. On the 27th Congress adjourned to “Wednesday next [5 March], to meet at the State House in Philadelphia,” but a quorum was not assembled there until 12 March. See JCC , 7:127, 157 and note, 168, 169.
2. Authorized by Congress in Nov. 1776; see Lucius Wilmerding Jr., “The United States Lottery,” N.Y. Hist. Soc., Quart., 47:5–39 (Jan. 1963).
3. MS : “Destription.”
4. Here and below, MS is torn by seal.