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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 3


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0138

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1779-02-20

John Adams to Abigail Adams

March 25  
June 10  
June 18  
May 18  
Octr.   10  
  21  
  25  
Decr.   2  
  15.  
Jany.   2 1779  
  4.  
In the Margin are the Dates of all the Letters I have received from you. I have written you, several Times { 174 } that Number—they are allmost all lost, I suppose by yours.1
But you should consider, it is a different Thing to have five hundred Correspondents and but one. It is a different Thing to be under an Absolute Restraint and under none. It would be an easy Thing for me to ruin you and your Children by an indiscreet Letter—and what is more it would be easy, to throw our Country into Convulsions.—For Gods sake never reproach me again with not writing or with Writing Scrips. Your Wounds are too deep.
You know not—you feel not—the dangers that surround me, nor those that may be brought upon our Country.
Millions would not tempt me to write to you as I used. I have no security that every Letter I write you will not be broken open and copied and transmitted to Congress and to English News Papers. They would find no Treason nor Deceipt in them it is true, but they would find Weakness and Indiscretion, which they would make as ill an Use of.
There are Spies upon every Word I utter, and every Syllable I write—Spies planted by the English—Spies planted by Stockjobbers—Spies planted by selfish Merchants—and Spies planted by envious and malicious Politicians.
I have been all along aware of this, more or less, but more so now than ever.
My Life has been often in danger, but I never considered my Reputation and Character so much in danger as now.
I can pass for a Fool, but I will not pass for a dishonest or a mercenary Man.
Be upon your Guard therefore—I must be upon mine—And I will.
1. JA reports in the margin of his letter the receipt of eleven letters from AA during his year's absence. Four of these have not survived in any version known to the editors: 25 March, 10 Oct., 2 Dec. 1778, and 4 Jan. 1779. Three others have been found only as drafts: 21, 25 Oct., and 15 Dec. 1778 (all printed above, but the last under the date of its presumed draft, 13 Dec.). The other four survive as recipients' copies: 18 May, 10, 18 June 1778, and 2 Jan. 1779 (all printed above). JA failed, however, to list AA 's letter of 29 Sept. 1778, which he had acknowledged in his to her of 2 Dec. and which is printed above from an undated draft under the date he furnished in his acknowledgment. Apparently he had not yet received hers of 27 Dec. 1778, above—a circumstance that is a little puzzling because it seems to have been sent by the same conveyance, the Alliance frigate, which had brought him AA 's letter of 13 (or 15) Dec. 1778. Besides the letters here enumerated, AA had sent to JA during this period four other letters, at the very least, which he { 175 } had not received but which are printed above (the earliest of them in vol. 2) from her drafts, in some cases with supplied or approximate dates, as follows: 8 March, 30 June, ca. 15 July, and 12–23 Nov. 1778. (A letter printed in JA-AA, Familiar Letters , p. 340–341, under the incorrect date of 23 Aug. 1778, is printed below under its correct date of 23 Aug. 1780.)

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0139

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1779-02-20

John Adams to Abigail Adams

A new Commission has arrived by which the Dr. is sole Minister. Mr. Lee continues Commissioner for Spain, but I am reduced to the Condition of a private Citizen. The Congress has not taken the least Notice of me. On the 11. of September they resolved to have one Minister only in France, on the 14 they chose the Dr., in October they made out his Commission, the Alliance sailed in 14 Jany. and in all that Interval, they never so much as bid me come home, bid me stay, or told me I had done well or done ill.1
Considering the Accusation against Mr. L[ee], how unexpected it was, and how groundless it is, I should not be at all surprized if I should see an Accusation against me for something or other. I know not what—but I see that all Things are possible.
Of all the Scenes I ever passed through, this is the most extraordinary. The Delirium among Americans here, is the most extravagant.—All the infernal Arts of Stockjobbers, all the voracious avarice of Merchants, have mingled themselves with American Politicks here, disturbed their operations, distracted our Councils, and turned our Heads.
The Congress I presume expect that I should come home, and I shall come accordingly. As they have no Business for me in Europe I must contrive to get some for myself at home.—Prepare yourself for removing to Boston into the old House—for there you shall go, and there, I will draw Writs and Deeds, and harrangue Jurys and be happy.
1. See entry of 12 Feb. 1779 in JA's Diary and Autobiography , 2:353–354; also JA to AA , 27 Nov. 1778, above, and note 4 there.

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0140

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1779-02-20

John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] Hond. Mamma

I last night had the honour of reading a letter from you to my Pappa dated Jany. 4th.1 in which you complain much of my Pappa's not { 176 } writing. He cannot write but very little because he has so many other things to think of, but he can not let slip one opportunity without writing a few lines and when you receive them you complain as bad or worse than if he had not wrote at all and2 it really hurts him to receive such letters. But I will write upon another subject. A Charming prospect opens [before] 3 me. I now begin to see a probability of returning to America. Pappa is now at liberty to return home and proposes to do it by the first safe opportunity unless he should receive counter orders which I heard him say he did not expect; it is a feast to my thoughts to go home, to run about to my Grandpappa's and grandmamma's, my uncles &c. The joy of meeting my Mamma, sister and brothers will be greater than all the pain I suffer'd when I took my leave of them severe as that was and the pleasure of telling the tale of my travels and adventures will be some compensation for the toils and dangers I have gone through in the course of them but possibly this pleasing dream may be all disapointed by a battle at sea, by captivity or by shipwreck. All that I can say is gods will be done. I am my ever honoured and ever revered Mamma your dutiful son,
[signed] John Q. Adams4
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs. Adams Braintree near Boston in America.” LbC (Adams Papers); at foot of text: “to my Mamma.”
1. Not found, but see JA 's reply of 19 Feb., above, and note 1 there.
2. LbC adds at this point, but the addition is lined out: “therefore if all your letters are like this my Pappa will cease writing at all, for” (&c., as in RC ).
3. Editorially supplied for a word omitted in both RC and LbC .
4. With this letter JQA gave up his occasional practice of making and keeping letterbook copies (in Lb/JA/8) and did not resume it until Aug. 1781, when the first of his own numbered series of letterbooks (Lb/JQA/1) begins.