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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 3


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Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0002

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1778-04-03

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams

[salute] Madam

I have just heard a piece of news from Mr. Lovell, which he says comes in a packet lately arrived at New York from England, and which has been published in the New York and Philadelphia papers. It is as follows viz. that the reduction of Genl. Burgoyne has convinced the minister of his weakness in America, and roused the spirit of the nation—that one hundred thousand men are to be raised and sent over—that ten men to a parish are to be raised which will amount to the aforesaid number, as there are 10,000 parishes.
That the minister is convinced of his imbecillity in America no one can doubt: that one hundred thousand men are to be raised and sent over appears to have as much wildness and Utopianism in it as many of the British projects have of late been characterized with. The design is lame and weak and the execution will be retarded by various causes. First; they know France would instantly take advantage of such a prodigious number of men being sent over to America, by discharging { 3 } upon that Island that Resentment and Vengeance which a sense of reiterated injuries during last war kindled, and fourteen years has not extinguished. The vial would be oponed by such a favourable opportunity. It is a known fact that notwithstanding the repeated assurances which the minister treacherously says he receives of the pacific intentions of France and Spain, that the British cabinet is often alarmed by facts of a serious nature from those powers.
They know that France and Spain are making very formidable preparations, however pacific their intentions. Can it be supposed that those powers would tamely suffer such a force to go from Great Britain without operating against them, or at least demanding an ecclarcismment? They know Britain is reduced, and losing her boasted omnipotence fast.
In the second place; the exhausted state of her finances, and the immense debt that at present bears her down, would embarrass her exceedingly. They are taxed intolerably now, and the people would never submit to the enormous addition which must take1 to pay and support those men when employed. Men do not so easily part with property, hardly earned, to be squandered away in a fruitless and hopeless expedition.
Thirdly; the people at large are not affectionately fond of the measures. It is more of a ministerial than a national war. The ministry cannot expect that support from the people thus disposed, which is necessary to carry on their works of darkness and blood. It would be natural to suppose that men might be recruited if the war met with the approbation of the people at large. If a disinclination to the service impedes the recruiting business, what number can be raised in the proposed way? Can they buy that number? No. Their present civil thraldom is more eligible than a military one. Administration cannot reason the people collectively out of their feelings however they may plunder their purses.
I cannot help considering this attempt as the last struggle of an expiring ministry.
Much more might be said, and many more objections raised to shew the impracticability and absurdity of the measure, but these together with the ones already suggested cannot escape that penetration which you are so happily possessed of.

[salute] With great esteem I am Madam, your very Humble Servt.,

[signed] J.T.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree”; endorsed: “April 3.”
{ 4 }
1. Thus apparently in MS , which is, however, slightly torn by the seal at this point.

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0003

Author: Shaw, Elizabeth Smith
Author: Peabody, Elizabeth Smith Shaw
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1778-04-05

Elizabeth Smith Shaw to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dear Sister

Your kind Letter by Cousin Tufts1 was a pleasing and fresh proof of your Goodsense, Piety of Heart, sweetness of Disposition, and greatness of Mind, which renders you the Object not only of my tenderest Love, but of my veneration. It convinced me that you were actuated by those principles of Virtue which every One should endeavour to cultivate in their own Bosoms, if they wish to enjoy Peace and Tranquility here, and Felicity hereafter. For I am perswaded nothing contributes so much to the ease and Comfort of our Lives, as a steady adherence to the Path of Duty, however rigorous, and an entire Confidence and acquiescence in the Wisdom and Goodness of Him who sits supreme, enthroned in Majesty, guiding the Cou[r]se of human Affairs. But this I find is a state of Mind that is not to be obtained without severe Conflicts—many Doubts, and Fears will arise to trouble and perplex, in spite of our better Judgment.
I am sensible the Sacrifice you have made to your Country, can be known only to yourself. There are many to whom a temporary Separation after so long a connexion, would have been a happy Circumstance; but for you to be separated from him “whose birth was to your own ally'd,” must be a Trial which cannot be described by words, and can be conceived only by those whose virtuous affection has grown with their Growth, and strengthened with their strength.
Mr. Shaw thanks you for your kind remembrance of him, and by his own happiness measures your Grief, and as you supposed heartily sympathizes with you,

“For Heaven has not cursed him with a heart of steel,

But given him sense, to pity and to feel,”

perhaps too tenderly for his own Comfort and advantage. He begs you would accept of his best Regards, and wishes you every Support and Consolation the Christian System affords.
I rejoice that you intend to give up the Care of your Farm. I dare say it will be greatly for your interest, as labour is so expensive, and will afford you an opportunity to visit your Friends without so much Care as used to perplex your Mind.
I have endeavoured to procure you some thread, but cannot under { 5 } a shilling a knot, but intend to get some spun and whitened for you, if you can wait so long.
Be so kind as to present Love to my little Cousins, and to Brother and Sister Cranch. I purposed to have written to her this Eve, if I had not been prevented by Company. Tell her the first Opportunity shall be devoted to her. I long to see You both, but cannot till May, as the Fast is the 22d. of this Month, unless you will be so kind as to come here which would afford the greatest pleasure to Your truly affectionate Sister,
[signed] Eliza. Shaw
PS When you see my Father present our Duty to him, and tell him the People here wonder that so sprightly an old Gentleman has not been to see his Daughter before now. I expect him now very soon, and shall be disappointed if I do not see him before long.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams at Braintree.”
1. Printed in vol. 2, above, under the conjectural date of March 1778; its bearer was presumably (but not certainly) Dr. Cotton Tufts, who was both AA 's cousin and an uncle by marriage. See Adams Genealogy.