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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0105

Author: Cranch, Richard
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-06-26

Richard Cranch to John Adams

[salute] Dear Brother

Your most esteemed Favour of the 15th. of December came safe to hand, for which I heartily thank you. I have also been favour'd with the sight of several of your other Letters, particularly one to Uncle Smith about the Fishery;1 and I got liberty from him to let some of your Essex Friends have a sight of it, particularly your Friend and Class-mate Mr. Dalton (the Speaker) and some other Members of the Fishing Towns.2 They are very highly gratified with the Honour you do them in saying that “for the rest of your Days you shall consider your self as a Marblehead or Cape-Ann Man.” I am perswaded that something higher than the “Freedom of their Cities in { 186 } a Box of Heart of Oak, or the Quintal of dumb Fish” that you humourously mention for your Lady, is very seriously tho't of by them; and, as I think, by the People at large. I think it is the general Wish that He whose great Talents in Negotiation (under God) have given us Peace, and whose unshaken Firmness has caused our “Independance to be Independant,” should be our first Magistrate. Holland in the American Scale, and in consequence thereof a Treaty enter'd on. An unrestrained Fishery obtained. Boundaries of Territory so ample, that we could scarcely in Idea comprehend their Extent and future Advantages. All these and a thousand other publick Benefits, we think ourselves indebted for, to your Virtue, great Abilities and indefatigable Application in favour of your Country.
But the Tories—there's the Pinch. The Spirit runs very high here at present against letting any one of the Absentees return. I wish to be informed by you whether any of the Articles of Novr. 30th. 1782 respecting those Persons were understood by the contracting Parties as being any thing more than meerly recommendatory, and which of them (if any such there be) are to be considered by the States as absolutely binding. I will endeavour to explain my self. If, for instance, the Estate of A (an Absentee) had bean confiscated and sold before the Treaty was Signed; the Restitution of such an Estate to the former Owner, would rest only on the Recommendation of Congress, according to the 5th. Article,3 which Recommendation, I conceive, may or may not be comply'd with by the State where the Estate lies; and therefore it would be uncertain to A whether his Estate should ever be restored to him or not. But if B, another Absentee in the same Predicament as the former, has been so lucky as not to have had his Estate libelled or prosecution commenced against it until after the signing of the Treaty; He, if the 6th. Article4 be considered as absolutely binding on the States, seems to me to be secured from any future Prosecution or Confiscation of his Property. So that A may loose his Estate, because the Restitution of it, according to the 5th. Article, is meerly recommendatory, and may not be comply'd with by the Government of the State where the Estate lies: while B, on the contrary will be secure from loosing his Estate because by the 6th Article (if that is absolutely binding on the several States) it is stipulated that no further Prosecutions shall commence against any Person on account of the Part he has taken in the War. These are difficulties that we would wish to have solved, and we should be glad to know from you in what latitude we are to take the sense of the { 187 } 5th. and 6th. Articles respecting the Restitution of the Absentee's Estates, their Return &c.
Our very worthy Friend, the Honble. Cotton Tufts Esqr., is of the Senate this Year, and is now here (the General Court being sitting). I expect he will write to You and Mr. Thaxter more fully on Publick Affairs, and to his Letters I must referr you. We shall send the present Pacquet by Cousin William Smith who will sail in a few Days for London, and I hope he will have the happiness of seeing you and our worthy Friends Thaxter and Storer before he returns; and particularly our young Northern Envoy, who before this time, I hope, is happily return'd to you. We all long to see and embrace him here.
Our dear Boys, Charles Tommy and Billy, are all at Haverhill at present under the Tuition of Brother Shaw, who, with our excellent Sister, will take the best Care both of their Learning and Morals. Your Lady and Daughter and my Betsy are gone to pay them a Visit. I heard from them last Saturday, when they were all well.
We have lately heard from N: Hampshire of the Death of your aged and truly venerable Uncle the Revd. Mr. Adams of Newington.5 I have been informed that the last Sermon he ever preach'd was a Thanksgiving Sermon on the Peace, in which he express'd his great satisfaction at having lived to see that great Event take place (he being then, if I mistake not; about 96 or 97 Years of age) and more especially on considering the firm and decisive Part that One of his own Blood and Family had born in bringing about that glorious Period.
Your Mother and Brother and his Children are well. Uncle Quincy is not very well. Father Smith, Coll. Thaxter and Family, and all our near Connections are as well as usual. Poor Mr. Crosby the Preacher is dead: he died lately of a Consumption, his Wife died about a Year ago and his Infant Child. There is only one Child, a little Girl, remaining.6
We are all longing for the happy Day when the great Publick will so far release you as to give your particular Friends and Relatives an Oportunity of personally congratulating the Father of their Country and the Friend of Mankind. In which no one will join with more sincerity or warmer Gratitude than your ever affectionate
[signed] Brother Richard Cranch
P.S. My dear Wife and Children join with me in our best Wishes for your Health and Safety, beging that you would present our kindest Regards to your amiable Son, if return'd, and to our worthy and very { 188 } esteemed Friends Thaxter and Storer. I intend to write to Mr. Thaxter by this Oportunity if possible.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To His Excellency John Adams Esqr. Minister for the United States of America, at Paris”; endorsed: “Mr. Cranch. 26. June 1783 ansd. 10. Septr.”
1. JA to Isaac Smith Sr., 15 Dec. 1782 (MHi: Cranch Family Papers).
2. Tristram Dalton represented his native town, Newburyport ( Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 13:569–578).
3. See AA to JA , 28 April, note 7, above.
4. Art. 6 begins, “That there shall be no future Confiscations made, nor any prosecutions commenced against any Person or Persons, for or by reason of the Part which he or they may have taken in the present War” (Miller, ed., Treaties , 2:99).
5. Rev. Joseph Adams, older brother of JA 's father, who died on 20 May at the age of ninety-five (A. N. Adams, Geneal. Hist. of Henry Adams of Braintree , p. 394).
6. Joseph Crosby, Harvard 1772, son of Maj. Joseph Crosby of Braintree, and brother-in-law of Peter Boylston Adams, JA 's brother, died on 28 May. His wife Betsey had died on 28 July 1782. His surviving daughter, Elizabeth Anne, later married Boylston Adams, JA 's nephew and her first cousin (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:52; 3:277; MH-Ar; Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy , p. 156; New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, 30:8).

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0106

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-06-30

Abigail Adams to John Adams

[salute] My Dearest Friend

I wrote you a Letter a fortnight ago1 to send per this opportunity, but meeting with the Consul in Boston,2 he informd me, that the America would sail in a few days. I gave it to him and hope it has reachd you as he promised a particular attention to it. Mr. Smith will be the Bearer of this; I need not ask your particular attention to him. He is most worthy and Good, Benevolent and kind, Generous to his Friends and connections who stand in need of his assistance; he has been industerous and successfull in Buisness, and is untainted by the vices of the age. Yet with all these virtues and accomplishments he has not found Success among the Fair. Why? Because he has not address.3 I know not any other reason. He can inform you of our little excursion to Haverhill where he was kind enough to accompany me, on a visit to my sister and our two dear Boys, whom I found well pleased with their Situation. I tarried with them 8 days. Whilst I was there, Charles whose constitution is exceedingly delicate was seazd with a pluratick disorder. Giving him an Emetick and attending immediately to him, he so far recoverd as to be able to ride home with me, to which the doctor advised. And it was of so much service to him, that I hope he will be able to return to his studies in a week or ten days. The weather was so extreemly hot, and the fatigue of my journey, has so enfeabled me that I scarcly know how to hold my pen.
The Country looks well, and the season is promising, tho rather { 189 } dry. But I never shall take a journey which will be truly pleasent to me, unaccompanied by my Friend. And yet how few in the course of 19 years that we have been connected, have we taken together? Tho your life has been one continued Scene of journeying, in the early part of my Life, Maternal duties prevented my accompanying you, and in the Later the Stormy Scenes of war. Few persons who so well Love demestick Life as my Friend; have been calld, for so long a period, to relinquish the enjoyment of it; yet like the needle to the pole, you invariably turn towards it, as the only point where you have fixed your happiness. It is this belief which has supported me thus far through the voyage, but alass how often have I felt the want of my pilot, obliged “to act my little part alone.” I cannot say with Dyanthe4 that I wished not for my associate. And is the time near at hand, when Heaven will again bless us in the Society of each other? I would fain flatter myself that it is. O! May we taste, may we drink of the cup of happiness without one alloy, and be as blest as we can bear, “all Various Nature pressing on the Heart.” Thus let us retire into ourselves, and rejoice in the purity of our affections, the simplicity of our manners and the Rectitude of our Hearts, for without an ostentatious boast we may claim them all.

“And that which nothing Earthly gives, or can distroy

The Souls calm Sunshine, and the Heartfelt joy.”5

But from this picture of domestick felicity shall I reverse the Medal and shew you a political state of discontent, jealousy, and rangling. The Stormy Scenes of war have subsided—but in lieu of them, what have we—a Legislature composed of wise Heads, and skillfull hands—by their deeds shall ye know them.

“In parts Superiour what advantage lies?

tell (for you can) what is it to be wise?

Tis but to know how little can be known;

To see all others faults, and feel our own

Condemn'd in bus'ness or in arts to drudge

Without a second, or without a judge

Truths would you teach, or save a sinking land

All fear, none aid you, and few understand.”6

By the best information I can obtain few of these superiour parts are like to become troublesome to our Legislators the present year. In my last I gave you some account of them, and the principal upon which many of them were Elected. Last week came on the choice of { 190 } delegates for Congress, and every Member who composed the last,7 was left out. They even went so far, as to propose recalling them immediately; and voting that they should never be again chosen. Here I believe they exceeded the bounds of the constitution, and the limits of Reason. So high does the spirit run against commutation to the Army. Connecticut I hear has voted their Army one years pay, and Road Island were doing something of the kind.8 All seem determined to act contrary to the Resolve of Congress. The Army are disbanding fast, without a six pence to bear their expences home; and live upon the kindness of the people. The New Members chosen for Congress are our Friend Mr. Gerry, who is gone on, Mr. Dalton your old Friend, Mr. Partridge, Mr. Danilson, Judge Sullivan. I have engaged our Friend Dr. Tufts to write you fully upon political matters.9 He will give you much better information than I am able to; yet I cautiond him not to coulour even to the Life, least you should reluct at the Idea of a return to us. Yet no one has experienced a larger share of the turbulent scenes of political Life than my Friend, or steared through them with more honour and reputation. I heed not the little sarcastick reflextions of Reviewers, Magazine writers or News paper scriblers and rather consider it as a compliment, than a reflextion, that they should have nothing to offer against my Friend, but that he was not nobly descended. Mean are those arts indeed which would derogate from the Merit of a Man, upon account of the honest occupation of his parents. The truly noble mind spurns the Idea.

“Honour and shame from no condition rise

Act well your part, there all the Honour lies.

What can ennoble sots or slaves or cowards?

Alass! not all the Blood of all the Howards.”10

I hope my dear John is with you. I long to hear from him, much more to see him. I shall expect you by September. Do not delay it till late in the year. I shall continue writing to you untill you tell me You are about to embark. Continue to Frank your letters, if they catch one without they make me pay enormously. I Sent per the America a little invoice of a few articles.11 As there is little hazard of the loss of the Letter, I do not think it worth repeating. Our Friends are all well and desire to be affectionately rememberd to you. I call upon Nabby to write you and suppose she will. Adieu—and believe me most sincerely when I echo back, the most pleasing attestation of my Friend, Yours entirely and forever,
[signed] Portia
{ 191 }
RC (Adams Papers); addressed by Royall Tyler: “His Excellency John Adams Esqr. Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States of America. at Paris”; endorsed: “Portia. 30. June 1783”; docketed in a later hand: “Family Letter.”
1. That of 20 June, above, which was probably largely written well before that date (see note 8 to that letter).
2. Philippe André Joseph de Létombe, French consul general to the United States, 1781–1792 (Abraham P. Nasatir and Gary Elwyn Monell, French Consuls in the United States, Washington, 1967, p. 563).
3. Either a dutiful and courteous approach in courtship or a general presentation or bearing ( OED ).
4. Perhaps the Roman goddess Diana, usually thought of as virginal.
5. Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, epistle IV, lines 167–168.
6. Same, lines 259–266.
7. Those dropped were Nathaniel Gorham, Samuel Osgood, Stephen Higginson, and Samuel Holten, all of whom voted for commutation ( JCC , 24:210). In the first vote for new congressmen on 27 June, Elbridge Gerry received by far the highest number of votes cast jointly by the two legislative houses—141 out of 145—and 101 legislators supported Tristram Dalton. No other candidates won a majority of the votes on this first day. The next day, George Partridge, James Sullivan, and Timothy Danielson were chosen, but only after the first tallies were rejected for irregularities. Dalton declined his election, and Samuel Osgood was chosen on 9 July by a vote of 79 out of 142, a rather slim majority. Sullivan never attended Congress and resigned in Feb. 1784, to be replaced by Francis Dana, who was elected unanimously. Records of the States, Microfilm, Mass., A.1b, Reel 11, Unit 1, p. 130, 132–133, 161, 341, 375; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 7:lxviii, lxix.
8. See Cotton Tufts to JA , 26 June (Adams Papers).
9. Same.
10. Pope, Essay on Man, epistle IV, lines 193–194 and 215–216.
11. No separate “invoice” enclosed with AA to JA , 20 June, above, has been found, but see the items that AA lists in that letter.