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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0120

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-07-23

John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] Honoured Mamma

It is indeed a long time since I have receiv'd any Letters from my friends in America, and I must own I have been a little behind hand within these two years; in writing to them.1 However, I hope they will consider that I have been all that time, almost at the world's end, or to make the best of it, in such an out of the-way place, as made it very inconvenient for me to write: But I should think myself deficient in my duty, if I should let pass the present opportunity; without giving you some account of my travels, since I left Mr. Dana.
I Set off, from Petersbourg the 19/30 of last October,2 in company With Count Greco an Italian gentleman with whom I was acquainted, at that place: and on account of the badness of the roads and weather; and of our having a great number of considerable water passages, which had began to freeze over, did not arrive in Stockholm, the capital of Sweeden untill the 25th. of November. The distance is about 800 English Miles. I stay'd at Stockholm about 6 weeks and was much pleas'd with the polite manner in which the people of the
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Country treat strangers. Sweeden is the country in Europe which pleases me the most. That is; of those I have seen. Because their manners resemble more those of my own Country, than any I have seen. The King3 is a Man of great Abilities. In the Space of one day from being <one of> the most dependent, he rendered himself one of the most absolute Monarchs of Europe. But he is extremely popular, and has persuaded his people that they are free; and that he has only restor'd them their ancient constitution. They think they are free, and are therefore happy. However in the interior parts of the Kingdom he has lost a little of his Popularity because he has laid some heavy taxes upon Brandy, and some other articles.
I Left Stockholm the 31st. of December and was obliged to stop at a small town call[ed] Norrkiöping at about 120 miles from Stockholm, for a fortnight, because of a very heavy fall of Snow which happen'd just at that time; I stopp'd also about 3. weeks at Gottenburg, and arriv'd at Copenhagen, the Capital of Denmark (it is about 600. miles from Stockholm) the 15th. of February of the present year. I found there Count Greco who had taken a different road from Stockholm. He had taken a place in a vessel which was to sail three days after my arrival, for Kiel a town in Germany near Hamborough: not to lose the opportunity I took a place in the same vessel, but after having waited three weeks for a Good wind The harbour froze up and we were obliged after all to go to Hamborough by Land. The people in Denmark treat strangers with a great deal of Politeness and Civility, but not with the same open-heartedness, which they do in Sweeden. The government is entirely Monarchical. But it astonishes me, that <mankind> a whole people can place at the Head of their goverment such a Man as the king of Denmark because his father was a king. The hereditary prince it seems is at least possess'd of common sense, and is regarded in the Country as a prodigy, as he indeed is, if he is compared to his father.4
I arrived at Hamborough (which is about 300 English Miles from Copenhagen) a the 11th. of March. I stay'd there near a Month: it is a large city; quite commercial, and will I dare say, carry on hereafter a great deal of Trade with America. But its commerce is somewhat restrain'd because it is surrounded by the Dominions of the King of Denmark, and of the Elector of Hanover.5 The Danes have built a town, at about a quarter of a Mile from Hamborough, which is become now its rival in commerce, the Hamburgers have named this Place Al-te-na, which signifies, much too near as indeed it is for their commercial interests.
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The [last] 6 city where I made any stay before I arriv'd at Amsterdam was Bremen which is another commercial Republic but the city is much smaller than Hamborough. It was anciently one of the Hanseatic league; and has been in a much more flourishing condition than it is at present. There are at Bremen some publick cellars, which are famous. I drank there some Rhenish wine about 160. Years old. I stay'd only four days at Bremen and arriv'd at Amsterdam the 15th. and at this Place the 21st. of April, and here I have been ever since.7 Hamborough is about 450 English Miles from this Place.
Last night, at about 11. o'clock, Pappa arrived here from Paris all alone, only accompanied by a Servant; he intends to return to Paris in about three weeks.
I hope, Charles, and Tommy are both well, and my dear Sister, who has been very obliging within these three years. I have receiv'd already from her two letters.8 I should take it as a great favour if she would favour me with some more; I have quite left off criticizing, especially upon faults in Language at least untill I shall be my self less faulty in this respect.

[salute] I am your most dutiful, and affectionate Son.

[signed] J. Q. Adams
1. JQA 's only extant letters to America written between his departure for Russia in July 1781 and his return to Holland in April 1783 were one to AA of 23 Oct. 1781, and one to Elizabeth Cranch of 17 March 1782 (vol. 4:233–234, 297–299); but see his statement about lost correspondence in his letter to AA of 30 July, below. His only regular correspondents during these two years were JA and John Thaxter.
2. Compare the following account of JQA 's journey with JQA, Diary , 1:153–174; and JQA to JA , 1 Feb., 20 Feb., 12 March, and 22 April, all above.
3. Gustavus III, King of Sweden from 1771 to 1792; the constitutional coup to which JQA refers below occurred over several days, 18–21 Aug. 1772, with the critical seizure of power on the 19th (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale ).
4. Christian VII of Denmark (1766–1808), son of Frederick V (1746–1766), was mentally troubled and increasingly incompetent. His only son, born in 1768, took control of the government in a bloodless coup in 1784, the year following JQA 's visit, and served as regent until his father's death, when he became Frederick VI (1808–1839). Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale .
5. The Elector of Hanover was George III, King of England.
6. The text here was lost by the removal of the seal.
7. JQA had taken short trips to Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Delft since his return to The Hague in April ( Diary , 1:174–175).
8. That is, two letters since he had set out for Russia in 1781: those of 3 May 1782 (vol. 4:319–321), and of [ca. 10] May 1783, above.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0121

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-07-26

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

Last Saturday, I left Paris, and on Tuesday arrived, at the Hague. To Day I am come to this Town. I Shall return to Paris in a Fortnight. { 218 } So as to make my whole Absence about three Weeks. Soon after my Return I expect the definitive Treaty will be Signed, but in this I may be mistaken. My Son is with me in good health. I had a tender Meeting with the dear Companion of my Voages and Journeys, and have been very happy with him, ever Since. He is grown a Man in Understanding as well as Stature. He gives a very intelligent and entertaining Account of his Travels to and from the North. I shall take him with me to Paris, and Shall make much of his Company.
I have no Letters from you this Year,1 and not knowing what to do with myself, I am in much Perplexity. I hope Soon to be informed of the orders of Congress. If they accept my Resignation, I may come home in October. If not, I know not what will become of me. To Stay another winter hung up between one Thing and another in suspence would be the most disagreable Thing that could happen to me. Patience however. If my Health was as good as it was two Years ago, before my great Sickness2 I could be patient. But continual ill health added to all the Perplexities that distract me, is too much for me. I want two Nurses, my Wife and my Daughter, and three gay Boys about Us to keep Us all in good humour. But this is too much. My Boys must have their Educations.
I am told a Vessell is just arrived from Boston and another, Cazneau expected. I hope for Letters by both.
A Letter from Mr. Dalton and a few Lines from Mr. Smith and Mr. Storer are all I have had from N. England an immense long Time. What have I done to be thus punished?
I am come here to See if any Thing can be done to get Money, to prevent Mr. Morris's Bills from being protested. I hope that Some thing may be done but am not very Sanguine.3
I wonder whether any body but you would believe me Sincere if I were to Say how much I love you, and wish to be with you and never to be Seperated more?
1. In late January, JA had received letters from AA dated in Oct., Nov., and Dec. 1782 ( JA to AA , 22 and 29 Jan., above).
2. JA 's first serious illness in Europe occurred in Amsterdam, from late August to early Oct. 1781 (see vol. 4:224, and note 3). Since that dismal event, JA periodically complained of poor health, especially when he was in Holland, and a fear of the return of his illness colored his statements that he was in good health (vol. 4:265, 272, 324, 337, 360, 369).
3. Robert Morris was Congress' superintendent of finance. JA 's efforts to secure funds from Dutch bankers for Morris' bills of exchange, which America's Paris banker, Ferdinand Grand, could no longer cover with the funds remaining in America's account, and his efforts to advance the Dutch loan that he had earlier contracted for the United States, appear in the correspondence between JA , Robert Morris, R. R. Livingston, Benjamin { 219 } Franklin, Thomas Barclay, and John Jay, between May and Nov. 1783, in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , vol. 6; in Morris to JA , 12 May (Adams Papers); and in Morris to JA , 23 Oct. (DLC). Grand's letter of 12 May to the Peace Commissioners, announcing the depletion of America's funds, is also in Wharton, 6:420–421. Background documentation and commentary on America's fiscal crisis of 1783 appears in The Papers of Robert Morris, ed. John Catanzariti and others, vol. 7, Pittsburgh, 1988.