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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0124

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-08-14

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

I have received your two favours of 7 May and 20 June.1 I had received no Letter from you for so long an Interval that these were really inestimable. I always learn more of Politicks from your Letters, than any others. I have lost all my Correspondents in Congress. I wrote to Mr. Jackson and Gen. Warren2 Supposing they were Members. Mr. Gerry is there now, to my Great Joy. Beg of him to write to me, if I stay in Europe.
I learn with great Satisfaction the Wisdom of my Daughter, whom I long to see. What is to be my Fate I know not. We have not received any joint Commission to make a Treaty of Commerce with Great Britain. I hate to force my self home without Leave, and Congress have not given me Leave as Mr. Lee gave you Reason to expect.3 My Son is with me, at present, and you will be as proud of him as I shall be of my Daughter, when I see her. He is grown up a Man, and his Steadiness and Sobriety, with all his Spirits are much to his honour. I will make of him my Secretary while I Stay.
{ 222 }
I like the Situation of Charles and Tom.
Your Purchase of Land tho of only the Value of 200 Dollars4 gives me more Pleasure than you are aware. I wish you had described it. I Suppose it to be that fine Grove which I have loved and admired from my Cradle. If it is, I would not part with it, for Gold. If you know of any Woodland or salt Marsh to be sold, purchase them and draw upon me for the Money. Your Bills shall be paid upon Sight. Direct the Bills to be presented if I should be returned home, to Messrs. Wilhem and Jan Willink Merchants Amsterdam, who will accept and pay them for the Honour of the Drawer. Pray dont let a Single Tree be cutt upon that Spot. I expect, very soon, to be a private Man, and to have no other Resource for my Family but my Farm, and therefore it is my Intention when I come home to sell my House in Boston and to collect together all the Debts due to me and all other little Things that I can convert into Money and lay it out in Lands in the Neighbourhood of our Chaumiere.5 The whole <will not> will make <a large> but a Small Farm, Yet it will be large enough for my Desires if my Children are content. You Speak of a high Office.6 In Gods Name, banish every Idea of such a Thing. It is the Place of the Greatest slavery and Drudgery in the World. It would only introduce me to endless Squabbles and Disputes, and expose me to eternal obloquy and Envy. I wish that all Parties would unite in the present one who has the Hearts of that People and will keep them. The Opposition will only weaken and distress his Administration, and if another were chosen in his Place, the Administration of that other would be weakened and distressed by a Similar Opposition. I have not health to go through the Business, nor have I Patience to endure the Smart. I beg that neither You nor yours would ever encourage in yourselves or others such a Thought. <If I return home> If after my Return home, the state should think proper to send me to Congress and you will go with me, I will go, for a short time, but not a long one. After that if I should be chosen into the senate or House, I should be willing to contribute my Mite, to the publick service in that Way. At home, upon my Farm and among my Books assisting in the Education of my Children, and endeavouring to introduce them into Business to get their Bread and do some service in the World, I wish to pass the feeble Remnant of my Days. But I am too much hurt, by those Exertions to which the Times have called me, to wish or to be capable of any great active Employment whatsoever. You know not how much your Friend is altered. The Fever burnt up half his Memory and more than half his Spirits, and has left him, with scorbutic { 223 } Disorders about him that are very troublesome. Without Repose, if with it, he can never hope to get the better of them. This is said to you my friend in Confidence and is to be communicated to no one else. <Adieu> After having seen so many of my friends, thro Life fall Victims to the great Contest, I think my self very happy to have got through it, in no worse a Condition. Adieu.
1. JA had also received AA 's letter of 28 April, above (see JA to AA2 , 14 Aug., below).
2. JA had last written Jonathan Jackson on 17 Nov. 1782 (MHi: Misc. Coll.); Jackson's next extant letter to JA was dated 27 April 1784 (Adams Papers). Jackson resigned from Congress on 5 Nov. 1782 (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 6:xlvi). On JA 's correspondence with James Warren, see JA to AA , 9 July, notes 3 and 4, above.
3. See Arthur Lee to AA , 23 April, above.
4. See AA to JA , 7 May, note 8, above.
5. Thatched cottage. AA also referred to the Adams' modest home in Braintree as a cottage (to JA , 20 June, above), and even as “our own Republican cottage” (to JA , 28 April, above).
6. See AA to JA , 7 May, above, for the oblique reference to the governorship of Massachusetts, which some opponents of John Hancock thought JA might fill if he returned.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0125

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Date: 1783-08-14

John Adams to Abigail Adams 2d

[salute] My Dear Daughter

I have received your affectionate letter of the 10th of May, with great pleasure, and another from your mother of the 28th and 29th of April, which by mistake I omitted to mention in my letter to her to-day. Your education and your welfare, my dear child, are very near my heart; and nothing in this life would contribute so much to my happiness, next to the company of your mother, as yours. I have reason to say this by the experience I have had of the society of your brother, whom I brought with me from the Hague. He is grown to be a man, and the world says they should take him for my younger brother, if they did not know him to be my son. I have great satisfaction in his behaviour, as well as in the improvements he has made in his travels, and the reputation he has left behind him wherever he has been. He is very studious and delights in nothing but books, which alarms me for his health; because, like me, he is naturally inclined to be fat. His knowledge and his judgment are so far beyond his years, as to be admired by all who have conversed with him. I lament, however, that he could not have his education at Harvard College, where his brothers shall have theirs, if Providence shall afford me the means of supporting the expense of it. If my superiors shall permit me to come home, I hope it will be soon; if they mean I should stay abroad, I am not able to say what I shall do, until I { 224 } know in what capacity. One thing is certain, that I will not live long without my family, and another is equally so, that I can never consent to see my wife and children croaking with me like frogs in the Fens of Holland, and burning and shivering alternately with fevers, as Mr. Tha[xt]er, Charles, Stephen[s], and myself have done: your brother John alone had the happiness to escape, but I was afraid to trust him long amidst those pestilential steams.
You have reason to wish for a taste for history, which is as entertaining and instructive to the female as to the male sex. My advice to you would be to read the history of your own country, which although it may not afford so splendid objects as some others, before the commencement of the late war, yet since that period, it is the most interesting chapter in the history of the world, and before that period is intensely affecting to every native American. You will find among your own ancestors, by your mother's side at least, characters which deserve your attention. It is by the female world, that the greatest and best characters among men are formed. I have long been of this opinion to such a degree, that when I hear of an extraordinary man, good or bad, I naturally, or habitually inquire who was his mother? There can be nothing in life more honourable for a woman, than to contribute by her virtues, her advice, her example, or her address, to the formation of an husband, a brother, or a son, to be useful to the world.
Heaven has blessed you, my daughter, with an understanding and a consideration, that is not found every day among young women, and with a mother who is an ornament to her sex. You will take care that you preserve your own character, and that you persevere in a course of conduct, worthy of the example that is every day before you. With the most fervent wishes for your happiness, I am your affectionate father,
[signed] John Adams
MS not found. Printed from (AA2, Jour. and Corr. , 1:202–204.)
1. The date is corrected from JA to AA , 14 Aug., above (see the opening sentence of the present letter).