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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0127

Author: Cranch, Richard
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-08-20

Richard Cranch to John Adams

[salute] My Dear Brother

This will be convey'd to you by the Honble. Natl. Gorham Esqr. our late Speaker, who return'd this Summer from Congress in which he has Serv'd this Commonwealth as a Delegate, with great Ability and Honour. I hope he will, if possible, have a personal Interview with you, as he can doubtless throw much Light on many of the Transactions of that Body. The special Purpose for which Mr. Gorham now goes to Europe, is, to solicit Donations for the distressed Inhabitants of his native Town of Charlestown. You are well acquainted with the uncommon Sufferings that worthy Community has undergone by having all their Houses burnt, and a great part of their Moveables, by the British Army; and then forced to retire almost naked, and destitute, to every part of the State where any Provision could be made for their Support, either by private Charity, or by the Publick permitting them to be entertained for the present as the Poor of the Towns to which they were sent.1
In this unhappy Condition most of the Inhabitants of Charlestown have remained ever since the time when that wanton Violence took place. Some of the former Inhabitants of that Town who yet retain some Property, have formed the laudable design of assisting in rebuilding the Town on a much more regular and elegant Plan than it stood on before it was burnt. An Act of the General Court has pass'd to enable them to lay out the new Streets commodiously and regularly, according to a Plan exhibited to the Legislature.2 The Honble. Mr. James Russell is among the foremost (notwithstanding his great Age)3 to bring forward the Rebuilding of the Town, and has earnestly requested his old Friend, our Father Smith, to write to you on the Subject. Father says he cannot write to you at present but wishes me to write.4 He says his Friend Mr. Russell is so engaged in raising up Charlestown (like the Phoenix from its Ashes) that he has scarce another Object on Earth for which he wishes to live.
The Plan, therefore, on which the Honble. Mr. Gorham now comes to Europe, is, to solicit Benefactions from the Rich and Generous, to assist the Poor of Charlestown (many of whome yet retain the { 228 } small Spots of Ground on which their former Houses stood) in erecting such necessary Buildings, in the room of those that were burnt, as may enable them to return to their native Place, and enjoy with some degree of Independence, the common Blessings of Providence.
The manner in which you may best give Assistance in the prosecution of such a Plan, must be left entirely to your Prudence and Wisdom: But it is thought that the high Character you have so deservedly acquired both in Europe and America, would give great weight and encouragement to the Undertaking if it should meet with your approbation.
You know the Interest that Father Smith and the whole Family take in the Rebuilding of their native Town—it would be peculiarly pleasing to them if any thing of this sort should take place.
I wrote you the 26th. of June by Cousin Wm. Smith, who sail'd for London in Capt. Callahan; and two Letters of the 18th. of July, by Mr. Ben. Austin, who sail'd for London in Capt. Love, by him I sent you two Pamphlets containing some late Transactions of Congress—which I hope are come to hand. Your Mother and your Lady and Family are all well. Master Charles is just got well of the Meazels, he has had them favourably. Master Tommy was not at home, so that he has not catch'd them. The Ladies Adams, Dana, Warren, Quincy &c. drank Tea at our [House?] last Monday, all well, and wishing for your Re[turn] to crown the other Blessings of Peace, in the procuring of which you have born so essential a Part. My Family and all our Connections are as well as usual, and desire to be remember'd to you. I am, with the highest Esteem, your affectionate Brother
[signed] Richard Cranch
Please to present my kindest Regards to your Son and to our worthy Friends Thaxter and Storer, and let them know that their Friends are all well. Your Lady has received your Letters of the 20th. and 30th. of May.
The Ship Lady Ann, Capt. Richard Chapman arriv'd here last Saturday Night, by which I rec'd a Letter from Mr. Eyma fils of Amsterdam, by which I perceive that he has sent me a considerable Consignment thro' your recommendation, for which I thank you. You may please to inform him that I shall take the utmost care of his Interest, and make Sale of them as quick as possible. The Goods are not yet come on shore. I shall write him very particularly as soon as I have examined the Goods. Adieu.
{ 229 }
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To His Excellency John Adams Esqr. Minister from the United States of America at Paris”; endorsed by JQA : “Mr. Cranch. Boston. Augt. 20th. 1783.” The cutting out of the seal caused the loss of two words of text.
1. The burning of Charlestown occurred during the Battle of Bunker Hill on 17 June 1775. Only a few buildings escaped the flames; estimates placed the number of houses destroyed at 400 and property loss at over £115,000. After the British evacuated Boston, the residents began slowly to return, but rebuilding did not begin in earnest until 1783. Nathaniel Gorham had been involved in relief efforts for Charlestown since 1777, when he had presented a petition to Congress for that purpose. See vol. 2:214, and note 1, 240; JA, Papers , 5:198–199; Richard Frothingham Jr., The History of Charlestown, Massachusetts, Boston, 1845, p. 367–368; Souvenir of the 50th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument, Charlestown, 1893, p. 8–9.
2. This act was dated 30 Oct. 1781 (Private and Special Statutes of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from . . . 1780 to 1805, 3 vols., Boston, 1805, 1:21–24).
3. James Russell, age sixty-eight in 1783, was a representative from 1746 to 1759, a member of the Council, 1759–1771, and a superior court justice from 1771 until the Revolution (Thomas Bellows Wyman, The Genealogies and Estates of Charlestown, Boston, 1879, 2:831, 832; William Davis, History of the Judiciary of Massachusetts, Boston, 1900, p. 141).
4. Rev. William Smith, AA 's father, was born in Charlestown in 1707, and joined the First Church there before graduating from Harvard in 1725 ( Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 7:588). It may have been failing health that prevented Smith from writing to JA ; he would die on 17 Sept. ( AA to JA , 20 Sept., below).

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0128

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-08-24

Abigail Adams to John Adams

[salute] My Dearest Friend

By Capt. Freeman who Sails on Sunday for England I embrace the opportunity of writing you a few lines. Mr. Goreham is gone to Portsmouth to embark from thence, impowerd by the Town of Charlstown to solicit Charity for them. I have not the best opinion of his errant; nor of his politeness, or I should have Supposed that as he means to apply to you for assistance; he would have <Supposed> imagined that a Letter from your family would not have been unacceptable, but he moved off, without giving me any notice. I do not regret it much as Capt. Freeman will be so kind as to take this, and carefully forward it. I have written frequently, written by way of England Since the Peace, and hope you have received my Letters. I have not heard so frequently from you as I wish; your last date was the 30 of May. I hope it was not long after that date, that you remaind in the dissagreable suspence which you then appeard to be in, and that your publick dispatches were agreable to your mind and that you will not be delayed by them. Every Letter which reaches me places your return at a further remove; I pray that it may not exceed November as I have a dread of our coast. I fear for your Health, and hope a voyage will prove benificial. When I reflect upon the many perplexing scenes, and difficulties through which you have passt in { 230 } the last ten years, I conceive them sufficient, to batter down a stronger building than the Fabrick you occupy. It is however a pleasing consolation that the Deity which inhabits it, is formed for a duration, beyond the brittle tennament, and is capable of extending its views to an existance more suitable to its nature and capacity—and where I trust it will meet with a due regard for that Benevolence and good will which upon all occasions, has been exerted for the benifit of Mankind.
To the blessings of Peace, we have, that of plenty added. The Earth yealds in abundance, Ceres flourishes with her sheaves and her cornicopia. Pomona cannot boast of being so richly laiden, Boreas committed a Robbery upon her in her Infancy which she is not like to recover, and the plague of Eygipt followed him.1
Our son Charles is just recoverd from the Measles, and is going again to Haverhill. I wish his Brother Tom, had been here to have had them with him, my Neice2 too has had them and recoverd, tho it has proved very mortal in Boston. Tis said 300 children have been buried since last March. Our Friends are all well, your Mother dined with me to day, and desires to be rememberd to you. I think she enjoys better health than she did a Year ago. I am going with Genll. Warrens family, and a small party of Friends to dine with my Father. How happy would it make the good old gentleman could you be one of the party; alass the Sons his Daughters have given him, are those only in which he can rejoice. How often have I heard him both with pain and pleasure, say, when reflecting upon his misfortune, I desire to bless God, I have three comforts to one affliction—and he might have added four, for his Daughter in Law is to him, like an own child in kindness and attention, to be otherways she must be a monster of ingratitude for to her he has supplied the place of Father Mother and husband. There are Six fine children as you would wish to see—all without a Father, or what is worse.3 My little Neice who has lived 6 years with me is a sweet Girl, tho she is no Stranger to her unhappy lot. She never speaks a word upon the Subject, all that she ever said was the other day, a stranger had askd who she was. She came with tears in her Eyes and said she wished nobody would ask who she was, or whether she had a Father. She frequently asks whether I think you will let her live with me when you return.
Mrs. Dana and sister have been with me this week. She is very anxious to hear from Mr. Dana, her last letter was dated 7 months ago. She hopes you will not come without him. I know not how to realize that I shall see you soon. Hope and Fear have been the two { 231 } ruling passions of a large portion of my Life, and I have been banded from one to the other like a tennis Ball. We are waiting with a degree of impatience for the definitive Treaty. There is nothing New in the political World—cheating is an old story, even from the Days of Jacob. Inclosed is a little poetical performance.4 You will be at no loss to comprehend it—it has too much Truth for its basis.
I hope Master John will find his pen once more, his Brother's and Sister desire to be affectionately rememberd. I shall write to him if the vessel does not Sail immediately. Uncle Quincy desires to be rememberd to you. Let Mr. Thaxter know his Friends were all well this week—are so sanguine with regard to his speedy return that they do not think it worth while to write again.

[salute] Adieu my dear Friend. So many Ideas croud upon me when about to close, that I can utter only that I am Yours.

[signed] Portia
RC (Adams Papers); addressed by Royall Tyler: “His Excelly. John Adams Minister Plenipty From the United States at Paris”; endorsed: “Portia August 24. 1783.”
1. Ceres was the ancient Italian goddess of grain; Pomona the Roman goddess of fruit. Boreas was the north wind in Greek lore. Jehovah visited Egypt with several plagues in Exodus, chaps. 7–10.
2. Louisa Catharine Smith, whose situation AA descibes so affectingly below.
3. AA refers to her father's grief over his prodigal son William, who had abandoned his family by 1783 (Elizabeth Shaw to Mary Cranch, 20 Jan., [DLC: Shaw Family Papers]). His children, by Catharine Louisa Salmon, were Elizabeth, later Mrs. James H. Foster, Louisa Catharine, who lived with AA , William, Mary, Charles, and Isaac.
4. Not found.