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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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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.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0129

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-09-01

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

I have not received my Letters of Recall from Holland and therefore must disappoint you and my self. I have requested them anew1 and Suppose I shall receive them about Christmas, but whether I do or not, I shall come home, at latest in the first Spring ships, unless I should receive Some new Commission in Europe, which is not likely. I am unalterably determined not to stay in Holland where I never have any tollerable Health. To break away and come home without Leave, would neither be civil to Congress nor to the states General nor to the statholder, I hope I shall not be obliged to do it, but if I cannot obtain Leave, I must take it. I propose a Tour of three Weeks to England and shall take my son with me, whose Company is the greatest Pleasure of my Life. His Behaviour and close Attention to his studies are very pleasing to me, and promise to produce, a worthy Character.
{ 232 }
I have received Several, very agreable Letters from my Daughter, which I shall answer if I can, as well as yours,2 which always afford me more Intelligence, than I get from any other American source. You may continue to write me under Cover. I am much pleased with your Purchase, and with the Boys Shool and Preceptor.3
Mr. Dana is embarked as I suppose from Petersbourg, and will be soon in Boston, defeated in his Endeavours to serve his Country, by jesuitical Schemes from Passy and other sources,4 from whence have Sprung so many obstacles to the publick Good. Never was a Country, more imposed on by Finesse. Our late Minister of foreign affairs5 appears to have been a mere Puppet danced upon French Wires electrified from Passy. I hope there will be, an End of this Philosophical and political Conjuration, if not, I am determined to get out of its striking Distance. Hitherto, altho it has tossed and tormented me, and prevented me from doing a great Part of the Good I meditated, and am Sure should have accomplished without it: yet it has not totally defeated me. Yet it has defeated me in so many Things and others in so many more, that it is high time to break it up.
I thank the Dr. and Mr. Cranch for their very friendly Letters, but their Speculations into futurity, are not well grounded.6 Give Us Peace in our Day, for there is none that fightest for Us but thou O God, is a Prayer <of the Church of England> which no son of the Church has a better right to offer up than I—and none can make it more sincerely.7

[salute] Adieu, My dearest Friend Adieu, oh when Shall We meet? Next Spring most certainly God Willing.

1. See JA to the president of Congress (Elias Boudinot), 1 Sept. (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:668–669).
2. The only extant previous AA2 letter to JA is that of 10 May, above; AA 's letter was that of 30 June, also above.
3. See AA to JA , 7 May, on AA 's purchase of land; AA to JA , 7 April, on the education of CA and TBA ; and JA 's reply of 14 Aug., all above.
4. Francis Dana left St. Petersburg on 3 Sept. and arrived in Boston on 12 Dec. (W. P. Cresson, Francis Dana: A Puritan Diplomat at the Court of Catherine the Great, N.Y., 1930, p. 317–318; AA to JA , 7 Dec., below). JA 's charge that Benjamin Franklin intrigued against Dana's mission is unfounded, although Vergennes did instruct the French minister to Russia not to support Dana's moves. A number of reasons have been given for Dana's failure to secure recognition of American independence and a commercial treaty with Russia. As an absolute monarch, Catherine II did not look favorably upon a republican revolution against a monarchy. Moreover, Catherine, who was attempting to mediate an end to the war, could hardly as a mediator sign a treaty with the United States. American inexperience in diplomacy hampered Dana. He sought recognition of independence through admission to the League of Armed Neutrality, but membership was not likely to be accorded to a belligerent. Further, Dana resorted to moral arguments rather than to appeals to Russia's self-interest. Finally, he chose to ignore the court tradition of { 233 } distributing bribes. Had Dana followed the practices current at the Russian court and used the greatest skill, he still would have had little chance of success, given Russia's conception of its national interests. See H. W. L. Dana, The Dana Saga, Cambridge, 1941, p. 25–28; Cresson, Francis Dana, p. 183–184; Samuel Flagg Bemis, The Diplomacy of the American Revolution: The Foundations of American Foreign Policy, 1775–1783, N.Y., 1935, p. 164–166; and David M. Griffiths, “American Commercial Diplomacy in Russia, 1780–1783,” WMQ , 3d Ser., 27:379–410 (July 1970).
5. Robert. R. Livingston had left office in June.
6. Dr. Cotton Tufts' letters of 26 June and 5 July (both Adams Papers), and Richard Cranch's letter of 26 June, above. JA refers to Cranch's speculation that Massachusetts would reward JA 's labors by electing him governor.
7. Book of Common Prayer, Morning Prayer, Versicles.