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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0132

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-09-07

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

This Morning for the first Time, was delivered me the Resolution of Congress of the first of May, that a Commission and Instructions Should be made Out, to Me, Dr. Franklin and Mr. Jay to make a Treaty of Commerce with Great Britain.1 If this Intelligence had been Sent Us by Barney, who Sailed from Philadelphia a Month after, the 1st of May, and has now been Sailed from hence on his return home above a Month2 it would have Saved me and others much Anxiety. I am now even at a Loss. It is of great Importance that Such a Treaty Should be well made. The Loan in Holland must be attended to, and when the present one is full, another must be opened, which cannot be done but by me or my Successor. There are other Things too to be done in Europe of great Importance. Mr. Laurens has Leave to go home, and Mr. Dana is gone so that there remain in service only Mr. Franklin Mr. Jay and my self. In these Circumstances I must stay another Winter. I cannot justify going home. But what Shall I do for Want of my Family. By what I hear, I think Congress will give Us all Leave to come home in the Spring. Will you come to me this fall and go home with me in the Spring? If you will, come with my dear Nabby, leaving the two Boys at Mr. Shaws, and the House and Place under the Care of your Father Uncle Quincy or Dr. Tufts, or Mr. Cranch. This Letter may reach you by the <first of> middle of October,3 and in November you may embark, and a Passage in November, or all December will be a good Season. You may embark for London, Amsterdam, or any Port of France. On your Arrival, you will find Friends enough.4 The Moment I hear of it, I will fly with Post Horses to receive you at least, and if the Ballon, Should be carried to such Perfection in the mean time as to give Mankind the safe navigation of the Air, I will fly in one of them at the Rate of thirty Knots an hour.5 This is my Sincere Wish, although the Expence will be considerable, the Trouble to you great and you will probably have to return with me in the Spring. I am So unhappy without you that I wish you would come at all Events. You must bring with you at least one Maid and one Man servant.
I must however leave it with your Judgment, you know better than I the real Intentions at Philadelphia, and can determine better than I whether it will be more prudent to wait untill the Spring. I am determind to be with you in America or have you with me in Europe, { 237 } as soon as it can be accomplished consistent with private Prudence and the publick Good. I am told that Congress intend to recall Us all, as soon as a few Affairs are finished. If this should be the Case, all will be well. I shall go home with infinite Pleasure. But it may be longer than you think of, before all their necessary Affairs will be dispatched. The Treaty of Commerce with G. B. must take Time. A Treaty will be wanted with Portugal and Denmark if not with the Emperor and Empress.6 If you come to Europe this Fall, in my Opinion you will be glad to go home in the Spring. If you come in the spring you will wish to return the next fall. I am sure I shall, but Six months of your Company is worth to me, all the Expences and Trouble of the Voyage.
This Resolution of Congress deserves my Gratitude; it is highly honourable to me, and restores me, my Feelings, which a former Proceeding had taken away.7 I am now perfectly content to be recalled whenever they think fit, or to Stay in Europe, untill this Business is finished, provided you will come and live with me. We may Spend our Time together in Paris London or the Hague, for 6 or 12 Months as the Public Business may call me and then return to our Cottage, with contented Minds. It would be more agreable to my Inclinations to get home and endeavour to get my self and Children into a Settled Way, but I think it is more necessary for the Publick that I should stay in Europe, untill this Piece of Business is finished. You dont probably know the Circumstances which attended this Proceeding of Congress. They are so honourable to me, that I cannot in Gratitude or Decency refuse.
I must Submit your Voyage to your Discretion and the Advice of your Friends, my most earnest Wishes are to see you but if the Uncertainties are such as to discourage you, I know it will be upon reasonable Considerations and must submit. But if you postpone the Voyage for this Fall, I shall insist on your coming in the Spring, unless there is a certainty of my going home to you. Congress are at such grievous Expences, that I Shall have no other Secretary than my son. He however is a very good one.8 He writes a good hand very fast, and is very Steady, to his Pen and his Books. Write me by every Ship to Spain France Holland or England, that I may know. You give me more public Intelligence than any body. The only hint in Europe of this Commission was from you to yours forever
[signed] John Adams
1. This resolution was Congress' response to a committee report on JA 's letter of 5 February. In that letter JA subtly protested Congress' July 1781 revocation of his commis• { 238 } sion to negotiate a commercial treaty with Britain while making the case for America's need for such a treaty. The new commission for the three diplomats, however, was never issued, the necessary instructions were never drafted, and Congress did not again consider its foreign assignments until October, and did not complete those assignments until May 1784. JA to AA , 29 Jan., note 1, above; JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:142–143, note 2.
2. See John Thaxter to JA , 4 Aug. (Adams Papers).
3. On 20 Nov., AA wrote to JA , below, that she had just received one of JA 's two letters of 10 Sept. (one below; the otherAdams Papers), which gave the same information and exhortation as the present letter. In her letter to JQA of 20 Nov., below, she says that she received JA 's “Letters of 10 September.” This letter of the 7th went to America with John Thaxter, who traveled to New York and Philadelphia before reaching Braintee on 14 December ( AA to JA , 15 Dec., below).
4. See Charles Storer to AA , 8 Nov. 1782, note 2, above.
5. Joseph Michel and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier developed the first hot-air balloons in 1782–1783; the first public launching occurred in June of the latter year. The Montgolfiers' balloon immediately caught the fancy of the French, and Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette witnessed the first attempt to send animals aloft from Versailles. Pilâtre de Rozier made the first free manned flight in November. JQA 's great interest in the Montgolfiers' balloon in Aug.–Sept. is evident in his Diary entries ( Diary , 1:187–190, 192–194).
6. Joseph II, of Austria; and Catherine II, of Russia.
7. That is, the loss of his earlier commission to negotiate a commercial treaty with Great Britain (see note 1).
8. With John Thaxter's departure for America on 14 Sept., JQA fully assumed the role of JA 's secretary. He had begun making copies for his father, however, from the moment of JA 's arrival at The Hague; over a dozen JA letters are in JQA 's hand from 23 July to 13 Sept., the day before Thaxter's departure. This was a new role for JQA , although he had made copies of two JA letters in 1778: to AA 18 Dec., vol. 3:138; and to Mercy Warren, 18 Dec., JA, Papers , 7:281–284. See also JA to Richard Cranch, 10 Sept., descriptive note, below.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0133

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-09-10

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

We have received from Congress a Resolution by which We are to be impowered to negotiate a Treaty of Commerce with G. B. My self Mr. Franklin and Mr. Jay. This will detain me in Europe this Winter. If this Letter arrives in Season, that you can come to me this Fall with Miss Nabby, I shall be Supreamly happy to see you. But Still Things are so unsettled in Congress that you may expect to return with me in the Spring. You may come to London Amsterdam or L'Orient, to either of which Places I will soon go to receive you after hearing of your Arrival.
It is however attended with so many Inconveniences that I must submit it to your Discretion with the Advice of your Friends whether to come this Fall, or stay till Spring and then come in Case Things should not be so altered as to oblige me to came home then to you.2 I have written more fully by Mr. Thaxter who sails the 20 of this Month from L'Orient, in the French Packet to New York. If you come { 239 } Leave the Boys at their School, bring a Maid and a Man servant. Leave the Place in the Care of Dr. Tufts or yr father.3 John is well.

[salute] Yours unfailingly

[signed] J. Adams
1. JA wrote AA another letter of this date, also in the Adams Papers, with virtually the same content. Neither letter is addressed or endorsed. Both evidently went directly to Boston, perhaps in the same ship. It is likely that JA included one with his letter to Richard Cranch, and the other with his letter to Cotton Tufts (both of this date, below). AA received at least one, and probably both, on 20 Nov. (see AA to JA , and AA to JQA , both 20 Nov., below).
2. JA concludes his other letter of this date with the sentence: “If Affairs should require my stay another Summer in Europe I shall insist upon your coming at least in the Spring.”
3. In his other letter of this date, JA instructs: “Leave . . . the Farm in the Care of your Uncle Quincy, Dr. Tufts, your Father Mr. Cranch or other good Fr[ien]d.”